CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS ON OVERSIGHT VISITS TO HOUSING PROJECTS AROUND CHRIS HANI DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY

Issued by Sanele Magaqa, MPL
Shadow MEC for Human Settlements

Integrated Human Settlements a cornerstone for provision of decent housing

Honorable Speaker
The Premier and Members of the Executive
Leaders of Political Parties
Members of the House

Traditional leaders present and the entire members of the community in Chris Hani District Municipality.

We are here to consider the report of the Portfolio Committee for Human Settlements based on the visit of the committee to Enoch Mgijima and surrounding areas. We are also here as part of the mandate of the Legislature to ensure that there is meaningful public participation. I hope that this platform will not become another talk shop without bold actions taken.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS

Madam Speaker, the Eastern Cape currently has a housing backlog of about 600,000. There are 568 identified informal settlements in the province of which only 257 have been assessed and categorized by the department of human settlements.

The number of informal settlements continues to grow unabated day by day. Eastern Cape is among the provinces which has the fastest growing population. Is also has high number of unemployment especially now that the economy is not growing.

The department is building approximately 8000 houses in a financial year which I may argue that some projects and houses are started in other financial years. All this backlog must be dealt with despite a shrinking budget allocation.

The department is spending time and resources in rectifying houses that are already built because of material defects. The cost of rectifying a house with material defects is between R80 000 to R120000.

The human settlements department is facing a number of challenges and these I have always raised since I have been a member of human settlement committee.

WHAT ARE THESE CHALLENGES

  • A lack of integration between National, Provincial and Local government spheres.
  • Shoddy workmanship in houses constructed in many projects.
  • Contractors abandoning projects
  • A corrupted beneficiary list system
  • Many unoccupied houses and vandalized houses
  • Many unfinished projects throughout.
  • Houses who do not have basic services.
  • Inadequate Social Housing to deal with those who don’t qualify for RDP Houses but also do not qualify for bonds
  • Lack of consequence management
  • Lack of project management, inspection and oversight.
  • Slow pace in transfer and providing title deeds to people.

In all the projects we visited as a committee in the Chris Hani District, all have one or some of the features and challenges mentioned above. In most of the houses built in the district will have to undergo rectification.

SYNOPSIS OF DA HUMAN SETTLEMENTS POLICY
Our overarching vision is that the economy must grow at a faster rate and it must create job opportunities for the people. We must spend time in the upskilling and enhancing of education to create a citizen capable to provide and be job creators. All this will enable a number of citizens not to depend on government for houses but to afford to buy their own.

Honorable speaker in our policy document on integrated human settlement for South Africa, we offer several options for housing delivery. Just on the housing allocation, we have prioritized that provincial oversight powers will be used to ensure that all existing waiting lists needs are consolidated in a fair, transparent and principled manner.

We have also noted the need to ensure that all lists are made publicly available so that those waiting for houses are able to check their standing and to curb the corruption by ward councilors. That a provincial central housing list must be put together to prevent double dipping.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE
The department must have detailed account of how many blocked projects in the province. It must also have an account of how many unfinished projects and the detailed reasons even if the developer is a municipality. It must also have an account of how many houses that are unoccupied. A detailed plan which involves communities must be developed in ensuring completed houses are occupied by the right beneficiaries.

All contractors who have abandoned projects in the province must be blacklisted and retention fees must not be paid. I have noticed that the department continue to pay contractors the retention fee without inspection of houses. The department needs to appoint contractors who have the necessary capacity to build houses. The department must recoup all funds from contractors who have abandoned projects. This is part of consequence management. An effective contract management and administration is urgently needed and it must be prioritized.

A solid project management in the department is needed. We can’t continue to build houses who have material defects. We are spending a lot of resources rectifying houses that are built even now. This is a waste of resources instead of dealing with the backlog, the department is fixing problems done by contractors.

There needs to be a transparent system of allocating projects to contractors though an efficient, effective and transparent supply chain management system in awarding contracts.
There needs to be a credible housing beneficiary system that is consistent and precise. A lesson should be learnt on the DA run Western Cape model. I have always emphasized the need to have a credible housing database for fair allocation of houses.

A concerted effort should be made to increase the budget in building houses for the vulnerable and destitute. There are many vulnerable groupings in our province because of the many social ills faces by many communities. The department needs to relook the budget of providing temporary structures urgently.

A concerted effort should be made on the research for cheap but innovative ways of building houses. We are faced with the 4th industrial revolution but we are not prepared as the human settlements on innovation and new technologies. The private sector can play an important role in this regard.

Land acquisition is very important as the numbers of people who require houses increases.

An integrated approach should be implemented when planning housing development. This will make it easier to make proper plans with clear timelines. In many projects houses are built but are not connected to proper water and sanitation. Other houses do not have electricity.

The allocation and transfer of title deeds to the people must be done expeditiously. In the DA run Western Cape alone over 9793 title deeds were issued against a target of 7000 in the last financial year alone

OTHER IMPORTANT AREAS
Honorable Speaker I was shocked to learn that the department has not allocated any projects to youth contractors in the last financial year. I was also shocked that only one women contractor was allocated work in the same period. This was revealed in the reply to my written question. This is very mind boggling.

Honorable Speaker as the DA we have also noticed the exorbitant salaries of the Rental Housing Tribunal members. The chairperson nearly earns more or the same with the Premier of the Province. In fact 75 percent of the budget of the tribunal goes to salaries of the tribunal members. We have noticed the scheme of making money in the tribunal.

Lastly Honorable Speaker let us reiterate on a few lessons that our province can learn a from the DA run Western Cape on maintaining a sound beneficiary list. In the DA run Western Cape, since taking office in 2009, we have embarked on Housing demand database improvement programme to deal with problems of waiting lists. We have also done an efficient and effective verification process of beneficiary information by way of independent information sourcing. An effort has been made to ensure that beneficiaries receive full ownership of title deeds to their houses.

Honorable Speaker the Auditor General has noted that the department has failed to pay creditors within 30 days and this is linked with the over commitment by the department. The AG also noted that the irregular expenditure in the department was due to not complying with the PFMA in awarding tenders and quotations.

Honorable Speaker as the DA we don’t only raise challenges but we also provide and offer solutions. This we make because we are not only an opposition party but a party of government.
As the DA we note the report of the committee.