‘No houses, yet’

2018-06-26 06:00

Despite the head of the Department of Human Settlements, Thando Mguli, launching the Western Cape Housing secondary co-operatives in Grassy Park last week, residents of Parkwood are still awaiting progress on the ground.

Convenor of the Voice of Parkwood, Pastor Paul Phillips, says even though various pieces of land have been identified, it is no cause for celebration just yet.

“From the feedback we receive, we are not overjoyed. There are no reasons for celebration yet, because the identified plots are exactly what they say, land which has been identified for human settlement. It is not confirmed, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Our negotiations with the City and with Province are based on our people’s needs. That is what we always have in mind when we sit around the table.

Meanwhile, at last week’s launch Mguli told residents that while a few parcels of land have been identified, they have chosen not to fully reveal their locations to avoid potential land invasions.

“We are currently busy with required processes to ensure you can do what you need to do in that land. The department is now your statutory partners,” Mguli says.

The co-operative comprises communities from Parkwood, Retreat and Grassy Park who organised themselves into groupings that have saved substantial funds towards building their housing developments.

“SAHCA brings a group of people that share a common need for housing. These people collect their money, skills, and time. They set up and register a co-operative which is a legal entity. They negotiate for land and good prices on building materials. They build houses collectively. This co-operative is mostly there to assist people that are not able to receive subsidy from government for different reasons,” Mguli adds.

Meanwhile, Phillips urges government not to take their pleas lightly.

“Our people are not prepared to sit out another winter in a backyard cramped up jammed into a tin like sardines. We are not prepared go that route. It is unfortunate that the City has miscalculated the needs of the backyarders, homeless and landless people, it has caught them unawares.”

The leadership group in Parkwood, although patient and willing to negotiate the way forward with authorities based on mutual understanding, do not welcome politics to influence proceedings negatively. 

“If there are any indications of politics, and we know that it is part of the process, but politics is based on lies. Politics is not the truth. 

“It is giving people a skewed version of the real issues which are on the table. We want to deal with realities and the reality is that our people are on the waiting list for years, our people are homeless and landless,” says Phillips.
 
He adds that they have the full support of the community in following the process of negotiation, but reiterates the need to be bound to timelines. 

“We can’t forever sit around the table while the real needs of our people are not addressed. One of our great concerns is that we have requested for the transition period, so while land has been identified, for some of that land to be made available to alleviate the plight of backyarders and those who are sleeping under open skies,” adds Phillips.
 
However, these requests have been denied, but Phillips says they will continue to forward the need, as it is an important cog in their vision for progress, while also taking cognisance of the City’s dealings with other areas, which have become a hotbed for land and housing protests.
 
“Our big concern is the inconsistent approach of the authorities,” says Phillips. 

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