Revitalization of Distressed Mining Towns Programme: Department of Human Settlements briefing

NCOP Health and Social Services

09 June 2015
Chairperson: Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The DHS briefed the Committee on the revitalisation of distressed mining towns programme. The point was made that mining towns were characterised by wide scale informal settlements. Miners did not qualify for government’s mining subsidy programmes. Most miners earned in excess of R3500 which was above the earnings ceiling to qualify for Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) housing. Mines were ultimately responsible for the provision of housing to miners. Many mining companies had reached agreements with unions to pay a living out allowance to miners. The allowance was largely not used for decent housing and had led to many miners living in terrible conditions in backyards/informal settlements.

The overall objective was for the transformation of mining towns through the creation of sustainable human settlements. The Presidency had firstly initiated the signing of a Social Accord and thereafter a Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry; these were the basis for an action plan which had been initiated. An Inter Ministerial Committee for the Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Communities had also been established. Some of the core Departments onboard were Mineral Resources, Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Rural Development and Land Reform. Some of the supporting Departments were Trade and Industry, Transport and Health.

Fifteen mining areas in five provinces and their associated labour sending areas had been prioritised for the revitalisation of distressed mining communities. The five provinces covered were Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Twelve labour sending areas had been prioritised in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces for the revitalisation of distressed mining communities.

The Committee was provided with an overall picture on the progress in planning for informal settlement upgrading. A total of 223 informal settlements had been identified. The NDHS had professional teams on the ground tasked with counting beneficiaries, performing geotechnical studies etc. The NDHS used the National Upgrade Support Programme (NUSP). The NUSP was designed to support the NDHS in its implementation of the Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme. Out of the 223 informal settlements 206 had been prioritised for NUSP.  Funds for NUSP had been ringfenced and it was believed that in 2014 R97m had been set aside.

Based on assessments of informal settlements, informal settlements were placed in categories. There were those that required full upgrading, some needed to be provided with interim basic services others required emergency basic services and then there were those which required rapid relocation to another site. Out of the 223 informal settlements a total of 104 needed to be relocated. Members were provided with information on informal settlements and housing options to miners. There was a total of 400 000 miners in SA and only 68 000 stayed in mining hostels.

In terms of the provision of funding to the identified mining towns in the aforementioned provinces government’s contribution was almost around R14bn whereas the mining companies’ contribution was only around R4bn. Members were given a breakdown of government’s R14bn in terms of the amounts contributed by various government departments. Figures were also provided on the number of projects within each of the five identified provinces, Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State, as well as the funds allocated by government and mining companies on projects in those provinces. Similar detail on projects was also provided on the labour sending areas in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. The NDHS also provided a breakdown of mining towns projects in the 2015/16 provincial business plans.

The Committee appreciated the informative nature of the briefing. Members were concerned that perhaps municipalities that the NDHS worked with lacked the capacity where they were expected to deliver. The point was made that in all of the provinces in which the efforts of the NDHS was concentrated in, with the exception of one, the contribution of government on projects far surpassed that of contributions of mining companies. Could visible economic growth be observed in the areas where the NDHS’ efforts were focussed?

Concern was raised over the impact that asbestos use had in mining areas. Had the NDHS commissioned a study on the impact of asbestos and what was the approach that it followed? Members queried why the towns of Dundee and Dannhauser in the KwaZulu-Natal Province were not considered distressed mining towns when it was felt that perhaps they were. The NDHS was asked whether the houses that they built in mining areas were of standardised size in terms of square meterage and whether provinces were allowed the flexibility to come up with their own sizes.

The concern was raised that some of the work of the NDHS was still in its planning stages. Why was this so when the process had started years ago? Members were curious to know what happened to the budgets of projects that were still in its planning stages. The issue of double dipping was a further concern in that miners received houses in mining areas as well as in the areas from which they originated.  Was the NDHS on schedule with its work and what were the challenges that it faced? The NDHS was asked whether it had education programmes in place to graduate people from being miners. The NDHS was asked to elaborate on its programme to build houses for women and in which provinces the programme was taking off.

The Committee adopted minutes dated the 2 June 2015 unamended. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had received apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister of Human Settlements. She added that the Minister wished to brief the Committee on the work that the National Department of Human Settlements was doing in the Nelson Mandela Metro.

National Department of Human Settlements (NDHS)
The NDHS briefed the Committee on the revitalisation of distressed mining towns programme. Mr Mbulelo Tshangana, Acting Director-General, NDHS, undertook the briefing. He explained that Mr Thabane Zulu, Director-General, NDHS, had been seconded to the Housing Development Agency (HDA) until the 30 November 2015. As a brief introduction he stated that mining towns were characterised by wide scale informal settlements. He emphasised that miners did not qualify for government’s mining subsidy programmes. Most miners earned in excess of R3500 which was above the earnings ceiling to qualify for Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) housing. Mines were ultimately responsible for the provision of housing to miners. Many mining companies had reached agreements with unions to pay a living out allowance to miners. The allowance was largely not used for decent housing and had led to many miners living in terrible conditions in backyards/informal settlements. The overall objective was for the transformation of mining towns through the creation of sustainable human settlements.

The Presidency had firstly initiated the signing of a Social Accord and thereafter a Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry; these were the basis for an action plan that had been initiated. An Inter Ministerial Committee for the Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Communities had also been established. Some of the core Departments onboard were Mineral Resources, Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Rural Development and Land Reform. Some of the supporting Departments were Trade and Industry, Transport and Health. Fifteen mining areas in five provinces and their associated labour sending areas had been prioritised for the revitalisation of distressed mining communities. The five provinces covered were Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Twelve labour sending areas had been prioritised in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces for the revitalisation of distressed mining communities.

The Committee was provided with an overall picture on the progress in planning for informal settlement upgrading. A total of 223 informal settlements had been identified. The NDHS had professional teams on the ground tasked with counting beneficiaries, performing geotechnical studies and so on. The NDHS used the National Upgrade Support Programme (NUSP). The NUSP was designed to support the NDHS in its implementation of the Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme. Out of the 223 informal settlements 206 had been prioritised for NUSP.  Funds for NUSP had been ringfenced and it was believed that in 2014 R97m had been set aside.

Based on assessments of informal settlements, informal settlements were placed in categories. There were those that required full upgrading, some needed to be provided with interim basic services, others required emergency basic services and then there were those which required rapid relocation to another site. Out of the 223 informal settlements a total of 104 needed to be relocated. Members were provided with information on informal settlements and housing options to miners. There was a total of 400 000 miners in SA and only 68 000 stayed in mining hostels. In terms of the provision of funding to the identified mining towns in the aforementioned provinces government’s contribution was almost around R14bn whereas the mining companies’ contribution was only around R4bn. Members were given a breakdown of government’s R14bn in terms of the amounts contributed by various government departments. Figures were also provided on the number of projects within each of the five identified provinces ie Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State. As well as the funds allocated by government and mining companies on projects in those provinces. Similar detail on projects was also provided on the labour sending areas in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. The NDHS also provided a breakdown of mining towns projects in the 2015/16 provincial business plans.

Discussion
Ms L Zwane (ANC, Kwazulu-Natal) appreciated the informative presentation. She asked whether municipalities involved in the projects of the NDHS experienced challenges of capacity where they were expected to deliver. She stated that it seemed that in all provinces where mining took place government seemed to contribute more that the mining companies. The only exception was the Mpumalanga Province where mining companies contributed more than government. Were there guidelines in place which stipulated the percentage required contribution that private mining companies were supposed to make? She also asked whether visible economic growth could be seen in these areas.

Mr Tshangana responded that all municipalities across the board were struggling. Municipalities had to deal with the influx of people into their areas. It made it difficult for municipalities to plan properly. Capacity was thus a challenge. The NDHS had taken the decision to provide support to municipalities. The responsibility of housing for mining employees was that of mining companies. The challenge was that the NDHS had to contend with the challenge of mines giving miners living out allowances (LOA). The LOA was a negotiated settlement. Another problem to contend with was that informal settlements were mushrooming in mining areas but services could not keep up with the influx of people. Hence the Presidency intervened and asked the NDHS to assist. He pointed out that there were no guidelines in terms of what mining companies had to contribute. Mining companies in the Mpumalanga Province contributed more because there were many mining companies and mining was booming. He noted that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) was in a better position to speak about beneficiation. The DMR could also elaborate on social labour plan (SLP) contracts. It was a given that in a mining area a great deal of supplies were needed. Unfortunately, the NDHS did not have the information.

Mr D Stock (ANC, Northern Cape) was concerned about the impact of asbestos use in mining areas especially in the Northern Cape. Asbestos had been used in construction especially for roofs. He asked whether the NDHS had commissioned a study on the impact of asbestos. What was the approach followed by the NDHS.

Mr Tshangana agreed that asbestos was a problem. He pointed out that the Human Settlements Ministerial Members of the Executive Committee (MinMEC) had stated that an assessment of houses over the issue of asbestos had to be done. The starting point was to be the Northern Cape Province. Energy PRC would look into the problem of asbestos. Asbestos was even more dangerous if it was damaged. The NDHS would not be receiving extra allocations from National Treasury for this extra work. Work in the Northern Cape and Gauteng Provinces had already started. He emphasised that a policy was needed to deal with the asbestos issue. The NDHS could request National Treasury to allocate extra funds but it was unlikely that the request would be granted.

Mr M Kwawula (IFP, Kwazulu-Natal) queried why the towns of Dundee and Dannhauser in Kwazulu-Natal were not considered distressed mining towns.

Mr Tshangana said that the possibility of Dundee and Dannhauser being considered as distressed mining towns had been discussed and an assessment of the towns had been done. The NDHS had to find a scientific way to include the towns.

Ms M Tlake (ANC, Free State) asked whether the size of the houses to be built were standardised in terms of square meterage. Were provinces allowed to come up with their own sizes? In the areas where the NDHS were building houses there seemed to be mixed inhabitants of employees of mining companies and other companies. She asked if the NDHS made follow ups and if agreements were in place.

Mr Tshangana explained that the sizes of houses were specified. The size was 40 square metres for an RDP house. Pricing was also specified. Community Residential Units (CRU) houses had higher specifications.  He agreed that communities were not only made up of mineworkers, there were other persons too. The NDHS provided a mix of products. It ranged from RDP houses to houses for rental.

The Chairperson also appreciated the work that the NDHS had done thus far. She was concerned about work that was in its planning stages. The Presidential announcement had been made in 2012; she asked how things could still be in the planning stages when it was already 2015. She asked what happened to the funding for projects in both the current and previous financial years when projects were still in planning stages. What happened to the budgets of projects? The NDHS had only mentioned sending towns in the Eastern Cape and the Kwazulu-Natal. Why were sending towns in the Mpumalanga Province not mentioned? She raised concerns that perhaps double dipping was taking place given that miners received houses in the mining towns and in the areas where they originated from.  Dumbe not only had issues with housing but also with roads. Its roads were in a bad state. She asked whether the NDHS was on schedule with its work and also in terms of its budget. Not much had been said in the briefing about the NDHS’ challenges. What were the challenges faced by the NDHS? She asked whether there were any education programmes in place to graduate people from being miners. Both the departments of Basic Education and Higher Education could be roped in.  The Committee would be undertaking an oversight visit to the Rustenberg area. She asked about the NDHS’ programme of building houses for women. In what provinces were these projects taking off?  

Mr Tshangana conceded that there were still projects in planning stages, especially in informal settlements. He explained that processes took a long time as it entailed a great deal of consultation. In informal settlements for example, shacks had to be counted, beneficiaries had to be counted and geotechnical assessments had to be done. Once assessments of an area had been done then a piece of land needed to be sourced. In certain instances informal settlements had to be relocated. There was a great deal of to and fro movement on processes. If people refused to move it made it difficult for the NDHS to rehabilitate the land. He emphasised that planning took time. If however it was a Greenfields project then it did not take so long. It took 36 months to package a project properly in human settlements. The NDHS tried to stick to timelines.  He agreed that labour sending areas were not only in the Eastern Cape and the KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. The reason why the two provinces were focussed on was because the majority of mineworkers came from those provinces. Mozambique and Lesotho were also labour sending areas. A study had been done on labour patterns. He suggested that the Department of Transport come on board to sort out the issue of roads in Dumbe. The NDHS was sometimes on schedule and other times not. A report of projects detailing where schedules were adhered to and where not adhered to could be provided to the Committee. The NDHS could provide the information at project or programme level. He confirmed that the NDHS did have woman build and youth build programmes. Youth build programmes were taking place in the Free State and Mpumalanga Provinces. The woman build programmes were at an advanced stage. The NDHS had called for 30% of contractors on projects to be women. The woman build programmes varied in successes across the provinces. The Eastern Cape Province was performing the best with KwaZulu-Natal next in line. The Committee would be provided with a list of projects.

The Chairperson said she would like to see Members participate in provinces on the woman’s build projects. She asked the NDHS to look into the matter of Dundee and Dannhauser. Roads were not only an issue in Dumbe, hey were a problem in other areas as well.

Committee Minutes
Minutes dated the 2 June 2015 was adopted unamended.

The Chairperson stated that an oversight visit to the Free State on the issue of the eradication of the bucket toilet system would be included in the programme of the Committee. The oversight visit was to take place from the 8-11 September 2015. The Western Cape and the Free State Provinces had the highest figures for the use of the bucket toilet system. Perhaps the Committee should also consider doing oversight in the Western Cape as well.

The meeting was adjourned.  
 

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