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Marikana houses for real, says Sisulu

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and acting MEC for Local Government and Human Settlements in North West Wendy Nelson, jokes around during the unveiling of mixed housing project in Marikana that includes RDP houses and block of flats, as Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and ward 32 Marikana councillor Appearance Ndlovu laughs in the background. Rustenburg in North West. Picture: Itumeleng English 06.01.2016 264

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and acting MEC for Local Government and Human Settlements in North West Wendy Nelson, jokes around during the unveiling of mixed housing project in Marikana that includes RDP houses and block of flats, as Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and ward 32 Marikana councillor Appearance Ndlovu laughs in the background. Rustenburg in North West. Picture: Itumeleng English 06.01.2016 264

Published Jan 7, 2016

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Rustenburg - ANC leaders had to fend off accusations of using government-built houses for electioneering when they unveiled more than 200 housing units in Marikana, North West, on Wednesday.

The unveiling of the houses, meant to be done by President Jacob Zuma but eventually done by the North West premier and several ministers, was stained by bickering over the management of waiting lists for beneficiaries.

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Several residents and community forum leaders complained that the process of deciding who the beneficiaries were was driven by political patronage, with the ANC-aligned SA National Civic Association (Sanco) accused of heading this process.

Questions were also raised about the timing of the unveiling of the houses, which coincided with the ANC’s 104 years celebration and its January 8 statement rally taking place in Rustenburg on Saturday.

But this did not deter ANC and government leaders, including Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe from hailing the project as a victory in efforts to provide housing for the poor and marginalised.

Sisulu downplayed accusations of political patronage in choosing beneficiaries, saying the steering committee for the project included various stakeholders and managed the criteria on who qualifies.

“It is natural for people to get angry when they see others getting houses, but by the nature of things, somebody will have to be number one, and in this case we chose who we thought would be a non-contentious person - an elderly lady,” she said.

“The rest of the process will be done following the criteria and in consultation with the steering community that includes the miners,” said Sisulu.

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She dismissed suggestions that the houses were being used as a tool to garner votes during the upcoming local government elections.

“We were not electioneering when we started this project, and now we are handing over the houses because they are complete,” said Sisulu.

The new Marikana houses are part of a presidential project aimed at revitalising distressed old mining towns by developing integrated housing to deal with housing backlogs.

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The project was initiated in the aftermath of the 2012 Marikana massacre, which raised the plight of miners and communities in the area.

On Wednesday, however, officials from mining company Lonmin were nowhere to be seen, though one official told The Star it had been “a conscious decision to stay away as the unveiling has become a political party event”.

Upon completion, the units are expected to cost up to R700 million, which excludes additional infrastructure costs.

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Most miners will not be getting houses but will instead have to rent apartments.

Only the unemployed and those earning less than the threshold will get new units.

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The Star

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