JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has on Tuesday, announced that he has launched a forensic investigation into Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).
Alexandra residents have been protesting over poor service delivery since last week.
Mashaba said he would engage with the residents of Alexandra on Monday, to hear their concerns against the backdrop of a discussion about the City’s budgets and plans.
"I have received confirmation from [Head of the City of Johannesburg's forensic department] General Shadrack Sibiya this morning that he will be launching a full forensic investigation into the ARP," said Mashaba.
"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."
Mashaba said there was "no question" that the R16 billion set aside by national and provincial government for the ARP had been looted and used by the ANC as a tool for self-enrichment.
He said that ANC members were employed to drive the ARP in Alexandra and from the information they received, their task was allegedly to direct funding to ANC-aligned companies that under-delivered on housing and to allegedly channel money back to the ANC.
Mashaba said this was precisely why the ANC, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa were so "desperate" to place the grievances of the people of Alexandra at the door of the City of Johannesburg.
"I place no stock in premier 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," Mashaba said.
"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 their group forensics unit has a track record of credible investigations and would get to the bottom of the corruption that has robbed the residents of Alexandra of the development in the area.
It would 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," said Mashaba.
"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."
He said the real tragedy was that the legitimate grievances of the residents of Alexandra were not being heard.
On Friday, Mashaba said he would be engaging councillors from the respective political parties in Alexandra so that they can remove the politics from the equation and proceed to engage the community as public representatives.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has agreed to attend this session as observers.
However, the ANC has denied any responsibility in the Alexandra Renewal Project.
“These are historical issues that are around the Alexandra Renewal Project, and I want to dismiss any notion that national government put billions of rands into the project. The Alexandra Renewal Project was funded by the City of Johannesburg and the provincial government,” said Makhura.
African News Agency (ANA)