eTHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY RESPONDS TO CATO CREST PROTESTS
By: Tony Manyangadze
The eThekwini Municipality has urged various stakeholders and individuals to ‘tread carefully’ and factually when commenting on the issue of rapidly growing informal settlements.
This came out in a media briefing that took place at the Durban’s City Hall today where the municipality was giving its stance concerning a series of furore in the informal settlement of Cato Crest and subsequently what was said by the media and other members of various organisations.
“While we do respect these groups and individuals’ right to freedom of expression, however, given the positions that they hold in society and the kind of influence and authority that comes with their positions, one would have expected them to base their commentaries on proven facts and look at both side of the coin; instead of allowing themselves to be fed with lies and misinformation and present it as fact.”
In the statement, eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo conceded that eThekwini Municipality’s human settlement programme has received a couple of awards substantiating the fact that it has one of the most successful housing delivery projects in the country.
These attributes, however, have not been to the municipality’s advantage. This is because people from all over the country are still flocking Durban with nowhere to stay and with high hopes of getting cheap houses quicker.
“Conversely, it is this very impressive housing delivery record that attracts people to our city,” said Nxumalo.
As such, the eThekwini Municipality is not going to take this matter of sprouting informal settlements lightly. It has adopted a “Zero tolerant approach to land invasion and is committed to put an end to this practice”.
The municipality plans to achieve by not providing new land invaders with basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation since it is not obligated to do so. However, since Durban is a ‘caring city’ it is going to continue providing existing informal settlement dwellers with basic services.
Patterning the events that are transpiring at Cato Crest, Nxumalo was resolute to the view that the demonstrations are not service delivery protest because it is one area where most of the development is taking place.
“The protest that we have in Cato Crest area cannot be linked to service delivery, however they are due to social instability in the area as people to be among the first to benefit from the housing project,” said Nxumalo.
The Chairman of Human Settlement and Infrastructure committee Sibusiso Nigel Gumede, who was also present at the briefing, agreed with the mayor and added that either political parties or groups, who have an agenda to push, stir most of these uprisings.
Gumede added that the media records and posses most of this information and they should use it to report accurately without taking any sides. “Just tell the facts once,” Gumede pleaded with the media.