Western Cape MEC and Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille in housing spat
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Cape Town - Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers has hit back at Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille after she accused him of being a “blue liar”.
The Cape Argus reported on Tuesday that Simmers recently informed the standing committee on human settlements that of 33 land parcels promised to the Western Cape for housing by De Lille, only two sites had been handed over.
But De Lille denied this, and told the Cape Argus that Simmers was a “blue liar”.
“In October last year the Cabinet approved 14 000 hectors of land to be transferred. The Western Cape has received land in District Six and in the city centre over and above that. I’ve given them six houses for the fight against Gender-Based Violence. They must answer why they haven’t used their own land. They keep throwing our people far away. They are liars, they must show South Africans what land they own,” De Lille said.
Simmers in reponse said: “We have a housing backlog of close to 600 000 in this province and Minister De Lille’s continued failure to transfer the land and to issue the power of attorney to the Housing Development Agency, as per the Cabinet resolution, causes further delays in addressing the housing needs of our residents.
“The people of this province should enquire from Minister De Lille why she’s conducting herself in this manner, particularly since she’s denying law-abiding citizens the opportunity to improve their lives.”
He said the six houses being referred to went to the Western Cape Department of Social Development.
District Six forms part of the land restitution project, which is driven by the National Department of Rural Development.
“She goes on to call me a blue liar for pointing out her failures and deceitfulness. Minister De Lille should clearly inform us when the land was transferred and when the power of attorney was given,” Simmers said.
“It is critical to note that in the absence of power of attorney, a third party is unable to commence with statutory processes such as water use licence assessments, environmental impact assessments and town planning on the owner’s land while the transfer has not been concluded.”
Since October 2019, four land parcels in the extent of 26 hectares were signed off by the minister for release in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan, Drakenstein and Stellenbosch municipalities in the Western Cape.
De Lille’s friction with the DA over housing in the city reached boiling point last year when Emma Powell, the DA spokesperson for Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, wrote to De Lille in September requesting clarity on whether her department intended releasing six large tracts of land under its custodianship for housing.
These land parcels, which include Ysterplaat, Denel, Culemborg, Youngsfield, Wingfield and Upper Darling Street, could yield in excess of 93 000 affordable housing opportunities.
“Being deceitful, manipulative and petty does not help anyone, and I’d like to propose to Minister De Lille to embrace an intergovernmental co- operative spirit in her dealings with other spheres of government so that the needs of our people can be addressed,” said Simmers.
In response, De Lille said: “It’s clear that the province doesn’t understand their own role in terms of the Constitution to make provincial land available for provincial purposes.”