METRO “UNABLE TO COPE WITH RESPONSIBILITIES”

DA spokesman for housing Dacre Haddon said the municipality was faced with an 85 000 housing backlog and was battling to fill key housing vacancies.

OPPOSITION parties believe that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, already plagued with major housing issues, will be unable to cope with the additional housing responsibilities that have been placed on it by national government.

Nelson Mandela Bay is one of several major municipalities across the country which has been assigned new powers for human settlements development – a move the department of human settlements hopes to result in more integrated planning of new housing projects and improved service delivery.

This comes only months after national government threatened to take over the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s role as developer of RDP housing projects due to “gross mismanagement” following the metro’s cash crisis which left many contractors unpaid for extended periods.

The cities were awarded what is known as a Level 2 accreditation status by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale last week.

Level 2 accreditation gives municipalities the responsibility to approve and manage housing construction programmes. In the past, the authority for this rested primarily with provincial governments.

“These are significant responsibilities. The municipal accreditation process is a critical tool in devolving the housing function to the local sphere. It enables municipalities to coordinate their housing decisions with other decisions that relate to the broader sustainability of human settlements,” Sexwale said.

He added he saw the accreditation process leading to accelerated delivery and improved expenditure patterns which would help place an end to under-expenditure.

He also announced the introduction of a new metropolitan funding framework which had been developed in partnership with the national treasury known as the urban settlements development grant.

Metropolitan municipalities would directly receive this grant from the national department to address infrastructure needs.

Although critics agree with this decision in principle, they believe this would only place additional pressure on an already struggling municipality.

DA spokesman for housing Dacre Haddon said the municipality was faced with an 85 000 housing backlog and was battling to fill key housing vacancies.

Kobus Gerber, of the Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association, said the organisation had no confidence in the metro to handle additional responsibilities.