/ 28 March 2008

Minister slams Holomisa over N2 Gateway ‘exploitation’

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Friday lambasted United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa for ”exploiting” the concerns of Joe Slovo residents.

The residents are facing eviction to make way for the flagship N2 Gateway housing project.

”It is unfortunate that far from offering sound advice, he sought to exploit the people’s concerns and succumbed to appeals of a vote-catching opportunity, like so many have done before him.”

The UDM leader’s suggestion that the community approach political heads in the face of the court ruling smacked of political mischief of the worst kind, she said.

”This is so because it encourages a certain form of lawlessness in which a lawmaker encourages disregard for the law.”

Such postures led to undermining efforts to build a robust constitutional democracy.

It was completely at odds with the code of conduct for MPs and was dangerous as it also pitted the judiciary against the citizens, she said.

The Cape Argus reported on Thursday that in an attempt to halt their removal and avoid being moved to Delft, the residents appealed against the Cape High Court’s order and were now, albeit only temporarily, safe from eviction pending the outcome of the application.

Holomisa told residents they had to ignore provincial structures and report straight to the African National (ANC) Congress headquarters, Luthuli House, and the national government if they wanted anything done.

”You must talk to national government because this route of going to court is going to cost you at the end of the day.

”I am advising you to go to the influential people who can make a change. You must expect that the [court] judgement can be against you when you appeal, which shows that government policy is against the poor,” he reportedly said.

Sisulu said the ANC was a broad church that responded at grassroots level to the issues Holomisa was referring to.

There was nothing Luthuli House could do that could not be done by the ANC’s local and provincial representatives.

”Herein lies Holomisa’s mischief: to discredit the structures of the party that are seized with the matter and most competent to deal with the issues at hand,” she said.

”As a member of Parliament, he does not need to be reminded that our courts exist for good order.

”Aside from helping with interpretations of the laws, they also serve as neutral and independent arbiters.”

Difference of opinion over the N2 Gateway between the government and certain sections of the community was taken to the Cape Town High Court.

Before and during this period, Holomisa was aware of this dispute and correctly did not interfere in the legal process.

”One can assume that his non-intervention was based on the confidence that he has in our legal and judicial process.

”My office ensured that members of Parliament are adequately informed precisely because of the implications that this project entailed for all of us.

”He is therefore in a far more privileged position to provide proper information and guidance,” Sisulu said. — Sapa