DACRE HADDON: SPEECH ON BUDGET AND POLICY VOTE: DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Madam Premier, Members of the Executive Committee, Members of the Legislature, officials, media and guests.

Speaker, The Department of Human Settlements in this province is dysfunctional and in a chaotic mess!

This problem is a result of severe shortages of building inspectors and other planning staff within the department.

Speaker, one of the main reasons for the chaos and appalling service delivery in this province is the lack of monitoring of the house building process because of a shortage of building inspectors.

Speaker, I refer to the Budget report page 2 Finding 2 (b) to confirm what has just been said:

The finding states and I quote “There is a lack of enabling facilities for project managers and inspectors to inspect and monitor housing projects effectively and timeously”.

Speaker, budget after budget, one portfolio meeting after another and talk, talk, talk . . . this issue is repeatedly raised and nothing is done while the people who live in shockingly built houses suffer!

If this department focussed on employing enough qualified building inspectors the problems of rectification, shoddy workmanship, fraud, blocked projects and the like would be minimised.

Speaker, I have in my possession the following statistics from the Department:

Speaker, as of 1 April 2010, of the 72 Control Works Inspector positions in the department, only 38 are filled. This equates to a vacancy rate of 47%.

Of the 12 posts for Quality Coordinators, 5 are filled while 7 posts are vacant . This is a 58% vacancy rate.

While Project Manager posts are filled, a huge problem with Assistant Project Managers exists. Once again, the figures tell a story – of 72 posts 23 are filled,  49 posts are vacant, equating to a vacancy rate of 68%.

Honourable Speaker, of the 11 Engineering posts 1 is filled .This represents a 91 % vacancy rate.

The vacancy rate for Quantity Surveyors is 50%

and there is a 33 % vacancy rate for Land Surveyors.

So Honourable Speaker, of the 204 Technical and Professional posts . . . 90 are filled –  114 posts are vacant – making a total 56% vacancy rate in that department. With figures like this, one asks – where is capacity?

Yet Speaker, the MEC and her department don’t listen or take action.

Instead Speaker, the department is filled with superfluous managers and clerks and “desk bound pilots” instead of sufficient staff on the ground to monitor building progress, building quality, building efficiency, fraud prevention and theft of building materials.

With a vacancy rate of 54% in the entire department how can any department or company function effectively?

Speaker, I refer to a document titled: “ Integrated Sustainable Human Settlements and improved Household Life: Extended mandate of the department” dated 5 May 2010. The committee are in receipt of this document.

The department has been allocated R158 million for its compensation budget to only cover current staff salaries and benefits.

IT DOES NOT HAVE BUDGET TO RECRUIT FOR VACANCIES and can only recruit from filled posts.

The department needs to recruit  for 249 critical posts. If only 50 % of such vacancies were budgeted for, this would cost an additional R75 million.

Thus the compensation budget is hitting hard on project management operations in that few building inspectors are required to manage projects.

Speaker, this has a snowball effect of continued bad workmanship, then rectification, then rectification on rectification which means further budget expense to repair houses and less budget to allow the people to access housing opportunity by exercising their housing choices.

Honourable Speaker,  I quote from the document “Due to the taking over of the development status as the department from municipalities that could not handle development responsibility, the department is required to expand its Building Inspectorate  and Project Management capacity. A further 150 posts would be needed costing R56 million”.

So Speaker, the MEC wants to appeal for further funding of R131 million

  • 249 critical posts @ R75 million and
  • projected posts for the expanded mandate R 56 million.

Speaker R131 million is a huge request from national government.

While the Democratic Alliance will support any initiative to improve service delivery and build capacity in departments this must be done in a financially responsible manner.

Speaker, we must all understand that budget shortages are a given. Just like peoples’ salaries – budget allocations are never enough!

Therefore we need to be ruthless and circumspect about how we spend what we have, focussing on the priorities.

The budgeting for and appointing of building inspectors to manage housing as an ever increasing demand should be priority number one of the department.

If we get this right Speaker, – and the inspectors do their jobs properly –  existing cost problems of rectification (R300 million extra in previous rectification costs ) fraud will diminish, housing quality will improve and the monetary savings will be substantial.

Speaker, the people of this province deserve dignity with decent housing provision.

Honourable Speaker, this brings me to the second part of the speech namely that of Housing Accreditation.

Speaker, since 1994 the then President – and in 1995 the Division of Revenue Act (DORA) – alluded to the necessity of Housing Accreditation as a way to improve housing delivery in the country.

This process Speaker, involves giving certain administrative and financial functions to a municipality. It is devolution of power to municipal level – a policy the Democratic Alliance agrees with.

However Speaker, six years later, the national programme is slow and only Metro’s are being targeted for Accreditation.

The Accreditation Framework sets out the rationale for Accreditation to municipalities.

Speaker, Accreditation has three levels.

Accredited municipalities will administer National housing programmes and demonstrate capacity to carry out and manage housing programmes aligned to Integrated Development Plans (IDP’s) and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)

The advantages are many – and include greater community involvement from the people.

Did you know Speaker, that as of June 2010, this Department of Human Settlements owes the Metro R30million in funding for 27 housing projects?

Speaker, this is because the province takes up to 5 months to pay the Metro for housing projects. Therefore the Metro is in the unenviable position of having to fund these projects whilst waiting for payment from the province.

Small wonder then that the DA has taken 8 municipal by-election wards from the ANC since April 2009 and continues to increase both its vote percentage and share in non traditional DA wards.

Speaker, as part of the Democratic Alliance’s “Agenda for accountability”, we as a Province and a department must support and champion the Housing Accreditation process.

Speaker, we urge the MEC to push for Accreditation 3 status for the Metro and Buffalo City.

With Accreditation 3, funding goes directly to the municipality and bypasses the provincial department.

Furthermore Speaker we should as a department (if not already done so) do an audit of capacity within municipalities in the province and empower them with Accreditation status at various levels.

By so doing Speaker, we can free up capacity in the Housing department.

If we fail to act quickly in this Accreditation process and devolving Housing functions to municipal level, the on-going human capacity and financial challenges at provincial housing level will increase and the current Housing chaos in this province will take years to sort out.

The ball is in your court Honourable MEC.

Speaker the DA supports the budget.