The affordable education loan option
Durban - Politicans are not welcome in Durban’s informal settlements until such time that the housing needs of the poor are addressed, Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement, has declared.
“The shack dwellers are sick and tired of the lies that we have been getting from our politicians and we have to send a message that they are not wanted in our areas,” said Bandile Mdlalose, the movement’s general secretary.
She was responding to questions after residents of Kennedy Road protested by blockading roads on Saturday over a visit to the settlement by eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo.
The mayor had just handed out meat parcels to the poor as part of his mayoral outreach programme. But this was allegedly seen as a way to buy votes by some residents who then staged the protest.
Abahlali said Nxumalo’s visit was an insult to the residents of Kennedy Road informal settlement who were yet to receive houses promised to them years ago.
“Who told the mayor that we want meat? People in the shacks are not to be treated just like dogs who could just be bought through meat,” Mdlalose said. “All we need is housing but he (the mayor) is trying to buy our votes using meat. He should take these meat parcels to people in uMhlanga and see if they would accept these food parcels.”
Nxumalo’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, denied the accusations, saying the visit to Kennedy Road had nothing to do with elections.
“In fact, the whole incident is being blown out of proportion. The mayor received a very good welcome. And when he left a few people had tried to barricade the road with rubble,” he said.
Mofokeng said the mayoral outreach programme had also been rolled out to other areas in the city. “We visit these poor communities almost weekly; in some areas we have even donated computers.”
The leader of the DA caucus in eThekwini, Zwakele Mncwango, said handing out meat parcels to the poor would not address poverty.
“I would rather use that money to buy seedlings and give those to the poor because that then talks directly to food security,” he said.
Mncwango also believed the city should prioritise the provision of housing to the poor, especially those in informal settlements.
“Giving people meat when they have no home to cook it at is an insult,” he said. “These people need houses as they are suffering especially in this (wet) weather.”
Mncwango said the mayoral project had never been approved by exco and could therefore amount to irregular expenditure. “We read (in the Sunday Tribune) that it was sponsored by some Turkish company but we have to look into this.”