Mandela Park Backyarders Press Statement – 3 September 2010
Through protest, backyarders in Mandela Park have now held up construction of houses in the area for more than two weeks. But we are continuing to face intimidation and repression from SANCO and other unelected leaders in Ward 97.
Mandela Park Backyarders have continued to stop the construction of houses in our community. Because of our efforts, construction has been unable to proceed for over two weeks – since the 17th of August. We have demanded that the MEC for Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela, come and listen to our grievances. He had promised to come to our mass meeting last Sunday, the 29th of August. He didn’t pitch. He again promised to come to our mass meeting on the 5th of September. We now hear that he won’t be able to make it. We are still waiting for him.There can be no development in our communities if there is no meaningful engagement with residents. Madikizela is ignoring our constitutional right to participate in the development of our own communities.
We are also sick and tired because of the corruption in Mandela Park. It is carried out by party-appointed leaders in the area connected with local SANCO boss, Mr Makade, as well as other undemocratic political organisations operating in Ward 97. Residents are not getting houses because of this corruption. The buying and selling of RDP houses is continuing. The placement of ‘extra’ houses in pathways instead of in demarcated plots is continuing. We know who is doing it but no one is taking action.
Since we have begun protesting, our members have also been threatened, detained, and arrested. These are political cases against us. When we speak up, we suffer repression from political leaders and their police. Just this morning, a backyarder was arrested for “damaging property”. There is no evidence against him. He was arrested because of pressure from SANCO leaders and contractors who are angry about the building delay.
Last night, we had a meeting with local Cllr Mthwalo Mkhutswana. He came to ask us ‘what is our problem’. He was getting lots of questions from the media so he decided to talk to us. We presented him with the following demands:
- We demand that 50% of all houses built within Mandela Park must go to residents in the area. Only people from outside Mandela Park or people with political connections have benefited from housing construction.
- We demand that the MEC must order an independent investigation into corruption in Mandela Park. This investigation cannot be carried out by local leaders as they are the ones involved in these corrupt activities.
- We demand that the construction of housing in Mandela Park must employ local residents. A democratic, not a political, process must be used to hire local workers.
- We demand an end to the politicised targeting and arrest of backyarders by the Harare Police and the Metro Police. Last year, there were over 20 politicised arrests of our members. All current political arrests against backyarders including cases against Luvo Vanyaza, Sibongile Mhlahlo, and Loyiso Mfuku should be dropped and immediate apologies made to targeted residents and their families.
Mr Mkhutswana responded to our demands saying he can’t do anything to help the situation but that he will ask the contractors not to continue building until our grievances are resolved with the MEC. We plan a follow-up meeting with him on Wednesday the 8th of September.
For more information, please contact:
- Khaya 0780241683
- Wendy 0769775218
- Zuki 0714811745
- Sluja 0714331101
- Loyiso 0737662078
- Nosipho 0735878980
Update: Todays arrested backyarder has now been released without charge. The police were finding it difficult to come up with evidence to charge him with damage of property.