SPEECH NOTES BY KOBUS BOTHA, DA SHADOW MEC FOR HUMAN SETTLEMENTS, SPEAKING ON THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT VISITS DURING 26-29 AUGUST 2014, JOE GQABI DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY. DELIVERED AT “TAKING LEGISLATURE TO THE PEOPLE”, 14-17 OCTOBER 2014, BURGERSDORP.

“Eastern Cape housing delivery depression means the homeless will remain homeless for longer.”

  • The right to housing has recently come under threat due to inefficiencies in spending and diminishing funding projected between the 2013/14 and 2017/17.
  • Human settlements portfolio committee oversight visits highlights serious inefficiencies in the departments housing provision mandate.
  • Eastern Cape Province faces a significant backlog and serious shortfall in its provision of quality-built housing for low income households.
  • Compounding these financial realities are various administrative and construction- related inefficiencies.

Honourable Members, officials, guests, and members of the public, good day.

I want to briefly reflect on yesterday afternoons proceedings in this house.

I refer to the racial slurs and under-tones of some of our Honourable member’s comments from the ANC.

Is this really necessary, and what purposes does this hurtful words serve? Will it unite us or divide us as a nation?.

To those of you who care about South Africa – and I know that includes everyone here today – my message is clear:

We must refrain from this dividing comments and focus on fixing service deliver failures.

We are the creators of our future.

We must not re-raceiliase society but we must de-raceialise our people.

We must continue on our path of reconciliation, steadfast in bringing about a rainbow nation, a nation with one future and prosperity for all, and not just for a selected few.

The constitutional system of South Africa is admired all over the world for its checks-and-balances and we should all defend it with zeal.

Honourable members, we must not stifle opposition political parties in executing their task of performing robustly oversight and debates in our peoples parliament,

There robust interaction with the governing political party keeps our democracy healthy.

Madam Speaker, the DA is and will increasingly become a strong and responsive opposition in this country.

The ANC must matue politically and accept this reality.

No amount of bickering will make us silent or to disappear. We are here to stay.

We face great challenges, but there are none greater than those which the South African people have already overcome before.

All of us across the political divide in South Africa should be grateful to all the progressive forces that contribute to our nations liberation from an evil apartheid government system, it wasn’t just the ANC alone that liberated us.

My party, the Democratic Alliance, pledges to play our part in ensuring that we have a health, vibrant, and functional democracy for all SA.

We will continue to fight for all the peoples rights and not just for a selected few.

We will fight for transformation; we will fight for redressing the in-justice that the apartheid system created.

We will fight for reconciliation; we will fight for the inclusion of diversity and not exclude people from equal opportunities.

We will continue to fight for people’s right to adequate and quality service delivery.

Madam Speaker, the DA believes that we are a great nation, with great opportunities that awaits us all within a democratic system.

The DA will not bring apartheid back, we will not take grants away from the poorest of the poor.

We want jobs for all, not just for some few family and friends of ANC leaders.

Madam Speaker, South Africa’s best days are ahead of her, and we in the opposition political parties will work to ensure that our nation struggle for liberation remains one of the most compelling stories of transformation and development in the world today.

Madam speaker, turning to the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee Members oversight responsibility.

First, I would like to place human settlements in the broader context.

There is a difference between a house and a home.

A house carries the meaning of a building where people live.

But a home conveys a meaning of warmth and comfort.

People think of their home as not just a place to keep their belongings (like their clothes or their books or their TV), but as a place where they feel safe and secure.

They use their home to relax, to spend time with friends, to sleep, to eat, to enjoy peace and quiet.

The importance of a comfortable and secure home is that it gives a person a kind of refuge.

After a long busy, hectic and noisy day you go home and be casual and make your own decisions about how to spend your time.

The majority of poor people still experience housing that is cold, uncomfortable and full of construction defects.

Of course, not everyone has such a home.

Some people are poor and cannot afford a home; some live in cramped or noisy or unsafe circumstances.

But just about everyone dreams of having a place they can call their own, a place that feels more like a home than just a house.

Madam Speaker, it is our task as contesting political parties when in government to create a conducive enabeling environment for the people to realise those dreams of having a home.

Honourable Speaker, the above introduction will sadly not become a reality for many of the people of our beloved Eastern Cape Province.

Why, am I saying this today? Well let me inform all present here today.

The Eastern Cape Province faces a significant backlog and serious shortfall in its provision of quality-built housing for low income households.

My above statement is substantiated by the new Human Settlements Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu as follows.

She confirms that there has been ‘’a 25 to 30 percent decline in the delivery of housing in the past five years”, but the minister fails to provide us with clear reasons for the decline other than, ‘’because of problems in the pipeline’’.

A backlog analysis conducted by our own Human Settlements Department’s (ECDoHS) informal research during 2011/12, put the backlog at 750 854 units.

The 2011 Census report indicates our province housing deficit to stand at 606 616 units.

With these two figures in mind, the math reveals that it will take us approximately 44 years to deliver houses at the current slow rate of delivery in the province.

I am of a strong opinion that the ECDoHS is lagging behind in housing delivery output and will continue to do so in the near future if we as a province do not adapt to a changing social, economic and technologically advancing environment.

Currently we have dropped our housing target per unit built per annum from around (18 000) eighteen thousand units to (12 979) twelve thousand nine hundred and seventy nine units for the financial year 2014/15.

This means that (5 921) five thousand nine hundred and twenty one beneficiaries will be homeless a little longer as the department struggles to reprioritise priorities over the MTEF.

The Budget Analysis for the 2014/15 financial year indicates the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements has received a total budget allocation of R42.48 billion.

This is a 12% budget decrease from the R42.83 billion for the 2013/14, Adjusted Budget year Allocation.

When inflation is taken into account, the ECDoHS budget decreased by 17%.

Over the next three years the budget is expected to decrease by a further 3.47%, meaning that fever people will receive houses,

Compounding the financial depression are various political, administrative and construction- related inefficiencies as heard today.

Honourable Speaker, to substantiate my above statements further, one only need to look at our recent portfolio committees’ oversight visits to some housing projects in the Joe Gqabi District.

We visited the district over the period 26-29 August as part of our preparations for Taking Legislature to the People that is being held this week 14 – 17 October 2014.

Honourable Speaker, the human settlements committee oversight visits meant that we managed to visit (7) seven out of (13) thirteen running projects. Why so few?

Well, at some of the projects we experienced delay and some officials and contractors just ignored our requests to meet with them.

Visited projects value ranged from between 4 million rand to 16 million rand.

The total value of the seven projects visited is estimated to be R75 million.

In terms of value received for money my comment to MEC Helen August-Sauls is, “no value for money paid out”’.

I challenge the MEC to investigated and too recover moneys from the under-performing construction companies and negligent department officials.

Honourable Speaker, as a representative of the DA, a political party that practices accountability where ever it governs.

I have taken it upon myself to identify some generic project problem trends that needs to be addressed by the MEC;

  1. From projects visited it became clear to me that officials from the Housing Policy and Planning Directorate are not improving the planning processes, ranging from monitoring and development of proper settlement and housing sector plans, to preparing projects for implementation as well as the development of business plans for multi-year housing development plans.
  2. It also became very evident to me that a project readiness matrix was not used or developed for each housing project to mitigate project failures.
  3. I am also questioning the various officials pre-construction application processes pertaining to layout-plan approvals, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) applications, township establishment applications, general plan approvals and opening of township registers related to the development of human settlements.
  4. MEC, the project planning and approval process is skewed and does not take into account demographics and needs of different regions.
  5. All projects which are ready, irrespective of area, municipality or region are just approved.
  6. The assessment of projects for approvals is not based on a standardised system.
  7. This led to some project approvals having planning issues still outstanding (e.g. EIA, General Plans, Beneficiaries Approval, Bulk Infrastructure etc.).
  8. The later has resulted in some hold up in budget expenditure curves.

Honourable Speaker, in summary the oversight visits once again highlighted some persistent problems that exist year-on-year on the operational and implementations levels of our housing delivery methodology.

Why is this not corrected.

As a pro-active DA public representative driven by presenting alternative solutions, I am submitting the following 10 points that requires attention by department officials:

  1. Failing rectification programmes requires that the department review its strategy in dealing with rectification backlogs, in particular budget allocation for implementation and time frames to evaluate progress and completed projects final reports.
  1. The development of a realistic master implementation plan is highly recommended, this will facilitate efficient implementation of housing projects.

 

  1. It is important that the department now once and for all adequately capacitate a programme management unit, dedicated to rectification projects, both at head office for coordination and regional level where implementation takes place.
  2. I have also found that construction of housing units is not standardised as minimum norms and standards are not being consistently implemented as guided by both national and provincial policies and resolutions.
  3. Some houses have gutters, down pipes, water tanks, tile roofs in-house toilets and others not.
  4. There is a general lack of adequate bulk services specifically in the traditionally rural areas.

This poses a major challenge to the attainment of sustainable human settlements as prescribed in the BNG policy as well as the skewed approvals articulated above.

  1. Regarding point 6, I would suggest that the department strongly consider going green by investigating alternative ways for the disposal of human faeces, especially in light that SA is water-scarce country.
  2. I am concerned that we have not formulated and/or enforced proper contracts with some of the projects contractors.
  1. It is also evident that limited coordination and delineation of responsibilities between the legal and project management directorates are still lacking.
  1. There still needs to be improved planning and coordination both within the department and other sector-departments in order to deliver on the new mandate of moving towards sustainable human settlements.
  2. A comprehensive rural housing strategy should be developed, not only to deal with houses constructed on tribal land but the development of rural areas in general within the province.
  3. Houses built in the Joe Gqabi District must make provision for vulnerable groups such as, people with various disabilities.

Lastly Honourable Speaker, we have to focus broadly on increasing efficiency in the department in order to improve the lives of our people, rather than embarking on a box-ticking exercise.

Given our current budget constraints the DA is of the view that the department priorities the most vulnerable and destitute of communities that require housing.

The department should also have to fast-track alternative housing interventions, such as innovative housing methods beyond the current contract driven RDP housing development processes in the short term.

Finally, Honourable Speaker, the department of human settlements should gradually plan a transition to incorporate renewable energy as a blueprint of its housing topology design.

The DA believes that we should decrease our reliance on bulk infrastructure and increase our housing out put on increasing sustainable communities that reduce the negative footprint the current housing development have on our environment.

In the Eastern Cape we are seriously lagging behind other provinces with regard to introducing environmental friendly, sustainable and cost effective alternative building methods.

The DA believes that our objective is to empower people and communities to make key decisions on housing for themselves, with the state providing financing and back-up support for the very poor.

This approach will not only maximise the use of state resources, but also turn recipients of state assistance into active agents of development rather than passive victims of fate and the state.

In an Open, Opportunity Society for All, individuals should be free to make their decisions in accordance with their own needs and responsibilities.

People must not be forced to accept sub-standard houses for the sake of compliance.

The DA will therefore seek to introduce a wide range of different housing arrangements for the poor to choose from.

On behalf of the DA, I support the human settlements portfolio committee report findings and recommendations to be implemented with urgency.

I thank you.

Kobus Botha : 076 130 6835

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*