Witbank Land Invasion- Premier Mabuza Must Take Responsibility

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Yet another illegal land invasion is currently under way in Mpumalanga. This time, a large scale illegal invasion is taking place in Klarinet, Witbank, in the Emalahleni municipality – and Premier DD Mabuza must take direct responsibility for this invasion and the escalation of illegal land invasions in Mpumalanga.

Premier Mabuza’s continued inaction in establishing a proactive illegal land invasion intervention unit is having dire consequence for our province, and in this case has left the local municipality under-resourced and overwhelmed in a potentially volatile situation.

Buses, taxis and trucks are offloading people and building materials on open land between Klarinet and the airfield, and the municipality is powerless to stop people from building their shacks. With hopelessly insufficient personnel to stem the tide, municipal officials can only watch as another informal settlement is established.

As the invasions trend continues, the economic impact and the risk to the constitutional provision of land ownership must never be underestimated. We can never allow “Zimbabwe-style” land grabs to become an entrenched practise in Mpumalanga, and government must act immediately

On 3 July, during a meeting with the DA, Premier Mabuza committed himself to establishing such a unit, but has made absolutely no progress in its establishment.

Our proposed unit, would have had the capacity to deal legally, efficiently and effectively with events in Witbank, and include:

· The unit would carry the mandate to intervene on behalf of owners, whether government or private, whenever an illegal occupation takes place.

· It would be staffed with mediation specialists, representing all stakeholders, able to address possible tensions between government departments, municipalities, claimants, CPAs and land owners.

· The team must have the capacity to engage with all parties concerned and improve lines of communication, thus reducing tensions and uncertainty.

· Establish a rapid litigation unit, comprising legal experts. In the event of an illegal occupation, the unit would be duly equipped and resourced to immediately submit the necessary court documents to obtain interdicts and injunctions against the occupants.

The DA’s proposal would have dealt with this and other illegal land invasions proactively, but sadly, the Emalahleni municipality will now be embroiled in a lengthy legal and political battle to deal with this invasion, while this informal settlement will become an established community.

Premier Mabuza must take responsibility, be held accountable and put action to his commitments.

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