Mashaba: Why should I be scared of the people I lead?

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says that he is looking forward to visiting Alexandra on Monday despite reports that community members are angry with him for not addressing them until now.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba during a media briefing on 9 April 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says that he is looking forward to visiting Alexandra on Monday despite reports that community members are angry with him for not addressing them until now.

Residents have been calling on Mashaba to address them for a while marching to Sandton to speak to him.

Angry residents blocked roads leading into the area with rubble, burning tyres and rocks as they led the #AlexShutdown demonstrations.

Residents have been venting their frustration after Mashaba failed to go to Alexandra to address them.

But Mashaba has confirmed to Eyewitness News that he will be going later on Monday.

“Why should I be scared of the people that I lead? It doesn’t really make sense that I can really be afraid of the people that I lead. The people are the ones who always give us a chance to listen to and we listen to them.”

Earlier this month, residents refused to be addressed by MMC of Public Safety Michael Son.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the area last Thursday, promising residents that the government will attend to some of their demands.

The City of Joburg will launch a probe to determine what happened to the money set aside for the project aimed at addressing urbanisation and housing challenges in the area.

Alexandra Total Shutdown organiser Sandile Mavundla said that Mashaba's efforts were too little too late.

“Even if people are burning tyres, you need to come and still engage with the people. If people are still saying no, try to make all the means to speak to those vulnerable communities. Don’t just distance yourself from them.”

Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said the plight of residents in Alexandra should be addressed by the government.

The commission has called on political parties not to use the troubled area as an election campaign tool.

Officials from the City of Joburg, the Gauteng Corporative Governance Department and the Premier's office have been subpoenaed to appear before the commission on Thursday, to answer allegations of socio-economic infringements in the township.

The commission's Buang Jones said: “We use this opportunity to inform the city; the mayor didn’t know that the commission to convene a formal inquiry, no one knew in this room. So, we thought this is a perfect opportunity to announce the commission’s intentions.

“This public inquiry will also be extended to the community of Alexandra where members of the community will be invited to share their lived experiences.”

The commission said it will send a team to Alexandra on Monday and Tuesday to gather information to prepare for the public inquiry.

Jones said they have invited senior officials from different government departments in Gauteng and Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa has instructed his ministers to come up with a plan to resolve the issues in the area.

Mashaba on Friday met with councillors from various political parties from Alexandra to address their grievances.

Mashaba and speaker of council Vasco da Gama said they were disappointed that African National Congress (ANC) representatives had shunned the discussions.

Those who were present at the meeting included councillors from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as well MMCs of finance, development planning, housing, and public safety as well as representatives from the SAHRC.

Mashaba called on the parties to put their political differences aside and work for the people of South Africa.

EFF councillors said the Democratic Alliance constantly blamed the ANC while the ANC blames apartheid.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)