Tshwane Mayor and Education Department set to clash over church land donations

Fred Nel MPL

Spokesperson on Local Government

The Tshwane Metro Council has approved to lease land to churches that does not belong to it but the Gauteng Provincial Government and will now have to rescind its decision. This could potentially lead to a clash between Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramakgopha and Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy as the metro did not inform the department of its decisions. The land in question is zoned for educational use.

This was revealed in a reply to a question I posed in the Gauteng Legislature to the MEC. In the response she indicates that the Tshwane metro has not applied to obtain the land from the Department. She also gives a clear indication that the department will not be surrendering the parcels of land as schools are planned in the medium term on at least two of the parcels.

The three parcels of land in Nelmapius (erf 3871), Hammanskraal West (erf 443) and Atteridgeville (erf 7596) were “donated” by the Tshwane Metro to churches for development and are all earmarked for the construction of schools. Therefore churches cannot be developed on it. The decision to approve the leases were taken at its council meeting on 28 March 2013.

It is clear that the Tshwane mayor used the so-called donation of land to churches for political expediency and should have checked the status of the land before hijacking it. It also shows his total disregard for government property in using it for political ends. The mayor also clearly under-values the importance of education. Ramakgopa has created expectations among deserving churches of developing land for use which has now been squashed due to his expediency.

I call on the Gauteng Local Government MEC to inform all mayors in the province to ensure that they do not lay claim to land owned by the Gauteng Provincial Government.