NEWS & ANALYSIS

Land invasions: Why the double standards? - Samantha Graham-Maré

DA MP says Cape Town being vilified while Gauteng ANC-led govt gets praised for their efforts

Double standards could be our downfall in the war on land invasions

3 September 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will, through our City of Cape Town representatives, ask the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to table a discussion around finding solutions and implement mechanisms to address the ongoing land invasions in both Metros and local municipalities as a matter of urgency. As the body that represents government at the coalface, there is no better driver of a solution to this issue of land invasions.

There can be no greater example of the hypocrisy that exists in South Africa around governance by the DA versus that of the ANC than in the current land invasions crisis.

While the DA-led City of Cape Town has been vilified, hit with court case after court case and accused of racism and being anti-poor in its attempts to prevent the incessant and orchestrated land invasions taking place throughout the city, the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Province are being hailed for their decisive action in dealing with land-grabbing syndicates.

In the Western Cape Division of the High Court judgment last week, the City of Cape Town and its Anti-Land Invasion Unit were interdicted from performing any evictions without a court order. Less than a week later, the Gauteng MEC, Lebogang Maile, has unleashed an army of 1 500 community patrollers and the City of Johannesburg has proudly launched its own Anti-Land Invasion Unit. And unsurprisingly, there is no sign of the South African Human Rights Commission or the Social Justice Coalition and their outrage. Why the double standards?

In an ongoing media and political attack on the City of Cape Town, the City and its officials have been accused of waging a war against the poor, marginalized and homeless people who are merely seeking shelter in the middle of a cold winter. In the City of Johannesburg, on the other hand, the City and the Province are portrayed as law enforcers fearlessly braving land-grabbers and syndicates. Same actions. Different optics.

It would bode well for the rest of the country to recognize the constraining of the law enforcement in preventing land invasions in the City of Cape Town by the Courts because these decisions will have an impact on the ability of every Metro and Municipality to protect its land from illegal occupants. It is time that all Metros and Local Municipalities recognize and acknowledge that the problem of land invasions is getting worse and unless a coordinated and multi-pronged strategy is developed to address this scourge, every city and town is at risk of losing vast parcels of land to land grabbers.

But this cannot be realized as long as the ANC and its cohorts continue with an “us and them” narrative against the DA-led City of Cape Town, that prevents any kind of collaboration on the problem. Our country is under threat. Now is not the time to be scoring political points. Now is the time for solutions.

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, 3 September 2020