Johannesburg - Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says he will not engage with representatives of the Alexandra Shutdown Movement leading the protest action in the township on Wednesday.
Residents took to the streets to show their opposition to the Johannesburg city council's plans to rebuild about 80 houses demolished near the Jukskei River last month by the Red Ants security company because they were allegedly erected on illegally occupied land in Malboro.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department, which has been deployed to Alexandra, said it managed to disperse at least two groups that tried to block a road and burn tyres early in the morning.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mashaba slammed the "shutdown" in Alexandra as a politically-driven disruption, saying even the first wave of protests in April had been a political ploy ahead of May 8 national elections.
Mashaba accused some councillors from Johannesburg's previous administration of being ring-leaders for the protest and of plundering funds allocated for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).
"While the (current) multi-party government believes fundamentally in the right to protest and raise grievances, the Alexandra Shutdown Movement must not be mistaken for anything other than a politically sponsored vehicle to protect the corrupt interests of those who have profited from the looting of the ARP," he said.
"Neither I nor any representative of the city of Johannesburg will engage the Alex Shutdown Movement, as their interests are not those of the legitimate residents of Alexandra."
Mashaba said there was no question that the people of Alexandra had very legitimate and long-standing grievances, but the housing backlog his administration had inherited was too enormous to be eradicated in the time he had been in office since August 2016.
Meanwhile, taxi operators in Alexandra issued a statement distancing themselves from claims that taxis would not be running on Wednesday due to the protest, urging passengers not to heed threats against commuting.
African News Agency/ANA