Committee Reports on Department of Human Settlements Budget; Petitions & Free State Oversight
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation
09 May 2017
Chairperson: Ms N Mafu (ANC)
The Committee met to consider adoption of the report on the Department of Human Settlements’ (DHS’s) budget, the report on the oversight visit to the Free State, and the petition from township residents who were complaining that the Department prioritised informal settlements over backyard dwellers who had been there for years.
During discussion on the budget vote, concerns were raised around the spending patterns in the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG). Members criticised the non-utilisation of the grant, as this implied that it was not needed. The EFF said it would not align itself with the budget as long as it did not address the poorest of the poor. The report was adopted, noting the concerns and objections of the EFF.
The report on the oversight visit to the Free State had identified a broad range of issues. Pipeline planning in the province proved to be a persistent problem, there was a general non-compliance with policy principles reflected in the Housing Code, and no punitive action was taken against those who did not do their work. There was a lack of visibility or marketing of Human Settlements entities. It also emerged strongly that the issuing of title deeds was at a slow pace, and there was a need to transform the real estate sector. Lastly, there was a lack of investment in bulk infrastructure. It was stated that communities had to be integrated through spatial planning. The report was adopted.
The Committee discussed the petition from township residents who complained that the DHS prioritised informal settlements over backyard dwellers who had been there for years. Members said the complaints of both those in informal settlements and the backyard dwellers needed to be dealt with, and there were tasks that needed to be performed by committees of the communities. Prominent community leaders should play a role, but not ‘political representatives.’ A Member suggested the petition had xenophobic undertones. The report on the petition was adopted.
The Chairperson welcomed the Members, and said the Committee had been supposed
to meet last Thursday for adoption of the report on the Department of Human Settlement’s (DHS’s) budget. However, the DWS had asked to postpone today’s scheduled meeting, and Thursday’s meeting had been put back to Tuesday.
Mr S Malatsi (DA) raised concerns about not receiving the minutes on time and stressed that this could be a waste of resources, as he had had to take two flights to get to the Committee meeting. In response, the Chairperson explained that the report had to be approved by the “chair of chairs,” and therefore it had been returned only on the day before the meeting.
Ms L Mnganga-Gcabashe (ANC) proposed an amendment to the agenda so that the Committee could deal with the budget report first, and then the oversight report.
The Chairperson gave approval to this proposal.
Adoption of budget report
The Committee met to consider adoption of the report on the Department of Human Settlements’ budget. It approved of the introduction, and the aim and mandate of the DHS, while the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and policy mandate was unchanged. Approval was also given to the summary of the Department’s strategic plan, the updated situational analysis, the performance delivery environment and the budget analysis.
During discussion on the Committee’s deliberations and observations, concerns were raised around the spending patterns in the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG).
Mr Malatsi pointed out how the phrasing of the words, ‘non-utilisation of the urban development grant,’ implied that there had been no use of it, when the actual issue was under-utilisation. The Committee decided that ‘under-utilisation’ better represented the message.
The Chairperson agreed with this viewpoint.
Grammatical errors in the report were corrected, and it was pointed out that reference to milestones would highlight the work that had been done, as opposed to it seeming as though progress had been slow.
Ms Mnanga-Gcabashe suggested an additional point be added to the report. The Committee wanted the Human Settlements Department to adhere to the recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee.
The Chairperson then went over the recommendations in the report and noted more grammatical errors, which were rectified. Many of them were pertaining to tone, where Members felt that it should be firmer.
The Chairperson said that the report was recommending that 30% of all the work done by the HSD should have youth and women contractors.
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashe said that she had understood the report as saying that some municipalities had indicated that they did not have funding. However, the recommendation was that they could use 30% from the grants. However, this was not to dispute what the Chairperson had said, and nothing was stopping that recommendation from continuing into either one of their points.
Mr Malatsi supported this, saying that some municipalities could hide behind the fact that they did not have any funding to avoid abiding by the guideline stating that 30% of the contractors had to be youth and women. The Committee needed to ensure that this was being adhered to across municipalities.
Mr Malatsi drew attention to a repetitive sentence, as “extend support to mining towns through implementation” had already been recorded among the Committee’s observations.
Ms M Mokause (EFF) said the EFF would not align itself with the budget as long as it did not address the poorest of the poor.
The report was adopted, noting the concerns and objections of the EFF.
Report on Free State oversight visit
The report stated that throughout the oversight visit, the following broad issues had been identified: Pipeline planning in the province proved to be a persistent problem, there was a general non- compliance with policy principles reflected in the Housing Code, and no punitive action was taken against those who did not do their work. There was a lack of visibility or marketing of Human Settlements entities. It also emerged strongly that the issuing of title deeds was at a slow pace, and there was a need to transform the real estate sector. Lastly, there was a lack of investment in bulk infrastructure.
The Committee had observed that the provincial department had spent 100% of its budget, but had fallen short in achieving its targets. Other significant observations were:
- The provincial department was deviating from policy in terms of the size of the houses that were constructed for different beneficiaries. It was still constructing 50m² for the state subsidy houses and 100m² for military veterans, instead of 50m² for the military veterans and 40m² for the state subsidised houses;
- The inability of the provincial department to utilise the 2% of the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) in the issuing and eradication of the backlog of title deeds;
- The province was performing poorly on the issue of title deeds. Most municipal officials were not attending the meetings scheduled by the provincial steering committee that was dealing with the restoration and issuing of title deeds. This had posed challenges, as most of the municipalities had a huge backlog in the delivery of title deeds. There were delays in the signing of deeds documents, and unproclaimed townships;
- It was observed that the Community Residential Units (CRU) were being constructed. However, there were challenges, such as the escalation of cost in building these structures, non-payment of rental by occupants and illegal occupation in some of the CRUs;
- There seemed to be less involvement by the mining houses in assisting their workers in housing opportunities;
- The provincial department was demolishing the two-bedroomed houses that were dilapidated and rebuilding them as 50m² (rectification) units. However, this was not providing any new housing opportunities;
- There was a need to address the issue of non-performing contractors. This was as a result of some contractors not being paid and being unable to continue building, especially the emerging contractors.
Mr H Mmemezi (ANC) said that people from the Free State were informing the wrong people about their problems and this made it seem as though they were being ignored.
In response, the Chairperson suggested that the report emphasise the importance of the improving communication.
Mr Sithole said the use of the phrase “the race element” was problematic, as he felt that it was unclear and aggravated the racial integration process.
The Chairperson said that the presence of this term was made important by the fact that apartheid spatial planning had left black people on the outskirts, far from the city centres.
The committee’s secretary explained that there were three elements in policy -- infrastructure, community and race.
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashe suggested that the report say “integrate communities through spatial planning” instead.
Mr Mmemezi moved the adoption of the report, and Mr Sithole seconded.
The report was adopted.
Report on petitions.
After the Committee had corrected grammatical errors in the report, and pointed out mistakes in the register of Members who were present, it dealt with a petition asserting that informal settlements were being given priority at the expense of backyard dwellers. Township residents were complaining that the Department prioritised informal settlements over backyard dwellers who had been there for years.
Mr Malatsi said the complaints of both those in informal settlements and the backyard dwellers needed to be dealt with.
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashge said there were tasks that needed to be performed by committees of the communities.
The Chairperson said that prominent community leaders should play a role, but not ‘political representatives.’
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashe also questioned the use of the words, “illegal occupation of foreign nationals,” and pointed out that illegal occupation was illegal, regardless of by whom.
Mr Malatsi supported this view, and suggested that the language used had xenophobic undertones.
Changes were made.
Ms V Bam-Bugwanya moved adoption of the report, and was seconded by Mr Sithole. The report was adopted.
The minutes of 14 March were proposed for adoption by Mr L Khoarai (ANC) and seconded by Mr Mmemeza. The minutes were adopted.
The minutes of 17 March were proposed for adoption by Mr Mmemezi and seconded by Ms M Nkadimeng (ANC). The minutes were adopted.
The minutes of 28 March were moved for adoption by Mr Memezi, with corrections. The Chairperson said they could not be adopted, as they were the same as those of 14 March.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mafu, Ms NN
Bam-Mugwanya, Ms V
Khoarai, Mr L P
Malatsi, Mr MS
Mmemezi, Mr HM
Mnganga-Gcabashe, Ms LA
Mokause, Ms MO
Nkadimeng, Ms MF
Sithole, Mr KP
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