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ANC, DA play tit-for-tat game as protests spike

2019-04-14 17:00

This week’s visits to Alexandra and Emfuleni by the ANC and DA, respectively, showed both parties’ lack of authentic leadership

A tit-for-tat game ensued between the DA and the ANC this week, with each party accusing the other of going into communities governed by the other and inciting service delivery protests – only for the accused party to retaliate; all at the expense of genuine demands by communities experiencing poor service delivery and lack of housing.

On Friday, the DA marched to the embattled ANC-governed Emfuleni municipality a day after an ANC delegation, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, “capitalised” on Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba’s shunning of disgruntled Alexandra residents – an action that further enraged them.

It also fuelled their distaste for the mayor and his way of handling their grievances.

But DA Gauteng premier candidate Solly Msimanga said Ramaphosa and the ANC’s actions had left a bad taste in the DA’s mouth.

“Why did Ramaphosa and the ANC run to Alexandra instead of coming to Emfuleni, which has time and again been adjudged to be the worst performing municipality in Gauteng?” he said.

“He should have instead used the same energy that he used to go to Alexandra and ask about what was happening there, to come here and ask what has happened to the Evaton Renewal Project.

Read: Msimanga: Stop lying to our people

“There was R1 billion that was supposed to be used, but there is nothing to show for it and this ANC-led municipality cannot account for it. It is the same thing in Alexandra: [Premier] David Makhura cannot account for the more than R1 billion that was supposed to be spent on Alexandra’s housing project,” he said.

Midvaal Mayor Bongani Baloyi said the DA’s march to Emfuleni, “unlike that of the ANC to Alexandra, was prompted by the fact that they reside in the area and are also subjected to the indecent living conditions as community members”.

He said the issues raised in Emfuleni were strikingly similar to those raised by the disgruntled Alexandra residents.

“The primary issue [similar to that raised by Alexandra residents, regarding the alleged missing Alexandra Renewal Project funds] is in relation to the Evaton Renewal Project, where a large sum of money – about R870 million – was committed. But nothing has been done to date,” he said.

“It is easy to say this is an electioneering strategy, but these are genuine issues that people are raising. What is concerning is that those who have collapsed these municipalities are still there, occupying various positions in this municipality.”

Bongani Sitole, a community member, said his only reason for partaking in the protest march was because “finally, someone was taking seriously the community’s concerns with the municipality”.

“There have been numerous service delivery protests in the area and no one has taken note. Today there is a visible difference: the minute the DA comes with its leadership and addresses the same issues that we have been raising for donkey’s years, then the media is here, the police are cordial and there are even representatives from this useless municipality here to receive the memorandum of demands.

“I am not here as a DA supporter but as a community member utilising any resource to get our message across to the municipality.

“It is the same thing in Alex [Alexandra]: the ANC and DA have been trying to score political points instead of addressing the basic needs of residents,” said Sitole.

The DA’s PR councillor for Midvaal, Hezekiah Shababa, concurred, saying there was no question as to what or who was behind the protests engulfing Gauteng. “It is South African communities using protests as a particular mode of political participation leading to the upcoming elections.”

Where it all started

One of the leaders of the shutdown in Alexandra, Mandla Mavundla, castigated political parties for playing the blame game “instead of making residents their priority”.

“On the one hand we have Mashaba, who has blatantly refused to engage with residents and placed the blame squarely on the ANC. Then you have the ANC, who first hijack a protest that we started and make it their own. Then they take advantage of the situation and make it a campaign strategy,” said Mavundla, who did not attend the president’s address.

“As it is, Ramaphosa is making empty promises to our people just to entice them to vote for the ANC.”

Read: Ramaphosa challenges Mashaba: Don't fear Alexandra residents, come experience their conditions

Mavundla said they did not plan to politicise the protest when embarking on their protest action. “There was no plan to politicise the protest; that is why the organisers are all affiliated with different political parties.”

Addressing Alexandra residents in the parking lot of Alexandra Stadium, Ramaphosa bemoaned Mashaba’s shunning of the aggrieved community for more than a week while the protesters went on marching and gave him and his multiparty government a one-week deadline to sort out the sewage problems in the area.

The president also promised to build a million houses “to ease the housing backlog in the community”.

Mashaba has since promised to visit Alexandra tomorrow “with concrete resolutions to the impasse”.

On Friday, Msimanga fact-checked Ramaphosa’s promise. “I have a message for Ramaphosa and Makhura: Stop lying to our people. How can you build 548 houses a day? The Gauteng government has previously said that it only has capacity to build 30 000 houses a year,” he said.

He added that the ANC’s “empty promises” and failures while in office were the cause of all these service delivery protests that were engulfing Gauteng.


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October 13 2019