By Hlanganani Gumbi, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements:
THE DA believes that the KZN Department of Human Settlements must seek to change the ravages of apartheid spatial planning, the migrant labour system by finding innovative ways to do more with less.
The department has shown that it is more efficient at producing rural housing than urban. It is the reason why the target in terms of the number of units to be built was met.
It is also the reason why the department received R236 million from Limpopo, who failed to use their budget adequately. For this we congratulate the MEC and his department.
Urban housing delivery
The DA’s greatest concern however is that of housing delivery in the eThekwini Metro and in Msunduzi. The fact is, the migrant labour system imposed on us by apartheid still lives today. Apartheid spatial planning, also imposed on us, continues to exist. Added to that is the phenomenon of urbanization. So it goes without saying that we must do more in our metros. If we fail there, we make it more difficult for people to move into suitable human settlements in urban areas with their families, with the necessary amenities near them.
In fact, if we fail in this, we are simply passively stroking the migrant labour system and apartheid spatial planning – breaking families apart, failing to restore dignity and not becoming the society we want to see.
A look at the eThekwini shows it halved its target for the number of houses it wanted to build in this past financial year. There was also no funding for the Community Residential Units due to slow spending and lack of capacity.
This is nothing short of failure by the city. It is not a new problem though – we have known this for many years, and so we can no longer have an excuse for poor delivery.
While the department has always seemed to blame the Metro itself, it was shocking to learn that Human Settlements Chairperson Cllr Nigel Gumede had told eThekwini’s executive committee that the reasons why the province had not paid for the Umlazi Infill were political and not related to governance.
Now, Gumede and the ANC majority in eThekwini have instructed the city manager to complete the project, without having the money, after what he described as an “unproductive meeting” with the MEC on 30th April.
I trust that the MEC will clarify this matter because we know that if eThekwini Human Settlements fails, we cannot congratulate ourselves for reaching targets when all we have done is shifted the goal posts.
It is of course not only the delivery of houses that concerns the DA, but the allocations of those houses. The MEC promised the people of KwaZulu-Natal a housing list. Not doing so is his biggest failure to date.
The DA has been asking for a fair allocations policy and process for years. What we got in return is a continuance of apartheid spatial planning in eThekwini. That is the ‘new’ policy.
The truth is, when the allocations policy for housing says that 1% of Indians will get houses in a particular project, you are simply dotting the landscape and continuing apartheid special planning. That is what happens when the department fails to adequately regulate allocations.
Arbitrary, racial, apartheid-like thinking begins to kick in. Our allocations should be fair, taking into consideration more than just race, such as the age of applicants, possible disability, employment status, date of application, and other socio economic considerations. For as long as this government continues to dance around the allocations matter, the longer we will see conflicts in our communities.
Anti-land invasion unit
The DA supports the MEC’s call for a small, specialized, anti-land invasions unit to support SAPS with advice, personnel and strategies in rapidly dealing with land invasions as and when they occur. We are interested in the details though because what we will not support is a private army within the department. The role of this unit must be to support SAPS, not be a parallel police service.
The DA will never approve of land invasions. All parties in this house must condemn any invasions by opportunists such as the EFF whose agenda is to grab headlines and cause chaos and divide people.
Regarding a statement by the department’s HOD at a portfolio committee, that councilors and members of the DA, IFP and ANC were invading land, we accept her subsequent apology and that of the MEC. However, we remain committed to obtaining the names of those individuals allegedly being investigated and preliminary reports on how far those investigations are so I can personally lay criminal charges against such persons so that SAPS may assist in the investigations.
This budget also seeks to transfer double the number of title deeds to people that in this financial year than it did from the last. In 2013/14 we transferred 2 950 with the new target being 5 681 properties. This is welcomed by the DA. Unlocking the power of private ownership is a key to taking people out of poverty.
But we haven’t addressed the real stumbling block in the property ownership debate – the Ingonyama Trust.
The MEC will recall that the portfolio committee agreed to deliberate on the Ingonyama Trust and its place in addressing title deeds. This despite the MEC’s cautioning us.
At its Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth this past weekend, the DA wholeheartedly supported all measures for people to be empowered through private property rights and rejected communal land tenure. We did so because we want to see people empowered and believe in the capacity of individuals to empower themselves when they have capital.
This House must at some point deal with the Ingonyama Trust.
The budget presented today makes allocations for 110 new staff members into the department during a period where the conditional grant has dropped by nearly R40 million. We should be investing more in subsidies for housing units which transform people’s lives and less into a bloated administration benefiting a select few.
The KZN Human Settlements budget needs to think to the future rather than being stuck in the past.
A DA budget for 2015/16 would strive for results in urban areas, address fair allocations by adopting a transparent waiting list and secure tenure for housing recipients.
It is only through investing in those three important points that KwaZulu-Natal will put an end to the legacy of Apartheid spatial planning and begin to offer the dignity so many have lost during our ugly past.