#AlexShutDown: Ramaphosa takes swipe at Mashaba over protests

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Johannesburg – The ANC and DA’s battle over Alexandra has degenerated into a public mudslinging contest.

While campaigning in the area on Thursday ahead of the May elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa slammed Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba for refusing to visit the township which has been plagued by week-long protests over basic service delivery and illegal erection of shacks.

Violent protests have seen residents blocking roads with rocks, rubble and burning tyres.

Ramaphosa accused Mashaba and the DA-led metro of abandoning the township in terms of providing basic services, adding that it was riddled with filth.

“I have seen with my own eyes that the sewage is all over here in Alexandra. It is just flowing in the streets of Alexandra. I have all seen that there is rubbish all over this place. Local government should be the one that is fixing these things, but your municipality is scared of coming to you,” he said.

Being the most congested township, residents from the area have complained about new people arriving and building shacks on their land and on pathways.

The township also falls under a municipality that is hotly contested in the province since the ANC lost power to lead in the local government elections two years ago. The ruling party has over time launched a fierce battle in order to regain the metro.

The DA has accused the ruling party of being at the forefront of the protests.

However, Ramaphosa rejected the DA’s claims and instead charged that Mashaba was too scared to set foot in the township to listen to residents’ grievances.

“Your mayor has said he is not going to come now. I said let me wait so that the mayor who is responsible should come first and hear for himself and see himself. The mayor should not be scared of his people. Now he is blaming the ANC for the protests,” he said.

On Tuesday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura also visited the township and met the leaders of the protests.

Ramaphosa slated those who invaded land and built illegal structures and called for them to be demolished.

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“This thing of building up structures illegally is against the law and regulations. We want the municipality here to follow the regulations and by-laws and make sure that all people abide by them so that people do not just wake up in the morning and decide to go build a house on the pavement. Houses that are built in wrong places must be demolished,” he said.

The president was accompanied by Human Settlements Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo, Co-operative Governance Minister Zweli Mkhize, and Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele, whom he instructed to meet the protesters and address their demands.

“I am also giving a directive to the provincial government that it must immediately meet with the mayor and they must address these issues. They must be addressed next week and I want them to give me a report,” he said.

He called on the hundreds of Alexandra residents – many in ANC regalia – to back the governing party when they vote on May 8.

The Star

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