Opinion

Alex is an example of what is wrong in SA

19 May 2019 - 00:04 By ONKGOPOTSE JJ TABANE


I am glad that Cyril Ramaphosa has established an inter-ministerial committee to look into the disaster that is Alexandra.
This is despite accounts that it was a knee-jerk election reaction. The Human Rights Commission must also be commended for its hearings to give the neglected citizens living in that slum a chance to be heard.
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The situation does not require these interventions, nor will it be resolved by politicians falling over themselves to be voter pleasers. The people of Alex are on their own and it's time they enforced their second-generation rights in the highest court.The situation is an emergency and reflects badly on all spheres of the government.Even the DA-led administration in Joburg failed to make the forgotten 'hood any better; the mayor could not be bothered to go there when the people wanted to engage him. Even if the call for him to visit Alex was concocted by the ANC, he is also mayor of the people there.The political parties shamelessly campaigned in Alex. It is clear that the people of Alex will always be left with high expectations and are used as voting fodder. This is why Alex is a microcosm of what is wrong in the country. We must never tire of pointing it out as a reality against which we must judge the promises that parties before elections.
Three big issues must receive attention if Ramaphosa is serious about resolving the crisis in Alex. First, it remains to be seen if he will have the courage to bring to book his comrades who are implicated in the squandering of the Alex renewal programme funds.
The Alexandra Property Association has named many high-profile ANC leaders and officials in a memorandum it submitted to the public protector months ago. The memo is a horror story of how funds meant to develop Alex were squandered.
Nothing has been done about these crooks. Unless the authorities deal with these elements, the people of Alex will remain robbed. The theft of Alex funds is a trend in the construction sector, both public and private, and especially in Gauteng.
The same culprits are involved in the theft of public money through mega projects, the sort that the government often boasts about. The built environment is full of crookery.
I will watch with interest to see what the Human Rights Commission will expose. I'm happy to be proved wrong but I know that there is something rotten in Alex.
The second nauseating thing is passing the buck between provincial and local government. The reality is that the ANC failed the people of Alex for the longest time and the mess is largely a monument of its failure. The DA has equally failed after making promises ahead of the 2016 local elections. Both spheres must be ashamed.
They must set aside their silly political differences and devise an emergency plan. All you need in Alex is a flood or a fire and tragedy will strike. Suddenly there will be resources to house the victims of those natural disasters, while now there is a claim that there is no money to improve the settlement.Finally, land is at the heart of the slow pace of development in Alex. This is another symptom of the failure of land redistribution. Unless the ownership of land is resolved, there will be resistance to whatever developments are planned for the township. This must be resolved without delay.Millions are without homes and one of the failures of the freedom dividend is a human settlement like Alex. This is made worse when it is an area known for corruption involving high-ranking politicians - people who have a hand in the misery of our people.It has to stop if the New Dawn is to be taken seriously. This week the president will assume office and soon thereafter will demonstrate through the executive he will choose whether we are in for another five years of disappointment and theft, or a truly new dawn that will benefit the people of Alexandra and other communities that are similarly neglected.• Tabane is anchor of Your View on Newzroom Africa, channel 405 on DStv, Sundays to Thursdays at 9pm

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