Speech Notes: Human Settlements Annual Report and Financial Oversight Debate

Sanele Magaqa

1. The current budget expenditure has failed to address housing related protests across this burning province.

2. The department has under-performed in issuing of title deeds for the last five consecutive years.

Honourable Speaker,

Inkulumbuso ye Phondo, Amalungu asigqeba Sakhe, Inkokheli zemibutho yonke yezo politico ekhoyo, amalungu alendlu yowiso mthetho, amagosa ka rhulumente, kunye namandwendwe ndiyabulisa.

Hon Speaker, the report in front of us is one of many reports I have come across in the last few years. It continues to leave scars, frustration, anger and hopelessness, as the department continuously fails to find solutions to challenges confronting them, ranging from poor performance, maladministration and failure to meet set targets in some of its programmes.

Speaker, we are dealing with integrated human settlements and building cohesive communities which need decent facilities, public services and access to economic opportunities.

Speaker, inter – departmental coordination is central to human settlement delivery. It is therefore paramount for the department to do its best to achieve this through developing and strengthening mechanisms and instruments for integrated fiscal planning. This involves the department monitoring closely the planning processes of municipalities to ensure that it involve communities and represents its interests.

Speaker, what is more concerning is that the department of human settlements continues to experience a reduction in budget at national level. A reduced conditional grant trickles down to us as a province. This financial year we lost close to 15% of our budget resulting in a reduction of targets versus the expectations of the people out there that have been waiting for houses for years.

One must remember that the department took a decision not to start new projects this financial year in order to deal with it’s over commitment and to pay the millions owed to contractors (in region of over 356 million rand). Speaker, the target to provide houses is shrinking while the housing backlog is increasing. We need urgent solutions and it needs to come from us, here is one MEC.

1. Housing and planning research

In programme 2 you need to allocate more funding to do proper research in Alternative Building Technologies and do more coordinated planning.

The ABT is used around the world, even here at home, the Western Cape is utilising its cost effective means. You can take study tours and learn best practice from Hon M.E.C Bonginkosi Madikizela. It’s working there and it has saved them a lot of money so they are able to build more houses, even in the most deep and unreachable areas. It’s easy to carry material with no double handling cost. It is saving millions of rands to help build more houses for their communities and it will save a lot of money for this department. It will help you to deal with the haunting housing backlog which is now sitting at 666 000.

It’s a mountain to climb, it needs serious commitment, proper engagement and long term goals planned with the private sector, focusing mainly on eradicating informal settlements and providing descent houses for the poor.

Speaker, with the current housing target of less than 14 000 houses a year it will take this Department more than 42 years to win this battle.

Speaker, we need to admit over the last five financial years the department has not yielded the expected results for the people outside.

Political instability, uncertainty and poor planning in the province and in a number of municipalities are evidence to this statement. It has resulted in the total collapse of municipalities due to mismanagement and looting of funds as the two sides can’t find each other and the silence of the leadership was too loud.

1. Stutterheim businesses have been looted.
2. Municipal Buildings set alight.
3. Learners had to stay at home
4. A young man lost his life.

If we had acted swiftly and placed that municipality under administration none of this damage would have taken place. Are there any lessons learnt when there is a protest? The answer is no and why? Because Buffalo City is burning as we speak and I have not heard a word.

Two months ago the community of Keiskamahoek was protesting for houses and better services and again.

1. Municipal property and businesses were torched.
2. Learners could not go to school.
3. One old man lost his life.

In Great Kei the same thing happened and the protest was about houses and unemployment. The level of unemployment and drug abuse in that community is shocking, Speaker. The young people of Great Ki are among the 730 000 young people in this province that are looking for work while more than 420 000 young people in the province have given up looking for work.

Hon Speaker we need a plan that will create fair access to real long term jobs.

1. We need voluntary services of one year of income and skills development for school leavers. (It’s an answer to question of experience)
2. To create job centres across this province to provide advice and free internet access.
3. Eliminate the practice of sex for jobs, carpet interviews and cash for jobs.

The department ended the year 2017/18 with a staff compliment of 564 posts on the persal system, 531 filled posts and 33 vacancies which were mostly technical and critical. This is impacting negatively on critical posts resulting in under expenditure and poor performance by the department even on legal fees between human settlements and the justice system. This is coming up every year and that is why, Speaker, we have been receiving the unqualified audit opinion with matters of emphasis for the last consecutive years.

Speaker, I therefore, cannot be free while our people out there are still crying for their constitutional right to own a decent home and live a better life just like any other South African.

We need a government that cares about its own people and
1. Fights Corruption.
2. Creates fair access to jobs.
3. Secures borders.

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance we note the report with all the concerns.

We note the report.