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Organisers deny claims Alexandra protests are acts of 'electioneering'

Residents are adamant that the mass action will continue until their demands are heard.

Alexandra residents took to the streets on 3 April 2019 demanding better service delivery in the township. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Organisers of the shutdown in Alexandra have denied that the protest is a mere act of electioneering.

Demonstrators gathered just outside the Marlboro Gautrain station, where they waited to be addressed by officials from the City of Joburg.

Residents are adamant that the mass action will continue until their demands are heard.

The last time there was a standoff with authorities, police used rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

WATCH: Alex total shut down: Residents fed up with illegal structures

Now with the elections around the corner, sceptics have played down Wednesday’s demonstration as an attempt by some to gain political clout.

However, Sandile Mavundla, a community leader and one of the campaign initiators, has dismissed this.

He says that residents have come out in their numbers to voice genuine concerns and are resolute to have their grievances attended to.

One of the residents said: “I want [to see] change in Alex; I stay in a one-bedroom house and I’ve been fighting to get a house. The foreign nationals are everywhere and we’re fighting for what’s ours.”

With no end in sight to this standoff, it remains to be seen whether officials will address demonstrators who have vowed to bring Alexandra to its knees.

GAUTENG THE 'EPICENTRE OF PROTESTS'

Monitoring group Municipal IQ said it's natural to see an uptick in community protests in an election year.

Protests similar to the one in Alexandra also took place in Cape Town suburbs last year, starting in Kensington.

According to the latest Municipal IQ data, Gauteng is the epicentre of service delivery protests; seeing the highest number of protests between 2004 and 2018.

In 2017 alone, the province accounted for more than a third of all reported service delivery protests nationwide.

The second highest incidence of protests on record happened in 2014 and it’s no coincidence that was an election year too.

As communities vent their anger about what they perceive as inadequate delivery by government, University of Cape Town political analyst Dr Zwelethu Jolobe said there’s no real correlation between the frequency of protests and voters’ choices at the ballot box.

“We have to establish first whether we can make a connection between protests and elections and at the moment, I’m not sure if we can.”

Whether service delivery protests translate to lost votes or not, these kinds of community actions have been flagged by police as one of the security threats ahead of the elections.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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