29 November 2012

South Africa: Human Settlements Committee Responds to Misleading News Report

press release

The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements wishes to set the record straight regarding a news report about the SA Toilet Summit in Durban next week.

The article, which appeared in Sowetan newspaper today with a headline "MPs raise stink over sanitation summit" is factually incorrect and does not fairly reflect what happened during the meeting.

The story seems to be aimed at creating unnecessary tensions between the Committee and Member of Parliament, Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. This news article also seeks to drive a wedge between the Committee and the Department of Human Settlements.

Said Committee Chairperson, Ms Nomhle Dambuza: "I was quoted out of context. Firstly, as the Committee responsible for the Human Settlements oversight, we felt that it was important for the government to involve other stakeholders and civil society bodies within the sector and go to the summit with common understanding of issues of sanitation affecting the country.

"We called the meeting not to discuss what has been reported in the newspapers but to receive the government report which outlines the country's position going to the summit in order to better understand the common issues as one and united delegation representing South Africa. This is precisely because the Committee recognises the importance and involvement of other role-players with common goal and understanding of nation building."

This is what happened during the meeting: after the Committee had noticed the name of Ms Madikizela-Mandela on the programme as one of the speakers, the Members asked the department for clarity. The Committee wanted to know in what capacity Ms Madikizela-Mandela would be addressing the summit since she was not part of the Committee delegation.

It became clear during the discussions that there was a need for a Committee slot to make a legislative reflection on the aspect of sanitation. The presence of the Committee at the summit is significant in order to receive first-hand information while identifying any legislative and policy gaps that need attention of Parliament.

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