Human settlements under question as it falters to meet housing targets

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The competency and ability of the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlements is again being questioned, as is the likelihood of it meeting its targets this financial year following its performance in the first quarter.

The department, which for years has been failing to meet its mandate, was unable to meet most of the housing delivery targets it set for the first three months of the year. Not only are there massive delays in PHP and IRDP units, but there is also a backlog in incomplete houses – despite Premier David Mabuza’s personal involvement in the issue.

Individuals and families who were left homeless by natural disasters have also struck out. Many are still living in shacks while waiting for emergency housing from the department. However given the APP report’s figures they can expect to wait even longer as the department did not even build one unit out of the 548 it had planned to do in the first quarter.

As has become expected, the department has blamed most of its recent blunders on slow progress by building contractors– an excuse the DA no longer accepts. The department has been singing this same tune for years and it can no longer be tolerated.

Simply put the department is responsible for the selection and appointment of contractors and therefore it is ultimately responsible for all they do, or don’t do.

Furthermore, if inefficient and non-compliant contractors were supposed to have been removed from the system as promised and instructed by the premier, how so can the remaining ones be responsible for stagnation of projects?

This department has been deceiving the public for years by giving the same ridiculous excuses for the same problems, while constantly achieving the same results – failure to meet targets and serve the people of the province. Furthermore, recent promises by MEC Andries Gamede and premier Mabuza may have raised the hope of the people, but have in fact been completely futile in addressing this deplorable situation.

Mpumalanga’s housing crisis will only be rectified when the premier stops protecting his political cronies – who are largely responsible for the problem – by redeploying them and replacing them with equally incompetent individuals. His failure to act against the likes of the department’s former HOD, David Dube, and other managers during the departmental reshuffle, only set an adverse precedent for the new management team which is also not performing and delivering.

The DA calls on drastic steps to be taken as a matter of urgency as the people of Mpumalanga want what is rightfully theirs, and are not prepared to wait due government’s incompetency, apathy and political shenanigans.