Friday, August 1, 2014

Eviction separated mom from son

Cape Town - A mother of four cried on Thursday as she recalled how she was separated from her son during demolitions on Sanral-owned land in Lwandle, Cape Town, last month.

Nonhlanhla Lujabe had sent one of her seven-year-old twins, a boy, to a local shop on the morning of June 3, while she got herself and other children ready for the day.

She heard a loud bang and when she looked outside, saw structures being torn down like they had been the previous day.

“When I looked around (outside), I saw there is my son crying with the haversack on his back. The police wouldn't allow him to come back,” she told an inquiry investigating the removals from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land.

“I saw all the people are running in different areas and it was a whole chaotic situation.”

She looked back into her shack and saw one of her children standing on the bed crying.

She felt like she was suffocating and realised teargas had filtered into the structure.

“I took the one twin and put the child on my back and ran out the structure. I was running around looking for my other child and looking into the neighbour's house. Their television was playing but no one was inside the house.”

Lujabe struggled to hold back the tears when she explained how everyone was running and she could not find her son or friends.

“The painful experience... that day is still visible in my mind.”

She said the police shoved and pulled her while her child was still on her back.

She pleaded with them to allow her to remove her brand new wardrobe before they tore down her shack. They refused to listen and demolished it in front of her.

The single mother and her family had to wear the same clothes for a week.

On the night of June 3, she and other evicted shack-dwellers lit a big fire for warmth and slept outside the Nomzamo community hall because they could not get the keys.

Although hearings with residents were now complete, the inquiry would continue to take their statements.

Members of the police were expected to testify next.

- Sapa

Lwandle evictees fear for their kids

Cape Town - Residents living in a community hall for almost two months after being evicted from their homes in Lwandle, near Strand, have complained that their young children are being exposed to “disruptive” behaviour.

There are complaints that some youths are openly abusing alcohol in the Nomzamo Community Hall.

Residents were given the temporary shelter days after being evicted last month.

The Lwandle inquiry into the evictions resumes today. The inquiry was set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to investigate the circumstances under which the eviction took place.

The scope of the inquiry includes the history of evictions in the Zola informal settlements and factors leading up to the court application by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to evict residents from its land.

Some of the almost 900 residents say the youths drink excessively, party late at night then fight with one another.

Resident Xoliswa Masakala said: “Some of these youngsters have been drinking in the hall and using the opportunity to drink and go crazy. There is no reason for them to drink like this. There are children here and for them to be exposed to this sort of behaviour is not good.”

Ward councillor Mbuyiselo Matha said the issue of youths drinking in the hall had been addressed.

“This issue came to my attention and we have spoken to the youths who were fighting and drinking inside the hall. This is a hall and meant for the people who were evicted, not for any other people who are disruptive,” he said.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s spokeswoman, Pierrinne Leukes, said the the hall had meant to be a “short-term solution”.

“Almost immediately after the evictions, the City of Cape Town provided the community hall as temporary shelter. This was therefore just intended to be a short-term solution while discussions took place between the city, provincial and national government. We would like to encourage those staying in the hall to go back to the completed structures as soon as possible and to report any illegal activities taking place in the hall to the police.”

Meanwhile, work on the temporary shelters to house the 849 residents is near completion. Matha said it was still unclear when the residents would move back to their homes.

“I know there were problems with the standpipes and also some of the structures are still being built. It is still unclear how long people will have to live in the hall, but I hope it is soon because this can’t continue forever,” he said.

Statements by residents were collected last week by the commission.

Testimonies from Sanral, various NGOs and the Sheriff of the High Court were heard earlier this month. The inquiry has until Tuesday to complete its work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Five plans to save Cape Town stadium

Cape Town - Five models are being considered to ease the financial woes of Cape Town Stadium, but they do not include either demolition or a casino.

Angry ratepayers described the plans for the stadium and its precinct as a “farce”, “smoke and mirrors” and a waste of ratepayers’ money.

The stadium generates between R12 million and R15m a year, but it costs the city and ratepayers R55m to keep it going.

There are two proposals to help the stadium pay its way: the commercialisation of the stadium and the development of Granger Bay Boulevard, an area beside the stadium fronting on to the road known as Granger Bay Boulevard.

But ratepayers have been told that demolition is not an option. Nor are there plans to ease the stadium’s financial woes with the building of a casino.

“The harsh reality is that this stadium is costing you and I as the ratepayers,” Geoff Underwood of Planning Partners told about 40 people who attended a meeting at the stadium.

“There is no proposal to put a casino in the stadium. If anybody comes up with any proposal, it would have to follow national law in terms of casino licensing,” Underwood said.

The meeting was the first of eight hearings to be held across the city about the background and draft scoping reports for the two developments.

Both sites will have to be rezoned for general business to allow for the commercial activity recommended by the business plan that was commissioned by the City.

The stadium has about 20 000m2 which could be used for commercial activities. There is also an opportunity to expand seating from 55 000 to 62 000. But the commercialisation of the stadium alone would not be enough to make it financially viable.

Granger Bay Boulevard has been earmarked for a mixed-use development that could include retail and office space, a sports science facility and a hotel.

According to the background and scoping document prepared for the city by The Environmental Partnership, all five alternatives for the development - which includes buildings ranging from 15 to 60m high - will have a significant impact on the area.

Underwood said the low-development model for Granger Bay would yield an additional income of R9m, and a high-development option with buildings at maximum height could yield up to R45m extra a year.

One of the most significant implications of the development is that the land will no longer be available for public use.

Heritage Western Cape has asked for an impact assessment to be considered. This must include an archeological study with particular reference to Fort Wynyard. The study should also look at the possible intrusion of the development into sightlines. The proposed development would also have implications for services such as water and sewer generation.

The report noted that the increase in commuters to the site “may potentially result in traffic congestion”.

However, Underwood was at pains to emphasise that no decision had been made yet on the “design forms or intensity” of the building that would go up at Granger Bay Boulevard.

Most of the 40 people at the meeting expressed concerns about the cost of running the stadium and the potential impact of these two developments. None of their questions were answered, however, as the consultants insisted that their comments would be noted for inclusion in the next report. One participant called it a “smoke and mirrors” meeting.

A member of the Green Point Ratepayers’ Association was concerned that a noise assessment would not be done for the stadium.

“There could be a discotheque or a nightclub at the stadium. This could be a serious problem if it is allowed to operate at the current decibels allowed for concerts and sporting events.”

The association referred to the plans to develop Granger Bay Boulevard as “error in logic” on its website. “Their temptation is to plug the full financial hole created by the R40m gap between the stadium costs and stadium directed revenues by developing to the maximum possible potential on the adjoining site.”

The association also questioned the city’s focus on the stadium precinct for revenue, when the funds could come from new developments anywhere in the city.

Carmen du Toit, of The Environmental Partnership, said the issues raised would be taken forward, and there would an opportunity later to comment again.

The period for comment ends August 22.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nkandla ‘to test Parliament’

THE re-establishment of the ad hoc committee on Nkandla would test Parliament’s credibility in how it carries its constitutional mandate to hold the executive arm of government accountable, says constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos.

He was one of the original complainants that led to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R246m worth of publicly funded security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla residence.

On the weekend African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Stone Sizani said Parliament would restart the ad hoc committee on Nkandla once Mr Zuma had sent the legislature his letter on what he plans to do.

The Nkandla ad hoc committee was constituted during the fourth Parliament and was dissolved in May on the eve of the May 7 elections.

The committee’s mandate was to consider the report of the public protector on the security upgrades at the Nkandla homestead, the president’s written response thereto, and consequential action for any wrongdoing.

Mr Sizani’s spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, said on Monday: “There is nothing new in what the chief whip said. We (ANC) have always said we will support any mechanism Parliament may put in place to process the response of the president as and when he submits it to Parliament.”

Mr Zuma missed his own deadline of submitting that letter to Parliament in the middle of this month saying he was awaiting the outcome of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report.

SIU head Vas Soni told Parliament at the beginning of the month that his unit’s report would be delayed as it had only just then been given access to Nkandla and that two unnamed people were not co-operating with their responses to the SIU inquiries.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would make an “important” announcement regarding the reconstitution of the Nkandla ad hoc committee on Tuesday.

“To date, the president has failed to provide such a written response to the public protector’s report, missing his self-imposed deadline of 16 July 2014,” the DA statement read. Mr de Vos said he did not know what else could be done to speed up the reconstitution of the ad hoc committee. “The point is that Parliament has received the facts as stated in the public protector’s report to guide it. Now two things have to be done. The first is the criminal prosecution of those who have done wrong and the second is holding those accountable who made the political decisions.”

Mr de Vos said the Nkandla matter was still relevant as it was about the accountability of spending public funds.

Proper homes if new runway built

Cape Town - A new runway at Cape Town International Airport could mean proper homes for impoverished people living in Freedom Farm.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) is pushing for the relocation of residents of Freedom Farm, a settlement on land owned by Acsa and in the direct line of aircraft flight paths, in order to make space for a new, rotated runway.

According to Acsa’s Final Scoping Report, the company is investigating the feasibility of relocating residents to land on the eastern side of the airport in the Symphony Way Development Corridor.

“The development of Symphony Way Development Corridor will serve as a buffer between the airport and adjacent residential developments, which will expand over time,” the report read.

Freedom Farm is an informal settlement on the northern boundary of the airport near the intersection of Robert Sobukwe Road and Stellenbosch Arterial. In 2012 residents staged large protests to demand houses, setting tyres on fire in hopes that the smoke would disrupt air traffic.

According to the report, Acsa has been discussing the relocation of Freedom Farm residents with the City of Cape Town since 2010.

“We want to move but many people don’t have identification or birth certificates so they can’t qualify for housing,” Sebastian Jooste, community leader of the settlement’s “R” block, said. “Acsa hasn’t assisted us in getting and submitting the proper paperwork.”

According to Jooste, 629 families live in the settlement. During the Freedom Farm protests in 2012, the then councillor for Ward 24, Asa Abrahams, stated that 547 families needed housing, suggesting people have since moved to Freedom Farm.

“We always worry about more people moving here,” Jooste said. “People hear we’re getting houses and suddenly new shacks spring up.”

According to Jooste, Acsa is doing its “utmost” to take care of Freedom Farm dwellers. But other residents, such as Banele Ngazi, disagree.

“No one is communicating to us about what’s going on,” Ngazi said. “There’s no communication from Acsa, there’s no communication with community leaders.”

Acsa meets four times a year with five community leaders from Freedom Farm, including Jooste, to discuss housing and other issues relating to the settlement and the airport.

According to the report, “The development of a viable commercial/industrial zone by Airports Company South Africa will partly address the high levels of unemployment in the local area and contribute towards the social and economic development of the area.”

Acsa did not specify the ways in which the development could do so.

The report also stated that a memorandum of understanding has been signed by Acsa and the City of Cape Town regarding the relocation of Freedom Farm residents and the development of the Symphony Way Development Corridor.

The report stated: “The City of Cape Town will relocate families from these informal settlements independently of the runway realignment project.”

Housing delivery efforts 'hampered by residents'

CAPE TOWN – Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela says some Cape Town residents who are angry over housing issues are hampering housing delivery efforts themselves. 

Madikizela and City of Cape Town officials addressed the Langa community on Sunday. 

The meeting comes after dozens of residents took to the streets earlier this month in violent protests which rendered the township inaccessible for more than a day. 

Shack dwellers and backyarders in the area are demanding houses. 

A community meeting between Langa residents and Western Cape government officials went smoothly despite lingering tensions over housing. 

Madikizela addressed a packed community hall, saying his department has noted residents’ concerns.

He however pointed out that housing delivery has been delayed due to shack dwellers building structures on land earmarked for development. 

Madikizela appealed for patience, informing the community of two other projects currently underway.


Monday, July 28, 2014

ANC backs new committee on Nkandla report

Cape Town - The ANC will not only support the re-establishment of Parliament’s ad hoc committee on the public protector’s Nkandla report, but will move for this to be done as soon as President Jacob Zuma has submitted his response to Parliament.

“What do you mean ‘support it’? We will establish it as soon as we have the response of the president,” said ANC chief whip Stone Sizani on the eve of the party’s caucus lekgotla in Cape Town this weekend.

The ANC has never said it is opposed to establishing a new committee, but has labelled opposition calls for this to be done premature, amid threats of court action after Speaker Baleka Mbete said it was not her decision.

Zuma came in for heavy criticism during the debate on the Presidency budget vote this week for failing to address the question many saw as the elephant in the room – his long-awaited, and overdue, response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on her investigation into the Nkandla scandal.

Zuma had committed to delivering his response by last week, but wrote to Mbete from the Brics summit in Brazil to say he was out of the country and would miss the deadline.

The speaker’s office had not received his response by Friday.

As ANC MPs, including all ministers and deputies, prepared for the caucus lekgotla, Sizani said the party would be giving no free passes in this Parliament.

The lekgotla was to draw up a five-year programme of action to ensure effective implementation of the party’s conference resolutions, election manifesto and the National Development Plan.

“There will be no free passes, no loafing. We will be judged on the basis of our effectiveness in providing oversight and being there in the community, and also making sure communities participate in law-making processes,” Sizani said in response to criticism that the party had been reluctant at times to take on the executive in the previous Parliament.

“Our responsibility is not to oppose anybody, but to make sure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing better and more effectively. Our robustness, therefore, is to insist on how best you can achieve value for money and have a better impact on the people.”

He said opposition parties seemed to see their oversight role as a stick to beat the ANC with, rather than adding value to policy or ensuring its proper implementation.

An example was EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu’s refusal to accept the president’s assurance that promised action on the water supply in the Limpopo town of Giyani was on track.

Responding to EFF leader Julius Malema’s claim during the Presidency budget debate that nothing was happening, Zuma outlined a programme for the refurbishing of the water infrastructure, saying work had started and water would flow by September.

But on Friday, Shivambu was ejected from the National Assembly after suggesting Zuma had lied.

Sizani said this showed the EFF’s immaturity and misunderstanding of the work of Parliament.

“You have to look at what the process is. What is the programme, how do you monitor it, and will it be able to talk to people’s needs? Will it be able to make people aware of how they will participate in the process? If you are not allowing people to participate and have information, the members of Parliament surely would be guilty of dereliction of duty.”

Insulting Zuma did nothing to offer alternatives or improve government plans, but was “showing your hatred for the man”.

But Sizani felt the stormy opening season of Parliament would pass and no changes to the rules were needed.

“We are saying: ‘This is a passing phase.’ They will soon understand and learn how it is done in Parliament. Because Parliament is not a rally. You cannot shout at people, you cannot pass slogans. You have to say: ‘Here is what is not working in your policy’ and show it in practice, where it should be changed.”

He asked for the ANC in Parliament to be judged on the five-year plan its caucus would craft this weekend, and how well it stuck to this.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lwandle inquiry to resume next week

Cape Town - An inquiry into the removal of people from Sanral-owned land in Cape Town will resume its public hearings next week, spokesman Vusi Tshose said on Friday.

He said the inquiry, appointed by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, would move to Nomzamo on Tuesday for a third round of public hearings.

Residents directly affected by the SA National Roads Agency Limited's (Sanral) removals on June 2 and June 3 would give oral presentations.

“In the interest of transparency and meaningful public participation, the inquiry will conduct its hearings in public and anyone interested can attend,” Tshose said.

“However, this will apply on the basis of first come first served due to space limitations.”

The hearings would start at the Lwandle Community Hall at 10am.

The inquiry has spent the past few days collecting residents' statements.

On Monday and Tuesday it listened to testimony by Sanral, various NGOs and the Sheriff of the High Court who effected the removals through a court interdict.

Tshose said a fourth round of hearings was expected.

- Sapa

Friday, July 25, 2014

We were sick of poor sanitation: SJC

Cape Town - Social Justice Coalition (SJC) members refused to leave the Cape Town civic centre last year because they wanted to make a statement about poor sanitation, the city's magistrate's court heard on Thursday.

“Members had felt frustrated because we had been engaging with the city for two years,” SJC general secretary Phumeza Mlungwana testified.

“The decision was that we needed very strong action to get the mayor's attention.”

Mlungwana and 20 other members were arrested in September last year after singing and dancing at the stairs of the Cape Town civic centre without giving the city notice. Some of them had chained themselves to the stair railings, forming a human chain.

They had wanted to speak to mayor Patricia de Lille about the frustration at the city's perceived inaction over proper sanitation in informal settlements like Khayelitsha.

They were charged with convening a gathering or alternatively, convening or attending a prohibited gathering.

The group pleaded not guilty on the basis that their actions were not criminal.

Their lawyer Michael Bishop had applied for them to be discharged on Thursday, but this was refused.

Mlungwana said the SJC had fought tirelessly since 2008 to promote rights envisaged in the Constitution, accountability and active citizenship.

They decided to focus on sanitation after receiving numerous complaints about a lack of maintenance and consultation.

The SJC had been excited when De Lille committed to a janitorial service for informal settlement toilets at a sanitation summit in 2011.

Mlungwana said the implementation failed because of a lack of policy. The city eventually started stalling and “playing hide and seek”.

The SJC's executive council decided last year that they would go to the civic centre and not leave until they had handed over a letter of demands.

“We chose 15 people because we didn't want to apply for the picket and wanted to stay within the law,” Mlungwana said.

She will resume her testimony on October 7.

- Sapa

Thursday, July 24, 2014

COSATU welcomes action against alleged Nkandla profiteers

Federation says it hopes this is not just a matter of junior officials being used as scapegoats

COSATU welcomes action against alleged Nkandla profiteers

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the report in the City Press (20 July 2014) that 13 senior government managers - who sat on the Bid Adjudication Committee that awarded contracts for the R246m upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead - have been charged with maladministration.

This follows investigations by the Special Investigating Unit, who recommended to the Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, names of officials to be charged with procurement irregularities, transgressing provisions of the Public Finance Management Act and failing to follow supply chain prescripts in connection with the upgrades.

COSATU however hopes that these are not just junior officials being used as scapegoats, and thus welcomes the assurance by the minister's legal advisor Phillip Masilo that "No official is made a scapegoat; everyone should account for his or her role in the project. Everyone found to have done anything wrong will be dealt with irrespective of the position".

Just as important is for equally tough action to be taken against private contractors who benefitted from irregular procurements, in line with the firm commitment by the African National Congress that "all public office bearers, officials and private sector companies involved in any maladministration must be brought to book and all funds that were acquired inappropriately must be recovered".

COSATU has never questioned the need for the state to take adequate measures to secure the President and other public office bearers, which is normal anywhere in the world. But, as we said when the Nkandla scandal first broke: "For the government to spend such a grotesque amount of public money on any one person is shocking and grossly insensitive to the workers, the poor and the homeless...

"All those who have been found to be behind this gross misuse of public funds must be held accountable, including any political office bearers who approved the use of these massive amounts of public money, or failed to monitor and stop the runaway expenditure".

And this must not just apply to Nkandla. The same City Press reported that two directors of Public Works who deal with accommodation for ministers and senior government officials, have been charged and dismissed for irregularities related to the R60m renovations of ministerial homes in Pretoria, after the SIU found that a contractor had been paid an extra R2.6m without supporting documentation.

The SIU is also investigating why R15m had been spent on renovating a house in Cape Town for Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, well above the property's actual value.

COSATU repeats its call for the publication of all the names of all the service providers, including the names of all their directors and shareholders. In particular we want to investigate whether there are any instances of officials allocating contracts to their own or family members' companies.

The guiding principle that must be observed and enforced is that public servants and representatives must choose between public service and private business, and never get involved in both at the same time. As a way of monitoring this, all government officials involved with supply chain management must be subjected to lifestyle audits.

Statement issued by COSATU national spokesperson, Patrick Craven

Cape mayor tackles HRC racist label

Cape Town - Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says she is to file complaints against municipalities that have “bigger” sanitation problems than Cape Town’s, in the light of the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) report that says the city’s sanitation arrangements violate the dignity of people living in shacks.

“If we are found to be racist and violating the dignity of people, then the other metros should also be judged on the same rule,” she told the council at its meeting on Wednesday.

In its report, released this month, the HRC said the city violated the human rights of people in informal settlements - particularly black Africans who made up most of this population - by “unreasonably” providing chemical toilets as a long-term measure.

The HRC said it had found the city was also unreasonable in applying emergency housing programme guidelines in situations that were not urgent, while following a fixed approach in determining sanitation needs.

De Lille said the HRC had been deployed to weigh in on Cape Town - “and Cape Town alone”.

“We have 45 days to respond to the HRC, but we will take it further. We will lay the same complaints in municipalities who face the same problem. If we are being rated the racist city, then all the other big metros should be labelled racist.”

The eThekwini municipality provided chemical toilets for hostels, De Lille said.

“Johannesburg pays R19 million a month for (chemical toilets) in informal settlements. Every major event uses chemical toilets, while Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay have 23 000 bucket toilets. Are all of these cities inherently racist?”

The city had provided 44 500 chemical toilets this year in an effort to increase services.

“These realities, ignored by the HRC, can only mean one of two things. The HRC does not understand the realities of government in South Africa or it chooses to ignore these to make political points. It is true that the city is under attack from the ANC and its cohorts.”

De Lille took swipes at the ANC and the ministerial inquiry into the Lwandle evictions. She said inquiry chairman Denzil Potgieter, an advocate, was being paid R20 000 a day and the five inquiry members, all of them former MPs, R2 500 a day.

Inquiry spokesman Vusi Tshose referred all queries to Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivuyho Mabaya, who could not be reached.

ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe said: “The city is being mismanaged by the mayor. Her administration’s underspending is a clear ill-performance indicator.”

De Lille rejected the comments.

ANC ‘hit squad’ out to get us - De Lille

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is under attack from the ANC, in collusion with the SA Human Rights Commission, Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement and the Lwandle ministerial inquiry, mayor Patricia de Lille has charged.

In the council on Wednesday, De Lille slammed these entities for being ANC proxies.

Damage to city property – including burning tyres and violent demonstrations – were the “hallmarks of the modern ANC” in the province, and had already cost the city R20 million.

“Having realised they are not in a position to win fair and square at the ballot box, they have decided to try to win by hook or by crook with violence and disruption.”

It was unlikely that the ANC would take public responsibility for this damage by Ses’Khona and others “because it suits them to have a proxy” to do their work.

There was also a human cost to the ANC-motivated violence, since the R20m could have been used to build houses or provide services. “The ANC will do what it can to create havoc in our city and our province. Instead of allowing for democratic debate it would “lie, cheat, break things and shout to make its voice heard”.

De Lille said the Lwandle inquiry set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was a “farce”.

The “political hit squad” was made up of “spent forces of mostly former ANC MPs... to discredit the city”. They had already decided on the outcome.

As for the SA Human Rights Commission, it had been deployed “to weigh in on Cape Town and Cape Town alone”.

The commission recently accused the DA-led metro of racial discrimination for providing chemical toilets to four areas in Khayelitsha.

De Lille said the city respected Chapter 9 institutions, but it would not accept the findings of an institution being abused for political gains.

“Either the (commission) does not understand the realities of government in South Africa, or it chooses to ignore it to make political points.”

Despite poor sanitation delivery in other municipalities, the commission had accused only Cape Town of racism.

“We will... go to Johannesburg, Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and eThekwini to lay the same complaints with the (commission)... “

Cape Town had the country’s highest toilet provision target, and chemical toilets were a last resort. It was looking at sanitation solutions.

Taking a swipe at Ses’Khona, led by suspended ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla, and the so-called poo protesters, De Lille said: “Their integrity is worth about as much as the poo they throw to make their point.”

Affidavits submitted by residents had shown Ses’Khona stood to make about R330 000 from selling plots on the Sanral-owned land in Lwandle.

The organisation had also taken responsibility for inciting violence in Kosovo and Philippi, leaving more than 5 000 households without power.

Nkohla was not given an opportunity to respond, but did question the mayor’s criticism of a “respected” institution such as the commission.

De Lille responded: “Anyone can say the city has violated the right to basic sanitation, but it must be backed up by fact. We would expect a Chapter 9 institution to be fair and equal to all.”

But the ANC’s metro leader Xolani Sotashe dismissed De Lille’s statement as “absolute rubbish”.

He told the Cape Argus after the meeting: “There is no organisation called the ANC Ses’khona. This is an old song of the mayor to cover up the city’s bias in terms of service delivery.”

He said the city wanted to blame service delivery protests on the ANC to taint the party’s image ahead of the 2010 local government election. “It is a defection strategy because the city is not servicing poor communities.”

Sotashe said De Lille’s criticism of the HRC was seen by the ANC as a sign of disrespect.

“If Chapter Nine institutions come out in favour of the DA, they are praised but now that the findings are against the DA, the SAHRC is attacked.”

Her allegations that the Lwandle Inquiry was nothing more than a political hit squad were also disrespectful.

Nkohla said later that Ses’Khona was blamed for everything that went wrong in the city. But he said the organisation was an independent NGO and not in alliance with the ANC or the DA.

He also challenged De Lille and Premier Helen Zille to provide proof that Ses’Khona benefited from the sale of land in Lwandle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nkandla probe ongoing: Presidency

The investigation by the SIU into upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla was still ongoing, the presidency said on Tuesday.

The investigation ensued after Zuma signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the public works department's “prestige project” at Nkandla.

The presidency said the probe was one of 27 which were still ongoing following proclamations signed by the president.

In a report released in March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the R246 million spent on security upgrades to his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma declined to respond to Madonsela's report in full within the required fortnight. Instead he said he would wait for the SIU's findings on the same issue.

The president had undertaken to hand National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete a comprehensive report on the outcome of three separate investigations into state spending on his home by the end of Wednesday last week.

However, on Thursday last week, his spokesman Mac Maharaj said the president needed more information before responding to findings about his home.

- Sapa

We are not short of ambition - Now offering 'Housing opportunities'

Lindiwe Sisulu says her department will provide 1.5 million housing opportunities over the next five years.

This past week, we led the international community in the celebration of the greatest struggle icon of our time, Nelson Mandela. Our government plans and the challenges it seeks to address, are linked with what Mandela stood for and fought against.

Addressing the court at the Rivonia Trial, Mandela said: “We fight against two features, which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa: poverty and the lack of human dignity.”

If we are to be true in honouring his legacy, we should ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to emulate him in addressing those challenges.

Our people are the best judges. They have endorsed the work we have done in the past 20 years. They resoundingly proclaimed that under the ANC government, South Africa is better than it was 20 years ago. This has also been acknowledged by all the opposition parties.

But it should not blind us to the challenges ahead. As we try to address the seemingly intractable legacy of apartheid, we have had to contend with new challenges – arguably all linked to this ugly past.

We have brought back dignity to the more than 3 million households that have benefited from our pro-poor policies.

The mushrooming of squatter camps and informal settlements that blight our otherwise beautiful landscape are a consequence of land hunger – and economic dispossession spawned by apartheid.

We are not unmindful of the growing sense of desperation and impatience that has been expressed by our people.

Our analysis suggests South Africans are beginning to ask the difficult questions. One of which is, when will the backlog and waiting list of 1994 be eliminated?

Some housing experts are suggesting there must be a cut-off date for young people and we must focus on elders. They also suggest the government consider other forms of assistance to those younger than 60.

Developers, bankers and construction companies expect the minister to intervene to unblock red tape in municipalities.

Taxpayers expect the minister to ensure the houses built with their money are of quality and given to the right owners.

NGOs, in particular those operating in informal settlements, find the government unreasonable and uncaring about the plight of people living in informal settlements.

Low-income earners (R3 500 to R10 000) are struggling to find houses they can purchase within the price range of between R150 000 to R300 000. They cannot find affordable serviced stands to purchase where they can build their own houses. They expect the government to intervene and assist.

Many young people in urban areas who earn less than R5 000 a month are willing to build houses for themselves, but there is a lack of allocated land for them to buy and on which to build.

Town planners and developers believe it is possible for the process of township establishment, re-zoning, environmental impact assessments and approval of building plans to be fast-tracked.

They have specific proposals on how this can be done.

We are not short of ambition. And where ambition is combined with commitment, the sky is the limit.

Our bold measures are aimed at addressing the spatial planning and reversing the geopolitical imagination of apartheid in the next five years.

We must continue to ensure that all South Africans live in decent conditions in suitable settlements that provide inclusive amenities and public transport.

We will provide 1.5 million housing opportunities for qualifying households in urban and rural settlements over the next five years.

These will include fully subsidised houses, affordable low-income houses, social housing units and community residential units.

We will also accelerate the provision of basic services and infrastructure in all existing informal settlements.

Greater co-ordination among key role-players remains a key ingredient for success in this drive to improve living conditions of the 750 000 households found in informal settlements.

We will increase the supply of affordable housing for teachers, nurses, police officers, office workers and many others in the gap market.

Work is at an advanced stage with the Ministry of Public Service and Administration to introduce a programme to help meet the housing needs of public servants.

We will work with financial institutions, private sector organisations, co-operatives and social partners to increase the provision of capital for housing and overcome barriers to affordable housing finance.

Our considered view is that housing development will not be a drag to the economy, but will be a skills generator and a catalyst to many economic opportunities. As the government, we have made a commitment.

As I have indicated above, we can’t do this alone. This is a call for partnership for all society to place all hands on deck.

* Lindiwe Sisulu is the Minister of Human Settlements.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.