The Standing Committee met on a virtual platform to discuss the way forward with the District Six Land Restitution Housing Project. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) was the lead department although only 108 units had been built so far for the beneficiaries. The Committee had invited DALRRD three times for a meeting but on each occasion, it indicated it had a prior engagement.
The Committee proposed having a communication campaign involving a survey and public hearings on the matter to elevate the concerns of the community. This would be done in a form of a survey coupled with written submissions and a communication campaign that would make use of media statements, radio messages, and print advertisements in newspapers. Preference for oral submissions would be given to those identified as beneficiaries. The intention of the Committee was to finalise this before the end of the year.
The Chairperson said the Committee has tried to action its District Six resolutions and communicated with the Department about the status of the restitution process. However, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has not responded to the concerns of the Committee. Before summoning the Department to appear before it, she felt it was important to find a solution first. The Minister accounts to the national legislature but not to the Western Cape standing committee. The community sees the Western Cape standing committee as the body who could provide assistance. So it is important to give correct information to the affected communities. Therefore, she suggested a survey and the holding of public hearings to collect information from the District Six community members to get their feelings. The feedback would then be forwarded to the DALRRD.
Mr van der Westhuizen (DA) agreed and proposed the Committee try a multi-pronged approach and ask the NCOP to ask questions of the relevant minister since it has an oversight role. The Committee must avoid acting sequentially but rather use various means to get answers to the District Six claimants so that they get relief and see movement.
Mr D America (DA) supported Mr Van Der Westhuizen, saying the Committee needs to make a quick decision to see if this could be made possible before the end of the year.
The Chairperson asked the procedural officer to unpack the process.
Ms Shumeeze Jones, Committee Procedural Officer, replied that the public hearing process would be similar to the one used for UIF/TERS. Advertisements would be placed in Western Cape community newspapers. The claimants would be able to respond via email, SMS and other channels. The media plan would include social media posts. Whether public hearings are held or not, the proposed campaign would help the Committee to get the desired response.
Mr Chad Alexander, WCPP Senior IT and Digital Officer, recommended the design of a survey with questions placed on the digital platform. He took the Committee through the process of putting questions together for the survey and how to capture information from the respondents.
Mr Matthys Odendal, WCPP Stakeholder and Communications Officer, informed the Committee the questionnaire route was successful for the UIF/TERS consultation. The communication plan would include a digital communications plan. Social media would be used to complement the survey on the website. Social media literate people would be asked to help senior citizens to make use of the website, and radio ads, voice clips and media statements would be used to sensitise senior citizens on the subject and to encourage them to make submissions. This would depend on the timelines agreed on. If the Committee does decide to go the public hearings route, then the invitations would use all those suggested communication platforms.
Mr America said it is not good enough to have a strategy when the target market has not been clearly defined. The beneficiaries are known, but the Committee needs to explain thoroughly the kind of communication that would be used.
The Chairperson said the beneficiaries are known. The Department has a list of beneficiaries, including those who are outside of the Metro who support the District Six Restitution Housing Project. There is also a list of aggrieved people; it is unknown how true some of these claimants are.
Mr Thembekile Keswa, Public Education Outreach and Community Development, said the beneficiaries are spread throughout the province and he has asked the Department to spread the word to all Thusong Centres and communities who have claims. It was important to manage the expectations of the communities. Stakeholders would be informed of when the Committee would engage with them.
Mr van der Westhuizen said it is important to clarify what the Committee wants to achieve. He wondered if the target market comprises those already approved or those not informed of their rights.
Mr America said the first preference should be given to those identified as beneficiaries.
The Chairperson said that the questionnaire would try to resolve those who have not been identified. The primary focus should be assisting those who have been identified as claimants on the Department list. Those missed through the system would be identified through the questionnaire. The main objective of the exercise is to shorten the process and ask pertinent questions.
Mr van der Westhuizen was happy with the idea of a questionnaire and asked if the questionnaire would have a due date. He asked the Chairperson to finalise the questionnaire and discuss it with Members.
Mr Keswa indicated they have engaged with the Metro on how to handle other stakeholders.
The Chairperson said the advertisements would be made in the same way as UIF/TERS communication strategy. Voice clips and radio ads would also be fine for older citizens, but physical contact with claimants would not be suitable due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr van der Westhuizen said it would be better to get the contacts of the beneficiaries as people respond better to direct communication. He suggested communication messages should be creative in reaching the target group and beneficiaries.
The Chairperson concluded that the feeling of the Committee was to do written, oral and in-person submissions.
Mr van der Westhuizen agreed but noted that people would think the Committee has all the answers whereas it is there to elevate their concerns. The communication should state the Committee is the conduit or channel to convey their concerns.
The procedural officer said claimants do not want to make oral submissions because they are tired of talking, but they are looking for answers. Therefore the decision taken has been to forward community concerns through a matrix to the Department.
The Chairperson said oral submissions would be an option in the survey. Media statements would be sent to the media houses to explain everything about the concerns of the members. Due to limited advertising budget, radio would be the main medium to inform communities. The Committee needed to agree on the radio stations to be used.
Mr America suggested Heart 104 FM should be thrown in the radio mix.
Mr van der Westhuizen suggested Die Son, The Voice, Die Burger and other newspapers should be considered and selection should be made based on costs.
Mr A Lili (ANC) suggested the inclusion of newspapers that publish in African languages.
Members agreed unanimously about considering other radio stations and timelines for the advertising campaign. It would run from 27 September until 27 October 2021.
The Committee resolved to do make an oversight visit to a Communicare social housing development and expressed happiness about the success of the project and cooperation from the community. The project is not without challenges and it would try to resolve them. It would look at what Communicare is doing and look at the rental management of some of the units to ensure the community is comfortable. The Committee would also look at how other management companies handle these matters.
The Committee considered and adopted the Committee Report on the unannounced oversight visit to the Anchorage and Bothasig Gardens Social Housing Projects.
It adopted minutes of 15 September 2021.
The meeting was adjourned.
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