Alex disruptors 'don't want ordinary people to speak': Herman Mashaba

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says he is prepared to assist with grievances aired by residents of Alexandra.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says he is prepared to assist with grievances aired by residents of Alexandra.
Image: Sunday Times

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba is frustrated after being blocked from speaking to residents of Alexandra, and region E within which the area falls, on Monday evening.

Mashaba has been heavily criticised by residents and political leaders for not meeting with the people of Alexandra immediately after the protests started on April 3. However, he arranged to address residents on Monday evening as part of the integrated development plan (IDP) - effectively, to explain the finance available for the region within the metro.

The disgruntled residents refused to be addressed by him. The mayor was greeted by a stream of expletives from the residents who also sang Struggle songs, when he arrived at the Marlboro Community Centre.

Said Mashaba: "They were a minority in the venue but they refused to relent and allow the proceedings to get under way."

"Even after the memorandum of grievances were handed over, the disruption continued. It was clear that they didn't want ordinary people to speak, and they did not want government to listen," he said.

The mayor said the city was willing to assist with residents' grievances, such as refuse collection and combating illegal dumping. It was also allocating money towards improving the supply of electricity.

Mashaba also said the leaders of the #AlexShutDown movement were the directors of a company called the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative.

Mashaba said they had left the company Altitude, which was contracted to provide community liaison services for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), and started the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative.

"They were then awarded a contract to continue this work from April 2015, earning around R161,000 per month," he said.

Mashaba said that in February, the Johannesburg Development Agency gave notice that this contract would not be extended beyond June 2019 as the funding had ceased from the provincial government.

"The actions of these thugs are silencing the voices of ordinary people in Alexandra, whose lived experience has not improved under democracy in SA."

#AlexShutDown movement organiser Sandile Mavundla confirmed that he was a director of the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative, but said Mashaba's statements were a "fabrication".

"The contract is still on, so his statements are baseless. I am residing in Alex and when there are issues that concern Alex people, I am a leader of my own right in Alex and not Ditlodi.

"There is only one individual on Ditlodi that is administrated on the shutdown and it is not the total of Ditlodi [sic]," he said.

Mavundla denied that they kicked Mashaba out of the meeting.

"They decided to go and we tried to calm the people and the people were not willing to hear anything from the mayor.

"Why are we supposed to kick him out? The speaker came and said the meeting will never continue," he said.

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