Irvin Jim’s Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) made its presence felt in Nelson Mandela Bay on Wednesday when members handed a petition of grievances to the Housing Development Agency in Newton Park.
This was the first major event held by the party in the metro since its inception in March 2018.
Picketing outside the agency’s former office building, party members, who arrived by bus from Uitenhage, sang struggle songs while carrying placards bearing Jim’s face.
SRWP provincial executive committee member Jowel Rasi said the crisis of governance in the metro led former human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu to “opportunistically” remove the housing function from the municipal human settlements department.
In April 2016, Sisulu announced that the agency would take over housing delivery, including the allocation of tenders for companies to build houses in the Bay. Rasi said the issue was the metro had privatised the building of RDP houses for hundreds of desperate residents.
“We note that [the agency] was deployed in the metro just on the eve of the 2016 local government elections under the pretext that they come and clean up corruption in the metro.
“We are therefore not surprised that the very same senior officials of [the agency] who were deployed in the metro are now suspended on corruption charges,” Rasi said.
The SRWP claimed the agency had not delivered a single housing unit and was frustrating efforts to deliver houses. The SRWP demanded the return of the house-building function to the municipality’s human settlements department.
Speaking in Uitenhage earlier in April, human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo said restoring the metro’s capacity to build its own houses would be a process that needed to go to parliament.
“It was a cabinet decision so one can’t just say that tomorrow the metro can build its own houses,” Mfeketo said.
“There’s a process that needs to be followed and that process will only start during the 6th administration.”
Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani said he could not comment as he had not seen the petition.
“When it comes to my office I will forward it to the relevant people,” Bobani said.