Lack of human resources harms housing delivery

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The escalating housing crisis in Mpumalanga is hardly surprising if one considers the state of human resources in the provincial Department of Human Settlements.

In his report of the department’s audit outcomes, the Auditor-General accuses the department of not implementing effective human resource management, resulting in 79 funded vacant posts not being filled in the 2012/13 financial year. Judging from the report, it appears that the department made no effort to fill these posts, as it unsuccessfully advertised a mere 22 of them.

The department’s vacancy rate and under-expenditure in salaries was highlighted in the accounting officer’s report, which states that these two factors had a direct impact on the delivery of goods and services by the department. The lack of staff played a vital role in the department’s failure to achieve 61% of its targets, which is completely unacceptable.

In addition, the appointments that were made during the last financial year were done without proper verification of successful applicants’ qualifications. This is not only a contravention of Public Service Regulations, but may be an indication that the department could be employing unqualified people.

The DA suspects the department has become an employment agency for loyal ANC comrades, and will submit written questions to MEC Andries Gamede on the qualifications of his staff and request proof thereof. He must also explain why the department did not fill essential posts, which in turn hampered housing delivery.

A shortage of experienced, knowledgeable staff will only deepen the housing crisis and the department must equip itself with a team that is not only good and able to perform, but one that is also determined to improve the lives of those in need.