Zille walks out of 'toilet' talks

2010-06-24 22:38

Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Dan Plato walked out of a meeting on toilets on Thursday after what she said was another threat by the ANC Youth League to make the city ungovernable.

The closed meeting was convened by Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka in a bid to resolve a dispute over provision of toilets in the Makhaza area of Khayelitsha.

It began in Khayelitsha's Solomon Mahlangu community hall just after 14:00, but Zille and Dan Plato emerged 15 minutes later.

Zille told waiting journalists that youth league member Andile Lili had in the meeting repeated the league's threat to make the Democratic Alliance-controlled city ungovernable.

She and Plato were not prepared to give an organisation that used violent, racist and insulting language legitimacy by staying in the meeting.

"While people are there who are threatening to make the city ungovernable and to destroy property, we are not going to be part of those discussions," she said.
She and Plato were happy to talk to genuine representatives who had an electoral mandate.

Brick and mortar

Lili, who said he was at the meeting "on behalf of the community" as chairperson of a ward development forum, later denied her accusation.

"That's false... she never wanted to sit with us. She knows very well we've got all the facts.

"She ran away from this meeting," he told reporters.

League official Loyiso Nkohla, who was also at the meeting, made a similar threat last month.

A row erupted earlier this year over the fact that about 50 toilets installed by the council in a site and service scheme had not been enclosed.

When the council, which maintains that the community agreed to erect enclosures themselves, eventually put up tin and iron structures, league and community members tore them down, demanding brick and mortar.

The council subsequently removed the toilets altogether.

Disputes of fact

Shiceka on Thursday visited residents affected by the dispute and then, along with Zille and Plato, addressed several hundred in an open-air meeting.

He told reporters after the aborted meeting in the hall that he had never seen such an arrangement in any other part of the country.

"This is a Cape Town phenomenon, which to me is surprising and strange," he said.

He believed the row came down to disputes of fact between the provincial and city governments and the community.

He said the city insisted that the norm of one toilet to five households applied to Makhaza.

"That one is to five applies to informal settlements. That place there (Makhaza) is definitely not an informal settlement.

"You can't have tarred streets, you can't have water-borne sewage, you can't... give people title deeds."

However he was confident a solution could be found.

National norms

He intended to meet the SA Human Rights Commission to understand the thinking behind its recent report on the toilets.

The provincial and city governments would be asked to join a team that included his and other national departments.

"On the basis of that we want to take the process forward in dealing with the issues," he said.

Zille told reporters earlier she believed the 1:5 norm applied to site and service as well as to squatter areas.

The city was already providing a toilet for each house, five times more than the national norms and standards required.

"If people are unhappy with that, they must get the minister to change the national norms and standards," she said.

She said there was a simple solution to the issue.

"The moment enclosures are put up by the city and stay up, the toilets will be back. That's been the solution from the beginning and it hasn't changed."