‘INSULT’: Land claimants have been waiting since 1998, while a tender was awarded to a KZN contractor. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - District Six land claimants say they have been taking emotional strain amid accusations and counter-accusations of politicking between the standing committee on human settlements in the Western Cape Legislature and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

The chairperson of the District Six Working Committee, Shahied Ajam, said all three spheres of government had failed the people of District Six. He said it was laughable that the government expected residents to be appeased by 108 units after years of delays in the restitution process.

Yesterday, the chairperson of the standing committee, Matlhodi Maseko, accused the department of backtracking on an agreement to hand over a budget of R127 million to the province for the construction of 108 homes for District Six claimants.

The construction had come to a halt when the contractor, Fikile Construction allegedly ran out of funds earlier this year and could not continue with the project.

Out of a budget of R333m for the project, R127m remained in government coffers.

However, the department’s director-general, Rendani Sadiki, said there had been no such agreement.

According to Maseko, the standing committee, the provincial Department of Human settlements, the City of Cape Town and the national Department of Rural Development and Land Reform met on Tuesday and agreed that the national department would hand over the remaining budget to the provincial department to carry out what the contractor had failed to do.

Maseko issued a press statement announcing the agreement. She said residents had been hopeful when the announcement was made, adding that it was now concerning that the national department had changed its tune.

Maseko said the standing committee had received no official communication from the national department regarding changing any of the discussions at the Tuesday meeting.

“As far as we know they are bound by the agreement,” said Maseko, adding that she would call Minister Nkoana Maite-Mashabane to account about the apparent about-turn.

Sadiki, however, said no such agreement had been entered into.

Sadiki said, the meeting had been sparked by a duplication of claimants’ names on the provincial Department of Human Settlements’ database and the land claimants’ database.

“We came to discuss a model of delivery and we agreed to meet again at the end of September,” Sadiki said.

“I was surprised when I heard about an agreement to hand over a budget in the media,” she said. “We said we would issue a joint statement after discussing the modalities in our meeting in September.”

Sadiki added that the department would still meet the standing committee at the end of September.

She said the commitment she had made at the meeting was that a new contractor would be appointed to carry on with the work and not to hand over the budget to the province.

“We are committed to fulfill our promise to deliver 108 units to the people of District Six. We will finalise the project,” Sadiki said.

Meanwhile, the District Six Working Committee will meet today to discuss the Land Claims court case it instituted against the national department in April.

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Weekend Argus