South African politics seems to be based most on the promises and lies about providing houses to the poor. Kararata, a poor town falling under the Knysna Municipality, appears to be the latest victim… and possibly a metaphor for greater government admitting to itself that their housing plans have failed.
Karatara, population 1000, is out of sight, 14km inland from Sedgefield and 35km from Knysna Central. It should play host to tourists wanting to explore the scenic Seven Passes route between George and Knysna, but few travel that final section which has fallen into disrepair.
If rumours are correct, Karatara was the perfect place for the Broederbond to hold meetings during apartheid.
It’s an odd but beautiful place, a memory of the timber industry long gone and an indication of no future.
There’s no shopping centre – the bottle store, winkel and church (the holy trinity of small places) crouch on different blocks. There’s no restaurant. Instead, lamb chew grass on the side of the quiet streets.
The anomaly is Tsiba College, an exceptional education facility hosting approximately 85 high-school students and bridging the best of them to higher education in Cape Town.
For the rest, the only positive on offer seems to be a the view of the Outeniqua Mountains. There’s no bus or train route, car ownership is for the few. Most live on welfare, economics tying them to a limited existence that’s out of sight and mind of the majority of Knysna’s residents.
As small as it is, despite the commonality of being poor, it’s divided itself like most of South Africa – white people live in the centre whilst the bulk of coloured people live approximately 2km down a potholed dirt road in an area called Boskamp. It was said that the leader of the ANC wouldn’t drive there as he didn’t want to damage his car.
Houses are desperately needed. Under the ANC, they never got the housing they were promised. 5 years into DA rule (despite the ward they fall under having more councillors than any other), they still haven’t gotten housing. ICOSA, the latest political party, will likely be promising them housing too. After all, elections are 2 months away.
But housing may never arrive.
At the Council Meeting held May 31 2016, the last of the current administration, it was announced that Knysna Municipality had failed to gain funding from the RID (Rural Development Infrastructure) Grant Funding.
It was stated that Karatara was a non-viable community and it was reasonable to expect that there would be “NO HOUSING DEVELOPMENT IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS”.
Has the DA’s Louisa Hart, the Ward Councillor for the area (she doesn’t live there) informed the community of this profoundly negative news?
As roads and pipes crumble, as employment opportunities fail to grow, as some communities become “non-viable”, we are again taught that South Africa will fail without a radical new approach that involves all of us.
Read the item, word for word, as it appeared on the agenda at the Knysna Council Meeting.
Please view a photo gallery of Karatara and read about a family of 8 who’ve had no water, sewerage and electricity services for over two years.