Homeless people in the Eastern Cape have been on the increase as the uncaring ANC government keeps on turning its back on people living on the streets of our towns and metros.
Their attitude to homelessness is summed up by the words of COGTA MEC, Zolile Williams, “not applicable.”
Living on the streets is a challenge, especially in winter. Individuals struggle to get food, stay warm and dry. Sadly, this is the daily, lived reality for many people in our province.
The ANC government has failed to fund Non-Governmental Organisations that work with homeless individuals to empower them through skills training, uniting them back with their families and integrating them back into our communities.
The Covid-19 pandemic sharply highlighted the need for services to the homeless, yet no government department, on a national or provincial level, has taken any steps to address the dire needs of homeless people.
In a response from Premier Oscar Mabuyane, he stated that there is no national or provincial policy within any department that focuses on assisting the homeless community.
The Premier said the responsibility of providing shelter for the homeless lies with the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (COGTA) and, subsequently, local municipalities.
When a question based on the Premier’s response was submitted to MEC Williams to determine what services his department provided to the homeless, he just replied with “not applicable” to all questions posed.
It is safe to say that the ANC national and provincial governments have no plans to provide dignity and human rights to those surviving on the streets.
This is in sharp contrast to the Western Cape, where the Provincial Treasury has allocated R18 million in the coming financial year for capital works on a new homeless shelter in the Cape Town CBD.
This project will address the urgent need for accommodation for those who are homeless. The Department of Social Development in the Western Cape currently funds 2 398 bed spaces in homeless shelters every day.
We call on the Premier to provide clear leadership to his departments for steps to be actioned to address the homelessness pandemic.
This pandemic cannot be addressed if there is no clear leadership and programmes being implemented on the ground.
These individuals have constitutional rights and deserve the dignity of having shelter, the necessities, and assistance to become self-sufficient and add value to society.
The DA believes that there must be a national framework to address homelessness in South Africa.
The DA has submitted follow-up questions to both the Premier and the MEC of COGTA to clarify the response, or lack thereof, and the dismissal of the Premier’s statement by the COGTA MEC.