For many years shack dwellers in Durban have been bullied and controlled in the name of the ‘housing list’. Activists have been shown as ‘queue jumpers’ trying to move up the list. People have been told to be patient because they are on the list and their turn will come. But for years it has been obvious that the list has been a fiction – something that doesn’t really exist but people who said this were called liars and the third force. Now, finally, after all these years of lying the politicians have admitted that there is no list.
RDP housing list does not exist
By VIVIAN ATTWOOD and AMANDA KHOZA
Durban – The Sunday Tribune can today reveal that the 400 000 or so people living in squatter settlements in and around Durban have no hope of getting an RDP house, because the system they subscribed to – putting their names down on a council housing allocation list – does not exist.
The ramifications of this could be far-reaching, because most people in informal settlements believe they will eventually be allocated a home after having put their names down on a “RDP housing list”.
However, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and the head of the city’s housing committee, Nigel Gumede, said on Friday there never was an RDP housing list – a claim the DA said was a lie.
Jethro Lefevre, ward councillor for Overport/Sydenham, where there is a huge informal settlement issue, and also the DA whip for housing, said Gumede’s assertions were nonsense.
“When council sold off rental housing stock it had absolutely nothing to do with RDP lists. There was a separate RDP housing list, and we have asked for years what has happened to it. This is a web of lies and misinformation designed to conceal who the real recipients of RDP houses have been since 1998.”
But Gumede insisted “there never were RDP housing lists for informal settlements”.
“The lists were for those who qualified for government housing. When we stopped building government houses that list was closed. Since then houses have been given to people in informal settlements on a needs basis, and also sometimes to councillors whose lives are threatened in the areas in which they live.”
When asked if thousands of shack dwellers were informed that there were no waiting lists, he said, “Of course they were told that they are not registered for RDP houses.”
Gumede said there had been misinformation for years about the existence of RDP housing lists. “These people don’t read or communicate or they would know the truth” (that there is no RDP housing), he said.
However, in seeming contradiction to his earlier statement that the RDP lists had never existed, Gumede said: “We visited those places (informal settlements) and gave each house a number, and told the residents that they had to ring-fence the community and not allow it to grow further.
“But when we went back we would find many more houses, without the official numbers we had painted on them, and then our plans to move the original settlers to a new housing project would have to be scrapped.
“Also, we would find there were people who had moved on, or didn’t need a house any more, or had died. These factors meant that housing lists were of no use and had to be scrapped.”
Gumede said the ward councillors would henceforth submit lists of the most needy to council, and these lists had to be “unanimously approved” by all the council members before they would be forwarded to welfare and other officials to conduct a needs assessment, and then to housing officials for formal handover.
Lefevre admitted that the ANC’s housing policy had “looked excellent” on paper.
“The concept could not be faulted. It involved clearing the land on which people were squatting and developing it for human settlements. People were told they would go into a transit camp for a maximum of six months, and then be moved into their new homes, after which the shacks would be demolished.
“What happened instead was wholesale corruption while the housing crisis |spiralled out of control. Last year the provincial housing department gave R3 billion to eThekwini, which should have been enough to build 15 000 houses. So far 60 percent of that amount has been spent, with only 3 000 houses to show for it. We have asked constantly where the balance of the money went,” he said.
S’bu Zikode, president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the homeless people’s movement, said the city had politicised the housing allocation process.
“We’ve asked the city several times to have a list so that people are properly allocated. They are allocating houses according to political alliances, they prioritise people who are in the ANC,” claimed Zikode.
“There are teachers and policemen who own RDP houses and there are people who are buying RDP houses through officials,” he alleged.
Zikode said there was no transparency. “How will the city monitor fraud when they do not have a list or an allocation strategy?” he asked.