Q&A with Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba on Alex protests
Mashaba has doggedly refused to address the people of Alexandra about their grievances. Chris Barron asked him...
Why haven't you addressed the residents of Alex?
Two months before local government elections in 2016, a statement of intent was signed by the ANC provincial and local government and homeowners of Alexandra regarding the Alex renewal project. For two years I have engaged former MEC Paul Mashatile and premier (David) Makhura about the funding that was supposed to be made available. No answers have come out of this. Now suddenly I receive a note that there's a protest in Alex. I had serious government commitments, so I sent a senior member of my cabinet.
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Should you have cleared your diary and gone yourself?I can't imagine anyone running a government like that. You get no pre notice. Suddenly people are asking you to come and receive a memorandum. You just go out, you ignore other commitments with other communities. So you send a senior member of your cabinet, Michael Sun, to go and receive it. He was abused. Not just abused, racially abused for being Chinese. So you can see immediately something is not right.Do you think that's what would have happened to you?I don't know. But I can tell you that the people claiming to be the leaders, one of these days they will be in jail because they sold the houses that were supposed to come out of the Alex renewal project to people with fraudulent documentation.
Do you have evidence and are they going to be charged?General (Shadrack) Sibiya (head of the city's forensics unit) and his team are putting together a dossier for the Hawks to charge them.What about their grievances, the filth and squalor? They're legitimate grievances, aren't they?Absolutely. But then please ask the people who are responsible ...Isn't that you?When I took over this government I put in 24-hour cleaning services ...So why is there so much filth and squalor?Investigate the role of the ANC leadership in Alex in sabotaging our efforts. When we send service providers to go and repair, they want to be part of the job. They don't really care about service delivery. We've got a cleaning project once a month; they refuse to allow the people of Alex to participate.If you have a story to tell, why didn't you tell it to the people of Alex this week?They're aware that I'm right in the middle of running budget planning sessions in various communities, it's a legislative requirement. I immediately informed them that I'm in Alex on May 15, not to come and deal with lies, but to come and deal with the budget so that the budget I'm crafting will be responsive to their needs.Haven't you allowed the ANC to set the agenda?No. I'm not the person taking advantage of short-term political expediency to lie to people. But it is going to backfire.On you?I can tell you it's going to backfire on the ANC, because they've given us an opportunity now to openly expose their criminality. People of Alex are coming with tons of information to demonstrate the criminality of what happened to the Alexandra renewal project.