The problem with Zuma comparing Gugulethu with Camps Bay

2013-06-21 14:13

Cape Town shacks shock Zuma” reads a headline on News24 posted on 21 June; this was after Zuma had visited informal settlements in Hout Bay where he told residents and media that the DA is always saying things have improved in Cape Town.

This is not the first time Zuma has done this. Back in 2009 during his election campaign, he made similar opportunistic statements when he compared Gugulethu with Camps Bay. Of course inequality is shocking but the president is selective with his assessments of the improvements the DA referred to.

If President Zuma wanted to see the improvements the DA speaks about, he would have gone to Delft, where the DA had to clean-up the mess the ANC had created when they governed the Cape. He would have seen the 5000+ RDP houses that have been built in Delft over the past 5 years, the sites that are being serviced to build 2000 more RDP houses in Delft, the new clinic that is being built by the Western Cape government for the people who were moved from shacks to those houses, and the 3 new schools that have been built in the area.

That is just one of many examples of how the DA government has improved planning and delivery in Cape Town. He could find the many RDP housing projects for people who live in shacks from Hiedeveld to Gugulethu, Langa to Khayelitsha, Philippi to Mitchells Plain, Blackheath to Zwelethemba, Worcester, George to Greyon; houses are being built all over the Cape for poor, mostly black people.

But President Zuma is not looking for improvements, he wants opportunities to attack the DA. But he forgets that just this year, he was in Khayelitsha handing out shacks to the people of BM Section, right next to BM section there is RR section, before he could get to BM Section, he would have driven past another informal settlements. These informal settlements were there when the ANC ran the City of Cape Town, Western Cape, and the country simultaneously and they were without services.

President Zuma has been part of the ANC government for almost two decades, and his government has been using the very same laws that were passed by FW de Klerk’s government such as the Less Formal Township Establishment Act to expand the Gugulethus, Khayelitshas that were created by the Apartheid regime for black people and created many new townships like them. Not a single RDP house was built in Constantia when the ANC governed the Cape, the ANC led government has only continued with implementation of Apartheid planning where the poor (mostly black) live in townships where the architects of Apartheid wanted them to live.

If the ANC did not approve of people living in shacks, they would not have been ordered by the highest court in the land to build better houses (refer to the iconic Grootboom case). The fact that his government has expanded Khayelitsha and is now building shacks where Zuma himself was handing out the shacks with a big smile on his face is testimony to this. The National housing Code, published by an ANC appointed minister, allows municipalities to build shacks for the poor. This is called 'Informal Settlement Upgrade' where new tiny shiny shacks are built for the poor. Worse than the hostels the Apartheid government built in Nyanga & Langa is it not?

What I found shocking as he was shocked by Cape Town shacks, is the picture of his house in Nkandla and his neighbour. That picture tells many stories but the important story it tells is how the new elite group in government lives like kings, while the masses live under very difficult conditions.

As much as we can blame the inequality to Apartheid, we must acknowledge that our current government has also contributed to the growing inequality. Trillions have been spent to improve the lives of the people over the past 19 years, how much of that has benefited the elite group and lost?

Yes there are poor people who live in shacks in Cape Town, hundreds of thousands on the waiting list, who fooled president Zuma into thinking that the DA or anyone for that matter could build houses for all of them in 5 years?

If the ANC claims that they were going to build houses for the people, why did the City of Cape Town under the leadership of Nomaindia Mfeketho, return billions to treasury? Money that was meant to be spent delivering services to the public, especially the poor. You only need to go through the Auditor General’s annual reports to see the amount of public money that is unaccounted for. Funds go missing, tenders awarded to friends and family members of government officials, incompetent cadres appointed to key positions in local government – the face of service delivery where basic services such as water, sanitation, refuse collection are delivered.

Who in their ‘right’ state of mind would conclude that they can deliver when they are clearly busy looting public money or do not know how to do the job?

So, before President Zuma compares Gugulethu & Camps Bay, he should first look the actions & decisions taken by him and his comrades to address this inequality, then for a much more clearer picture of inequality, look at his Nkandla neighbour. That is where he should have started with his comparison campaign.

And no Premier Zille, you can't go to Alex Township in the ANC governed Gauteng and say you're shocked by the shacks there. This would make you look as desperate as the ANC is to win votes. The trick is being different and offer a genuine alternative not the same troubles people have had to deal with under the ANC government.

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