Questions have been raised about the future of the Joe Slovo Housing project following an opinion piece written by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille. The project forms part of the N2 Gateway Project.

It was started in 2004 with the goal of providing 22 000 formal houses.

The continual invasion by shack dwellers, who refuse to make way for land to be cleared for construction for further development, has caused a massive delay to the project.

The Joe Slovo Housing Project runs along a lengthy strip of land next to the N2 in Cape Town.

Named after the first democratic housing minister, it forms part of a project which has been referred to as the single biggest housing project undertaken in South Africa. Its future now hangs in the balance. Wedged in between formal three story buildings, several shacks can be seen.

Some of the shack dwellers are refusing to move to make way for further proper housing.  Zille, says mounting costs due to on-going delays with the project are having an adverse effect on its future.

“At the moment the future of the Joe Slovo Project at the N2 Gateway hangs in the balance. We may have to walk away from it because we simply cannot make sufficient progress to justify the additional amount or the delays are costing us. So there are a lot of people who simply refuse to co-operate with the process and many more who are cooperating but for the few who don’t want to co- operate it makes it too expensive and too time consuming.”

A former task team member, who was part of the steering committee of the community in Joe Slovo, says they have not been informed about the possible abandonment of the project.

Zithulela Ngesi, however, says some in the community are making it difficult for any further development. He has raised concerns about alleged corruption.

“Some of them they’ve got houses and the rule from Joe Slovo is saying if you are getting a house now you have to break your shack and go straight to the house. Now the leaders what they do, they build new shacks and they leave the old shack and they go to the house with the new shack left, and sell that old shack. There’s no leadership here.”

Meanwhile, Human Settlement’s Provincial Minister, Bonginkosi Madikizela, agrees that the chaos cannot continue but adds those entitled to a house in the Joe Slovo Project will not be left wanting.

“There are allegations that people who come in there pay the leaders and then settle in there. Now we are at a point where we cannot try and incentivise people who want to jump the queue because they are standing on the way of the development. That is why we are saying what we’ll do is look at all the original beneficiaries of Joe Slovo make sure that they are accommodated and then we will walk away.”

The N2 Gateway is a shared project between Provincial and National Government. National Human’s Settlement’s Xolani Xundu, says the abandonment of a project is not a decision that can be made unilaterally.

“There is no way that government can abandon a project because there are challenges and in this country out of all the thousands of projects with similar or even worst challenges we cannot abandon the poor.”

To date 16 000 structures have been built.