The committee had hoped to see how the three spheres of government could collaborate to fast track the project. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
The committee had hoped to see how the three spheres of government could collaborate to fast track the project. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Standing committee’s tour of District Six housing project cancelled at last minute

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Cape Town - A planned guided tour of the District Six Land Restitution Housing Project by the standing committee on human settlements was cancelled at the last minute after the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) withdrew citing “other commitments”.

The department was meant to participate as one of the three spheres of government in a hybrid meeting to discuss the challenges associated with the project and the reasons for the current delays.

The committee had hoped to see how the three spheres of government could collaborate to fast track the project.

In a message to the standing committee delivered on Monday evening, the department said they were withdrawing the presentation that they had sent that morning and would not be attending yesterday’s briefing.

Standing committee chairperson Matlhodi Maseko (DA) read out the department’s message, which said: “Unfortunately due to other commitments, unable to participate.”

In a statement, issued after a shortened briefing that carried on with only the City and the provincial human settlements department engaging with the committee, Maseko said: “The national department is the lead agency on this restitution project and their failure to appear before the legislature calls into question their commitment to supporting the dignity of residents forced from their homes more than 50 years ago.

“The performance of the provincial department provides a stark contrast to its national counterpart: in the 2019/20 financial year, the department delivered 10 375 housing opportunities, while the national government has taken more than five years to build 108 homes in District Six."

Maseko also called out the opposition ANC for not attending the committee meeting and urged them as members of the country’s ruling party to lobby their colleagues in national government to take the matter of District Six seriously.

During the briefing, the City's directorate of human settlements manager Pogiso Molapo said the City’s role in supporting the restitution project included the planning and laying of the necessary infrastructure, facilitating public engagement, and the development of a local spatial development framework.

As part of its contribution, the province built the District Six CDC health-care facility which will serve beneficiaries who are expected to return to the area once the housing development has been completed.

Meanwhile, the committee voted to re-invite the department to another meeting and to offer them alternative dates after a suggestion by committee member Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA)

Van der Westhuizen said: “It’s a real pity as we were looking forward to hearing what they had to say on the restitution project. Their no show limits us from moving forward, so write to them for alternate dates and see which dates will suit and even if they have commitments they can send us another official.”

Cape Argus

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