Sameera Casmod | email@example.com
01 September 2023 | 16:50 SAST
During this week’s segment of the ASRI (Auwal Socioeconomic Research Institute) Report on Radio Islam International, Executive Director of ASRI Muhammad Cajee discussed the series of events that contributed to the fire in the heart of Johannesburg, the electoral amendment act and Ace Magashule’s new party.
Cajee detailed a list of failures that contributed to the tragedy and offered potential solutions to prevent such incidents from recurring. One of the root problems lies in the mismanagement of city-owned buildings, according to Cajee. The reports suggest that these buildings were leased to a women’s shelter but were later abandoned. Allegations of corruption within property management officials are also a concern, potentially benefiting from abandoned city-owned properties. Organised crime may also be exploiting the situation.
Another contributing factor identified during the discussion is South Africa’s strained police services, lack of resources, training, and competence, which hinders effective law enforcement. The Metro Police force faces similar challenges, leading to a lack of proper governance in the city.
The fact that the Johannesburg fire department has been grappling with a shortage of functional fire vehicles, falling short of the necessary ratios required for a city of its size, was also identified as a contributing factor.
Cajee said that the judiciary has been cited by some as a contributing factor, with a Constitutional Court judgment about eviction of homeless individuals from buildings. The city must provide alternate accommodation for those evicted, but this doesn’t necessarily mean long-term or permanent residences, as per the judgment.
City agencies, including the Johannesburg property company, Metro Police, and the fire department, are meant to be accountable and overseen by city’s oversight committees. Lack of oversight and accountability both by politicians and citizens has contributed to the crisis, Cajee noted.
Cajee outlined several interventions to address these failures, including geo-mapping abandoned buildings, assessing fire hazards, and seeking high court rulings to deal with these structures systematically.
In discussing the broader national context, Cajee noted that Johannesburg’s situation reflects the collapsing infrastructure and governance failures experienced nationwide.
Regarding the upcoming elections, Cajee discussed the Constitutional Court’s judgment on the Electoral Amendment Act. While it is unlikely to change significantly for the next election, the outcome remains uncertain.
Lastly, the launch of Ace Magashule’s new political party, the African Congress for Transformation, was discussed. Cajee expressed scepticism about Magashule’s chances, given his modest launch and lack of significant branch recruitment. Cajee believes Magashule’s party won’t have a substantial impact on the political landscape.
Listen to this week’s ASRI Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaiman Ravat.