Housing merger is democracy Mugabe-style
WHAT is the difference between citizen democracy in Zimbabwe and citizen democracy in Northern Ireland?
To Robert Mugabe's credit, he holds elections; they may be rigged and the outcome predetermined, but at least Mugabe facilitates the facade of citizen democracy.
In Northern Ireland, the Executive, the Department of Social Development, its regulatory regime and three housing associations in north Belfast refuse to give social housing tenants a ballot as they are about to merge.
Unlike England and Scotland (where tenant ballots are the norm if regulated social housing providers intend to merge) Northern Ireland discounts the need to offer ballots.
Mirroring Mugabe's determination to ensure the 'correct' result, DSD and housing associations offer tenants meaningless 'consultation exercises' – meaningless, because the key decisions to merge have already been taken.
In essence, there is nothing secure about holding a 'secure tenancy agreement' when Government and social housing landlords can rip up the tenancy agreement without a ballot.
The lack of tenant democracy is especially worrying in the knowledge that, in 2015, the Housing Executive is to be abolished.
It appears that, in 2013, the civil and human rights of low-income social housing tenants have less consideration in Northern Ireland than in Zimbabwe.
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim