Housing delivery will be impeded by severe budget cut

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

With the housing crisis in Mpumalanga still unresolved, the DA is concerned that despite the urgent need for housing, the provincial government will deliver even less in the next financial year due to a severe budget cut.

According to the Department of Human Settlements’ Annual Performance Plan, it expects to receive a mere R822,1 million for the 2014/15 financial year – R528,5 million less than it got for the current year. This department has become renowned for missing annual housing targets – resulting in an acute housing backlog – and such a drastic cut to its budget could be catastrophic.

Although the department’s budget is known to fluctuate from year to year, such a drastic drop is absurd. In 2011/12 the budget decreased by 11,9% only to increase by 7,6% the following year. For 2013/14 it went up by 12,7%, but is projected to drop by a whopping 39% in 2014/15.

This will result in the housing development programme getting almost 50% less than this year, making it incomprehensible how the department will meet its demanding targets for both backlogged and new housing projects. More inexplicable is that despite this severe cut, the administration programme (such as salaries) will not be affected and in fact is expected to increase.

By MEC Andries Gamede’s own admission the department has performed poorly in housing delivery over the past few years, and much needs to be done to rescind this. The Census 2011 results are also evidence of this, with findings showing that at least 170 000 new RDP houses were needed in Mpumalanga.

The DA is seriously concerned about this situation and will submit written questions to both MEC Gamede and his finance counterpart, Madala Masuku. We want a detailed explanation for the massive budget cut from MEC Masuku and also want to know from MEC Gamede how this will affect the department’s housing delivery, and what strategies will be implemented to ensure targets will still be met.