Western Cape Human Settlements Minister
Yesterday afternoon I met with the leaders of the group calling themselves Ogobityholo BaseKapa who had previously marched twice to the Provincial Legislature to present memoranda of grievances related to generalised land and housing issues.
At the first march on 30 September, I received the memorandum from the group on behalf of Premier Helen Zille and subsequently asked the group’s leaders to provide more specific information relating to their generalised complaint, so that my department could address the issues and provide feedback. After repeated requests over 2 weeks, I eventually received a call from ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla on 12 October 2013 asking for my email address. I gave him my email details and again weeks passed without my receiving the necessary information.
Without responding to my request for details, they organised a second march on 30 October which turned violent and was accompanied by looting and disruptions to business and traffic in the Cape Town CBD. Disingenuously, they told the media that I had not responded to their previous memorandum. They knew this was not true. Media reports also revealed that Loyiso Nkohla attended a public meeting a few days before the march where he encouraged protestors to loot.
Eventually the group delivered boxes of thousands of names to my office on Wednesday 20 November which they asked us to check against the housing waiting list. If they have not applied, their names will not be on the waiting list. The process of verification is happening and will take some time to complete.
Since the first march (September 30), I have been in frequent contact with the group’s leaders via telephone and SMS (screenshots of SMSs can be made available to the media upon request) in order to have their grievances investigated and addressed. The Province has acted in good faith, wanting to make sure that any legitimate concerns are addressed. It is therefore entirely false and disingenuous for anyone to claim that the Western Cape Government does not respond to, or has not engaged, with residents who raise service delivery grievances with us.
The meeting with Ogobityholo BaseKapa
During the afternoon’s meeting with the leaders of Ogobityholo BaseKapa, I presented the information they requested, which we are also making available to the press. We presented our budget for the 2013/2014 financial year, which is allocated to us in terms of DORA by National Treasury: We explained how houses are allocated using the City of Cape Town’s housing demand database. We explained exactly where housing opportunities have been delivered within the City of Cape Town since 2009, and how much was spent in the relevant areas.
In spite of the many challenges we face, including ongoing internal community conflict, limited land for relocation, and ongoing contestation for houses, the Department has used its entire budget each year since 2009, to deliver over 110 000 housing opportunities in order to cater for the different housing needs that exist.
Friday’s planned march
The Province has done everything that could be expected to engage with the leaders of Ogobityholo BaseKapa from the start of their campaign and we are willing to continue engaging with them on their issues of concern when presented in good faith. It should therefore be apparent that there is no reason for them to march on Friday, as our supposed “lack of engagement” was the claimed reason for their march. The City has not given permission for this march, because of the violence and mayhem that accompanied the last one. The march organisers have announced they plan to go ahead anyway and the City is seeking an urgent interdict to prevent them undertaking an illegal march.
The Province has supported the City in this court action. The Premier has written to the Mayor relaying information received from the State Security Agency that the protest march on Friday is deliberately intended to be violent. The organisers are planning various disruptions that include enforcing a work stay-away, stopping taxis and busses from operating and staging a three day sit-in outside the Provincial Legislature. The danger of random attacks on taxis, buses and commuters is therefore very real.
The information is that the organisers want this protest march to be accompanied by looting and attacks on businesses and commuters, although they plan to deny that this is their intention so that they can eschew responsibility for any violence and disruption that occurs. They are attempting to mobilise thousands of people to participate in this unlawful protest march from many informal settlements, both in the City and further afield, including Paarl and Stellenbosch. However, we understand that they are battling to mobilise enough community members for their purpose.
The Premier’s letter to Mayor de Lille has been included in the court papers. The SAPS has also been alerted to this information and is taking the necessary precautionary measures.
We respect the right of any group to march and to raise issues of legitimate concern with the relevant government authorities and we remain committed to receiving and responding to genuine grievances from residents, presented in good faith and not driven by political agendas that detract from the real issues.