City of Joburg probes Alexandra Renewal Project

Embattled City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba claims money which was meant to change the lives of Alexandra residents was used as a slush fund for the ANC.

Mashaba has been under severe criticism from the ANC as the opposition in his municipality.

On Tuesday, he released a statement saying the City's head of forensics, Shadrack Sibiya, confirmed that he intended to launch a full forensic investigation into the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

The project was one of eight urban nodes of the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programme announced by former president Thabo Mbeki during his State of the Nation Address on February 9, 2001.

The programme was meant to address urbanisation and housing challenges in South Africa. The estimated budget for the Alexandra Renewal Project in 2011, which was for the redevelopment of Alexandra, was R1.3bn over seven years.

"Information has been brought to the multi-party government's attention that the ARP, which was launched in 2001, served as a slush fund for the ANC, the City of Johannesburg under previous governments and the provincial government.

"ANC members were employed to drive the ARP in Alexandra. From the information we have received, their task was to direct funding to ANC-aligned companies that under-delivered on housing and channelled money back to the ANC," he said.

READ: Alexandra renewal project disappointing - survey

Mashaba claimed that the national and provincial governments had set aside R16bn, which was then "looted" and used as a "tool for self-enrichment".

"This is precisely why the ANC, Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa are so desperate to place the grievances of the people of Alexandra at the door of the City of Johannesburg. I place no stock in Makhura's announcement of an investigation in the ARP. He has served as the premier of Gauteng since 2014 and has never once taken any interest in the matter until now.

"I have met with Makhura and former MEC Paul Mashatile on the issue of the statement of intent, which was signed with great fanfare on the eve of the 2016 local government elections. I have asked where the funding is to come from for the massive promises made in that document. At no time did the provincial government take any interest in these matters," he said.

He said the municipality's group forensics unit had a track record of credible investigations and will get to the bottom of the saga.

READ: Don't turn Alex protests into a political football

"It will include investigating the role of provincial and national government in the suspected looting, alongside that of the previous governments in Johannesburg. It is not surprising that there has been no focus on accountability for the current situation in Alexandra. The politically driven efforts to lay the blame at the feet of a multi-party government are a smokescreen to cover decades of failed promises and rampant looting.

"The real tragedy is that the legitimate grievances of the residents of Alexandra are not being heard. That is why I will engage the residents of Alexandra on Monday to ensure our budget addresses the most pressing needs of this community," he said.

During his visit in Alexandra on Tuesday, Makhura said there were no historical issues surrounding the ARP. 

"I want to dismiss any notion that national government put billions of rands into the ARP. The Alexandra Renewal Project was funded by the City of Johannesburg and provincial government," he said.

ANC Johannesburg spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said the ANC had not received any money for the project.

"We welcome the investigations into the ARP. We want the matter to be put to rest," said Matongo.

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