By Kwanele Sibanda, CORC
ISN attempted to make a presentation to the Mangaung Metro in March. This was delayed because the speaker of the Chief of Staff felt that the presentation was too important for his ears alone and requested the meeting to be postponed until other officials and project managers were available. After consistent follow-ups, it was agreed that the presentation would occur on the 8th of June, but the Mayor was not available due to other commitments.
Present in the meeting from the Metro was the Chief of Staff, Head of Planning (Mr. Gabagamba) and the Head of Human Settlements (Mr. Mokgwena). Representing ISN were five leaders from various settlements of Mangaung and they were supported by Emily (FEDUP Free State regional leader), Vuyani (ISN Western Cape), Kwanele (CORC, Joburg) and Gershwin (CORC, Cape Town).
Emily led the ISN presentation and she spotlighted the successes of the Federation in engaging government and building communities through a focus on savings groups in line with self-sustenance, livelihoods initiatives, women driven processes and the People’s Housing Process. She also talked about the signing of a MOU between FEDUP, uTshani Fund and the National Department of Housing which resulted in a commitment made by Minister Sisulu in 2006 to pledge 1,000 subsidies per province. In the Free State, the government-Federation relationship has been very strong and the department of Human Settlements have paid subsidies to FEDUP savings schemes upfront.
Emily also explained the emergence of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), and what the network aims to achieve by building issue-based agendas at the city-wide scale. She emphasized that ISN is a non-political movement of the poor, and aims to influence decision-making powers through pilot projects in the five large metros in South Africa. Vuyani from ISN Western Cape reiterated these words when he spoke about the partnership with the City of Cape Town where 11 projects were identified in 2009, which led to broad-based mobilization of the poor throughout the City. Similarly the successes of the Stellenbosch partnership have been equally instructive. Kwanele and Gershwin from CORC drew in examples from the SDI network, and the emerging synergies between professionals and communities. CORC’s interventions are designed around the innovations of local communities, and working in partnership with municipalities has delivered precedent setting upgrading projects.
Officials from Manguang set out the challenges facing the medium sized city of Bloemfontein and surrounding townships and rural areas. Mr. Mokgwena, Head of Human Settlements, explained that they are aware of 28 informal settlements ranging in size. The Housing Development Agency (HDA) is currently drafting a program before their enumeration process begins. Their sub-regions are Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thabanchu. Mr. Gabagamba, the Head of Planning, outlined eight key issues that will have to be addressed in preparing for a formalized working relationship:
- Establishment of a committee that agglomerates the two parties (South African SDI Alliance and Mangaung Metro);
- How the arrangement will be structured;
- Articles of association;
- Areas of performance;
- Membership profile;
- Resource base;
- Targeted communities; and
- Governance system
In response to the presentation, and the proposal to set up a steering committee, the Chief of Staff nominated two officials (Head of Planning and Head of Human Settlements) as well as two politicians that he still to name.
It was agreed upon that the next meeting is going to be held on the 22nd of June 2012. The purpose of the meeting shall be that of presenting the eight key points listed above on the side of SDI as well as the presentation of settlements that fall under the IDP and a discussion on how each party will play its role.