Alexandra Concerned Residents hold People’s Inspection

Monday 11 July 2005 by Dale

Alexandra Concerned Residents invites you to join the People’s Inspection of Alexandra

Wednesday, 13 July 2005 9:00 am - 3:00 pm Alexandra San Kopano Centre 12th Ave, Alexandra

Over the last year, communities throughout South Africa have risen up to demand decent housing and proper service delivery. These protests stem from the miserable living conditions in poor townships across the country. Alexandra is no exception. The people of Alexandra are suffering from a serious housing crisis, a lack of jobs, overcrowded schools and clinics, insufficient access to water and electricity, sewage and waste overflowing into our streets, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is devastating our youth. Will Alexandra be the next township to revolt?

Fearing an uprising in Alexandra, the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Amos Masondo, held an imbizo in Alexandra Stadium on 2 June. Although they listened to the concerns of the community, we are not sure that the Mayor and his staff truly understand the seriousness of the social, economic, and environmental crises in Alexandra. We want to make sure that the government as well as the people of South Africa and the world understand that the crisis in Alexandra is serious and immediate. If the problems in our communities are not addressed soon, the situation in Alexandra could easily become explosive.

The Alexandra Concerned Residents (ACR) is a coalition of community based organizations taking up community struggles in Alexandra around housing, water, electricity, and other social and environmental issues. The ACR is an organization that believes in participatory democracy and the involvement of the public in all of its activities. Based on those beliefs and principles, we have decided to convene a “People’s Inspection” to expose the pathetic living conditions of our community and to garner support and solidarity for our community struggles.

We kindly invite other community based organizations, religious organizations, the media, the academic community, non-governmental organizations, government officials in the area, and women and youth organizations to attend the “People’s Inspection.” The program for the inspection entails the following: presentations on the social, economic, and environmental crises in Alexandra, exhibitions, cultural activities, and an inspection tour in and around the Alexandra area. Transport for the inspection will be provided by the ACR.

We as the people of Alexandra together with other communities in this country fought bitter battles against apartheid and its repressive institutions. As part of the struggle against apartheid, we also took up the struggle for social services and the general improvement of the lives of the poor and the working class. We thought that our vote during the 1994 democratic elections and the subsequent national and local government elections would facilitate the delivery of services to the working class of Alexandra and other areas.

In 2001, President Thabo Mbeki established the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) with a budget of R1.3 billion to build houses, provide jobs, and improve the lives of the people living in Alexandra. Four years later, nothing has changed. Unemployment is still extremely high (officially 60%); homelessness, poverty, unhealthy living conditions, and overcrowding still define the lives of people in Alexandra. Our message to all of the organizations responsible for uplifting Alexandra - local, provincial, and national government; the ARP; Joburg Water; City Power; etc. - is that our lives have not improved. In fact, our lives have worsened in many respects. As a result, it is up to us to show the government and the people of South Africa what is happening in Alexandra.

Lack of housing and employment are the most serious crises facing the people of Alexandra. Most of the factories in Marlboro, Wynberg, and Kew have closed their doors, leaving the people of Alexandra with few opportunities for decent employment. The township is extremely overcrowded, but the ARP has not been building houses. The few houses that have become available have not benefited the people of Alexandra due to corruption, the lack of a housing database, and the fact that councillors have been renting and selling houses to people from other areas. The ARP says that it will evict 25,000 families from their homes in the next three years. Where will they go? Only a few hundred houses are currently being constructed. Thousands of people in Wynberg and Marlboro have been informed that they will be thrown into the streets and that the government will not provide them with alternative accommodation.

Lack of electricity is still a huge problem in Alexandra. City Power refuses to connect electricity in certain parts of Alexandra and is busy removing electric cables and cutting off residents in other parts of the Alexandra. Thousands of people in Alexandra do not have access to water and people throughout the township still rely on the bucket system for toilets. These buckets have to be cleaned in the street where our children play, creating a serious health hazard. Adding to this hazard, waste bins sit for weeks without being removed and usually overflow into the streets.

All of these problems were supposed to have been addressed by the ARP, but corruption, mismanagement, failure to involve the community, and a lack of concern for the people they are supposed to be helping has undermined the project. The ARP has carefully selected a few scattered locations in Alexandra to demonstrate to the media the success of the project. But join us for the “People’s Inspection” and see for yourself the miserable living conditions facing all of the people of Alexandra. There has been no renewal, only forced removals. The “People’s Inspection” will highlight the serious crises that we face in backyard shacks, in the hostels, in the squatter camp, in Wynberg, Marlboro, and the Far East Bank, as well as in our schools and clinics.

Join us for the “People’s Inspection.”

For more information contact: Ellen on 0826631133 - or - Makgoka on 0823628897

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