President Cyril Ramaphosa has upped the ante in the political war over responsibility for the failures of governance in protest-hit Alexandra township.
In recent weeks the DA have repeatedly lay the blame for the failure in delivering housing and services such as sewerage and waste removal at the door of the ANC, specifically Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Ramaphosa.
But during a visit to South Africa’s oldest township, Ramaphosa directed a thinly veiled barb at the DA, apologising to the people of Alexandra for not coming to address them sooner, saying he thought Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba would have come first.
“Your mayor has said that he is not going to come now. I said: ‘Let me wait so that the mayor who is responsible should come first,’” Ramaphosa told the crowd gathered to listen to him at Alexandra stadium.
“What has disturbed me is the filth and the dirt that I have seen here. The local government must embark on a programme to clean up Alexandra. Sewerage and human waste is all over the streets. We cannot allow that. It is upon the shoulders of the local government to clean up this area — we cannot allow our people to live amongst rats. Alexandra and Ward 105, is not a dumping ground.”
Arriving nearly two hours after his scheduled 12.30pm address, Ramaphosa told those in attendance that he understands their grievances. “We must respond to the pain and the suffering that our people are going through.
“Your message is very clear and has reverberated throughout the whole of South Africa. You as the people of Alexandra are sick of lack of service delivery.”
“Earlier, I heard about some of the challenges you are facing. I heard you want houses, but you also want invasions to stop. I want to make it very clear- we live in an orderly country where there is rule of law, and we cannot allow people to come from everywhere and build on pavements and in the middle of the streets. Those structures must be removed. It is not correct. It endangers the lives of our people.”
Ramaphosa made reference to the Emfuleni municipality, where the South African National Defence Force had to be brought in to assist with the clean-up of sewage. “I’ve not yet reached that point — I need the municipality to come and clean up Alexandra. I’m giving the municipality and the mayor a chance to come and clean up. We must respond to the pain and the suffering that our people are going through. I no longer want to hear excuses.
“Burning of houses is going to continue because we know as our people you are in great need. You have come forward and said your government must address these issues. We are very, very thankful that you have raised these issues,” the president said.