File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters.

PORT ELIZABETH, - Weighing in on the ongoing strife in Alexandra township, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said on Tuesday it would withhold its support for the Human Settlements budget unless R1.4 billion for the renewal project that allegedly went missing was accounted for.

"Challenges faced by residents of Alexandra township are substantial, and the people of Alexandra deserve answers to what happened to the R1.4 billion of taxpayers money that was allocated for the Alexandra Renewal Project," ACDP leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe told Parliament on Tuesday. 

"This money was supposed to be used to develop the township and build houses for residents who are living in very unhygienic conditions," he said.

Meshoe said the money was intended to develop sustainable human settlements that would improve the quality of life for people in Alexandra but that despite allegations of the funds going missing a number of years back, Treasury had done nothing about the situation. 

"Priorities include the delivery of 110 000 new housing units by 2019. Chairperson, unless corruption is rooted out, and accountability demanded, this vision cannot be realised.

"Chairperson, millions of our people still live in squalid conditions in informal settlements where there are no basic services such as water and sanitation."

Meshoe also said the evictions and demolition of about 80 houses in Seshwetla informal settlement in Alex during May was shocking. 

In the ensuing protests two bonded houses belonging to residents in Alexandra were torched.

While JMPD spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the demolished houses were illegally built and too close to the river, Meshoe condemned the demolition of houses in which people were living.

"The ACDP believes that it is cruel to demolish houses that are occupied and inhabited after allowing such houses to be built illegally in the first place.

Calling on government to stop the illegal invasion of land, Meshoe said it should subsidise schemes that would allow people to build their own houses. 

"If this is not done, then informal settlements will forever be with us," the ACDP leader said.

"The ACDP will not support this budget or subsequent budgets until a criminal investigation into the unaccounted for R1,4 billion has been concluded, and steps against thieves and all those who benefitted from corruption at the expense of the needy people of Alex, have been taken,” Meshoe said.

African News Agency (ANA)