Bay coalition U-turn on land invasions

The coalition government in Nelson Mandela Bay has done an about-turn on land invasions, calling on people to stop invading land because to do so is illegal.
ANC councillor and human settlements political head Andile Mfunda said earlier this week that the coalition government – comprising the ANC, UDM, United Front and AIC – could not condone land invasions because they contravened the constitution.
“If we allow land invasions, we would not only be promoting something that’s illegal but anarchy and chaos,” he said.
This comes in the wake of protests in KwaNobuhle’s Ward 45, where people invaded serviced sites on Friday and municipal workers had to go in and demolish the structures.
This sparked protests in the area, with the crowd burning tyres and demanding to speak to mayor Mongameli Bobani.
“Our position as a municipality and the department of human settlements is that people must be relocated to serviced sites,” Mfunda said.
“I don’t think we can promote people building on unserviced sites because in a year from now [they] are going to be protesting, demanding water, sewerage and electricity.
“What I can admit is that my department is slow in identifying sites for people.”
Referring to the Ward 45 invasion, Mfunda said people invaded the land because it had been serviced for many years but had been standing unused.
When the ANC was in the opposition benches, it tabled a motion in council for the municipality to provide land for residents to build shacks.
In February 2018, shortly after he was ousted as deputy mayor, Bobani urged residents to continue building shacks on municipal land.
He also warned the municipality to refrain from harassing open-land invaders.
In July 2018, a month before the new coalition ousted the DA-led coalition, Bobani – an ordinary UDM councillor at the time – accused the DA of being “uncaring” for evicting people from Shukushukuma.
After listening to their gripes about not having any water, flushing toilets and electricity, Bobani encouraged them to “go to [then mayor] Athol Trollip’s office, drink water and use his nice toilet”.
ANC councillor Rory Riordan, who tabled the motion, also stated that before anyone was evicted from the invaded land, the matter must be put to the council for a decision.
The motion was passed by the ANC, UDM, EFF, AIC and United Front.
At the time, DA councillor and then-human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga accused the ANC of trying to turn townships into slums.
Asked about the aboutturn, Mfunda said the coalition was never in favour of land invasions, saying Riordan simply wanted the municipality to move people to serviced sites.
EFF regional chair Ngawethu Madaka warned if the coalition government evicted people from land, the party would evict them from power.
“We are very clear that people must occupy land,” he said.
“As long as this coalition does not provide serviced sites, [people] must occupy [land] so they can build houses.
“We gave the coalition a list of demands and if the item is not on the council agenda, we will not vote with them on anything. We will remove them from government.”
Meanwhile, human settlements executive director Nolwandle Gqiba said: “These guys are occupying sites that have already been serviced.
“We’re the best performer in providing sites but also that depends on the [grant] allocation we receive.”
Asked if the metro had a court order for the recent evictions in KwaNobuhle and new informal settlement “Baywest”, Gqiba said the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act gave them a specific timeframe within which they could conduct evictions, after which a court order must be obtained.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the municipality had almost 5,000 sites available for relocation, of which it planned to service 2,500 in this financial year...

This article is reserved for registered HeraldLIVE readers.

Simply register at no cost to proceed. If you've already registered, simply sign in.

Already registered on DispatchLIVE, BusinessLIVE, TimesLIVE or SowetanLIVE? Sign in with the same details.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@heraldlive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

X