Tshwane appoints town planners to eradicate informal settlements
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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has appointed 70 town planners to start working on its plans to eradicate and ensure that informal settlements across the city are a thing of the past, says human settlements MMC Mpho Mehlape-Zimu.
This follows an oversight visit to the Wolwespruit informal settlement in Erasmuskloof over the weekend.
The City has been slammed by the South African Human Rights Commission for “poor planning, poor budgeting and poor reporting” indicative of a lack of commitment to ensuring the right to adequate housing through the upgrading of informal settlements.
However, Mehlape-Zimu said the City had already begun addressing some of the challenges of people living in informal settlements.
The commission’s report released last week, titled “Towards Ensuring the Right to Adequate Housing through the Upgrading of Informal Settlements”, pegged the metro as the worst performing in Gauteng with regard to addressing the challenges faced by people living in informal settlements.
Mehlape-Zimu said the commission was simply “out of order” in compiling its report as it had failed to ask for the City’s input about some of the things it was concerned about.
“We did not know about this report and we were not able to engage on that, and we’ve even talked about it following its release because all municipalities were not happy with how it was handled.
“If you are telling me I don’t have a plan, I become insulted as I do, and we have started circulating them. Had they engaged us then we would have given them answers.”
As it stands, she said there were 240 informal settlements in Pretoria, and they were firstly looking at all the environmental and humanitarian challenges that existed.
And while addressing service delivery needs and challenges faced by informal settlements in townships was easier to handle, addressing the need of settlements that had sprouted in Pretoria East and Centurion was much more challenging.
With these settlements, she said, they were hampered by the fact that they were reliant on other spheres of government, especially in view of the presence of illegal immigrants.
One such example was the Plastic View informal settlement, where the MMC said they had land earmarked for the relocation of 800 South Africans living there. However, this would not solve the problem as there were still up to 9 000 illegal immigrants.
“(Our dependence) on other spheres of government is really hampering our work because in these instances … the Department of Home Affairs and the police need to come in and do their work.
“For now, though, we are working on a plan to actively eradicate informal settlements in Pretoria, but we want to ensure that when we do the relocation of informal settlements we are putting people in permanent stands where we will be able to give them services such as water, sewerage, electricity and roads.”
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said addressing the Wolwespruit informal settlement was difficult as it bordered on City land and that of the Public Investment Corporation.
Mazzone said the failure in governance in the City and in addressing issues raised by the commission was due to the fact that for eight months there had been no local government.
For this reason, she said, they would be pushing for a joint operation with the departments of Public Works, Housing, Social Development and the police to work hand in hand, to put political ideology aside for the sake of the poor.
“What we have to do now is concentrate on service delivery, and part of that is restoring the human rights of people forced to live in places like Plastic View and other informal settlements,” she said.