Durban – The DA’s Human Settlements spokesperson, Emma Louise Powell, says the party will be asking Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi to urgently convene a multi-stakeholder housing delegation to intervene in KwaZulu-Natal and ensure that communication systems are put in place and sustainable response plans are prioritised.
The delegation would be led by independent experts.
They would also report the current living conditions of flood victims to the South African Human Rights Commission.
After paying an oversight visit to halls still occupied by people displaced by the April floods, the DA said the government had left KZN flood victims in the lurch.
Powell said halls across the province were still housing desperate residents who were now impatiently waiting for the government's seemingly non-existent intervention.
At KwaDabeka, ward 19, in eThekwini Municipality, where more than 115 victims are still waiting for help, residents told the delegation that their ward councillor had not visited them in two months.
“Whilst no government officials nor their elected ward councillor have been in communication with the flood victims, the local ANC branch has been demanding lists of names of those waiting for assistance. This is likely so they can control any future allocations on the basis of ANC patronage. There is absolutely no place for the involvement of any political party in the administration of emergency housing opportunities,” Powell said.
At Truro Hall, where more than 70 victims of flooding in Reservoir Hills have been accommodated, residents have been left to fend for themselves.
“In the absence of any co-ordinated response from the provincial and local Human Settlements departments, they are now solely reliant on the local DA councillor to provide food and gas sourced from local donations, but these resources are fast drying up,” Powell said.
She said that the hall in Banana City, Reservoir Hills, had been identified for temporary residential accommodation, but planning approvals and construction were yet to begin. An existing transit camp that could temporarily provide more dignified accommodation to flood victims has stood empty for months and was last week illegally invaded.
“At the Tshelimnyama community hall, the South African National Defence Force has been deployed to maintain peace and security due to ongoing volatility in the area. Flood victims and soldiers alike have been without working toilets and water for a week. The local steering committee told our delegation of the freezing conditions at the halls in the evenings, which combined with their lack of access to water or working toilets, is now resulting in a steep rise in communicable diseases,” Powell said.
“It is unacceptable that 12 weeks after the floods occurred, residents and local DA councillors – who are the only visible resources on the ground – have no information as to the future of these displaced communities. This is as a result of nothing other than a lack of co-ordination and a failure of those responsible to put in place response plans with any level of urgency.”
Earlier this month, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said 27 069 households were affected by the floods, 8 584 houses destroyed and 13 536 damaged.
Zikalala said that as they continued constructing temporary residential units (TRUs), their focus was to accommodate more than 4 396 families that were accommodated in halls, churches and schools.
At least 206 TRUs have been completed to date and there is progress in identifying land for further building. So far four properties under Tongaat Hulett have been identified. Of the land identified in other parts of the province, 258 land parcels (41.88%) do not have geophysical constraints, with 5.8% of these being in eThekwini.