South Africa: Media Statement – Transparency in List of Housing Beneficiaries Will Prevent Illegal Occupation of Houses

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The Human Settlements Portfolio Committee has called for absolute transparency regarding the list of housing beneficiaries, to ensure that beneficiaries know their place on the list. The committee highlighted this during the first day of monitoring visits to Gauteng to assess progress in implementing the human settlements goals by all spheres of government.

“The perpetual challenge of illegal occupation of unfinished houses can be mitigated through education and collaboration with the community. Furthermore, transparency will dispel the perception of corruption by human settlements officials,” said Ms. Machwene Semenya, chairman of the committee. Transparency will also create a sense of ownership among list beneficiaries.

The committee visited the Fleurhof estate, the Lufhereng estate (which experienced various illegal occupations) and the Diepsloot/Riverside megaproject. The committee appreciated progress on these projects, but highlighted concerns about underperformance in meeting targets, particularly megaprojects and the Rapid Land Release Program (RLRP).

While the committee welcomes the paradigm shift from small, sporadic projects to megaprojects, only 4,376 of 13,892 homes have been delivered as of December 31. In addition, the ministry had delivered 10,080 serviced sites out of the 14,266 targeted. the impact of Covid-19 on infrastructure development, we are disappointed that performance has been substandard. Despite this, we welcome initiatives from all spheres of government to expedite service delivery,” Ms. Semenya stressed.

Interventions to address underperformance include weekly construction monitoring, appointing additional contractors to undertake construction, as well as adjusting delivery targets to account for delays caused by Covid-19.

With regard to the hostel redevelopment programme, the committee underlined its disappointment at the lack of implementation of this essential programme, particularly in the context of the in-migration to Gauteng. The committee is concerned that none of the planned 270 married quarters and eight hostel redevelopment projects have been implemented. The excuse that this is due to delays in finalizing procurement processes is unacceptable and the committee demanded quarterly updates on the process of appointing service providers to implement projects.

In the meantime, the committee has called for the development of a discussion paper to find solutions to the challenges the government faces in dedensifying informal settlements. The committee is concerned that there is no standard approach to ensure that in the process of relocating communities from informal settlements, there is no re-occupation of land resulting in further densification.

Regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the construction industry, the committee is aware of the impact on small and medium-sized businesses in the sector due to the slowdown in economic activity. The committee called for continued support from these SMMEs, especially with regard to timely payment for services rendered.

The committee welcomed progress in delivering pre- and post-1994 land titles, but called for strategies to accelerate the program. Despite this, the committee welcomes government assurances that title deeds are currently being issued upon completion and occupancy of units.

“Despite all the progress, the committee is concerned about the slow delivery of housing for military veterans, with only 10 delivered out of the 416 targeted in the 2021/22 financial year. We are aware of the challenges caused by the listings recipients of military veterans and call the Department of Military Veterans to expedite the verification process to ensure that the correct recipients are benefiting,” Ms. Semenya concluded.

The committee will visit sites in the Ekurhuleni area today, including the Leeuwport, Johan Dube, Savanna City and Lethabong megaprojects. The committee will also visit Bonaero Park to assess progress in resolving issues raised in a petition to the committee.

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