Bushbuckridge - Mpumalanga's MEC for Human Settlements, Madala Masuku, has assured disabled people living in Bushbuckridge that the provincial government will provide them with houses that suit their needs.
Speaking during a visit to the area as part of government's Public Participation Programme, aimed at giving citizens an opportunity to directly interact with government, the MEC said more than 600 people with disabilities in Bushbuckridge would all get homes by 2011.
"During the 2009/2010 financial year, we are focusing mostly on winding up previous efforts to deliver houses, paying special attention to completing all abandoned and unfinished projects of the previous financial years," he said.
Masuku addressed hundreds of people with disabilities who represented various organisations for the disabled, as well as government officials and traditional leaders.
"This government is a government that cares, serves and belongs, and activities like these remain central because it brings the government closer to the people," said Masuku.
He said a database of housing needs for the disabled would be established, which would inform the department's efforts. Although the exercise will start in Bushbuckridge, it will eventually be extended to other parts of the province.
"The new mandate requires the department to refocus on delivering sustainable human settlements in an integrated manner.
"As part of correcting the past, and in the true spirit of creating social cohesion within communities, the department plans to also build social-needs facilities such as community halls and child-care facilities," Masuku said.
The MEC also paid surprise visits to the homes of people with disabilities in Cunningmore and Oakley villages.
Mainah Ubisi, 88, of Oakley, who lives in a shack, asked the MEC to provide a house for her.
"Build me a home please, before I die. When I die, I want my body to come out from the new house," said Ubisi.
Bushbuckridge municipality spokesman Matume Malatjie said the community was grateful for the meeting with the MEC. He said they preferred the new Public Participation Week to the former government imbizos.
"In the past, these people in the government always came across less human. But now they consider us as equals," said Malatjie.