Minister Tertuis Simmers re-engages community leaders in Bitou municipal area
Today, Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers revisited the Bitou Municipal area to engage the leadership of the Qolweni - and New Horizon communities.
Minister Simmers said: “My presence here today is based on the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) invitation on 23 September 2019 to have an engagement with themselves, the Bitou municipality and community leadership, after various misrepresentations were made by the Bitou Executive Mayor to the SAHRC and broader community.
This meeting was proposed for 9 October 2019 at 9am at the Bitou Municipality Council Chambers. On 26 September 2019, we wrote to the SAHRC to confirm the meeting communique and to propose an alternative meeting date of 6 October 2019, as I could not attend the meeting on 9 October 2019, due to prior legislative commitments on the day.
On 1 October the SAHRC confirmed our alternative date and also confirmed that our proposal was sent to the municipality for the meeting to commence at midday/12pm on 6 October 2019. On 3 October, the SAHRC forwarded a letter to us, which they received from the Bitou executive Mayor, wherein they state: “All senior representatives of the Municipality at both the political and administration level already have prior commitments that cannot be cancelled at such short notice.” [sic]
It is vital that residents of the Bitou municipal area are informed of precise facts and to dispel all inaccuracies that are currently being promoted in the public arena. It is however regrettable that both the SAHRC and the municipalities’ executive are not present at the meeting, particularly since the SAHRC requested to have all parties under one roof, as it “has resolved that it is best to invite all the parties involved in order to consolidate the information at hand concerning the Housing Projects planned for this area.” [sic]
I would like to clearly state that R3 million for the erection of Temporary Residential Units (TRA’s) was never allocated, but formed part of a draft business plan that hasn’t been adopted. The erection of 400 TRA’s on the Ebenhaeser site is not on the plan. In excess of 1470 opportunities are planned for the Ebenhaeser site, where assessment impacts were completed by 30 September 2019. I’d like to request the Bitou Council to discuss and approve the construction plans, as we want to start with construction by February 2020.
Furthermore, we will construct 36 houses in Qolweni/Bossiesgif on Minnaar land at a cost of R5,5 million. Official communication will be sent to the Municipality on Monday, 7 October 2019. These houses, which were requested by the Bitou Municipality, must be completed by 31 March 2020.
Within the next few days, we will also inform the Municipality when the verification and registration drive will occur in their area.
The human settlements portfolio is a concurrent function, provincially and it is vital that prolific intergovernmental relations between province and local authorities exist, so that our people can optimally benefit.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.”