NEWS & ANALYSIS

District Six a case study for why land reform failed – Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader says 21 years after claims were granted, govt has failed to honour these

District Six serves as tangible evidence for why restitution and land reform failed

10 April 2019

District 6 in Cape Town not only serves as tangible evidence of the ANC government's failure with regard to its restitution and land reform programmes, but it also points to the failure of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) at all costs, which has done nothing but dis-empower South Africa's economy for more than two decades.

Thus, the present land issue and housing problem in the country are the ANC's fault due to mismanagement, corruption and poor policy. Additionally, the great uncertainty created by expropriation without compensation (EWC) is a direct result of this.

The pattern that was followed with restitution under ANC leadership is the same as the pattern that was followed at institutions like Eskom and the SAA where corruption, failure and ultimately bankruptcy where the inevitable consequences of Black Economic Empowerment.

Concerning the 108 incomplete housing units in District 6, the Department of Rural Development and Land reform will have to answer numerous questions.

The irony of the matter is that claimants already submitted successful claims before December 1998 and that now, 21 years later, they have to ask the court to force the government to honour their claims.

The chronological background of the matter is as follows:

By December 1998, 2760 claims related to District 6 had been submitted. Of these, 1449 claimants preferred monetary compensation. 110 claims were rejected and only 139 claimants got existing housing. A further 749 claims were submitted with the re-opening of the claim window, but the decision was made to first finalise the claims that where submitted before the first deadline (Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights - CRL).

According to the CRL, R333,4 million was allocated to phase 3 of the project to build 108 housing units. R180 million has already been spent. On the other hand, claimants state that R700 million was allocated to the project and this was confirmed by former President Jacob Zuma (Voice of the Cape, 22 June 2018). Early on in the process, the claimants were given the undertaking that their relocation would be finalised by 2014.

The construction tender was, however, only awarded in 2015 to a Durban company named Fikile Construction. On the company's website, which is still up and running, it calls itself one of the "biggest construction companies in the world" under black ownership and black management. The owner was a woman named Hlami Ndlovu.

By 2017, it became evident that construction was not making much progress and much of the work had to be redone due to poor quality workmanship (Voice of the Cape). On 17 November 2017, Fikile's contract with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was cancelled (CRL) and soon after, the company was liquidated.

It appears as if Fikile already had serious financial problems when the contract was awarded, but the Department apparently did not realise that the company was "in the process of liquidation" despite clearance inquiries by the Department's director of construction. (Voice of the Cape).

Mr Jimmy Freysen, a director of the Department, said in June 2018 that Fikile also experienced difficulties with various other government projects due to "cash-flow problems" (IOL, 20 June 2019).

And yet government tenders amounting to a few billion rand where still awarded to Fikile since 2014 (project list, Fikile Construction). 

The abovementioned paints a picture of pervasive incompetence and mismanagement and possibly even fraud and corruption.

Regarding District 6, the Department must say how much money was really wasted on the project; why a Durban company with existing financial problems was selected; who the are other contractors were, apart from Fikile, that submitted tenders to do the work; and what the current state of affairs is.

This is proof that Black Economic Empowerment fails minority groups seeing as the matter has a direct and detrimental effect on coloured communities. It is a shame that these people have still not received anything after 21 years and now have to approach the court for help.

The FF Plus will also request a complete list of tenders that were awarded to Fikile and an explication of the outcome of each project from the Department. How many of these cases occurred in the name of Black Economic Empowerment over the last two decades is anyone's guess.

Dr Groenewald visits District 6 as part of the FF Plus's election campaign to make it clear that the party will keep fighting back against irregularities for which the ANC government is to blame and that cost the tax payers of South Africa dearly.

Issued by Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, 10 April 2019