Ramaphosa’s smart city, Alexandra houses ‘are all empty promises’

President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 13, 2023

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed his fifth Investment Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre yesterday.

Over the past five years, the conference attracted investment pledges totalling more than R700 billion against a target of R1.2 trillion, which the conference is set to exceed.

Since the start of the conference, more than R1.4 trillion in investment pledges have been made, according to Ramaphosa.

He said: “We expect that the investment announcements made here today will take this total beyond the target that we set five years ago.”

However, in spite of all the positive sentiments and pledges, the country continues to face significant economic difficulties, including a debilitating unemployment rate, power outages, and high levels of lawlessness.

At the start of his presidency, Ramaphosa promised to build one million houses in Alexandra and create one million jobs as well as a smart city while, in his February 2021 State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa announced that several new post-apartheid cities were being conceptualised across the country.

Similar to the job promises, it would appear that the majority of the president’s proposals presented at each State of the Nation Address have not come to fruition.

This week, Daily Maverick revealed that a car manufacturing deal launched by presidents Xi Jinping and Ramaphosa via satellite from Johannesburg in 2016 as part of the government-to-government Beijing Auto Industrial Corporation has stalled.

The Department of Human Settlements stated that it has not been possible to confirm the existence of such a plan.

Attempts to speak to the Presidency on the progress of the country’s smart city commitment and the one million houses promised to the people of Alexandra proved unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

The National Department of Human Settlements said it was unable to comment as the commitment was made directly to the people of Alexandra.

Speaking to The Star following Ramaphosa’s address at the Investment Conference, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in spite of the challenges, the trade union supported the efforts of the conference.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said Ramaphosa entered the presidency with no ideas and no clue about government. “He is a person that was created to project the image of a businessman but it was false,” said Seepe.

He said to show that a leader is clueless, they tend to blame the previous one to cover up the fact that he has nothing to offer.

“When he got in he talked about nine wasted years under former president Jacob Zuma but forgot that he was part of the wasted years. This was a misrepresentation on his part because in those wasted years, the biggest infrastructure was built in South Africa and the continent.

“Three new universities were built under Zuma’s tenure. HIV/Aids was addressed and more black companies came to the fore and there was free higher education,” Seepe said.

He said since Ramaphosa took over, “he has achieved nothing”.

He said Ramaphosa went to Alexandra and said he would build one million houses but there was not a single house built. “Effectively, he is a person who plays to the gallery.

“As we speak he is the person who told us in 2015 that electricity is going to be resolved. Now, he has stopped even promising us. He says he is waiting to be told. He presented himself as ‘Mr Clean’, but every time he has to show how clean he is, he runs to the courts to say please cover my mess,” Seepe said.