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Image courtesy: Johann du Plessis

Zille’s comments on D6 “rich” and ironic, but valid

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By Anees Teladia

Most Capetonians are well familiarised with the controversies surrounding the developmental vision for District Six and the efforts being put into formulating a solution which would allow claimants restitution. In what has been commented on by some as a questionable and poor choice for a keynote speaker, the District Six Working Committee (D6WC) hosted Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille to provide the keynote address. Zille, a member of the Democratic Alliance, made comments around reasons why the restitution process is dragging on, suggesting that the claimants and the bodies representing those claimants, are partly to blame.

Chairperson of the D6WC, Shahied Ajam supported some of Zille’s comments.

“Zille is right with her comments, in part [i.e. that a lack of consensus among claimants is a contributing factor to land restitution and development not getting off the ground]. The Trust as well as the Reference Group are a creation of the government. But they were created to fail horribly because everybody knew there wouldn’t be enough money to develop District Six. Consensus must be reached,” said Ajam.

“For five years the D6WC has been approaching the Reference Group in consultation with the local commission to say, ‘let us fuse together for the greater good – to get restitution finished in District Six’. “

Ajam did however add that whilst he agrees with Zille on some points, she is not free of blame and neither is the Democratic Alliance.

I said to her, ‘In part you are also to blame. You, the premier of the Western Cape, you, the government of the Western Cape and you, the City of Cape Town. You are equally to blame’,” said Ajam.

Media commentator Ryland Fisher also weighed in on the matter. Fisher has extensive history covering the District Six topic and has valuable knowledge on the issues at hand.

“The fact that politicians are going there to speak to the people and influence them? For me its pure election talk and nothing else,” said Fisher.

All the political parties are complicit in what has happened in District Six – or rather what has not happened. The DA because they rule the city and the ANC because they also ruled the city. The FFP because their candidate used to be the mayor and the EFF hasn’t done anything really…so just about all the political parties cannot go to District Six with a clear conscience and talk about the issue.”

When Helen Zille was mayor, there was only one group representing District Six claimants and that was the District Six Beneficiary Trust under Dr Anwah Nagia. They [Zille’s departments] had ample opportunities to work with the one group to sort everything out.”

Fisher added that while the general sentiment expressed by Zille regarding consensus among groups representing District Six being necessary to expedite the District Six matter, Zille should not be the one commenting on these things.

“I don’t agree that Zille should be the one saying these things, but I do agree with the general sentiment that claimants need to find a way of working together to expedite this issue,” said Fisher.

But coming from Zille, it’s rich. She had the opportunity to do something about this issue many years ago and as far as I could see, she did nothing. Like I said, for a long time the group led by Dr Anwah Nagia was the only group that represented everyone and they still had difficulties in getting authorities to work with them.”

“They finally were able to build houses, with great difficulty, after many years of having obstacles put in their way by the authorities at every twist and turn.”

Fisher suggests that what is needed is a gathering where all stakeholders guarantee a resolution before the end of said gathering.

“Maybe District Six needs to have an indaba with all the beneficiaries – national government, provincial government and local government etc. – in the same room and to get a mediator. Put them in a place for a few days and ensure they don’t come out until they’ve resolved all the issues. I think that could be the quickest way of finding a solution and moving forward.”

DA Premier Helen Zille and Shahied Ajam at the CPUT addressing District Six land claimants. [Image Source: EWN, Photo Credits: Kaylynn Palm / EWN]

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