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By Luvuyo Mjekula
The City of Cape Town came under attack as angry Khayelitsha residents, living in informal settlements, vented their anger over the lack of service delivery in their areas on Monday.
Hundreds packed the OR Tambo Hall where a parliamentary ad hoc committee heard their complaints. The parliamentarians had left their offices to hear first-hand the service delivery issues residents grappled with.
As expected the parliamentarians received a barrage of complaints.
"We dispute that the Western Cape is the best province when it comes to service delivery and (Premier) Helen Zille should never have received that Best Mayor Award," an angry resident told the delegation led by Stone Sizani.
Some residents complained about poorly constructed houses and toilets while others said they were homeless and did not have toilets at all.
A woman from Ebugxwayibeni in Khayelitsha said not one of the 61 people who lived in the informal settlement had a tap.
Nomzamo Stofile, chairperson of Sanele Back Yarders, an organisation representing more than 2 000 residents living in backyards, said they had been promised land but none had been delivered.
She told the parliamentary delegation that they had followed all government channels and were desperate for houses.
The delegation also heard startling findings of research conducted by Environmental Monitoring Group, an NGO working on social justice and environmental research. Its leader, Jessica Wilson, said research done in August 2008 showed that many municipalities in the Western Cape were not coping with their mandates. Their policies and strategies were not based on the needs of the people on the ground.
The Black Sash also submitted a report it conducted on social grants.
Residents reported concerns about the shortage of water and areas with no electricity. Unemployment and crime were also serious worries for residents.
"No water equals Death Penalty," read a placard held up by one resident.
The public hearings launched a week-long programme by Parliament's ad hoc committee on co-ordinated oversight on service delivery, aimed at finding out more about progress on service delivery.
The hearings followed the National Assembly's resolution to establish the committee to conduct oversight visits on service delivery under the theme "Working together to ensure the delivery of quality services to communities".
Members of the committee were drawn from portfolio committees on Human Settlements, Energy, Social Development, Health, Water and Environmental Affairs, Basic Education, Transport, and Rural Development and Land Reform.
There were similar hearings in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga yesterday.