All protocols observed
It’s hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need as there’s no place like home, we all say!
Now let’s reflect on the report that was tabled today, as leaders need to be facilitators to help the poor and vulnerable experience a better life, in a dignified house.
The 2019/2020 annual report we are considering today highlights two fundamental issues which continue to plague the Department of Human Settlements in the province, which is (1) the inability to spend the allocated budget and (2) the failure to meet the desired targets set.
Despite the total allocation of the Department in 2019/2020 being increased by 11,39% from the previous financial year, to R2,6 billion, the Department only managed to only spend 86,12% of its budget.
What is worrisome is that the Department has not met its targets of completed units for the year under review. According to the HOD statements, they only managed to build 8 582 units, against a target of 9,210 units. Every unit not delivered, is a family that is being deprived of adequate shelter.
Of concern is that the Auditor General has noted that “the achievements reported in the Annual performance of 8,582 units differs materially from the audited performance provided which is 7,682 units achieved.”
Just on programme 3 which is about housing development, the Department has spent only 85, 28% of the allocated budget for this programme. The total underspending in this programme stands at a staggering R366 million, which can be better used to further build houses if the Department had the capacity to do so.
The annual report also indicates that when it comes to the title deeds restoration programme, the Department is failing dismally. The total allocation for title deeds was R114 million, but they only managed to spend 38,28% of it.
The Department has only handed over 1000 out of the targeted 4711 title deeds, which is shocking, to say the least.
During the leadership of the so-called black caucus in Nelson Mandela Bay, the municipality was the worst-performing municipality in delivering houses.
The report indicates that the municipality could only manage to deliver 9,1 % of its targeted units, and a mere 0, 4 % on rectification in the year under review, during the tenure of the ANC led “black caucus”.
What is shocking is that there was a complete lack of cooperation between the provincial Department of Human Settlements and the municipality, even though they were being led by the same political party.
We are very happy that the recently elected NMBM Coalition of Good Governance, as led by the DA’s Mayor Councillor Nqaba Bhanga, are beginning to change the fortunes of the city, including the provision of decent housing.
Working with various stakeholders, including the Housing Development Agency, the municipality is beginning to put in plans to expedite housing delivery.
We are quite certain that now that there is a capable and efficient leadership in Nelson Mandela Bay, there will never be any funds that will be redirected again because of delays in implementing projects in the bay.
As the DA we are shocked that the Department has continued to accumulate an Irregular Expenditure, which currently stands at R330 million. This irregular expenditure has not been recovered nor written off.
The Provincial Treasury has not condoned it for several years. There has not been a plan to deal with this irregular expenditure for several years.
Can the MEC please explain to this House how it will be dealt with?
As part of the things that’s needs to be implemented urgently in the Department is to ascertain value received by the use of consultants in the Department. We believe this must be done on a project by project basis.
The Department has utilised 51 consultants in 141 projects in 2019/2020 financial year with a total cost of R35, 9 million.
There is a need to have a clearly defined role that the Department must play, since some of the housing projects are driven through the Housing Development Agency. In 2019/2020 the Department has not acquired any land parcels since this function has been assigned to the Housing Development Agency.
I want to commend the Department on building houses for destitute and vulnerable groups in our province. This needs to be strengthened further as there are still many people that need to be catered for, under this programme.
We are happy that the post of Director: Destitute and Vulnerable groups have been filled so as to ensure that this directorate functions optimally.
The Department working with various municipalities needs to urgently focus on the following issues as highlighted in the Annual Report such as :
• To address the inadequate and decaying bulk infrastructure in municipalities to ensure that houses built have proper infrastructure
• Poor land-use management at municipalities which results in land invasions and mushrooming of informal settlements
• Lack of integrated planning between the Department, municipalities which result in misalignment of planning and implementation of Municipal Infrastructure Grant and Urban Settlement Development Grant
Covid 19 has highlighted how we urgently need to rethink the provision of houses for the future. The first task is to accelerate the upgrading of informal settlements whilst we stop the mushrooming of new ones.
The second task is to strengthen planning, so that people are building houses closer to economic centres.
Thirdly, is to ensure that serviced sites are available for those who wish to build their own homes.
In closing, as public servants, we must help others succeed because then ALL of us will succeed in having a better quality of life.
The DA accepts the Human Settlements Annual and Financial Oversight Reports as tabled.