Poor communities are facing disaster in City of Cape Town – SACP

Party says DA has downplayed extent of damage and is reluctant to ask for govt intervention because of narrow political motives

Poor Communities are facing a disaster in the City of Cape Town 

13 March 2017

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Brian Bunting District, City of Cape Town Metro, is extremely saddened by the deaths of approximately ten people and displacement of thousands of families following outbreaks of fire over the weekend. The SACP expresses its message of heartfelt condolences to all the families that lost their loved ones and pledges sincere solidarity with all the displaced people, including women and defenceless children. The affected areas include Kosovo in Philippi, Westbank in Kuilsriver, and Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay. The outbreaks affected working class and poor families who the Democratic Alliance- (DA-) led administration of the Cape Metro does not care about, except as a market for votes during elections.  

The outbreaks followed yet another disaster in less than a month at Site B in Khayelitsha where four family members died.

The SACP visited Imizamo Yethu on Saturday. The areas is by far the worst affected, with a recorded seven fatalities recorded, over 650 shelters/homes destroyed in the flames, and between 5 000 to 6 000 people left homeless and destitute.

The SACP is calling on law enforcement agencies to move with speed to investigate fatalities that are unaccounted for. The numbers will most probably increase. And these are not just numbers. It is human beings. It is people who are dead, people who sustained injuries, people who are displaced or left homeless. We want not just holistic and accurate accounting but action to prevent recurrence and long-lasting humanitarian and development planning interventions.     

The SACP condemns the posture of the DA-led Cape Metro administration which has actively sought to downplay the extent of the damage and is reluctant for narrow political reasons to ask for national government intervention to declare the area a disaster. Declaring the area disaster will upgrade the forms of intervention to an adequate level as opposed to the negligence the people are suffering under the DA-led Cape Metro local government.

The DA’s administration is reducing the disaster and devastation to a mere “incident” or “emergency”. On the contrary, through proper human development planning focused of eliminating class and racial inequalities disasters such as these can be prevented. It is not the rich as wealthy who suffers. That is why the DA does not show any understanding of the situation. It has no Disaster Recovery Plan and in incapable of taking our people into confidence about Cape Metro’s local government capacity to deal with the problem.

The SACP was disappointed to learn that even the disaster relief effort co-ordinated by the City of Cape Town Metro is haphazard and lacks proper planning. The DA-led City of Cape Town Metro promised tents to our people. But it did not deliver on the promise by Saturday. This is another problem, lack of urgency on matters affecting the workers and poor.  

The SACP calls on the national government, particularly the National Disaster Management Centre, as well as relevant line departments, to intervene and rescue the thousands of homeless working class people and assist through social intervention in the families that lost their loved ones.

The persistent fire outbreaks and tragedy that follows in the City of Cape Town expose the fact that the DA has absolutely no medium- or long-term plan for addressing spatial inequalities and the provision of decent homes for the poor. 

Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, Head of Communications, SACP, 13 March 2017