Premier bemoans govt mess

2018-09-27 16:21
Finance MEC Belinda Scott and Msunduzi speaker Jabu Ngubo discuss interventions needed in Jika Joe on Wednesday.

Finance MEC Belinda Scott and Msunduzi speaker Jabu Ngubo discuss interventions needed in Jika Joe on Wednesday. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Extreme poverty, broken promises and shoddy construction in Pietermaritzburg townships jolted the provincial cabinet to express its disappointment at the level of service the ANC-led government was rendering to Pietermaritzburg residents.

The cabinet, led by Premier Willies Mchunu, on Wednesday visited a number of areas in Msunduzi as part of the KZN government’s Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) programme.

Mchunu and Treasury MEC Belinda Scott both expressed concern at how services had not been delivered despite promises from the provincial government. Mchunu, who was in ward 17, Imbali Unit BB, admitted that the housing project in the area was a shambles.

Community members told Mchunu how contractors have come and gone without finishing houses.

For 15 years, some residents have been forced to squat as they wait for their houses to be finished.

While inspecting the project, Mchunu was confronted by residents who told him how houses had to be rebuilt twice because of shoddy work.

Makhosazane Mthembu, who is paralysed after her house fell down on her during a storm four years ago, told Mchunu that she has been squatting since then as she waits for help.

The premier said they would ask for a breakdown of how much has been spent on the project since it was initiated a decade ago.

“We want to know how much has been paid to previous contractors and what did they do. We also want to know why the project of refurbishing these houses has stalled now,” he said.

“It is a shame. It is shocking that there are people living in those houses. They do not deserve this kind of treatment. This must be sorted out immediately.”

Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo and Premier Willies Mchunu listen to the concerns of community members in Imbali Unit BB on Wednesday.

Scott, who visited Sobantu and Jika Joe, was visibly displeased when she found that the living conditions of the people at Jika Joe had not improved since she started asking for an intervention from municipal and provincial government years ago.

“Waste is not being collected. There are no communal taps, no ablution facilities and no electricity. Something also needs to be done about the cables running on the ground or are we waiting for someone’s child to die from standing on a live electricity wire before we do something?” she asked.

Scott told The Witness that she had received commitments from both spheres of government but only the Department of Human Settlement had started with a rental housing project. She said her last visit to the area was in May and more promises were made to the communities then.

“This is unacceptable. I’ve actually been lied to. I was given an undertaking by the Department of Health that there would be a mobile clinic here but that hasn’t happened either. It’s bad for us politicians to come to the area and say this is going to be done and when we leave nothing happens.”

The MEC was also saddened by the poverty most households lived in and asked for the immediate intervention by the Department of Social Development. Some of the households are dependent on social grants and others are sustained through proceeds from child prostitution.

“The living conditions in most parts are really unacceptable. I wouldn’t let my animals sleep in there. People in dire need are not being catered for.

“We can’t ignore what’s going on here and even the foreigners, who make up most of the residents here, are our problem,” said Scott.

Msunduzi speaker Jabu Ngubo and Scott both committed to the community leaders that a task team, involving the religious community, municipality and government departments, would be formed to oversee the emergency upgrade of the informal settlement.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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