DA guilty of premature jubilation over District Six‚ says government

23 August 2018 - 10:00 By Aron Hyman
Adam Small, looking over the ruins of District Six in Cape Town in 1981. File photo
Adam Small, looking over the ruins of District Six in Cape Town in 1981. File photo
Image: Ambrose Peters

Former District Six residents who have waited 20 years since money was pledged to resettle them will have to hold their breath a little while longer after the land reform department rubbished DA claims of a “landmark” agreement for the transfer of funding.

On Tuesday‚ the Western Cape standing committee on human settlements said an agreement had been reached at a meeting attended by a “high-level” delegation from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Committee chair Mathlodi Maseko told TimesLIVE the department pledged R333m to resettle 1‚062 claimants who were forcibly removed during the demolition of District Six after the apartheid government declared it a whites-only area in 1966.

She said the money would be transferred to the provincial housing department‚ which would become the implementing agent for land restitution projects.

The national department said Maseko’s announcement was a “misrepresentation of the discussions” and that no such agreement was reached.

“It should be noted that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform never made a landmark agreement with the Western Cape’s Provincial Department of Human Settlements to transfer the budget for the development of houses for District Six‚” it said in a statement.

“The agreement was that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform‚ the national and provincial departments of human settlements and [the City of Cape Town] must then meet to craft a way forward to be reported to the committee in September.

“It must also be noted that an agreement of this nature cannot be reached solely by the accounting officer without the executive authority’s approval‚ and it is regrettable that DA political leadership will make such pronouncement without proper consultation.”

According to Maseko‚ the plan was for the national department to provide a business plan and the funding‚ while the city council would provide bulk services and the province would build homes.

The process has been slow for residents waiting to be resettled‚ with only 139 houses having been built so far and most of the land still empty.

The national department blamed the slow pace of restitution on conflict among claimants. “Different groupings and/or parties emerge alleging to represent the claimants to an extent of challenging the Land Claims Commission in court‚” it said.

“There are about four coordinating committees which have been established to represent claimants in the District Six matter‚ which makes discussions and way forward on the claim a challenge since every committee claims to be legitimate.”