The Committee reconvened to continue interrogating the annual report of the Department of Human Settlements, Western Cape.
It wanted to know:
- in which areas had there been delays in terms of the Number of sites delivered which are connected to basic services as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) as community protests had not been all over the WC?
- what interventions had been put in place to increase the percentage of Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDI) contractors participating in Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG), as the total percentage participation remain quite low?
- what the reasons were for the under expenditure of R7.8 million for administration under the Linking performance with budgets subheading?
- by when the DHSWC when it envisaged completing the catalytic projects reported on in the 2017/18 AR.
- whether the listed donors under donor funds were the only ones that donated to DHS in the WC.
- what type of offence had the individual who had been suspended without pay coupled with a final written warning committed under the Misconduct and disciplinary hearings finalised, 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 subheading?
- Why had the contracts not been renewed of the 16 staff that had left employ of the DHSWC?
- why had the DHSWC offered no learnerships in the year under review?
- why there had been such a high number of grievances under Grievances lodged, 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 and what were they mainly about?
It said that the employee health and wellness programme (EHW) was quite commendable but, how effective had the (24/7/365 telephonic counselling service, online e-Care service and reporting) been and was DHSWC staff using the services in the EHW?
It was also concerned about the 16 staff that had left the DHSWC and asked whether there had been any support given to the staff that had had domestic problems such as counselling provided seeing that had been amongst the reasons for leaving the employ of DHSWC.
The Chairperson said that before the Committee continued with the Annual Report (AR) discussion the Water Crisis Response Policy unit wanted to know if the Department of Human Settlements, Western Cape (DHSWC) would assist municipalities to apply for necessary funding for housing projects.
DHSWC replied that it was assisting municipalities.
Annual Report 2017/18 Department of Human Settlements
The Chairperson noted that what remained was part B of the DHSWC AR.
Ms S Davids (ANC) wanted to know in which areas had there been delays in terms of the Number of sites delivered which are connected to basic services as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) as community protests had not been all over the WC?
She also wanted to know what interventions had been put in place to increase the percentage of Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDI) contractors participating in Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG), as the total percentage participation remain quite low?
The Chairperson asked that in terms of the presentation format she preferred that Catalytic Projects be recorded and their progress reported in more simplified ways for better tracking by the Committee.
Ms T Dijana (ANC) wanted to know what the reasons were for the under expenditure of R7.8 million for administration under the Linking performance with budgets subheading?
The Chairperson added that she wanted to know by when the DHSWC when it envisaged completing the catalytic projects reported on in the 2017/18 AR.
Ms Davids wanted to know whether the listed donors under donor funds were the only ones that donated to DHS in the WC.
Mr Francois De Wet, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) replied that the under expenditure of R7.8 million under administration was due to non-filling of senior management positions for two directors together with underspending on the drought relief. On drought relief the DHSWC had wanted to spend on a particular programme but had not received the appropriation for that programme regarding drought.
Regarding donor funds the DANIDA donation had been spent on solar geysers at the Joe Slovo Phase 3 project. The other donation was assistance from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) for studies that DHSWC did at informal settlements.
The delays in delivering connected basic services as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) were indeed due to community protests, people refusing to relocate specifically in Drakenstein, Joe Slovo, Grabouw, Boystown, Thembalethu, Citrusdal and Khayelitsha.
Mr Thando Mguli, Head of Department (HoD), said that one of the intervention in increasing the numbers of HDI contractors especially youth and women that wanted to do business with the DHSWC had been to open up the DHSWC contractors database to new entrants. Additionally the Department had emerging contractors which were onsite and were working specifically on the main contracts but DHSWC but were not directly contracted by the Department: and the Department had in the AR only accounted for those contractors which it contract directly.
The DHSWC was also providing training to HDI contractors in partnership with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) so that the HDI contractors could learn how to tender for work where the first batch of HDI contractors that the DHSWC would be on-boarding were women only in 2019.
Mr Mguli said the DHSWC took the Chairperson’s recommendation to report annually on where catalytic projects were and the scheduled date of completion of all those projects was 2022 which remained the target DHSWC worked towards.
The Chairperson said that her experience was that housing targets were ever moving and she commended the commitment that DHSWC was exhibiting.
Ms Davids wanted to know what type of offence had the individual who had been suspended without pay coupled with a final written warning committed under the Misconduct and disciplinary hearings finalised, 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 subheading?
Ms Dijana was concerned about the 16 staff that had left the DHSWC and asked whether there had been any support given to the staff that had had domestic problems such as counselling provided seeing that had been amongst the reasons for leaving the employ of DHSWC.
Why had the contracts not been renewed of the 16 staff that had left employ of the DHSWC?
Mr De Wet replied that the suspended person had falsified a document which had been followed u with disciplinary processes.
The Chairperson said that documents had been falsified was in the AR the Committee wanted to know what documents and how had they been falsified.
Mr De Wet requested DHSWC to be allowed to submit the information in writing.
Ms Davids said that if it was fraud the AR read like the individual was still in the employ of DHSWC, why had the individual only been given a final written warning if it was fraud indeed?
Mr De Wet replied that DHSWC did have support in terms of counselling for self-referral or employees could be referred by DHSWC, moreover there was regular assessment of employee wellness that was undertaken by the Department.
In terms of the new public service regulations which had come into effect on August 2016 all contracts could only be 12 months whereupon Departments had to re-advertise positions which was why the 16 staff contracts had not been renewed. The staff had the option to apply again.
Ms Davids asked why had the DHSWC offered no learnerships in the year under review?
The Chairperson wanted to know why there had been such a high number of grievances under Grievances lodged, 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 and what were they mainly about?
Mr De Wet replied that conditions of service had been amongst the reasons for grievances, specifically 19 employs had lodged such grievances; contract positions grievances when people were not employed for particular positions advertised. Others related to employees lodging grievances that they were being mis-utilised as they were being made to do work not in line with their job descriptions. One employee had lodged a grievance disputing a performance review and one case of an individual that had alleged victimisation. All the grievances had been resolved in that there were outcomes for all of them.
Mr Mguli said DHSWC had 8 graduate interns in its establishment as well as bursary holders at school and the DHSWC was probably the first Department that had started absorbing unemployed graduates instead of learnerships. The interns were paid as well including those needing workplace experience.
The Chairperson was concerned about what mitigating factors had brought about the high number of grievances; what assessment had been done by DHSWC to improve the relationship between leadership and employees.
Ms Davids said all that the HoD had said had not been captured in the AR and learnerships remained zero; why had that been so?
The HoD asked Mr De Wet why the capturing had been done erroneously?
Mr De Wet said training needs as per the heading of that table had been identified by DHSWC for its staff and no learnerships had been identified for rollout but probably there would be one or two learnerships in the year under review.
The Chairperson interjected that she agreed with the HoD that the interns and graduates were in fact in learnerships because; immediately an unemployed person whether contracted temporarily received a stipend for work done whether to gain experience or other reason then; that was a learnership. Therefore under the training provided those people should have been included at table 3.12.2.
Mr Mguli said the grievances had actually been from the inspectors that DHSWC employed as they believed that they had to have been graded higher than were the evaluation grading had placed them. The grading had been assessed by DPSA (national), over and above that DHSWC. The DHSWC had encouraged them to enrol for project management courses and others so that they could then apply for candidacy as project managers within DHSWC for a higher grading because as long as they remained inspectors within the DHSWC establishment the grading would remain.
The Chairperson said that if the AR was saying it was resolved whereas the HOD explanation said the matter remained outstanding because it was not within DHSWC mandate to resolve then more had to be done to try and better the relations between DHSWC and its inspectors, apart from the report the HoD had just submitted orally.
Ms W Philander (DA) said that the employee health and wellness programme (EHW) was quite commendable but, how effective had the (24/7/365 telephonic counselling service, online e-Care service and reporting) been and was DHSWC staff using the services in the EHW?
Mr De Wet said the service was well monitored by the DHSWC and the service providers and staff did utilize the services.
Public engagement-oral submission
Mr Mbiko, Mau Mau resident, said he had a housing application form signed on the 28 June 2016, he then reference the opening remarks of the Member of Executive Council (MEC ) Mr Bonginkosi Madikizela which read: the principle of first come, first served is respected, and addresses the anomaly that we’ve seen when many people on the waiting list, mostly backyarders, are ignored, but the attention is given to many who are not even on the waiting list.
He then referred to an agreement signed on the 22 September 2016 between MEC Madikizela and all areas affected involved in the agreement. His third document had been dated 4 March 2017 where the City of Cape Town (CoCT) approved the agreement between the MEC and the areas involved.
The fourth document was an annexure.
He said the September 2016 agreement had been changed after the local government election of the same year, it involved a project started in 2008 and handed over to residents by MEC Madikizela to backyarders of Nyanga location, Cape Town. What had occurred was that in the new 2016 agreement people from new crossroads had now been added to the beneficiaries list and the Nyanga backyarders had asked for minutes of meetings, attendance registers of where the new agreement had been made in their absence. In their most previous meeting in October 2018, the documents were still outstanding but the councillors from which the information was sought had simply told residents that the list had been elongated in conjunction with MEC Madikizela. If the MEC was aware of the information he was presenting; he was humbly requesting the MEC to reduce the agreement he had with councillors to a document Mr Mbiko could take back to the residents he represented. He had also with him a relocation policy and housing opportunities document which had been approved 25 March 2015 where it was stipulated that the Mayor and not the MEC had the power to make deviations on relocation policy and housing opportunities.
In his possession he also had people registered as far back as 1997 but had not benefited from housing opportunities.
The Chairperson wanted clarity whether Mr Mbiko wanted a response on a change in agreement made prior to 2016?
Mr Mbiko replied in the affirmative reiterating that the agreement he had with him had been changed in 2016 with the arrival of new ward councillors without consultation and participation by the affected residents. In the first project steering Committee since 2016 said councillors had told the backyarders that they had made a political decision to change the earlier agreement in the presence of MEC Madikizela.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was dealing with the AR of the 2017/18 financial year wherein October 2018 was in the subsequent and forgoing financial year 2018/19. She asked Mr Mbiko to repeat the principle he was referring to.
Mr Mbiko reiterated that the foreword of the AR under review from MEC Madikizela was that: the principle of first come, first served is respected, and addresses the anomaly that we’ve seen when many people on the waiting list, mostly backyarders, are ignored, but the attention is given to many who are not even on the waiting list.
He required a response on who the real beneficiaries of the site in question involving the agreement he had in his possession.
MEC Madikizela said the context and background was important and he agreed and understood the frustration which Mr Mbiko had raised. The DHSWC had had a crisis in Nyanga were a crisis had occurred with two projects; that backyarders had been so up in arms to the point of vandalising housing that had already been allocated beneficiaries. Although he did not condone destruction of state property he had understood the grievance and frustration because where the projects were had been spaces that had been vacant before any occupation; and they had been promised to backyarders of Nyanga that the houses built there would be built for them. When the CoCT started to develop in those spaces it had then given deal of sale to the people it found occupying the spaces without being cognizant of the historic commitments made.
The MEC had then personally intervened and convened a meeting with all backyarders in the vicinity to step back and stop vandalising the properties and an agreement had been made that DHSWC would expedite erf2849 which colloquially was called Mau Mau; and erf8448 both sites which had then been earmarked for backyarders only after his intervention. Backyarders of Gugulethu would benefit from erf8448 and those of Nyanga and surrounding areas would benefit from erf2849. That indeed was the original agreement and background to the grievance brought by Mr Mbiko. The MEC had informed quite clearly all affected incoming councillors responsible for those wards that he would not agree with any deviation from that original agreement. He was undertaking before the Committee to take Mr Mbiko to attend to the councillors of the wards to address that issue and return to the original agreement regarding the developments reported.
Mr Mbiko was quite satisfied with the response by the MEC.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would put it into its resolution to follow-up on that matter.
MEC’s Closing remarks
Mr Madikizela thanked the standing Committee for its cooperation and oversight over the DHSWC as the work had been without playing politics when it came to housing citizens of the province of the WC. he also thanked the administrators of the DHSWC he had found at the Department and those that would remain after he had left as it had become apparent to him that the officials were quite passionate about their work and servicing the citizens of the WC.
Ms Davids thanked on behalf of the Committee the DHSWC leadership as well as the officials for the work they had been doing and their decisiveness on the actions they took and the accountability they showed when they had to report.
The Chairperson said her experience of chairing the Committee she had found the DHSWC to have been a most responsive Department each time and throughout their tenure overseeing DHSWC. She also thanked the support staff for the work they allowed the Committee to accomplish.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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