Premier must explain Graskop houses-for-votes promise

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga premier DD Mabuza must his explain his promise to Graskop residents that they would receive houses in return for votes during the 2014 election campaign, when in fact the houses were not the government’s to hand over.

According to reports, the premier and former human settlements MEC Andries Gamede promised residents during a public meeting on April 26 that they would receive 170 houses built by the Chinese government if they voted ANC.

The premier’s remarks were highly irresponsible, and clearly a desperate attempt to woo DA voters in a DA ward.

This is evident, as in response to a DA question for oral reply in the Mpumalanga Legislature on 7 August 2012, former human settlements MEC Siphosezwe Masango stated that the houses were built as part of a memorandum of understanding between the Thaba Chweu municipality and the Chinese government.

According to the memorandum 400 houses would be constructed, but this was amended to 170 when the municipality requested higher quality fixtures and fittings. The project would comprise low and middle income housing, which would see low income units handed over to beneficiaries, while middle income units would be sold to raise funds for further human settlement developments.

Click here to download a recording of the former MEC’s response.

Premier Mabuza had no authority to make his promises on April 26, as neither his office, nor the Department of Human Settlements were parties to the memorandum, (as mentioned by MEC Masango) and now the municipality will suffer the loss of millions in potential income, and middle lower income people denied the opportunity to own property.

Housing projects such as these are aimed at assisting citizens who work, and earn too much to qualify for an RDP house, but too little to qualify for a commercial bond.

The DA will write to the premier, human settlements MEC Violet Siwela and Thaba Chweu mayor Michael Ncongwane demanding the Memorandum of Understanding be made public, as the people have the right to know the terms and conditions contained therein.

Premier Mabuza must stop acting as if municipalities are his own personal domain, and present the people of Graskop with a clear response to their housing needs.