On a virtual platform the Committee considered its Report on the Department of Human Settlements 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan: Budget Vote 33.
Members were concerned about fruitless and wasteful expenditure in Observation Two and recommended that punitive measures and consequence management be put in place to deal with this. Here Members felt that the Report should elaborate on the methods that were to be used to reduce irregular expenditure. Further, the Committee stated that the Department had to eradicate irregular expenditure and not just work on reducing it. The Department resolved to produce a plan on how it was going to deal with the eradication of irregular expenditure.
Members heard that the most critical positions were not filled and this had contributed to instability within the Department. Another area of concern was the lack of intergovernmental planning as this had resulted in not attending to the misalignment between the national priorities in the local sphere of Government. Members asked about the need for the Department to have a District Development Model - the Department’s plans were not coherent in all the provinces hence the need for a District Plan.
When Members heard that there was ‘no progress’ in the Title Deeds Programme, land reform and informal settlement upgrading, they questioned the wording as many municipalities were yielding results. The alternative wording: ‘slow progress’ was found more suitable. Members were concerned regarding illegal land and home evictions during lockdown in Observation 10. The Department was advised to check with the Level 3, lockdown regulations because there was a provision in there that allowed for evictions to take place under certain circumstances. And the Department also had to report to the Committee on the evictions and incidents related to them that took place during the lockdown. The Report needed to be re-evaluated with regard to evictions, and the Department had to explain how it was planning to deal with the illegal eviction cases that took place during the lockdown.
Members considered the direct implication of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on human settlements to be a complicated area. It was therefore important for the Department to speak to the typology (types of houses being built) as opposed to the technology employed in their building. The Department was encouraged to focusing on typologies. Members noted with worry that the Report was without time-frames under-which the given recommendations were to be managed. For example it was important for the Department to stop generalising when it came to evictions. The details needed to be stipulated of where and when the evictions took place.
All Members were in agreement that the Report did not cover all the issues and even asked the Department how its APPs could be captured in brief within the Report. The Committee made it very clear to the Department that at present it was dealing with plans for provinces and districts and specifically the need for District Development Models to exist. Members emphasised that all the recommendations had to speak to what had been said by Committee Members.
The EFF registered their objection to the adoption of the Report.
The Report was adopted with amendments.
Opening remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson opened the meeting by proposing an observation of a moment of silence which was duly observed. Today the Committee planned to adopt its Report on Budget Vote 33: Department of Human Settlements.
The Chairperson reported that Ms E Powell (DA) and Mr L Basson (DA) had raised a concern about a Report that had been emailed and was erroneous. She had received the complaint and the error was fixed. Ms Powell and Mr Basson have requested that the matter be taken to Parliament.
On a point of order Ms Powell stated that she had decided not to raise the matter in the current forum since she wanted to first refer the matter for investigation and to the Chair of Chairs.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Powell and stated that the matter awaits the said investigation.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on Budget Vote 33: Human Settlements, and on the Strategic Plan for the coming Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period and Annual Performance Plan 2020/21
The Committee went through the Report which covered the background to the Department, legislative mandate, policy mandate, relevant court rulings, the Department’s alignment with the 2020 State Of the Nation address and the Budget Speech including the Departmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a summary of the Strategic Plan for the Department (DHS).
The Report also spoke to an updated situational analysis.
Members were taken through observations.
The Chairperson asked if Members agreed with the observations and recommendations.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) stated that the wording should be ‘middle income’ and not ‘middle class’ to which Ms Powell provided a correction that the text was about the ‘missing middle’ and was not talking about the middle class. Mr Tseki stated that in that case the observation and recommendation was alright for adoption.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) stated that the Report needed to elaborate on the methods that were to be used to reduce irregular expenditure.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) emphasised that the Department had to eradicate irregular expenditure and not just work on reducing it.
It should be added that Department had to produce a plan on how it was going to deal with the eradication of irregular expenditure.
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) stated that she agreed with Ms Mvana that going forward the Department had to do away with irregular expenditure.
A Member of the Committee stated that the Committee had to add the discussions on timeframes in the Report.
On the next observation Mr Mnguni said that the most critical positions were not filled and contributed to the instability within the Department. Here the recommendation was stated as filling all critical positions to ensure stability within the Department and entities. The Department had to provide a report or response to the Committee by the end of July 2020. The Committee allowed him to continue without amendments to this section.
He said that the next observation was that there was a lack of intergovernmental planning. This had resulted in not attending to the misalignment between the national priorities in the local sphere of Government.
As a method of improving the coherence and impact of government service delivery and to incorporate provincial business plans into the District Development Model, the recommendation was improving intergovernmental relations by ensuring that the planning and implementation plans of the Department were aligned to the District Development Model as launched by the President.
A Member of the Committee inquired about the need for the Department to have a District Development Model.
The Chairperson answered that it was necessary because the reality was that the Department’s plans were not coherent in all the provinces hence the need for a District Plan.
Mr Mnguni stated that the next observation dealt with the necessary adjustments to the fiscal framework to support the COVID-19 pandemic. These adjustments were likely to impact on the overall budget allocation to all Departments. The recommendation here highlighted the need to ensure that plans and the budget allocation were adjusted towards a response to COVID-19.
The Chairperson asked for a mover and a seconder in the event that Members had no amendments to make on this observation.
The observation was adopted.
The next recommendation spoke to was no progress in the Title Deeds Programme, land reform and informal settlement upgrading. Here the recommendation ensured progress in the issuing of title deeds, and the upgrading of land reform and informal settlements. The unnecessary administrative problems associated with those programmes had to be reduced.
Ms Powell asked what was meant by ‘no progress’.
She was informed it meant that the set target was not achieved and the process was slow paced.
Ms Powell stated that the Department had many municipalities that were yielding results, so to say there was no progress was incorrect. She suggested “there was slow progress”, as a suitable alternative.
Mr Tseki agreed with Ms Powell, stating that the report should speak about ‘slow progress’ in that regard.
Observation 8 dealt with the situation where most poor people were living in high density areas which are associated with the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. The recommendation to accompany this situation was to ensure the de-densification of high density areas in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There was no amendment to this recommendation.
In Observation 9, it was observed that not enough was done to ensure spatial transformation.
It was recommended that the Department’s plans respond to the spatial transformation agenda by ensuring that priority development projects assist in addressing poverty, unemployment and inequalities. There was no amendment to this recommendation.
Observation 10 dealt with illegal land and home evictions taking place during the lockdown for which the Committee recommended that the Department ensures that everyone adheres to the directives by government that all land and home evictions be suspended during lockdown.
Ms Powell stated that the Department just needed to check with the Level 3, lockdown regulations because there was a provision in there that allowed for evictions to take place under certain circumstances.
Mr Tseki said that the Department also had to report to the Committee on the evictions and incidents related to them that took place during the lockdown.
A Member of the Committee stated that the Report needed to be re-evaluated with regard to evictions.
The Chairperson asked the Department how it was planning to deal with the illegal eviction cases that took place during the lockdown.
Speaking to the observation on the direct implication of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on human settlements, the recommendation was stated as: continuously adjusting to the global dictates of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encouraging the use of alternative technologies in the building of human settlements.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) stated that the Fourth Industrial Revolution issue could be a very complicated one, highlighting that it was therefore important for the Department to speak to the typology (types of houses being built) as opposed to the technology employed in their building.
Mr Tseki concurred with Ms Sihlwayi stating that the Department rarely considered typologies and should start focusing on them.
Members were assured the Report would be amended accordingly.
The Chairperson said that each observation and recommendation needed a timeframe to allow for implementation on a set date. She gave Members the opportunity for further deliberations and engagements with the report.
Ms M Mohlala (EFF) said that she was worried about the fact that the Report did not talk to timeframes under-which the given recommendations were to be managed. It was important for the Department to stop generalising when it came to evictions. The details needed to be stipulated of where and when the evictions took place.
Mr Tseki agreed that the Report needed targets with timeframes to ensure that it was executable. The Department was informed that the Report on the said evictions that occurred during the lockdown needed to be completed by June. He noted that it was not necessary to be explicit in the recommendations section of the report because the substance was in the body of the report.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) agreed with Mr Tseki that the substance of the Report should be found in the body of the Report. She concurred with Ms Mohlala that the Report did not cover all the issues it had to cover and asked the Department how its APPs could be captured in brief within the Report. Speaking on Committee observations and deliberations, she said the Committee had agreed to call all provinces for a presentation of their business plans.
The Chairperson interjected stating that at that moment the Committee was dealing with plans for provinces and districts. She emphasised the need for District Development Models to exist.
Ms Mohlala stated that Mr Tseki had earlier emphasised that the content that spoke to the observations was in the body of the Report, she asked for this to be shown to her because she could not find it in the body of the Report. She felt the Report should e redone.
Ms Sihlwayi agreed to starting the Report anew as this would give it substance. She emphasised the Committee had interacted with the recommendations and court rulings in the Report but still it lacked substance. The meetings on the Strategic Plan should be reconsulted and the Committee obsverations and recommendations should be taken from there. In short, all the recommendations had to speak to what had been said by the Committee Members.
Ms N Mvana suggested that the EFF should make a recommendation.
The Chairperson said the Committee staff had a responsibility to write a Report and it was the duty of Members to say what needed to be added to the Report. She emphasised that it was possible to add to the Report.
A Member of the Committee asked how the recommendations and observations were going to be captured in the Report.
Members were informed their inputs could be added along with the input of the entities.
The Chairperson stated that the resolutions of the Minutes of that meeting were going to be part of the report. She asked if Members would require the minutes from the last meeting to be added to the report.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) suggested that the current Report be adopted and the amendments could be added later.
The Chairperson asked all Members of the Committee for a vote on the adoption of the Report.
Ms Sihlwayi stated that there were two programmes, emergency housing and ratification, that she did not see on the Report.
Mr L Basson (DA) stated that he did not have a problem forwarding his recommendations to the Chairperson.
The Chairperson stated that ratification was no longer a programme within the government and that if a province wanted to start with ratifications they would first have to locate where the money was lost and state how it was lost. On emergency funds the Department indicated that provinces used to apply for the money and then keep it in their accounts for long without use then the money no longer constituted an emergency. This made the fund redundant.
The deadline for Members to submit their recommendations was 2 June 2020.
A Member of the Committee inquired about the legality of submitting the recommendations for the Report outside of the meeting.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had all the minutes from the previous meetings. Members were ensured that the discussions from all the meetings formed part of the resolutions which were to be added to the Report.
Mr Basson suggested that the current Report be adopted. If there are no changes before 02 June 2020, the Report stays adopted, but if there were changes then the Committee would have to reschedule.
The Chairperson asked Members if the Report could be adopted with the amendments.
Ms Mohlala stated that it should be put on record that the EFF objected to the adoption of the Report.
Ms Mokgotho seconded that position.
Ms Tseke moved for the adoption of the Report and was seconded by Mr Basson.
All other Members present moved for the adoption of the Report except the EFF.
The Chairperson stated that the Report was duly adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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