Friday, October 24, 2014

Poverty in Western Cape growing

Cape Town - Local government MEC Anton Bredell has stressed that the biggest challenge facing municipalities in the province was the fact that “poverty is catching up” with them.

Tabling his department’s annual report before the provincial government’s standing committee for local government on Wednesday, Bredell said his department has received a clean audit opinion from the auditor-general.

“Our financial management is under control,” Bredell said.

Over the past year, the department has provided support and capacity building programmes to all 30 municipalities in the province, with the aim of delivering the best necessary services to communities.

Bredell said this year the department had exceeded almost all of its performance targets.

Responding to questions from ANC MPL Richard Dyantyi, about the impact of service delivery protests on the department and its oversight role in the province’s municipalities, Bredell highlighted the fact that the province had had a 37 percent population growth over the last 14 years.

Dyantyi said for the year 2013/2014 there were 644 protests in the province, and he wanted Bredell’s take on the issue.

Bredell pointed out that there were different reasons for the protest action, saying that not all were service related.

The EFF’s Nazier Paulsen wanted to know what the department was doing to resolve the problem in municipalities like Oudtshoorn where politicians and not officials were causing problems.

Bredell said that in Oudtshoorn it was not just the politicians but also the officials who were causing problems.

“Sometimes unfortunately you will need to follow the legal route,” Bredell said.

A stable political environment and a good administration were needed to get a town’s council in a proper running state.

“I am not the boss of politicians, we work with councils. I am the MEC for local government in the province, I’m not the MEC for the DA members in a council,” he said.

Using stats from the municipal IQ survey, Bredell said seven of the top 10 best performing municipalities in the country were in the Western Cape.

“Twenty-nine out of the 30 municipalities in the province also managed to attain unqualified audits in their latest financial year, with 11 of the 29 getting a further accolade, that of getting clean audits in the year under review,” he added.

Another highlight was that the province spent more than 98 percent of its Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) expenditure. But Bredell stressed that despite the progress, much still needed to be done to improve the living conditions of many communities.

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

DA Calls On Minister Sisulu to Come Clean On Tongaat Mall Funding

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Nocawe Mafu, requesting that she summon the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to Parliament to account for the department's involvement in partially funding the Tongaat Mall in Durban.

Reports revealed yesterday that Minister Sisulu confirmed that her department had been involved in the funding of this mall and thus we implore the Minister to come clean on the extent of her department's involvement.

Minister Sisulu said: "The tragedy about that building is that it was partly funded by myself [... ] Part of the funding did come from human settlements."

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to ascertain how funds from the Department of Human Settlements were channelled and approved by the Minister to fund the construction of the mall.

Housing money should not be spent on building malls.

After the investigation is complete, the full might of the law must be enforced to hold those accountable for abusing tax payer's money.

Sadly, two people were killed and 29 workers were injured in the collapse of the mall on 19 November last year.

We cannot stand by and watch money that is meant to assist the poor to be used on building malls.

Taking money meant to build houses for the poor to build malls is criminal and as such all involved must face the full might of the law. It does not matter if they are developers, politicians or Human Settlements officials

Makashule Gana

Deputy Federal Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance | Shadow Minister of Human Settlements

- allAfrica

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cape Town's Joe Slovo residents “too young” for houses

Residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement, Langa, have been left homeless after they started demolishing their shacks under the impression that keys to new housing units would be handed over to them. The MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela, has said that the shack demolitions were premature and that many of the beneficiaries are “too young” to be prioritised for housing. By Daneel Knoetze for GROUND UP.

On Wednesday, when community leaders told Ntombi Mpozolo, 26, and dozens of her neighbours to move out of their shacks in anticipation of receiving new houses, they were happy to oblige. Mpozolo’s section of Langa’s Joe Slovo informal settlement borders the newly completed Phase 3 of the N2 Gateway Housing Development. She and 55 neighbouring households claim that they have been registered as beneficiaries in line for new houses at the development since 2010. Title deeds for the units have already been signed, she says.

“We have been waiting for those houses a long time. Our ID numbers are all on the list and we were not expecting to be so disappointed. Instead of sleeping in our new houses, we were left outside to sleep among our possessions.”

Mpozolo showed GroundUp to the hearth around which some of the families slept the night before. The coals were still smouldering, which would make it easier to light the fire later, she said. Couches, fridges, kitchen cabinets, luggage, clothing and remnants of shacks lay scattered about.

Nearby, Mzwanele Zulu, of the Joe Slovo Task Team, had convened an impromptu community meeting. He used a loud hailer to address some 200 people who had gathered.

The Task Team is the community’s liaison to government and the N2 Gateway project managers - the Housing Development Agency.

“There is a lot of sudden confusion on our side and, more so, from the community,” he told GroundUp after the meeting.

“We are just here to show that we are in solidarity with them. Last night I was here until 2am, sitting with people who had no option but to sleep outside - mothers and infant children.”

Zulu said the Task Team, on instruction from the HDA, told 56 families to move out and to start demolishing their shacks.

“We had a fruitful meeting with the HDA last week and it was agreed that the beneficiaries would move in on Tuesday and Wednesday. Now, suddenly, we are told that these beneficiaries are too young and that they will not receive houses at all. That has come completely out of the blue. The community feels that they have been stabbed in the back. It may seem peaceful now, but this is a recipe for violence.”

The issue of age and housing allocation was addressed by national Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, at the 6th Planning Africa Conference in Durban on Tuesday. According to Sapa, Sisulu told reporters that people below the age of 40 are not “a priority” for government housing allocation.

“Our intention in giving free houses was to right the wrongs of the past and make sure that we can give our people dignity. And that group of people is not the people below the age of 40,” she is reported to have said.

“I don't know of a country that gives free houses to young people. Free housing in a few years will be something of the past. You (the young people) have lost nothing (to apartheid).”

The HDA could not confirm reports that the issue of age came up in their discussions with the Joe Slovo Task Team this week. Spokeswoman Kate Shand said that the HDA would only be able to respond to GroundUp’s queries later this week.

Madikizela of the Western Cape Human Settlements department, which is a partner in the N2 Gateway project, acknowledged that expectations had been raised in the Joe Slovo community that keys would be handed over this week.

“But, at no stage were those residents told to move their possessions or to demolish their shacks,” he said.

“The development’s contractor is the only body tasked with doing this. If they do not give the instruction, which they did not do, it would be irresponsible to start the process of moving.”

On the issue of age, Madikizela said:

“There is no way that we are giving houses to kids in their 20s. It cannot be fair that youngsters - who are new on the waiting list - get houses when there are people in their 60s and 70s who have lived in shacks for decades. They may threaten violence, but government will not bow to this pressure.”

But Mpozolo, a mother with a four year old boy, said that she was merely asking for government to make good on previous agreements that she and 55 of her neighbours would move into the new houses.

If they were not handed the keys to the new houses, Mpozolo said, the community would violently resist relocation.

“We are old enough to vote for these politicians to be in power, but now all of a sudden we are not old enough to be given the houses that we were promised.”

“They themselves agree that we have been on the housing waiting list. We qualify for these houses, they are ours. This is unfair and, as you can see, we must now live outside without a roof over our heads.” 

- DM

No parallel between Nkandla and airport

There is no equivalence between the building of a public airport and the provision of private retirement accommodation, says Dave Steward.

Pretoria - In comments that he is reported to have made at a luncheon at the weekend, President Jacob Zuma apparently asked why there was so much criticism over state expenditure on his personal residence at Nkandla, if the state had been prepared to build an airport for PW Botha in George in 1977.

He also pointed out that he lived in official accommodation without paying rent and that he made use of official aircraft without having to pay the costs involved.

Were these unfair benefits, the president asked.

When it was pointed out that Nkandla was his own personal property he asked whether it was not the state’s duty to protect the president and the deputy president.

The president pointed out that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had already found that he was not responsible for the expenditure on Nkandla and had recommended disciplinary steps against 12 officials (a finding that is being hotly contested by some of the accused officials).

If he is correctly reported, the president’s comments raise disturbing questions regarding his views on the distinction between proper state expenditure on bona fide projects and expenditure that will result in his own enormous and unjustifiable enrichment.

The state naturally has a duty to provide official accommodation and transportation for a president while he is in office.

It also has a duty to provide a reasonable level of security to retired presidents.

However, something must be seriously wrong if the provision of such security leads to state expenditure that vastly exceeds the value of the property that is being protected, as well as expenditure on the security of other former presidents.

This is particularly the case when one considers that the amount spent on Nkandla would be sufficient to build 2 500 RDP houses.

Any state action that results in the enrichment of a political office bearer to the tune of hundreds of millions of rand is fundamentally wrong and unacceptable.

Even if the SIU were to be proved right, that Zuma was not responsible for the decisions involved, he would still not be entitled to the personal enrichment that would nevertheless ensue from the mistakes of the accused officials.

There is clearly no equivalence between the building of a public airport and the provision of private retirement accommodation.

PW Botha was not given ownership of George Airport and derived no personal benefit from it above and beyond the benefit that it brought to all people wishing to fly in and out of the southern Cape region.

Neither was it built simply to accommodate Botha’s personal travel needs.

The southern Cape was in sore need of an airport as is illustrated by the fact that George Airport now handles 600 000 passengers a year – significantly more than East London, Bloemfontein and Kimberley.

And anyway, since when has Zuma adopted the former president as a role model?

What emerges from Zuma’s remarks is his growing sensitivity to media criticism over Nkandla; his, and the ANC’s failure to accept that the expenditure of R246 million on his private residence is indefensible; and the lack of credibility of the findings of organisations like the SIU that are ultimately under the president’s control.

* Dave Steward is executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation.

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

- Pretoria News

Cape residents march over service delivery

Cape Town - Hundreds of frustrated Philippi residents marched to protest against poor service delivery on Thursday morning, while police monitored the situation.

Marikana and Rholihlahla informal settlement residents marched to the Fezeka municipal offices in Gugulethu to demand basic service delivery.

About 200 residents dressed in yellow ANC branded T-shirts with a picture of President Jacob Zuma, marched down Sheffield Road, voicing their frustration.

As they sang struggle songs, police in two vans kept an eye on the situation in an effort to prevent violence breaking out.

Residents claim they have had no access to water, sanitation and electricity since moving on to privately-owned land at Marikana and Rholihlahla in August.

A series of eviction attempts by police and other officials ended in violence and residents soon returned to the site.

Phillip Mvundlela, chairman of the Rholihlahla Street Committee, said residents had signed a petition which would be handed to the chairman of Subcouncil 13.

“The subcouncil chair must hand the petition to the mayor (Patricia de Lille) and she should see that we get these services,” he said.

Mvundlela said residents were not aware the land they had invaded was privately owned.

However, he said even if it was privately owned, the fact should not infringe on their human rights.

“Its been three months now. How do they expect us to wash?”

Another resident, Nosiphiwo Lali, said they were tired of not being heard.

“A month after settling here, we approached the ward councillor asking for basic services. He still hasn’t got back to us, so we are going to his superiors.”

But some residents did not participate in the protest.

They said there was a court case pending about the illegal invasion and marching was against court rules.

Gcinikhaya Ngqangqu said: “We are dealing with a court case against the owners of the land and the City of Cape Town is the second respondent in that court case.

“We were supposed to wait for the outcome before protesting.”

zodidi.dano@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

MyCiTi demolitions a ‘done deal’

Cape Town - Plans by the City of Cape Town to demolish houses in a Plumstead road earmarked for the construction of a new MyCiTi bus route appear to be a done deal, according to a report submitted to the Protea Subcouncil.

Approval has already been given for the demolition of three vacant houses in Waterbury, Rotherfield and Lympleigh roads.

Part of the motivation for removing these “dilapidated houses” was that Transport for Cape Town, and specifically the Integrated Rapid Transit department, had “informed and requested the demolition of various houses within the proposed road reserve to enable the construction of Phase 2A of the IRT project”.

The project would start in 2015, said the report. “They are currently finalising the concept design and expect the detail design of Phase 2A to be completed in mid-2014.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, has said that the detailed route was still being finalised and that more information would be announced at a media briefing within two weeks.

The city has meanwhile confirmed that 26 occupied council-owned houses and six vacant houses would be demolished to make way for the MyCiTi trunk route that will come through Wynberg and Plumstead. Tenants have already been sent council notices terminating their leases, and have been given until January to leave their homes.

Members of the South Road Families’ Association, representing those facing eviction, say the MyCiTi plans had been “slapped” on to outdated road schemes dating back to the 1950s.

Herron said the properties in South Road were bought by the city after the initial planning of the South Road scheme in the 1960s. The detailed design for the road scheme was finalised early in 2000, but construction never took place.

The South Road reserve, as well as the Wynberg Couplet reserve, also approved in 2002, would form part of the second phase of the MyCiTi service between Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain and Wynberg.

But the Wynberg Residents and Ratepayers’ Association said the council had agreed in 2002 that the Brodie/Main Road couplet proposal would be a long-term plan and would be phased in only if there was an “extensive meaningful public participation process” and if “overwhelming support of the public is obtained”.

At a recent press conference about the Integrated Public Transport Plan, Herron said the Wynberg route would start at Wynberg Station and travel along the Main Road, the Brodie Road couplet and the new carriageway in South Road, Plumstead.

The Cape Flats District Plan of 2012 refers to a link from South Road to Constantia. This link, which would include an underpass under the railway, is part of the proclaimed road area. The Brodie Road couplet would create a two-lane public road through residential Wynberg.

After a public meeting to discuss the city’s plans, the Wynberg Residents and Ratepayers’ Association issued the following statement: “Wynberg residents do not support the South Road/Brodie Road couplet scheme, which has been disguised as a MyCiTi route.”

anel.lewis@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lindiwe Sisulu’s housing stance outrages youth

Statements made by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that people younger than 40 will not get a free house has angered and shock the National Freedom Party Youth Movement (NFPYM).

“Anybody below the age of 40 will need to understand that they are not our priority unless they are special needs or are heads of child-headed households,” Sisulu said in Durban.

“Our intention in giving free houses was to right the wrongs of the past and make sure that we can give our people dignity. And that group of people is not the people below the age of 40,” she reportedly said on the sidelines of the 6th Planning Africa Conference.

Sisulu reportedly said the government had received a lot complaints for not providing free housing to the youth, but that the message to young people needed to be clear – that they would not receive free housing.

“I don’t know of a country that gives free houses to young people. Free housing in a few years will be something of the past. You [the young people] have lost nothing [to apartheid].”

She said government free housing projects were aimed at helping those who had suffered under apartheid.

“To us this is shocking. It’s this type of arrogance that makes young people less interested in voting. It’s a shame that Minister Sisulu has forgotten that the majority of the people she is talking about have lost their parents during the apartheid era, said NFPYM general secretary Maria Busi Tshabalala.

Tshabalala said the minister spoke about the youth not receiving houses while she was around as if the money for housing came from her own pocket as opposed the fact that it was taxpayers’ money
.
“It’s shocking and disturbing that few months after the general elections, she is taking such a stance because it’s us as young people who voted in numbers,” said Tshabalala.

“Is the ANC saying to hell with young people, now that they put in power for the next five years? We, as the NFPYM we are not surprised that the Minister speaks like this because she knows nothing about poverty or going to school bare-footed.”

The youth fraction of the NFP said the ANC’s true colours are now coming out and that it is clear that the ruling part does not care about the youth.

The political party has challenged the minister to a public debate on the issue.

- citizen

MyCiTi evictions are ‘like District 6

Cape Town - Mixed communities in Plumstead and Wynberg say the construction of a MyCiTi “freeway” through their peaceful suburbs will, like the Group Areas Act of apartheid, rip apart their neighbourhoods and their families.

More than 30 City of Cape Town tenants – including pensioners, single mothers and families with children at nearby schools – have been served with notices by the city’s property department, instructing them to move out of their council-owned homes by January next year.

“They’ve just thrown us out like dogs,” said Mogamat Bester, head of the South Road Families Association. “We are ratepayers and we pay rent.”

Others said the planned evictions harked back to the days of District Six, when families were scattered across the peninsula after the bulldozers moved in.

Bester, who was given his notice to vacate a few weeks ago, has vowed to fight the evictions. Legal advice has already been sought, and Bester is working on getting signed petitions of support from the area’s schools, churches and mosques.

He said it was understood that there were three phases to the city’s proposed MyCiTi route: the South Road demolition, the Brodie Road couplet in Wynberg and eventually the Constantia Road couplet.

Bester spoke to the Cape Argus on behalf of some of the residents who were shell-shocked after hearing at last week’s meeting of the Wynberg Residents and Ratepayers’ Association that the road was a “done deal”.

One resident, who has lived in her house since the late 1960s, was too ill to attend the meeting. Another spoke of the toll the uncertainty was having on her health.

But amid the anxiety and anger, there was also a strong sense of community and compassion. Recurring comments were “we’ll fight this together” and “we are not leaving”.

Ironically, the city’s intention to go ahead with a road scheme that was first mooted during apartheid to divide Wynberg along racial lines, has united residents of all races and religions in opposition.

For some, like Duncan Human, 76, this is not the first time they have stared eviction in the face.

Human, who has lived in Pluto Road, Plumstead, for more than 40 years, took the city to court in 2008 when he was first told to vacate his property.

He won his case.

“This is disturbing news for me. I’m 76 years old. Where am I going to go to? I’ve been through this before.”

The residents are adamant that they don’t want to leave.

“We don’t want alternatives, we want to stay here,” said John Abrahams. “We want public participation. There’s a highway coming through and it will bring noise and an influx of people to our area.”

One of the residents claimed he was told that if he did not like the city’s plans, he could live in Blikkiesdorp.

Lisa Miller’s house in Pluto Road will be flattened to make way for a MyCiTi bus stop. The planned road will have a devastating impact on her family.

“We can’t afford to buy a house, so I will have to take my daughter out of school and move to Pretoria where I can stay with family.”

Miller will have to leave her husband, a policeman, behind in Cape Town as he will be able to stay at the barracks.

Joanne Louw lives with her mother, a pensioner, and her 14-year-old son. She’s delighted that he has been accepted at a leading high school in the area. But, now she will have to find somewhere else to live.

“We will sit with our belongings in our gardens,” she said.

Another mother of three is concerned about schooling options. One of her daughters is at Vista Nova, and the school’s bus picks her up at their home.

“Where we are now, we are comfortable and safe. And now for council to tell us we have to move…”

The city has confirmed that tenants renting city-owned properties have been given four months’ notice to vacate their houses and to find alternative accommodation.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for Transport for Cape Town, said the bus lanes along South Road would “by and large” fall within the road reserve defined by the original scheme that was approved by the Protea Subcouncil in 2002.

He said the properties were acquired by the city over a period specifically for the purpose of the road scheme and “it was always the city’s intention that these properties would be demolished to make way for the construction of the proposed road”.

But Kristina Davidson, of the Wynberg Residents and Ratepayers’ Association, said a town planner had indicated earlier this year that the couplet road for a bus service made no sense as it would simply place a bus lane parallel to the existing railway line.

It was recommended that the bus rapid transit (BRT) should end at the Wynberg Transport Interchange where commuters could switch to a taxi or train.

Davidson said Wynberg was an area of high pedestrian activity and the proposed couplet would create a one-way “race track” with limited pedestrian access.

“The city regards the road scheme as part of the long-term ‘mobility solution’. Yet those same schemes were developed in the 1950s and 1960s, when the car was king and building roads was all the rage. The proposed couplet/South Road makes sense if the aim is to increase car mobility but does not make sense in terms of accessibility for passengers.”

It was also contrary to the national public transport strategy which called for integrated public transport networks.

“It would appear that the BRT concept is being misused to get funding for a road scheme that nobody wants,” she said.

anel.lewis@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Zuma’s backers should help the poor: IFP

Durban - President Jacob Zuma's backers should rather donate money to the needy than attempt to bail him out, the IFP said on Monday.

“President Zuma is not poor, he can afford to pay his debt,” Inkatha Freedom Party secretary general Sibongile Nkomo said in a statement.

“With his monthly salary, he can afford to pay all his debt without any bail-out.”

She said Zuma could not accept an offer to pay back the money spent on his Nkandla homestead, as this would mean he acknowledged that it constituted unlawful spending of public funds.

The Sunday Times reported that KwaZulu-Natal tycoon Philani Mavundla had offered to raise funds and settle Zuma's Nkandla “debt”.

Nkomo said Zuma's so-called backers would be wasting their money.

“There are many people in our country who are in desperate need of food and shelter, therefore these so-called good Samaritans should divert their goodwill to help those in need, as they are the ones who deserve assistance.”

In March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had derived undue benefit from the upgrades and recommended that he pay back a portion of the money.

Zuma declined to do so, and instead waited for the outcome of another investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.

The SIU blamed Zuma's architect Minenhle Makhanya for inflating the costs of the Nkandla project, and filed a civil claim against him for R155m in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 11.

Makhanya has hired high-profile lawyers to contest the case.

- Sapa

Monday, October 20, 2014

Zuma's Nkandla comparison raises alarms - de Klerk Foundation

The foundation says the comments regarding Zuma's views on the distinction between proper state expenditure and self-enrichment are disturbing.

President Jacob Zuma’s reported comparison between the construction of George airport and money spent on his Nkandla home raises “disturbing questions”, the FW De Klerk Foundation said on Monday.

“If he is correctly reported, the president’s comments raise disturbing questions regarding his views on the distinction between proper state expenditure on bona fide projects and expenditure that will result in his own enormous and unjustifiable enrichment,” executive director Dave Steward said in a statement.

The state had a duty to provide official accommodation and transportation for a president while in office and had a duty to provide security to retired presidents. 

“However, something must be seriously wrong if the provision of such security leads to state expenditure that vastly exceeds the value of the property that is being protected as well as expenditure on the security of other former presidents,” he said. Beeld reported on Monday that Zuma compared the construction of airport in George for apartheid-era head of state PW Botha, and his own home in Nkandla.

‘Is it unfair?’
Answering a question during a Sunday lunch to mark media freedom day, he said he lived in a state house without paying rent and travelled on state planes without paying for it. “Is this an unfair advantage?” he asked. When it was pointed out that his Nkandla dwelling was a personal home, not state property, Zuma said it was the state’s duty to protect the president and deputy president. 

Zuma said the airport in George was not built for economic reasons. “It is because Botha lived there [at Wilderness].” He wanted to know why there was so much criticism over Nkandla saying: “Is Nkandla not meant to produce a president?” The government spent R246-million on upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home. 

The public protector recommended that he repay that part of the money not spent on security. Meanwhile, disciplinary hearings for government officials who signed off on aspects of the project were underway. 

Parliament was disrupted by a call by the Economic Freedom Fighters that Zuma “pay back the money”, and Minenhle Makhanya, the architect who worked on the project, is challenging his alleged liability for overspending in court. Steward said any state action, which resulted in the enrichment of a political office bearer was fundamentally wrong and unacceptable. 

He said Botha was not given ownership of George Airport and derived no personal benefit from it. It was not built just for Botha’s personal travel needs. 

“What emerges from President Zuma’s remarks is his growing sensitivity to media criticism over Nkandla; his, and the ANC’s failure to accept that the expenditure of R246-million on his private residence is indefensible; and the lack of credibility of the findings of organisations like the SIU that are ultimately under the president’s control,” Steward said. – Sapa

SHACK FIRE DISPLACES 22 IN KRAAIFONTEIN

CAPE TOWN – Cape Town disaster management officials have warned the rise in temperatures may see more fires breaking out in the province.

22 people were displaced following a blaze in Kraaifontein last night.

Three school children were among those affected.

Distaster Risk Management’s Wilfred Solomons-Johannes says units are at the scene to assess the damage.

“The fire occurred at the Bluekombos informal settlement. 10 shacks were destroyed overnight. Disaster management teams were deployed this morning.”

A week ago a fire broke out in the Lusaka informal settlement leaving over 100 people homeless while shack fires around the province continue to claim lives.

- EWN

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tycoon offers to settle Nkandla bill

Duban - KwaZulu-Natal tycoon Philani Mavundla has offered to raise funds and settle President Jacob Zuma's debt over the security upgrades at his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, the Sunday Times reported.

Mavundla, a former ANC mayor of Greytown, admitted that there have been behind-the-scene discussions among Zuma's backers for the president's debt.

“We have been talking about this. There has been a forum talking about this issue.”

“We've been asking questions about this issue and convincing one another that we need to put something together,” Mavundla was quoted as saying.

The group would raise money in the same way they did with the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust set up in 2005 to raise money for Zuma's defence against his fraud and corruption charges at the time. Mavundla was involved with the trust, the newspaper reported.

Mavundla, 46, slaughtered 20 cattle in 2008 to celebrate Zuma's rise to the ANC presidency after defeating former president Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane.

He lives with his three wives and their 18 children, his siblings and mother-in-law in a 28-bedroom mansion near Greytown, according to the report.

Mavundla owns a construction company, PG Mavundla Engineering. His property portfolio included five commercial farms, a luxury hotel and lodge and several other businesses, the newspaper reported.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela ordered that Zuma reimburse the state a portion of the R246 million spent on his private homestead.

- Sapa

Lindiwe Sisulu to establish housing ommbudsman

A housing ombudsman would be established to monitor policies and address issues in the housing sector, the department of human settlements said on Sunday.

The announcement was made by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu during the National Settlement Indaba held at the Sandton Convention Centre before the weekend.

“We have agreed that the department of human settlements will establish the ombudsman office for the housing sector by November 14, 2014 to monitor the implementation of all policies and the resolution of this indaba,” Sisulu said.

She would work with Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the SA Local Government Association to resolve several issues which were raised during the indaba.

During the indaba. Sisulu and other stakeholders committed to delivering 1.5 million housing opportunities by 2019.

Over R250 billion would be directed to this cause.

Other issues which were discussed included eradicating the backlog of title deeds for pre and post-1994 housing stock, reviewing the eviction laws, and the urgent need to make serviced sites to employees who did not qualify for government subsidies.

The indaba was attended by ministers, local government delegates, mining companies, property owners and developers, engineers and employers.
It resolved that government must prioritise pensioners, orphans and military veterans in provision of housing, but also intensify the implementation of other creative programmes to support young people in urban areas.

- Sapa

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nkandla shows need to protect whistle-blowers

WHISTLE-blowers in the public service who refuse to comply with illegal instructions from politicians or superiors should be better protected, says Department of Public Works director-general Mziwonke Dlabantu.

Although public servants have the right, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, to request instructions in writing and then to lodge these with the auditor-general and the Treasury, this is seldom done, as they fear retribution.

Had the 13 public servants facing charges in connection with the renovations of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla followed this procedure, they would have been protected, says Mr Dlabantu.

Instead, they are facing charges for carrying out instructions from their superiors. None of them has been found to have benefited materially in any way.

Their motivation is unknown and "could have been to please their superiors" or a case of "being used to bending the rules", says Mr Dlabantu.

"If a minister gives you an illegal instruction, you have a right to request that it be issued in writing. Generally people are scared to do that. I have raised it in discussions with the National Treasury that protection of whistle-blowers should be strengthened."

Some of the public works officials who have been charged told City Press last month they had been ordered to destroy confidential documentation and not keep notes of meetings on the R246m Nkandla project. Mr Dlabantu said "there was a monumental misunderstanding" of how to handle confidential and classified documents. "If something is classified it doesn’t mean a document should not exist. It means it should be handled correctly," he says.

The officials told City Press they planned to expose instructions from their superiors to bypass tender procedures and take shortcuts from 2009 when construction began.

The Nkandla project was symptomatic of the chaos that prevailed in the department prior to 2012, when the turnaround strategy was put in place.

This included "a very basic collapse of the systems of the department itself", says Mr Dlabantu, who was appointed to his position a year ago.

- BDLive