Destruction and un-governability cannot dictate Uitenhage housing agenda

Annette Lovemore, MP

Constituency Leader, Winterberg (Uitenhage, Despatch, Motherwell)

The Democratic Alliance respects, absolutely, the constitutional right of access to housing. We respect, too, the right of Uitenhage shack dwellers to protest if they feel that their constitutional rights are being infringed.

We do not respect, and will never condone or support, the right of protestors to destroy property, to threaten lives or to render a municipality ungovernable. We cannot, in any way, be part of action that is criminal and that negatively impacts the rights of other residents to freedom and security. In this regard, we call on SAPS to play a vigorous role, and arrest those responsible for criminal activity, or the threat of it.

But we are, and will continue to be, part of the solution. The DA will continue to fight for the rights of shack dwellers.

We know that a house provides safety, dignity, and a family legacy.

We know that houses cannot be delivered overnight, as is demanded by the angry shack dwellers of Uitenhage. But we do say the following:

  • There is no clear leadership being exercised by the Metro. Mayor Ben Fihla owes it to the thousands of affected residents to, at the very least, issue a detailed public statement, in every local newspaper;
  • There is no clarity on the matter of housing in Uitenhage. The message is dependent on the messenger, and the level of threat being applied. This is unacceptable. Publish the plan in newspapers; make it available at public service points such as libraries and community centres. Set up temporary mobile information points. Let there be no confusion;
  • Beneficiaries cannot force their way onto lists trough threatening words or actions; the beneficiary lists must be made public and must be compiled in a transparent and fair manner, and must be made public, just as the housing plan must be;
  • A Uitenhage housing plan exists. Nelson Mandela Bay Metro officials have not taken responsibility for the implementation of the plan. It is widely alleged that serious incompetence and fraud have hindered progress. The residents deserve an explanation, and the Mayor must provide this.
  • The Mayor must take charge, but we say that there must be a plan. There must be land identified, there must be a housing development schedule, there must be a transparent and fair housing beneficiary list, and, most importantly, of course, there must be the requisite action being taken to achieve the plan.
  • The Democratic Alliance will be asking the MEC and the Minister for Human Settlements:
  • Exactly what the housing plan for Uitenhage entails, including land identification, number of houses to be built where, and when each project will be started and completed;
  • Why the housing plan is behind schedule, who will be held accountable and how;
  • Exactly how the beneficiary list is compiled and maintained.

The responses received to every question asked will be made public. We expect the same transparency, and the same level of commitment to a solution, from every responsible role player within the governing party.