The DA-led municipality of Bitou (Plettenberg Bay) and its mayor, Memory Booysen, have been accused by Phakie Mbali, the ANC Chief Whip, of being involved in major housing fraud in Ward 7 (Kranshoek/Harkerville/Kwanokhuthula).
Housing is a contentious issue, one which has led to protest, violence, destruction and N2 closures in both Plettenberg Bay and neighbouring Knysna. i.e. it’s an issue that has to be tackled with serious intention to resolve.
I’m critical of both the DA and ANC but some of my readers make the mistake of thinking that the DA never does wrong even though it’s impossible for sunshine to shine out of anyone’s arse for even the shortest of periods. Greed for power and money is simply part of human nature and, if left unchecked, grows.
I will, of course, keep in mind the craziness that accompanies the approaching elections and give the Bitou Municipality the opportunity to respond but admit that I have initial disgust for them for not releasing information (that should be public) that could resolve this. Secrecy is like hiding a rotten egg in a Jiffy bag – it may not smell but it still looks awful.
Here’s that press release by the ANC and their invitation to media to meet them today:
“When the DA took over Bitou in 2011, they put on hold a large housing project.
Before this, there was a housing committee that monitored the housing schemes and undertook patrols almost on a daily basis to ensure no one jumped the list or added informal structures to the existing houses.
The Bitou Municipality received the prestigious Top 3 National Award for best housing project.
When the DA took over they dismantled the housing committee.
After the 2011 elections, there was a sense of excitement with DA supporters in the townships since they were led to believe that they stood a better chance of receiving houses.
After a few years these aspirations started fading and various protest marches were staged.
During the run-up to the By-election in Ward 7 in October 2014, both parties campaigned heavily for this hotly contested and crucial By-Election. The council was equality divided at that point and the winner of this Ward would take control of the town.
The issue of housing, or more to the point lack thereof, was the major election issue raised by potential voters to the DA.
The DA again promised the people houses.
This time they had to walk the talk.
To show that they are going to keep to their word, Mayor Memory Booysen took various actions, for instance the symbolic handing over of doors and windows (and so on) to voters who joined the DA and undertook to vote DA.
Soon after the By-election, people started noticing that people who were not on the list started moving into houses.
More and more complaints reached the ears of the ANC Ward Councillors. Disgruntled and affected people visited the municipality together with the Ward councillors.
At first each case was adequately resolved by the municipality awarding alternative houses to the complainants. This however soon caught up with them since the complaints escalated to a point where it bottle necked.
After the ANC laid complaints of housing list fraud, two officials in the housing department were suspended.
A community meeting was held on Saturday 25 October 2014. During this meeting it became clear that there was fraud committed on a grand scale, and that it was done on a political instruction directly from Memory Booysen office.
It is not clear, at this point, how high up in the DA leadership this instruction was condoned or even supported, but it is believed to be known and condoned on councillor and constituency level.
We unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the list of names and detail of all the houses awarded after the By-Election at the municipality. We wanted to ascertain who were cheated out of houses. It is important to be aware of the fact that some of these people have been patiently waiting for a house many years.
We already instructed an attorney and Senior Council to proceed with a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act where after it can be established against who all criminal charges of fraud and corruption will be made.
The ANC regards these actions not only as criminal, but also as high treason against the heart and soul of all the communities in South Africa. This is treason against the family, the very fibre that holds communities, towns and even countries together. The family is the cornerstone of any healthy society and we will have the full extent of the law dawn down on all those who compromise and disregard this.
We will report back at a meeting tomorrow, 28 October 2014, at 16h00 in the Simunye Community Centre, Xhiphula Street Kwanokhuthula. All members of the media are cordially invited.”