Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has lauded the role of NGOs working in densely populated areas.
Sisulu, who said she met with the NGOs on Monday, joined President Cyril Ramaphosa for a tour of the Rand Water offices on Tuesday, where her department’s command centre is based.
At least 12 NGOs have been assisting the department to ensure congested informal settlements get access to water and sanitation as well as creating roads to allow for emergency services into these areas.
Sisulu previously said this project would largely depend on consultations, saying the government did not want to forcefully evict people from their current homes.
“We don’t want to have our people in informal settlements responding to the government the way they normally do, so we are using the NGOs.”
Sisulu said the NGOs had taught them a “new language” to use when communicating the government’s desires to depopulate informal settlements.
“They have taught us that the terminology that we use does put up a certain environment in the minds of our people that reminds them of what happened in the past,” she added.
Before the dawn of democracy, several black communities experienced forced removals by the repressive government at the time, which sought to push them to the fringes of towns and cities.
“So, we need to tone down our language and use a language that is common to them,” Sisulu said.
Twenty-seven sites across the country have been identified for the project where temporary structures could be erected.
Sisulu added the organisations aiding the government was helping to communicate that the decision to move would be in the residents’ interests and allow the government to “re-block”, which means making informal settlements more accessible and allowing for essential services to be put in place.
“For every number of houses, emergency services can come through, water can come through, sanitation, honey suckers can come through, all those things important for their health.”