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This is what Alexandra residents actually want from government

The Alex Total Shutdown movement doesn't have many demands. Here's the list of what they're looking for from the City of Joburg.

Residents of Alexandra disrupt Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba's address at the Marlboro community hall on 15 April 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Over the past two weeks, Alexandra residents embarked on protest action over a number of grievances residents said plagued one of the country’s oldest townships situated north of Johannesburg.

Alexandra faces myriad problems ranging from housing, mushrooming squatter camps, and crime in the area, among other grievances, which have resulted in questions raised over the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), which was launched in 2001 to improve the physical, social and economic environment of the township.

The community's issues are now the focus of investigations by the City of Joburg’s Anti-Corruption Unit and the Auditor-General, who are both looking into the R1.6 billion set aside by national and provincial government for the ARP. The South African Human Rights Commission and Public Protector are also probing the service delivery complaints in the township.

On Monday, Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba was prevented by disgruntled residents from addressing them at the Marlboro Community Centre after he failed to meet with the people of Alexandra immediately after the protests started earlier this month.

WATCH: Mashaba booed off stage by Alex residents

Mashaba was due to address residents on the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), which outlines the city’s projects to be implemented to improve the community.

“The nature of these public engagements, particularly the one that was set up yesterday [Monday] was to ensure that we provide all interested parties with an opportunity to engage with not only the executive mayor but the speaker of council and numerous officials in the various departments on how their activities impact on their community,” Mashaba’s spokesperson Luyanda Mfeka told EWN.

Mfeka said that despite the interruptions at the community meeting, residents still had a chance to engage with the mayor next week to deal with some of their grievances and reflect on the commitments made by the D A-led multi-party government in 2016 when it was elected into office.

“The executive mayor remains open to engagement with residents and community leaders as to how the legitimate grievances of the communities can be addressed, and indeed the mayor has another engagement on 26 April where he has invited various stakeholders from the community itself, national and provincial government, specifically to deal with some of the grievances from the community of Alex,” he said.

Mashaba launched an investigation into the ARP after claiming on 9 April he knew the billion rand budget was used as a slush fund for ANC officials under former City of Joburg Mayor Parks Tau.

“Information has been brought to the multi-party government’s attention that the Alexandra Renewal Project, which was launched in 2001, served as a slush fund for the ANC, the City of Johannesburg under previous governments and the provincial government,” said Mashaba.

These are the grievances by Alexandra residents:

  • Access to sustainable human settlements given the overcrowding of Alexandra and the impact this has on the already strained infrastructure. Hostels are of particular concern.

  • Access to healthcare and social services, including assistance for substance abuse and related problems.

  • Improved safety and security, including by-law enforcement with particular reference to illegal dumping and the mushrooming of squatter camps.

  • Improved service delivery and the provision of basic services. Areas requiring attention include the condition of roads, access to electricity, water and sanitation, as well as refuse collection.

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