Last week Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza announced that the administrative process of the project, allocating homes to previously dispossessed people, would be handled by the Land Claims Commission. File Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Last week Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza announced that the administrative process of the project, allocating homes to previously dispossessed people, would be handled by the Land Claims Commission. File Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Ministry skips legislature meeting on District Six, but announces home allocations

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jun 21, 2021

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Cape Town - Members of the legislature were surprised when the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) failed to turn up at a meeting to discuss the District Six restitution project but instead went ahead to announce the allocation of 108 housing units to District Six claimants.

On Thursday evening Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza announced in a press release that the administrative process of the project, allocating homes to previously dispossessed people, would be handled by the Land Claims Commission.

Unaware of the minister’s press release, the standing committee on human settlements met at 8am on Friday morning only to be told that the department was a no-show and had not bothered to explain.

After the Argus alerted the committee chairperson Matlhodi Maseko (DA) to the department’s press release, she said she was pleased for the beneficiaries’ sake.

“I am pleased that on the eve of their briefing to the committee, Minister Didiza finally announced the handover period for beneficiaries and in the coming weeks I will engage with beneficiaries about who might move in.

“It remains disappointing that the national department continues to disregard the spirit of co-operative governance and ignore the standing committee, which represents elected representatives of Western Cape residents.

“Justice cannot continue to be delayed for the residents who were forced from their homes nearly 60 years ago.”

During the meeting committee members had resolved to keep engaging with the department in the hope that it would eventually brief the committee on its work in District Six.

Committee member Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA): “I think we should continue to try to get the department. As far as I understand it, they have never said that they are unwilling to come or that they will not come at any cost.

“We also need to monitor whether the City and the national department are speaking to one another and what role we from the province can play to bring this project to fruition.”

Committee member Brett Herron (Good party) agreed, and said: “I think there’s a lot of complications, history and unhappiness among those who have already returned to that space because some people have paid for the units, some have been given them for free. We do need to engage with the department about how they intend to resolve this and to make progress.”

Meanwhile, the City has invited the public to a virtual report back on the progress to date with the draft Local Spatial Development Framework (LSDF) or local neighbourhood plan for District Six.

The meeting will be run by Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt, who said: “The City is not involved with the restitution process, but we are responsible for creating an overall spatial vision for District Six in collaboration with the District Six community, and other residents.”

The virtual meeting will take place virtually on Tuesday, June 29, from 10am to noon.

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