The Alex Total Shutdown protest movement is set to continue
on Monday 8 April, following a no-show by City of Johannesburg mayor, Herman
Disgruntled Alexandra residents, who had, earlier in the week, taken to streets to voice their discontent with a lack of basic service delivery, were, once again, disappointed by Mashaba on Friday.
Calls for the mayor to address the tense community fell on deaf ears, causing the Shutdown organisers to return to the drawing board in preparation for next week’s proposed protest action.
Alex Total Shutdown protests inadequate service delivery
— Jacaranda News (@JacaNews) April 5, 2019
— Solomon_Mpho_Marumo (@Solomonmarumo) April 5, 2019
Alexandra, Johannesburg’s oldest township, was plunged into chaos on Wednesday, when thousands of dissatisfied residents marched through the streets, barricading access points with boulders and burning debris.
The protest action soon spilt out of the confines of Alexandra and onto the N3 highway. Despite the best efforts of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), northbound traffic was severely disrupted, with reports of protesters stoning vehicles from pedestrian overpasses.
Flanked by a heavy police escort, City of Johannesburg
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Safety, Michael Sun, attempted to
address the crowd – to no avail. Frustrated protesters demanded that Mashaba,
himself, address the community, in person. These calls went unanswered, with
Mashaba issuing a blanket statement blaming the African National Congress (ANC)
for the unrest.
It’s true that the ANC in ward 105 openly endorsed the Alex Total Shutdown movement – sparking debate around ulterior political motives, particularly in the runup to the elections on 8 May. The political back-and-forth has done little to ease tensions in the area. On Wednesday night, however, ‘serious security concerns’ forced protesters to retire, with Shutdown organiser, Sandile Mavundla, calling for an end to action on Thursday.
Mashaba challenges Ramaphosa
I noted the call of @MYANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa for me to address the community of Alexandra. Name the time and place Mr President, I will be there, I wonder if you will be. I will account for 2 years of government and you can account for over 2 decades of failure in Alex pic.twitter.com/ox6j0mhk50
— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) April 4, 2019
Still, community members expected to be addressed by Mashaba
on Friday, especially in the wake of the mayor’s challenge to President Cyril
Ramaphosa. Taking to Twitter, Mashaba said:
“I noted the call of ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa for me to address the community of Alexandra. Name the time and place Mr President, I will be there, I wonder if you will be. I will account for 2 years of government and you can account for over 2 decades of failure in Alex.”
In anticipation of Mashaba’s address, a community meeting was called. The informal conference, held at Sankopano Community Hall in Alexandra, was designed to provide Mashaba with a civilised and controlled platform to engage with the community on issues of illegal land occupations and inadequate service delivery.
Mavundla says that Mashaba was personally invited to the meeting but had failed to make an appearance. Naturally, this has inflamed tensions, once more.
According to Alex News, enraged citizens have threatened to invade the City’s Region E offices in Sandton after the meeting. Some attendees even brought tyres to the meeting, in a show of clear defiance.
Protest organisers have said that they will reconvene on
Monday 8 April to continue the protest, following Mashaba’s disrespectful.