Ethekwini Decision Over Puntan’s Hill Sends Out Dangerous Messsage

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs

A DECISION by Ethekwini to immediately begin developing the Puntan’s Hill informal settlement, following last week’s violent protest action over the lack of service delivery by informal settlement residents, sets a dangerous precedent that the municipality is unlikely to sustain.

While the DA welcomes the news that these residents will finally get their long-awaited homes, we are concerned about the precedent that Ethekwini is setting. Not only will it encourage “queue jumping” – it also sends out the message that violent protest action, where there has been wholesale destruction and even death – is the way to get action out of municipal officials.

According to a media report, a team of Ethekwini municipality officials have been mandated to begin preliminary work and are also investigating the practicalities of supplying the community with electricity while it expedites the planned housing development. The DA views Ethekwini’s response as reckless in the extreme. Of course, this knee jerk response would not be happening if the municipality had delivered on its earlier promises to this community.

KwaZulu-Natal has experienced a spate of service delivery related protests recently. While the DA in no way condones violent forms of protest, we sympathise with residents who have a valid gripe after being let down time and again. However, the only commitment that municipal officials should be making to residents is to honour earlier assurances relating to service delivery. This does not include the overnight delivery of homes.

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