Sexwale denies housing project launch is electioneering

2011-05-11 12:07

Tokyo Sexwale, the human settlements minister, has “officially” launched an incomplete multi-million rand housing project in Limpopo, but denied it was just electioneering.

Although construction of the R41-million Seshego Community Residential Unit began a year ago, and nearly half of the budget has been spent so far. Sexwale and Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale launched the project at a high-profile ceremony today, in what has been seen by some as the abuse of tax payers’ money for party political purposes.

The SABC’s current affairs show, Morning Live, broadcast the ceremony live from Seshego outside Polokwane.

The 168 residential unit project is expected to benefit people who earn up to R3 500 a month who want to rent accommodation in the area.

Sexwale admitted that only part of the project, which involved turning old dilapidated hostels into low-cost rental houses, had been completed.

But he denied he was campaigning for the ANC. “This is not a gimmick. Some people say we are here because of the elections. For us, that is not true. We are here to destroy apartheid structures,” Sexwale said.

He said he would continue to launch housing projects officially – even after the elections.

Sexwale’s spokesperson, Mandulo Maphumulo, later told City Press it was standard practice for the ministry to officially launch projects with with a view to handing them over at a later stage.

“There is a part of it (Seshego project) that is complete. There is a part of it that is not complete. We came here to launch it and there will be a handover at a particular time. It is not electioneering. We have gone into a number of projects where we did sod turning and said, this is what we will be doing.”

She said there would be no occupation until the project was completed and “then we will come back for a handover”.

If the department could, Maphumulo added, it would be doing project launches every week because it is “sitting with more than 7 000 projects across the country” that had to be launched.

The project was built by businessman Steve Bosch’s company, Sizani Built. Bosch was recently accused of “donating” offices to the South African Communist Party in Limpopo under then provincial secretary and current human settlements MEC Soviet Lekganyane.

Once completed, the project will have 189 units of between one and two bedrooms being rented for between R400 and R800 a month.

Seventeen people were presented with title deeds for houses in nearby suburbs such as Ladanna and Westernburg, about 10km from Seshego and a stone’s throw from the Polokwane central business district.

Boetana Gabriel Knight (82), a father of four who received a title deed for his three-bedroom house at Westernburg, was overjoyed.

“Tonight, by 8pm, I am going to undress and run around my yard naked. I have waited for this moment for a long time. Others have died before receiving houses,” said Knight, who had lived in the house since 1982.

Adriana Catherine Bester (71), who got a title deed for her Ladanna house she had occupied for 31 years, was over the moon.

“I am very happy. I have waited for a long time. It was difficult raising five kids inside a house I did not own,” Bester said. 

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