Urban planning key to alleviating poverty, reducing number of those living in squalor - Kgalema Motlanthe
Pretoria - Proper planning in the creation of human settlements could go a long way towards alleviating poverty and reducing the number of those living in squalor, former president Kgalema Motlanthe said yesterday.
He was at a food drive organised by the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation in Olievenhoutbosch, south of Pretoria.
According to Motlanthe, with proper planning, urbanisation should not be led by informal settlements.
He lamented that the area had seen some development but was without water. “That is the wrong approach; we need a better understanding in creating permanent settlements for human beings. Water, electricity and sewer systems are basic needs. There should be planned settlements so they are pre-serviced.
“If municipalities have sufficient land, they can do staggered, planned development and pre-service the stands so people move in where there is already water. But if people occupy like they have, it is difficult to move in and service.”
He said metro planning was not equal to the challenge, and there was conflation between the state and party.
“Each election means the possibility of a different government, but the state is there all the time and must have institutional memory. That means they must plan and know how many residents are in a certain area in order to lay the piping, for example. But at the moment we have an unstable state. Once the council or government changes, we see big changes. They want to bring in their own people.
“Just like the City of Tshwane now is unstable. The administration should be the same because you have all the necessary staff that are permanent regardless of where the political representatives come from, so even when council collapses, administration is in place and services keep running.”
He said this would ensure that development and services did not stop, as citizens bore the brunt of political squabbles.
“Now it’s like they don’t plan for tomorrow, there is no institutional memory, there are constant changes and this is actively destabilising the capacity that the state has.
“This community (Olievenhoutbosch) does not have water, or houses, or any services really. As a foundation, we felt that they are a deserving community to receive food parcels to alleviate the dire situation they are in.”
He said even the method of organising the food drive could serve as an example for social grants.
“We gave all beneficiaries colour-coded vouchers and staggered times so they do not queue for long and also observe Covid-19 regulations.
“The sight of people queueing in the sun simply because they are poor is heartbreaking. The purpose is to also enable them to retain their dignity.”
Former first lady Gugu Motlanthe has been at the forefront of helping the community. She said even though yesterday they were just distributing food parcels, they were looking to also work with the youth in various educational projects and programmes.