Eastern & Northern Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements on District Development Model; Water and Sanitation Plans, Water Services Authority Plans and Waste Water Treatment Plan; with Deputy Minister

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

05 June 2020
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation,5 June 2020

The Eastern and Northern Cape Departments of Human Settlements briefed the Committee on their respective 2020/21 business plans and district development models.

The Eastern Cape aimed to build 52 251 housing units through the subsidy mechanism and 1 500 housing units through the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme. There were also plans to deliver 14 341 serviced sites, and 257 informal settlements had been targeted for upgrades. It intended to deal with the 5 934 outstanding title deeds applications that stemmed from prior to 1994, and the 43 058 since 1994.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the province had received R1.533 billion towards the Human Settlements Development Grant, from which it had targeted to construct 8 123 housing units, provide 4 181 serviced sites and finalise 5 000 new title deeds. 113 informal settlements had also been identified to be part of the upgrading of informal settlements component, at a cost of R270 million. The OR Tambo region had been earmarked as a pilot region for the district development model. The latest 2019 mid-year estimate showed the district municipality had a population of 1.5 million. There were currently 45 projects out of a total of 115 active projects in OR Tambo that conformed to the principles of a district development model.

The Northern Cape reported that an allocation of R319 million had been received for the period under review, of which R47 million had been ring-fenced for the Informal Settlements Upgrade Programme. It said the limited budget was a challenge. It also reported that Covid-19 had impacted the province’s ability to spend its allocated funds, as no construction had taken place during the lockdown period. It had allocated R14 million towards emergency commitments and expenditure to deal with the impact of Covid-19 on poor communities situated in densely populated areas.

Referring to the District Development Model, the Northern Cape said 72% of the province’s 429 towns received their water from groundwater, and 26% relied on surface water. However,10 727 households in formal areas had no water access, compared to 10 175 households in informal areas, and 34 464 households had no access to sanitation services in formal areas compared 18 914 households in informal areas. The five district municipalities needed about R22 billion to address water infrastructure needs, and about R6 billion for sanitation infrastructure.

Members expressed their dismay that both provinces continued to suffer backlogs with the issuance of title deeds, and called on them to ensure that the title deeds backlog was brought up to date. They questioned the reasons for the backlogs, particularly those that had accumulated since 1994. The provinces were urged to promote more women’s participation in infrastructure projects, and also to attend to the remedial work that had to be carried out on faulty housing structures.

Meeting report

Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements Business Plan

Ms Thabisa Poswa, Head of Department (HOD), Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements, said that for the 2020/25 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) it had set a target of seven areas for the implementation of integrated human settlements, in line with the prioritised housing development areas.

The province also aimed to build 52 251 housing units through the subsidy mechanism, and 1 500 housing units through the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP). There were also plans afoot to deliver 14 341 serviced sites.

257 informal settlements had been targeted for upgrades. The initial 113 had already been identified and funds allocated.

The province would also like to eradicate the backlog and issuing of title deeds. The province intended to deal with the 5 934 outstanding title deeds applications that stemmed from prior to 1994, and the 43 058 from after 1994.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the Eastern Cape had received R1.533 billion towards the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG). The province would like to construct 8 123 housing units, provide 4 181 serviced sites and finalise 5 000 new title deeds. 113 informal settlements had also been identified to be part of the upgrading of informal settlements component, at a cost of R270.5 million.

In the fight against Covid-19, the Eastern Cape government had decided to provide temporary housing structures to several municipalities in the Eastern Cape.

Eastern Cape District Development Model

The Committee was informed that the O R Tambo region had been earmarked as a pilot region for the district development model (DDM). In 2016, the O R Tambo (ORT) district municipality had a population of 1.46 million, growing by 6.7% between 2011 and 2016, with the latest 2019 mid-year estimate showing a population of 1.5 million. Of the 314 079 households in the ORT district, 54% were traditional -- almost double the overall Eastern Cape percentage of 26%.

Only 6.3% of households in ORT district municipality were Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) government-subsidised dwellings, and of these, 65,3% were rated as good or average, and 34.7% were rated as  poor.

The national Department of Human Settlements provided input into the provincial, district and local municipal spatial planning processes, as driven by its own policy processes,

The OR Tambo district was considered as a pilot to integrate all planning processes, with all other sector plans – water, sanitation, electricity, municipal services etc -- in the DDM. Currently 45 of the 115 active projects in OR Tambo conformed to the principles of the DDM. There were plans in place to ensure 100% compliance before the year end.

In the ORT region, there were 8 538 beneficiaries who had been waiting for houses since 1998.

The Eastern Cape intended to embark on a rigorous evaluation, review and reprioritisation of its approved beneficiaries to ensure that it responded rapidly and consistently to the plight of the destitute and vulnerable. 

Eastern Cape District Implementation Plan: Department of Water and Sanitation review

The Eastern Cape provincial implementation plan was centred on programmatic areas such as consultations, stakeholder engagements, institutional support, planning and development, as well as the implementation and monitoring of projects.

18 regional bulk infrastructure projects had been identified in the province, with a budget of R477 million. R486 950 000 had been allocated for 60 small water sector infrastructure grant projects and 85 municipal infrastructure grant projects.

The Eastern Cape was known as a water scarce province. It had a water service backlog of 1 723 941, which affected over 6.7 million people.

The province also had a draft water and sanitation master plan in place. The plan called for 533 sanitation projects, at a cost of almost R19 billion.

Northern Cape COGHSTA Business Plan

Mr Bafedile Lenkoe, Head of Department, Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), briefed the Committee on the Northern Cape’s 2020/21 business plan.

He said the province had received an allocation of R319 million for the period under review. An amount of R47 million had been ring-fenced towards the Informal Settlements Upgrade Programme. The Northern Cape cited the budget as a challenge.

Its business plan catered for the following programmes:

  • Operational capital
  • Title deeds
  • National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) accreditation
  • Emergency housing
  • Rectification/remedial
  • Integrated residential development programme
  • Individuals
  • Rural housing
  • Community residential units
  • Military veterans
  • Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme
  • Town planning services

 

Mr Lenkoe said Covid-19 had impacted on the province’s ability to spend its allocated funds, as no construction had been done during the lockdown period. When construction resumed, contractors would need to re-establish sites. Consideration would also have to be given to extend completion dates of contracts.

The Northern Cape had also allocated R14 million towards the emergency commitment and expenditure on the impact of Covid-19 on poor communities situated in densely populated areas.

Northern Cape District Development Model

The Committee was informed that all five Northern Cape districts would be participants in the District Development Model, with particular emphasis on the Francis Baard region. The Francis Baard region was significant, as it housed the capital city, Kimberley, and a newly inaugurated university, and had experienced exponential population growth.

The province also intended to focus on six mining towns, which had been allocated a collective budget of R90 million. The Francis Baard region had been allocated an amount of R 73 million.

The province has a big challenge with faulty housing structures. It had recorded almost 14 500 cases of houses that required remedial work. This had all been catered for in the District Development Model.

Northern Cape District Implementation Plan: Department of Water and Sanitation review

An official seconded by the national Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, briefed the Committee on the Northern Cape’s District Implementation Plan.

He said 72% of the province’s 429 towns received their water from groundwater, and 26% relied on surface water. All 31 municipalities (five district and 26 local) had been designated as water service authorities.

10 727 households in formal areas had no water access, compared to 10 175 households in informal areas. 34 464 households had no access to sanitation services in formal areas, compared 18 914 households in informal areas.

The five district municipalities needed about R22 billion to address water infrastructure needs, and about R6 billion for sanitation infrastructure. The province had earmarked 20 projects to alleviate some of the challenges experienced.

The Northern Cape had a vacancy challenge, as about 31 posts were vacant.

Deputy Minister’s comments

Ms Pam Tshwete, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, said the core business of her Department was to ensure that projects were aligned and that it delivered on its mandate. She added that the Northern Cape had an issue with unutilised funds, and that this needed to be addressed, whereas the Eastern Cape was grappling with other challenges.

Eastern Cape MEC’s comments

Ms Nonkqubela Pieters, Member of Executive Council (MEC): Human Settlements, Eastern Cape, said Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) had highlighted the lack of access to housing by the aged, the disabled and child-headed households. The Eastern Cape government had then taken a decision to prioritise housing for these designated groups and other destitute communities.

Her Department had received a 1 400 housing applications from military veterans and of these, 625 had been confirmed by the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.

120 informal settlements in the Eastern Cape had been earmarked for an upgrade at a cost of R270 million. The two metros, Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) had received funds from the national Department of Human Settlements (DHS) directly for this endeavour. NMB had received R180 million and the BCMM about R152 million.

She said the Eastern Cape was committed to fighting and eradicating the Covid-19 pandemic.

The province had handed over 150 temporary houses to beneficiaries. It had been set a target of 52 000 houses for the next five years, but conceded that it would not be able to deliver on this target. She cited budget constraints as the main impediment.

Northern Cape MEC’s comments

Mr Bentley Vass, MEC: Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Northern Cape, said the Northern Cape was known for its vastness. It was South Africa’s biggest province, yet had the smallest population of 1.2 million people. The vastness posed a significant challenge to the Northern Cape government, as it hindered socio-economic development.

The province consisted of five districts and 23 local municipalities. These districts were characterised by high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. The province was saddled with a housing backlog of 77 000.

The MEC lamented the marginal budget earmarked for housing, commenting that R26 million had been taken by National Treasury (NT). The province had submitted a recovery plan to NT, yet the NT had not considered it. The result had been that the Northern Cape had not been able to pay service providers that had completed committed projects.

Discussion

Mr M Tseki (ANC) commented that both the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces were large provinces. This vastness should assist the provincial governments to provide more serviced sites than housing units. He asked why they had not considered this eventuality.

He expressed his concern at the continuing challenges with the issuance of title deeds. He called on the provincial departments to brief the Committee on the steps taken to address this.

He lamented the high rate of rectifications of government-built houses in the Northern Cape. He wanted to ascertain whether the contractors that built these faulty housing structures ever faced sanctions for the below-par work.

He commended the Eastern Cape for the province’s 76% reliance on groundwater. This was a lesson to other provinces of what was possible. He saw it as ground-breaking, and called on the province to share their expertise with other provinces.

He expressed his dismay, however, with the target the province had set it itself to eradicate the bucket system, describing the 600 target was “lamentable.”

Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) referred to the Eastern Cape’s presentation’s mention that it had received a Human Settlements grant of R1.5 billion, which was to be used to build 8 123 housing units and finalise 5 000 title deeds applications. She wanted to know how much the provincial government intended to spend per house and title deed. She also asked the Eastern Cape to explain why it still grappled with a housing backlog that spanned from 1998. She saw this as unacceptable, as South Africa’s poor needed access to adequate housing.

She asked of the Northern Cape to provide timeframes about the proposed upgrades in the Sol Plaatjie Municipality.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked when the Northern Cape intended to fill all its vacancies. What was the role of the National Housing Builders Registration Council in relation to the substandard housing units that had been built?

She touched on the R26 million taken from the Northern Cape by the NT, and asked what would happen to the service providers that had already completed the necessary work.

She questioned why the Northern Cape had managed to sign only six military veterans up for government housing, and what they intended to do to increase this number.

From the Eastern Cape, she wanted to know why so few provinces utilised the Emergency Human Settlements Grant (EHSG). Why had no housing units been earmarked for NMB, and what was the Eastern Cape doing about the projects that had not been listed?

Ms N Mvana (ANC) commended the Eastern Cape government on its decision to upgrade almost 120 informal settlements. She recalled that these informal settlements had seen mounting incidences of civil unrest over a lack of service delivery. This plan thus came in handy just before the next round of municipal elections.

She also wanted to know why the Eastern Cape had such trouble with the issuance of title deeds, and what the province’s policy on temporary shelters was. It had come to her attention that beneficiaries of temporary housing never gave these structures back to the province after having been provided with permanent housing.

The Eastern Cape needed to brief the Committee on whether the Amatola Water Board had engaged the province on water tariff increases.

She asked the Northern Cape to explain how the province intended to spend the R20 million allocated for drought relief.

Ms N Tafeni (EFF) also lamented the Eastern Cape’s non-issuance of title deeds, as this had a negative impact on residents’ livelihoods. The Govan Mbeki municipality in the Amatola region was a prime example of where people were still waiting for their title deeds.

Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) emphasised that the Northern Cape was characterised by levels of unemployment, and unemployment meant poverty. She asked for a breakdown per district of how many women contractors received tenders from the provincial government.

She referred to the Eastern Cape’s presentation that dealt with the Water Service Development Plan (WSDP), and expressed her dismay that only one municipality had been able to complete what was requested by the WSDP. She wanted to know whether this had been as a result of capacity.

She lamented the continued challenges experienced by the Sol Plaatjie Municipality with water leakages and water loss after refurbishment projects, and asked whether the continued water infrastructure breakages were due to a lack of maintenance.

She also asked the Eastern Cape to provide the Committee with a breakdown of all outstanding title deeds, and when these would be attended to.

The Chairperson directed her questions towards the DWS, asking them to provide feedback on the unspent R26 million that reverted back to NT. She also wanted to know whether they had assisted the Northern Cape to engage with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on the land the province wanted to use for housing.

Northern Cape responses

Mr Vass confirmed that the Northern Cape had a population of 1.2 million people.

He said that when dealing with title deeds, one of the critical issues faced by the provincial government was that many citizens did not have wills. When a family member died without a will, infighting normally ensued.

The loss of the R26 million had been regrettable, as the NT had raised concerns about the Northern Cape’s ability to spend funds earmarked for housing. He commented that his Department had done everything to service communities. The Department had submitted a recovery plan to NT, but NT had not considered it. This had resulted in an inability to pay service providers.

He confirmed that his province had prioritised the provision of serviced sites.

His Department had a challenge, with about 35 vacant positions, as NT had refused funding for filling them and that this had impacted on performance.

The R20 million earmarked for drought relief was mostly utilised to purchase water tanks. The Northern Cape had procured 800 water tanks for drought mitigation.

He agreed with Members that the high housing rectification rate in the Northern Cape was regrettable. The issue had received widespread attention, especially from the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission, which had launched investigations into matter. The province had been in ongoing discussions with the contractors responsible for substandard building practices on the need to rectify their mistakes.

Mr Lenkoe expressed his frustration with the accruals in his COGHSTA department. A recovery plan had been submitted to NT, yet NT had not entertained the submission by the province.

He said a contractor had been supposed to deliver 66 housing units meant for military veterans, but had ended up delivering only 32 units in Kimberley. The work on the project had stalled after the contractor ran out of funds.

On women empowerment, he reported that about 33% of all contractors had been women. The Northern Cape did have a problem in attracting women contractors, and had launched a contractor development plan to assist them.

He blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the slow issuance of title deeds. Prior to the lockdown, his Department had run a project dubbed “Title Deeds Fridays.” The project had stalled for the reasons already provided.

Eastern Cape response

Ms Poswa said it was the Eastern Cape’s intention to provide more serviced sites to beneficiaries,

She said the Eastern Cape had a 10% demand for remedial work on housing structures, and explained that one of the reasons why contractors got away with building sub-standard housing was that the South African National Building Council had not existed before 2008. She added that the housing backlog in the OR Tambo region was high, and welcomed the DDM.

A budget of R15 million had been earmarked for the EHSG. The province had been able to provide 300 temporary housing structures, even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. She said the reason why the two metros had been excluded was that they already had allocated housing budgets.

On title deeds, she echoed the sentiments by the Northern Cape MEC, that family infighting caused challenges. She added that the backlog could also be contributed to poor planning by the authorities.

The meeting was adjourned.

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