Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu said government’s fight to deliver on decent housing was no longer about Constitutional obligations or delivering on the directives of the Freedom Charter, adding that the fight was now about the restoration of normalcy in South African society.
Sisulu, speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday, made reference to the protests that rocked sections of Johannesburg this month, where communities from Ennerdale and Eldorado Park all participated.
Initially it was thought, by the South African government, that the matter at hand was purely about its failure to deliver on housing.
To a degree it was, but Sisulu established – through her deliberations with leaders in those communities – that the problems it faced extended beyond that.
“After gathering what information was available and bringing together all three spheres of government in Gauteng, we met with the representatives of the protesting communities at the University of Johannesburg Campus in Soweto,” said Sisulu.
“The lady that all of you now, would have seen on television, furiously spouting fire, her name is Marge, is a sober-minded citizen who made it very clear at our meeting that, though the protests were geographically located in previously coloured areas, the protests were not a coloured problem.
“She, herself, being a Swazi. The nub of the problem, she said, was a huge problem of drug addiction, of criminality, of land invasion and overcrowding,” added Sisulu.
“Our first reaction when hearing this statement was that this was not purely a housing matter. It is a social dysfunction issue. But we soon realized our worst case scenario, as it unfolded. That meeting, for us, put into perspective the reality of our situation.
“That the provision of decent human settlements is an essential first step towards a solution, and addressing most of our social ills. It is no longer about a Constitutional Right, a Freedom Charter directive and the basis for dignity.
“It is now, more than ever, about the restoration of normalcy in our society, where so many social ills thrive in conditions of poverty, homelessness and squalor.”