S Magaqa Speech Notes: Debate on the 2021 State of the Province Address

Issued by Sanele Magaqa, MPL

Hon Speaker

Hon Premier and Members of the House

This debate takes place at the time when the province is facing many challenges in the provision of decent housing and integrated human settlements for all. This debate also takes place amidst challenges of a shrinking budget dedicated in the provision of decent housing.

Madam Speaker, when it comes to building houses, it is well known that you need to a solid foundation. Without this, no matter how much effort you put in stabilising the walls, no matter how much time you put into interior decorating, if you do not have a solid foundation, sooner or later, it will all come tumbling down.

Madam Speaker, what this province needs is a foundation of good governance. It needs a government that works.

Unfortunately, the current foundations are on unstable ground Madam Speaker, and the cracks are getting bigger.

Despite a shrinking budget, the department of human settlements continues to fail in spending its allocated budget.

I have recently learnt that the Eastern Cape is going to lose 21% of its allocated Human Settlements Development Grant, valued at R388 million, which will be reallocated to other provinces.

Hon Speaker, the Premier noted that ” There are performance related challenges in the Department”. These performance related challenges are the reason the people of this province are losing R388 million!

The Hon Premier has admitted that the department of human settlements is a department in disaster, but what is he doing about it?

Hon Speaker, the department has only delivered 3 399 housing units and 3 162 serviced sites, and only rectified 255 housing units.

In the Premier’s previous State of the Province address he made a commitment to deliver 8 123 housing units for the 2020/2021 financial year. What will the consequences be for those officials who have only been able to meet half their target?

This year, the Hon Premier mentioned the upgrading and eradication of informal settlements as one of the programmes of this government.

The truth of the matter is that this programme is not being implemented at a pace that is satisfactory, or efficient.

Hon Speaker, we welcome the two big housing projects mentioned by the Premier, The Baywest Housing Projects and the Sinati Housing Projects. We hope that there will be capacity enough to deliver on them. What remains a challenge in the implementation of these big housing projects is the implementation of bulk infrastructure by various municipalities.

The budget allocated for the small town revitilisation programme is also welcomed, and should assist with the provision of bulk infrastructure in the towns identified.

Madam Speaker I urge the Premier and his government to deal with all areas affected by disasters, as he has committed to do.

Madam Speaker, particular attention must also be given to the Title deeds restoration programme. The pace at which this programme is being implemented is disappointing. There were only 1 711 title deeds transferred against a target of 10500 in the past financial year.

Hon Speaker, the individual housing subsidy programme also needs to be accelerated. Attention should be given to the approval of the individual subsidy applications which much speed especially in areas like Gelvandale, Helenvale and Bloemendal in Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality.

The Hon. Premier should also consider sending the Eastern Cape Rental Housing Tribunal to the Western Cape for lessons, on resolving complaints. The Western Cape Rental Housing Tribunal is using innovative and technological ways to deal with cases.

Hon. Speaker, there is also a need to urgently integrate and synergise the work by the Housing Development Agency, Municipalities and the Department of Human Settlements.

This will ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach in housing development in the province.

For the Department of Human Settlements to deal with the challenges that the Premier has identified, and for them to implement all the programmes the Premier has highlighted in his latest SOPA speech, there is a need for change of leadership in that Department.

As you have noted there is a lack of competency and leadership, thats why as the DA we call on the sacking of the MEC for Human Settlements.We hope that you will heed our call with urgency.