Former Cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane has described the controversial Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), currently the subject of an inquiry, as a success.
Among the projects she listed as a success under the ARP were the building of RDP houses, the establishment of a police station and magistrate’s court, the relocation of homeless people to Diepsloot and Braamfischerville, and the building of new roads in the township.
“During the period of my tenure, Alexandra saw developments,” she said at the inquiry on Thursday.
Earlier this year, Alexandra residents shut down the township and demanded services, prompting the commission to launch the inquiry.
Held by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Office of the Public Protector, the inquiry is probing what happened to the estimated R1.3bn allocated to improve the lives of Alexandra residents.
Mokonyane said the project took place during her tenure as Gauteng Housing MEC between 2004 and 2009.
She denied that the government spent R1.3bn.
“That R1.3bn was an estimated amount based on the business plan for the project. During the 2006 and 2007 financial year, the Department of Housing spent R251m and between 2007/8 and 9 the department spent R125m on the project. At no point were we given an expectation of R1.3bn coming to Gauteng,” said Mokonyane.
She said during her tenure and before the project could begin, the Alexandra population was more than 350,000 and there were 4,060 formal housing units.
Mokonyane said the project was a pilot project for other urban renewal projects.
“During the APR there were challenges of the reluctance of people who didn’t want to relocate to Braamfischerville and Diepsloot, [and a] slow pace of judicial processes to deal with relocation. Access to land in Alexandra was also a challenge and more demand was on RDP houses and rental units.
“Land procurement and scarcity of land created a lot of irritation as well as the issue of documented and non-documented property owners. Before the ARP was started, Alexandra depended solely on bucket systems which also contributed to gender-based violence against women and children,” she said.
Mokonyane said large families relied on a single toilet and that many women and children were targeted when they went to the toilet.
“We managed to deliver,” she said.
She added that more would have been done but “without a budget and having to reprioritise, a lot was done”.