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Monitor warns on housing lag

Date Released: Mon, 26 August 2013 12:54 +0200

By Danielle Gordon

Grocott’s Mail

The Public Services Accountability Monitor (PSAM) said they will hold Makana Municipality to account over a five-year delay in completing a housing project in KwaNdancama.

Residents of Fingo Village are still waiting for RDP houses after construction was halted in 2007 when builders uncovered human remains in the area. Of the 90 RDP houses that had originally been approved, only 57 were built. The municipality cannot say when the construction of the final 33 will continue.

Infrastructure and technical services director, Thembinkosi Myalato said, “We are still busy putting together the application for funding for the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements, but we are on track to complete building by December 2013.”

This application to the Eastern Cape Housing Department should have been submitted by 14 June, according to the five-stage plan presented to PSAM in May. Residents of KwaNdancama Township subsequently approached the housing researcher at PSAM, Yeukai Mukorombindo Chiweshe, and asked her to follow up on the progress of this construction, which should have continued in 2011.

“As PSAM we are appalled that this housing program has taken so long to resume and we had to follow-up on it. We are further appalled that the municipality did not follow-up with SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency), and that the community was not kept informed of developments.”

“The municipality’s laissez-faire attitude is a travesty. We will be following this housing development very closely and will hold the municipality to account,” said Chiweshe.

Seventy-four-year-old Joyce Mbonde, one of the oldest residents of KwaNdancama, said she had lost hope in the government. “We've been waiting for the houses forever and other elderly people like me have died waiting for these RDP houses,” said Mbonde. She lives with her husband, children and 11 grandchildren in a six-bedroom house in KwaNdancama, which she built with her pension money.

Mbonde is just one of a number of residents who have built their own houses, because they have been waiting for housing since their applications were approved in 2005.

A meeting was scheduled with the community on 20 July to update them on progress, but infrastructure and technical services director Thembinkosi Myalato failed to attend. In a previous meeting he had promised construction would resume on 20 June. On Wednesday 14 August another meeting was scheduled, which Myalato again failed to attend.

The meeting drew more than 300 community members, who agreed to send a delegation to Myalato’s office to seek answers. Makana public relations representative Mabhuti Matyhumza urged the crowd to not entirely blame Myalato. “We are the ones who hired Myalato, so that means his failure is our failure. I think it is unfair to hold him fully accountable alone.”

Two elderly community members, Ward Councillor, Kholiswa Jela and Ward Committee Representative, Pinki Madyo, met with Myalato on Tuesday 20 August to discuss the municipality’s plans to restart the housing developments. Myalato told them he is still awaiting approval in order to proceed.

Fingo V

A history of forgetting

May 2007 – Construction of RDP houses in Kwa-Ndancama stopped because human remains are discovered.

May 2007 - The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) contacted to appoint an archaeologist to investigate the site.

October 2008 – Cape Archaeological Survey (CAS) excavates the site and compiles a report.

November 2009 – Archaeological report sent to SAHRA.

November 2009 – SAHRA fails to inform Makana Municipaility they can continue construction.

December 2009 – Exhumed remains reburied on the grounds at Luvuyo Hall near the historical Lobenguela graves.

August 2010 - Thembelani Fene, resident of KwaNdancama township, approaches the Public Services Accountability Monitor (PSAM ) for assistance

August 2010 – PSAM follows up with the municipality, who fail to respond.

October 2010 – PSAM sends the municipality a Promotion of Access to information Act (PAIA) request.

January 2011 – The municipality responds by saying they are still waiting for feedback from SAHRA.

February 2011 – PSAM contacts SAHRA who apologise for the oversight and send a letter of acknowledgement to the municipality to continue construction.

April 2013 – PSAM follows up with the Eastern Cape Human Settlements Department who co-ordinate with the municipality to complete the balance of RDP houses.

May 2013 – PSAM follows up with the municipality who confirm that construction will be completed 20 December 2013.

July 2013 - Infrastructure and Technical Services Director Thembinkosi Myalato fails to attend a meeting with the community. Meeting rescheduled for August.

August 2013 – Myalato again fails to attend a meeting with the community to confirm a date for construction.

August 2013 – Four KwaNdancama township residents meet with Myalato to confirm date for construction.

This story first appeared in Grocott’s Mail and has been republished with permission from the writer and the editor. See the original article here.
Photographs by Danielle Gordon of Fingo Village, Grahamstown.

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