DA KZN:  ANC-led Kokstad municipality reneges on Ezemvelo land deal

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal is deeply concerned following an “about turn” by the Greater Kokstad Municipality over a Memorandum of Agreement with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife which is set to see prime conservation land used to build low cost housing.

In 2012 the Kokstad Municipality undertook to meet its environmental obligations and entered into a 20 year agreement with Ezemvelo to expand the Mount Currie Nature Reserve through the incorporation of municipal land.

Little more than a year later the ANC-led Council, in a knee jerk reaction, took a resolution to terminate this agreement following public protests and illegal land invasions by a landless peoples’ movement in the area.

The land originally promised to Ezemvelo was then identified as a site for low cost housing.

At the time, the DA strongly opposed the resolution.  We did so based on the fact that the identified site is not suitable for housing and is impractical for the implementation of service delivery given that it is well outside the practical boundaries of the current infrastructure.

Furthermore, the land in question is currently zoned for agricultural use.  To date there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  Nor has there been any application for rezoning.  The proposed project is also not reflected on the Integrated Development Plan and is not catered for in the Land Use Management System of the Municipality.

Kokstad municipality currently has three planned and approved housing projects, totalling over 2000 units, in the pipeline.  These developments will more than satisfy the current housing demand in the area.  However, due to a lack of funds, including bulk infra-structure funds, not one of these projects has seen the light of day.

The DA regards the Kokstad municipality’s decision to develop land within the Mount Currie Nature Reserve as unreasonable and illogical.  This area is a community asset and includes the Crystal Springs Dam – one of Kokstad’s main sources of water.  To allow a low cost housing development in this area – with the known failure in sewer reticulation by the Harry Gwala District Municipality – could have disastrous consequences for the community of Kokstad.

The DA calls on the Kokstad Municipal Council to urgently reconsider what can only be described as case of temporary insan