Briefing by Director – General on Budget 2001-2002

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

28 February 2001

Ms N E Hangana

Documents issued:
Information on the 2001/2002 budget

The Director – General Ms M Nxumalo presented the department’s budget for 2001 – 2002 to the Committee. She told the committee that the budget has been dispersed among the various programs introduced by the government. Among the programs she mentioned the Sustainable Rural Development Strategy, Urban Renewal, programme to combat fraud and maladministration as well as professional and special services to mention but a few. The committee wanted to know how possible it is that the department will meet all its objectives and how will the budget accommodate all these programs. The Director – General assured the committee that the objectives will be dealt with not only by the department, but the clusters that the government have formed in the different problem areas. She said the budget will definitely meet the set objectives.  

The Director – General told the Committee that the department will no longer work in isolation, instead its activities will be informed by what is happening in other departments. She mentioned the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDS) and added that the housing department will be a key player in the strategy. Concerning the urban renewal strategy the Director – General (DG) said the department will play an important role in the provision of housing infrastructure. The DG said more funds would be put in monitoring and implementation of programs. There will be tough measures to deal with fraud and maladministration.

The DG told the Committee that for community access to finances on housing, the department is introducing a home loan regulation, especially to disadvantaged communities. She said in the department they want to eliminate the unintended consequences of the housing policy, notably the allocation of land for housing in as far as race and gender is concerned. Rental housing will be dealt with in the context of the presidential job summit which she said deals with this issue quite extensively. The DG said the budget is geared at improving the delivery of housing in the Provincial local areas.

The DG said certain funds in the department were not allocated to where they were suppose to be used. She said in the budget people will notice that expenditure has been decreased in other programs, reasons being that the funds have been allocated to where they actually belong. Among the programs allocated are the professional and special services for compiling the department’s financial database. On personnel expenditure, the Director – General told the Committee that certain Universities and Technikons have been identified for training local and provincial government officials on different skills.

Mr S E Pheko (PAC) wanted to know what is meant by urban renewal strategy, whether is it development of infrastructure in urban areas or improvement of houses.
He asked whether the department of housing through its housing programme can address the question of removal of squatter camps, he said they make areas look dirty.
On the question of rental housing, he asked who own these houses, is it the Municipal authorities or somebody else?

DG - said the urban renewal strategy is a coordinated approach to various problems in urban areas. She made an example of crime, that in a crime ridden area it is not enough to just deploy battalions of soldiers and police. She said such an approach is narrow minded and does not address the real causes of crime. The DG said urban renewal looks at issues of infrastructure, houses, jobs as well as crime in the townships. Urban renewal is linked with economic development initiatives and every government department should look at how it could contribute in the strategy.

On the question of squatter camps, the DG agreed that informal settlements are really undesirable. She said it is a third world phenomenon and there is no short-term solution for it. The DG said the department has a housing backlog of over 3 million and in trying to clear this backlog, they  looked at a strategy that will give people living in informal settlements first priority in getting houses. The DG assured Mr Pheko that the issue of informal settlement is in their agenda, but again said the question of eliminating it altogether is not possible. She said rental houses are owned by Section 21 Companies linked to local authorities.

Mr Douglas (IFP) asked how the unintended consequences can be avoided. He further asked on the question of investigative units on fraud and corruption. He argued that there is no need of this because there are lot of investigative units in the country.

DG – said because there are a lot of allegations of maladministration and corruption in the department, so they want to investigate cases before they go to the Scorpions or other investigative bodies. She said they want to have capacity to investigate cases themselves and they will appoint housing - legal experts for this purpose.

Mr Maluleke (DP) asked a question on the urban renewal programme what impact will it have on decaying townships and how is the department going to ensure that people take advantage of the programme.

DG said yes urban renewal will deal with dilapidating areas and some have already been identified around the country.

An ANC member asked the Director – General what people should expert in the department of housing’s area of communication? The member further wanted to know what will happen if people object to the programme of urban renewal?

The DG said in the area of communication they are providing information to members of the public on developments in the department of housing. In doing so they use either the media, newspapers, television or  newsletters, pamphlets, posters etc. This is also where people can access information on financial assistance for housing. The DG further said so far there are no signs of people objecting to the programme.

Mr MW Skhosana (ANC) wondered whether the budget will address the real problem of housing in this country.

DG assured Mr Skhosana that the budget will meet the objectives of the department. She said the combined impact of the various initiatives from other cluster departments will move the process forward.

Mr Dlamini (IFP) asked what is the approach of the department towards the hostels?

The DG replied that there are funds allocated to hostels, this includes their maintenance and rehabilitation. She said the department has a hostels programme which seeks to convert some hostels into family units.

Mr Skhosana asked the DG how  does the department look at both the output and outcome in the provinces in as far as delivery of houses is concerned. He said seemingly provinces are not treated equally and when one looks at the output, it is not the same.

The DG said according to the department the number of houses built is the output and impact is how this impacted on people’s lives. She said in the department they are concerned with qualitative impact. She said it is true that provinces cannot be treated equally because of population size. She made an example of Gauteng which she said is the smallest province in the country, but it has the highest migration rate in the country. She added that provinces have different challenges, it might be housing in one province and something else in another province.

An ANC committee member asked how is the urban renewal strategy going to integrate people of different racial groups and cultures. She said apartheid divided people according to race. She wanted to know whether the department will continue with allocating people houses according to their race groups as it happened in the past. She suggested the arrangement in the townships should change.

On the integration of people the DG said their intention is not to divide people according to race. The department encourages people to go to different areas to encourage integration of various population groups. However, she said this depends on the number of people who applied for houses and applications are dealt with on a first come first serve basis. So if people from other groups do not apply, then integration will not occur.
The meeting was adjourned.


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