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Revitalisation plans achieve nothing

24 Jun 2011

For the past two years there has been virtually no progress on the Small Towns Revitalisation Programme and now provincial and municipal officials are demanding to know why the programme has stagnated for so long.

Public Works MEC Thandiswa Marawu claims that departmental officials had been dragging their feet in implementing the programme that was originally launched in 2009 and hoped to revitalise 11 rural towns in the province.

The small towns include Port St Johns, Alice, Mount Frere Cofimvaba, Somerset East and Cala.

A report on public works, delivered to the portfolio committee in the National Assembly shows that the programme has achieved virtually nothing and that there has been no integrated approach from the various government departments supposed to ensure the programme got underway.

According to portfolio committee Chairman Debra Komose the committee has now given Marawu’s department just 30 days to come up with a detailed plan that will ensure the project gets underway and that the public are kept informed of its progress.

Opposition parties have expressed their dismay at the slow progress that has been made on improving the towns, particularly when it comes to social housing and low- to medium-cost housing projects.

Referring to programme, the public works department was due to assist communities to establish small and medium-sized enterprises, develop farming land for commercial farming and agro-processing and to provide short-term leases of public works properties for staff and student accommodation.

Residents in the towns say that there has been no meaningful progress – despite the fanfare and the budget allocations – and that many of these towns are still in a “disgusting and pathetic state”.

The Democratic Alliance’s spokesman at the portfolio committee, Dacre Haddon says it’s “totally unacceptable” that the programme has achieved little or nothing two years since it was launched.

Marawu meanwhile has told departmental officials that “people on the ground are suffering” as a result of the delays.

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Paddy Hartdegen

Paddy Hartdegen

Freelance columnist at

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