De Lille 'unwilling' to meet backyarders

2011-09-06 19:53
Cape Town - Landless peoples' group Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) has accused Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille of running away from a meeting with "backyarders" in Khayelitsha on Tuesday.

The group said it had mobilised the "backyarders" in the township, and many were excited to meet De Lille.

The City of Cape Town however cancelled the meeting at the last minute out of fear for De Lille's safety.

"People gathered outside the AbM office in Khayelitsha this morning," the group said in a statement.

"People were excited about the opportunity to engage with the mayor and to have their voices heard. But when the city heard that we were coming they cancelled the meeting for, they said, the 'mayor's safety'."

Mayoral spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the meeting was moved to the civic centre because the city did not want any "disruptions".

"This was an important meeting and it was important that it had to proceed. When we were made aware of possible disruptions, we moved it here."

De Lille took several rounds of questions from representatives of backyarder groups on Tuesday afternoon.

New chapter

In a speech, which she read at the civic centre, she said she wanted to start a "new chapter" of relations between the city and backyarder communities.

De Lille said she knew many would come to the meeting to find out when they would receive a house. She said Cape Town’s government had constraints as to how many "housing opportunities" it could deliver in one year.

"Last year, we had just over R700m for housing. Other city revenues are used to keep basic services running. That is about R700m for everyone in the whole city who needs a house."

De Lille said a housing project started today would only be completed in around three or four years.

"Using it to maximum effect, that money is used to deliver, on average, just under 7 000 new housing opportunities per year," she said.

There were 450 000 households on the housing backlog and, due to urbanisation, 16 000 houses were added to that figure by people who moved to Cape Town.

"The housing list is long. It is growing. We have limited resources. We are doing the best we can."

De Lille said the city had started a project in three pilot sites in Langa, Hanover Park and Factreton to assess the scale of services needed by backyarders.

"These are engineering surveys. They have been conducted to see what structures there are in an area. These pilot projects allow us to assess the scale of services needed," she said.

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