Department Must Finish what it Starts

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The following address was delivered by James Masango to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, during the Debate on the 2012/13 Policy and Budget of the Department of Human Settlements. Budget vote 13.

The department of Human Settlements plays a vital role in providing housing to the poorest of the poor and most importantly, the vulnerable. Yet the stigma of maladministration, fraud, corruption and incomplete projects surrounding this department just does not go away.

The backlog in providing houses to the needy is increasing every year. Although we are not sure which figures are correct between the 240 000 for 2007 by StatsSA, and the 109 000 by an unknown source, the fact remains that the housing backlog is increasing, and that there is no way the average of 10 000 RDP houses being built per year will reduce it. At this rate of delivery, Mpumalanga will not meet the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating informal settlements. As one drives around this province, it is obvious that more and more informal settlements are emerging.

Honourable Speaker, fraud and corruption has robbed thousands of beneficiaries of their constitutional right to decent shelter. These acts involve a range of people from government officials to contractors, and in some instances, local councilors. While this department is building more houses, many are now being rented out to foreigners by officials and councilors, while rightful beneficiaries are not informed of their completed houses.

Though the department plans to build 10 735 houses this 2012/13 financial year, it is not yet clear in which municipalities this house are going to be build and whether the infrastructure is already in place. Honourable MEC, I am saying this in response to your answer last week during oral questions. It does not assist government when municipalities build houses without the necessary infrastructure today, and tomorrow the department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is in trouble for not providing water and electricity. This does not improve the lives of the poor.

It is also not clear how much is budgeted for rectification and incomplete projects. There are still houses that of poor quality, and the owners are expecting the department to either rebuild those houses, or repair them.

Honourable Speaker across Mpumalanga there are foundations of houses, toilets and incomplete houses that were abandoned by contractors due to many reasons unknown to us. Some of these have been in abandoned for over a decade. And while this department carries on building new RDP houses, the question is; how long will these incomplete houses be left like that? I don’t see any amount allocated for the completion of these projects.

The department is complaining about land availability to build houses, but if those foundations are on the right land, why are we not completing them, as there are other beneficiaries waiting for their complete houses?

Bengi bawa Mhlonisha ukuvaktjele eVaalbank eduze nezindlu zakaMoripe. Kunamafoundation wamatoilet akhiwa ngo 2007. Ungene ehlathinapha unga sabi ngoba aphakathi ehlathini. Kwa thathwa imali yaphoselwa nge mlanjeni.

(Honourable MEC, I appeal to you to visit Vaalbank next to the Moripe housing development in KwaNdebele. You will find foundations of toilets built in 2007, and see how they were situated in the bushes. More money down the drain.)

We welcome the Klarinet project in Emalahleni and wish to see it extended to other municipalities with a high rate of urbanization.

The budget for research and needs assessment has been dramatically reduced, and the DA is concerned that this will lead to even more confusion over backlogs, incomplete projects and infrastructure establishment. How will we be able to make informed decisions, when we do not know what is needed?

The decision to build houses may have been a good idea, but to achieve it, is a daunting task. And I think a review is needed so that better methods are implemented.

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