Presentation of Report of Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements

Sanele Magaqa

Taking legislature to the People

Elliotdale, Amathole District Municipality
17 October 2018

Honourable speaker
The Premier of the province
Leaders of political parties
Members of the house
Traditional and all community members

Honourable Speaker every title deed delayed, is dignity denied

Perhaps it is important to kick-off our debate on the visit by several committees in this region by first tracing the origins of the mandate that the Department of Human Settlements has, so that we can robustly assess whether the department is doing enough to fulfill its constitutional enshrined role.
Speaker Section 26 of the constitution states that everyone has the right to access to adequate housing, whether in urban areas or here in the rural areas of Xhora.
That right seems not to find expression in the minds of the current leadership of the ANC, and that is sad .
The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
From this we deduce that establishing sustainable human settlements takes more than merely building a house.
It also requires the identification of suitable land to accommodate the provision of basic services.
It requires negotiations with communities, who often do not want to relocate to make way for developments, and that is real. We have seen it here.
It requires the appointment of contractors with the capacity to deliver projects on time.
It requires a credible housing database to ensure that the right people are beneficiaries.
It requires fostering social integration to redress the legacy of apartheid’s spatial planning.
It requires a delicate balancing act between competing priorities and optimising limited resources.
Every decision has to be thoroughly considered and carefully implemented. There are no easy solutions and shortcuts to success in this field.
From the onset, we acknowledge that the ANC has done fairly well to provide shelter to over 4-million South Africans. However, much more can be done to extend home ownership to more South Africans.
In an era where rhetoric, sloganeering and all sorts of populist tantrums masquerade as socio-political activism, it is almost impossible to have rational debate about important issues with the ANC. More so when such issues affect human dignity such as “the right to have adequate housing”
And as politicians, we carry a massive responsibility to enrich public debates on these issues.
Yet some amongst us pollute such debates with reckless statements, encouraging land invasions. We know who are behind that and for what reason and they miss a point that some of the land invaded is meant for housing development, what are they thinking?
While others expediently use the allocation of housing opportunities to victimise opposition supporters. We know that it’s been happening for years and it must stop, speaker!
Houses are being built using tax payer’s money, not money from Luthuli house.
Meanwhile, poor South Africans watch in despair, wondering whether government genuinely cares about their rights as much it claims to do.
Honourable Members, one of the key factors that derail efforts to tackle the demand for housing is that the industry is highly politicised.
From the tendering process to the allocation of job opportunities in housing projects.
Tenderpreneurs are milking the state with inflated costs while some politicians are interfering in the appointment of local labour. Even housing lists are corrupted as your proximity to the top of the list is too often determined by your proximity to those higher up in the ANC. Elliotdale 350 and ekhaya construction are just some examples of where all houses built have defects.
And until such time that we adequately address these, we will continue to have incomplete housing projects and agitated communities blocking housing developments.
This is why where the DA governs, bid adjudication committee meeting are open to the public to showcase transparency from the onset. The DA has also conducted audits of the housing lists.
An open and fair process of appointing contractors for housing projects enhances their credibility amongst community members.
We don’t claim to have perfect government where we govern. However, we try our best to do the right thing at all times.
Which is why the development of an updated and credible housing database is essential for the fair allocation of housing opportunities on our governments.
Honourable members, it is impossible for any government in the current economic climate to provide housing opportunities for all those who deserve them.
This is why the upgrading of informal settlements and provision of basic services to backyard dwellers are such important interventions to instill dignity to millions of South Africans while they are waiting for their housing opportunity.
As the DA we are proud that the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements continues to be on the top performing provincial departments with regards to the Upgrading of informal Settlements Programme.
The Amadwaleni project is progressing well and the working relationship between the contractor and the local stakeholders is what we would love to see in all projects.
Speaker, Butterworth is not in the picture. No houses are built there. Even the budget is telling us less that 2% of the housing budget goes to e Gcuwa. Something is wrong here, we need a fair distribution of resources.
We understand the budget cuts and its implications on the poor citizens of this province versus the growing housing backlog of more than 600,000 houses yet to be built, hence we believe Eastern Cape needs change and the people will decide come 2019.
On behalf of the Democratic Alliance we note the report.