Government has committed itself to delivering housing opportunities on the Schulphoek site and we can no longer allow certain parts of the community to continue to delay the process, said Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, at a meeting of the Greater Hermanus Stakeholders Forum (GHSF) on Sunday, 23 February.
Work on the development of a Better Living housing project has been in progress since April 2019 when a 10-member working group was established to engage on the design principles and formulate a draft development framework.
“Attempts to elect a Social Compact in Zwelihle, whose duty it will be to represent the community during the development phase, have been frustrated by certain members of the community. Although there has been agreement all along in the GHSF meetings that a Better Living Model will be developed, we are now told by Zwelihle Renewal/Land Party that the area must rather be converted into serviced plots with electricity for people to build their own dwellings,” said Simmers.
“It’s time that our communities realise that when they make a commitment, we expect them to honour it. You can’t renege on your commitments; the current fiscal environment does not allow for it. Nor can I entertain structures or organisations who claim to talk on behalf of the majority but actually represent a minority view. You do not have the legitimacy to talk on such a platform. This is the reason why I want to engage with the broader community when I visit municipalities,” said the minister.
According to him, the way in which information is carried across to communities often leads to a distortion of the facts. “I will not stand for that because as a government we have come here with a clear view of where we are heading. Why is it that the message of the government is being distorted? Why is it that an entire community must be held to ransom just because certain individuals or structures can’t get their way? I’m sick and tired of it because they are playing around with people’s lives,” added Simmers.
A planned meeting on Sunday afternoon between the minister and the community of Zwelihle was cancelled after toyi-toying and chanting residents occupied the community hall and stage, making it impossible for him to speak.
According to the municipality’s housing demand database there are 3 445 people in Hermanus, 1 632 in Gansbaai, 689 in Stanford, 462 in Kleinmond and 571 in Hawston over the age of 35 years that are on the waiting list. These 6 799 or 61% of approximately 11 180 are given priority by government.
The Schulphoek development plans for 7 500 housing opportunities, of which 50% will be reserved for the elderly, people with disabilities, child-headed households, those who have been on the waiting list the longest, and backyard dwellers. Some of the units will be reserved for young people between the ages of 18 – 35 to rent. The remaining units will be a combination of subsidised and open-market properties.