Cape Town -
A housing handover in Delft turned into a battle for attention between Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Human Settlements Minister Connie September on Tuesday, while police kept a close eye on a group of people who also attended the event to protest over houses.
September and Zille tried to outdo each other with Struggle songs as they tried to curry favour among people at the handover, which was punted as a joint event between the national and provincial governments.
Zille addressed the crowd who were in a marquee first, but their singing became so loud that at one point she could hardly be heard.
She ended her speech then and joined the crowd in the song Zabalaza (we are struggling).
Zille started another song, Asoze Saphela’ Amandla (we will never give up), and dragged out the last few notes.
September followed Zille and preceded her speech with the song Siyaya, Noma Besidubula, Besishaya, Siyaya (We are going forward despite them shooting at us or hitting us).
Zille was quick to get up from her chair and waited behind for September to finish her speech to take to the podium again.
“It is wrong to sing that song,” she told the crowd about September’s choice of song. “It does not belong at a function like this. We are building a nation with one future.”
September later told the media she didn’t think the song was “inappropriate”.
Zille accused ANC members of “hijacking” the event and added that it was clear this was how the ANC would run its election campaign.
She said she presumed September did not know about the protesters.
“I’m sure the minister is also unhappy about this,” Zille said.
September said people were free to wear whatever shirts they wanted and that she saw other people wearing DA shirts.
“We have to separate party politics, and by inserting ‘This is how the ANC is going to run the elections’, (this forces me) to turn even this conversation into politics, which I absolutely don’t want to,” September said.
“We must be cautious (in) what we’re saying.
“It is much better to focus on the houses we deliver,” she said.
Tuesday’s event in Delft Symphony was a government project to deliver 1 951 houses by the end of this year as part of the N2 Gateway project.
Five houses were handed over on Tuesday.
The Delft Symphony development precinct three and five date to 2005, when the city awarded the contract to Ibuyile Consortium.
It has gone through several redesigns.
Some residents were angry about the slow delivery and on Tuesday displayed posters demanding houses first before they would vote.
It was second time this week residents had held protests at a government event.
On Monday, Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela was chased from a housing handover in Vredenburg after residents, many of them wearing ANC shirts, claimed he was there to score “political points”.