Political parties slam fire recovery plan

2008-09-03 00:00

The death toll from the weekend’s devastating winds and runaway fires, reached 32 yesterday, KZN Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs spokesman Lennox Mabaso said.

Mabaso said that the government are providing food, blankets and tents to the displaced people.

However, IFP chairwoman Zanele kaMagwaza Msibi accused Premier Sbu Ndebele of “neglecting” certain areas by declaring only Nkandla a disaster area.

“I am still shocked at the premier’s reaction following his visit to affected areas. I call on our premier to give this disaster the urgent attention it deserves without political discrimination so all the affected will benefit,” she said.

IFP MPL Henry Combrinck also accused the Local Government Department of not doing enough to help farmers affected by the fires.

In response to the allegations, Mabaso called for unity in dealing with the losses from the fires and storms.

Meanwhile, KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu dispelled allegations that the fires were arson linked to the land claims process.

He was responding to claims by KZN Agricultural Land Union (Kwanalu) president Robin Barnsley.

In a statement released earlier this week, Barnsley said that the fires could be linked to land claim issues.

“Frustration levels are boiling over and it is believed that fires could help to push people off their land,” he said.

Mthimkhulu said he did not believe that people would engage in criminal acts “just because they are unhappy with the pace of land claims”.

He lambasted the union, saying it should refrain from using statements that exacerbate tensions in rural areas.

KZN regional land claims commissioner Siduduzile Sosibo also refuted Kwanalu’s claims, but acknowledged the slow pace of land reform.

“[The allegation that] the fires were a direct result of the land claim disputes is unfounded, lacks verifiable evidence and is at worst inflammatory. Natural fires have been in existence since the creation of life … It is quite misleading to link natural causes with land claims that are under disputes,” she said.

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