Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance Obed Bapela has told the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) inquiry into Alexandra that some R20bn is needed to turn the township into a modern habitable settlement.
He added that the process to renew and improve living conditions for the people of Alexandra would take 15-20 years.
The SAHRC inquiry is also probing possible maladministration in the controversial multimillion-rand Alex Renewal Project.
President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed an inter-ministerial task team during the Alexandra flare up in April, when angry residents barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks demanding better service delivery.
The demolition of around 80 illegally-built homes around the same time by the so-called Red Ants added to the volatile situation.
Matters were not helped by political expediency as DA Mayor Herman Mashaba claimed his office knew nothing of the demolition order, and promptly promised to rebuild the destroyed structures at the expense of the City of Johannesburg.
This move was widely criticised as nothing more than political posturing.
Residents are also furious with the lack of housing and overcrowding in the settlement and the alleged influx of migrants into an already-congested area.
Bapela warned residents that government would not be providing compensation for illegally built structures, adding, that illegal buildings in Alexandra will have to be dismantled to facilitate the planned re-modelling of the township.
Yesterday, Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile testified about the ‘missing billions’ meant for the Alexandra Renewal Project.
The project was the brainchild of the Thabo Mbeki administration. It’s been 18 years since the proposal – which promised to rejuvenate the region – was first tabled.
The DA claim the R1.6bn set aside for the programme has been squandered by corrupt ANC officials.
In the run up to South Africa’s May poll, John Moodey, the DA’s candidate for the Gauteng premiership, said his opposite number and current premier, David Makhura had admitted guilt by confirming there would be an audit into where the missing billions went.
“Makhura has today stated that a full audit into the stolen Alex Renewal Project funds will be conducted. Presumably, these funds meant for the people of Alex ended up in the pockets of ANC politicians, who were rejected by the people of Johannesburg in 2016.”John Moodey – DA – 09 April 2019
But Makhura quickly fired back.
“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.”David Makhura – Gauteng Premier – 09 April 2019
Nevertheless, the fund was launched with an initial R1.3 billion budget, which Bapela claims was not enough at the time and should have been at least double the amount.
Research compiled in 2014 suggest it would take R16bn to turn Alexandra into a “habitable settlement.”
Five years on, that figure has obviously grown, according to Bapela, who said an immediate cash injection is required just to address the current issues, let alone converting it into a modern town.
“This is just a lot of boardroom talk,” frustrated residents of Alex said reacting to the SAHRC probe.