George Mari, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements
Allow me to start by thanking the MEC and his departmental staff for the budget presented. Let me also record my appreciation to the Acting Head who held the fort whilst the department did not have an HOD.
Last year I indicated that the statements made by the Premier and echoed by the MEC, that the department will deliver 43 000 housing units, was unachievable with a budget of some R2.8 billion was indeed true. The MEC also promised that 1 500 houses would be rectified. Other promises to transfer 2 500 homes using the EEDBS to bring home ownership was also targeted. The budget was so short that a number of targets set were not achieved. Clearly the number of houses built does not keep up with the number of beneficiaries. The pace of delivery must improve. I will come to some suggestions on how this could be done a little later.
- Of the 43 000 houses that were promised, the department delivered just 25 940, a shortfall of some 17 000 houses
- Of the 1 500 houses that were supposed to be rectified only 579 were completed
- Of the 2 500 houses that were supposed to be transferred, only 764 were transferred
- The CRU programme fell flat on its back with only 170 out of a target of 1 934 completed
- The targets for training of councillors and housing consumers and emerging contractors were also not achieved. The numbers are in the latest report of the Department
I must congratulate the department for producing the largest number of houses compared to other provinces.
Last year the MEC the estimated backlogs in the province is approximately one million, Ethekwini’s target alone is in the region of 412 000. At the current delivery rate of 26 000 housing units per annum, it will take 384 years to catch up with today’s backlog. At Ethekwini’s current housing delivery rate of less than 5 000 per annum, it will take more than 80 years to eradicate the slums.
An alternate form of housing delivery must be found.
It is unacceptable that Gauteng province received a billion rand more last year. KZN will be further affected with the new census figures. Again, the MEC and the department must look at alternate delivery mechanisms.
The DA believes that serious consideration must now be given to site and service, where beneficiaries can provide their own labour to build their own homes. It has been done previously in Phoenix successfully. Serviced sites must immediately be released to qualifying beneficiaries in places like Cornubia, to enable self-help projects.
The question is – can government continue providing free houses at R100 000 each? The answer is ‘no’ – it is completely unsustainable. The symptoms are already there. Ethekwini has already reduced its target from 16 000 to 7 500 to 5 000 and still it cannot reach this figure.
With the 2013/14 budget increasing by approx R295 million not much can be done in terms of the backlogs, given the pressures of maintenance and rectification. This increase will not make a dent on the number of houses that need to be delivered.
Allow me to touch on some specifics;
- The Shallcross upgrade, scuttled by the previous MEC, must be revived. The DA is pleased that this is now out on tender and set to commence soon
- Austerville housing must be expedited as the community has been waiting for many years
- The EEDBS has gone backwards. The target of 10 000 per annum was reduced to 1 000 when Hon. Maggie Govender became MEC. Poor tenants are forced to pay rentals because of the delays in getting home ownership. This process must be expedited and in the meantime they should not be paying any rental as no maintenance is being done.
Rectification of pre-1994 and post-1994 housing units, which in many cases were flogged to tenants after being shoddily painted by an ANC cadre must be addressed. He has since disappeared. The Ethekwini municipality applied for funding in 2010 and approval is still outstanding. The excuse is that the NHBRC has not concluded its assessments. What is the status? The MEC indicated that an assessment was done and would be considered – this is good news.
On the issue of the NHBRC – despite the decision to opt out from NHBRC being the implementing agents to expedite the Austerville and Shallcross projects, these projects have still not begun. The MEC has indicated that the Shallcross Flats upgrade is at a tender stage and will proceed shortly. When? This is something that the DA has been calling for over several years.
Hon MEC – what has happened to the R120 million paid to the NHBRC and the further R58 million?
These moneys were paid to oversee the refurbishment of the rectification programme. Yet only 579 houses have been rectified. Why was this money paid upfront? How much is the NHBRC still holding unspent? This must be urgently investigated.
On the issue of Cornubia – a parliamentary reply from the MEC stated that Ethekwini was working on a waiting list. What is the progress on this? There must be a waiting list, we cannot have a situation where 15 000 informal dwellers are moved into one box. The DA calls for the department to formulate a waiting list for the project with the Ethekwini municipality immediately.
Ethekwini municipality, with the largest informal settlement backlog, has drastically reduced its targets due to cuts by the department. From 16 000 to 13 000 to 5000 in the last two years and now to 7500, It will take them approximately 62 Years to meet its current backlog.
The CRU Program has failed. The department’s allocation for this programme has not been spent. The DA agrees with the MEC that there must be another strategy to deal with hostels which are a burden to the taxpayer. Millions are spent with no returns. This is not sustainable.
Illegal occupants in RDP houses – this is a serious problem as original beneficiaries are renting these homes out to others at a profit. They now want tenants to move out. We must regularize the illegal occupants.