ANC-aligned forums behind violent service delivery disruptions, claims Joburg's mayor

2019-06-27 19:06
City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is photographed during an interview in Johannesburg. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is photographed during an interview in Johannesburg. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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A sharp increase in violent disruptions to the service delivery of capital projects were being carried out by ANC-aligned local business forums, City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba charged on Thursday.

"It was clearly a practice of the City in the past that these local business forums were handed work in major capital projects. I am certain that this was just a part of the extensive political patronage network that characterised the previous administrations in Johannesburg," he said in a statement.

"We are committed to ensuring that contractors in these capital projects source local sub-contractors and labour. This is a principle that the multiparty government supports as a small yet important component of our work in providing economic opportunities.

"However, these disruptions are being carried out by politically aligned business forums that have locked ordinary people out of these opportunities and monopolise them for themselves."

Mashaba maintained that the current multiparty government would "not allow these patronage networks of the past" to disrupt service delivery.

"The actions of those who chose to stop work on our projects must be viewed as crimes against the residents of these communities."

Among the capital projects that have recently been violently disrupted are the refurbishment of Rea Vaya Station in Thokoza Park, Soweto; the Opportunity Centre in the Soweto Empowerment Zone, Diepkloof and the refuse collection rounds of Pikitup at the Zondi Depot, Mashaba said.

"Most recently, the City received threats of destruction of the Alexandra Opportunity Centre. These threats were based on the fact that the City did not locate our Opportunity Centre in [a building] owned by the local business forum that would have generated rent for them.

"The disruptions are violent, often involving weapons, and are intended to intimidate service providers to the point where they leave the construction site, effectively halting progress."

Organised criminal activity 

Mashaba said he had directed the city manager to ensure the departments and municipal entities worked with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) to safeguard the work on capital projects.

"The JMPD must respond with force to violent disruptions of our capital projects. Depriving or delaying critical services to our communities warrants nothing less. It is time for their violence and criminality to be met with the requisite force to ensure that the best interests of our residents are protected," he argued.

"When confronted with armed business for disrupting our projects and threatening the lives of contractors and our officers respectively, the JMPD must respond with commensurate force.

"Criminal cases have been laid in respect of all disruptions, however I am gathering all of these cases and will be approaching the Hawks to investigate these cases as organised criminal activity."

The ANC's Joburg caucus on Wednesday - the eve of the opening of the Montclare Opportunity Centre - said the DA had showed continued disregard for local communities, which were supposed to be the beneficiaries of institutions such as this.

According to the party, residents were overlooked when money was spent on renovating the building and local SMMEs were never given opportunities in the project.

Mashaba, however, countered that the ANC had taken the "extraordinary step" of "defending the local business forum opposed to the opening".

Read more on:    anc  |  hermn mashaba  |  protests

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