The Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements briefed the Committee on its fourth quarter performance report for the 2019/20 financial year. The MEC was present.
Under Programme One, the Department reached all the set targets. This Programme examines if Annual Performance Plans and other compliance is met as part of Corporate Services.
Programme Two deals with planned human settlements aligned to the Infrastructure Development Programme (IDPs). The Department has set six targets. Only two are completed.
The Department said different priorities vie for the same funding. This impacts on delivery negatively.
The way forward to address this anomaly is to compile a prioritisation matrix.
The Department scheduled various meetings to interact with municipalities on its technical and other needs. Some municipalities fail to attend these meetings.
Members were encouraged by the Department's comments about the new focus on actual performance and the quality of the performance instead of compliance. Members questioned the challenge of securing members with municipal officials, the low number of youths trained, indicators dealing with research papers and policy, subsidies allocated and employment opportunities. A Member remarked the targets set are quite low compared to the amount of municipalities in the province. The good track record of the Department was applauded. Other questions concerned the design validation process, capacity training for municipalities and criteria used to allocate funds for housing projects.
Mr Benjamin Nkosi, Director: Strategic Management Support, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, briefed the Committee on the Department's Annual Report.
Under Programme One, the Department reached all the targets set. As part of Corporate Services, the Programme examines if Annual Performance Plans (APPs) and other compliance is met.
On human resources, Mr Nkosi said, the Department was assessed. Two projects are identified. The Department managed to execute both projects successfully.
Programme Two deals with planned human settlements aligned to the Infrastructure Development Programme (IDP). The Department set six targets, but only two are completed.
Different priorities vied for the same funding. This impacts on delivery negatively.
The way forward to address this anomaly is to compile a prioritisation matrix.
The Department scheduled various meetings to interact with municipalities on its technical and other needs. Some municipalities failed to attend these meetings.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said he previously served in the National Assembly (NA). During this time he also took issue with the emphasis placed on indicators.
He was encouraged by the Department's comments about the new focus on actual performance and the quality of the performance. Too much emphasis is placed on compliance.
Indicator 2.3 deals with the challenge of securing meetings with municipal officials to deliberate on technical support to the municipal officials. He asked if this challenge can be overcome through thorough planning and the use of virtual meeting platforms. The lockdown showed how useful this can be.
Indicator 3.12 deals with the amount of young people who received training. The low number of youths trained is unfortunate, especially against the background of rising unemployment among youth. He asked what the Department intends to do to improve on this number.
Mr B Herron (GOOD) wanted to know what is meant by planned human settlements projects being aligned to municipalities IDPs. The targets set are quite low compared to the amount of municipalities in the province.
He said he wants to be briefed on indicators dealing with Research Papers and Policy, to know what these two indicators entail.
He asked how it is possible that only 346 subsidies are allocated for the financial year under review.
He took issue with the 200 employment opportunities per quarter which was earmarked. Mr Herron questioned the feasibility of this number. He thought available job opportunities must be aligned to the respective projects planned.
He asked for clarity on what is meant by sustainable building technologies.
Mr D America (DA) applauded the Department’s good track record. He had a problem with the low targets set, and cited points number 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 as examples of it.
He said it seemed as if the presentation is riddled with contradictions, and asked for an explanation.
The Chairperson asked the Department to give an overview of the design validation process. She said she will like to see how the Department scored itself.
She said she took note of the Department's initiatives geared towards capacity development. She asked if the Department has an active programme in place to assist municipalities with capacity training.
She also wanted to know how the Department checks the validity of housing projects by municipalities.
Replies by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements
Ms Jacqueline Samson, Head of Department, said the Department plans meetings on a quarterly basis to discuss technical issues. The Department also has district forum meetings, and specific planning engagements with municipalities. These are based on specific requests from these municipalities.
She said she can provide the Committee with a Report detailing why meetings per municipality cannot take place.
The Department undertook several feasibility studies/research papers, and policy considerations looking at the following aspects:
- Pro-active support for backyard dwellers.
- How future human settlements must be developed.
- How the site of a plot is orientated.
- Municipality Standard Procedures for erecting permanent structures.
- Deferred ownership.
- Green procurement guidelines.
The targets set might seem low, but these are specific to new projects.
Performance indicators are aligned to the IDPs of municipalities.
Mr Brian Denton, Director: Project Administration, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, said the 200 training opportunities refer to artisan training. The Department received a specific allocation from the Sector and Education Training Authority (SETA) for artisan training.
The Department also conducts training sessions for emerging contractors.
Mr Nkosi said the Department will gladly provide the report on the design validation process.
All of the information provided is correct.
Mr D Smith (ANC) said he is aware of three sites where over 1000 plots are serviced. Only the top structures must still be constructed, at a budget of less than R30 million.
He asked what criteria were used to allocate funds to housing projects, and if there are any projects championed by the provincial Member of Executive Council (MEC).
Replies by the Department
Mr Francois de Wet, CFO, said the employment targets are related to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The EPWP uses a specific and formalised formula. Employment figures were not always shared.
Regarding the budget allocation for housing projects, the Ms Samson said the Department always looks at project readiness and available funds.
The Department instituted budget cuts. Project delays occurred as a result of Covid-19 delays.
Sites may be ready. Capacity constraints must be taken into account. The Department has to spread the butter quite thin so all municipalities can get funding.
Reply by the MEC for Human Settlements
Mr Tertuis Simmers said he champions seven projects altogether. The officials will be able to provide detailed information.
More information can be provided during the adjusted budget reallocation.
Ms Samson asked the Chairperson if it is possible to table the information during the adjusted budget as she does not have this information on hand.
The Chairperson said she heard nothing in the presentation about Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). This is another key indicator.
Ms Samson said she mentioned the deferred ownership option previously. There are programmes in place linked with PPP such as the Credit Readiness Programme (CRP). CRP was the first such initiative in the country.
The rationale behind the programme is centered on targeting the missing middle earning just above R3 500 per month.
When the Department designs a policy, the draft policy will always be sent to external assessors in the industry to provide comments. Quality control is integral to policymaking.
MEC Simmers thanked the Committee for the time afforded to his Department. He highlighted the importance of working together during the Covid-19 pandemic and to find joint solutions to problems.
The Chairperson thanked the MEC and his team, and asked for continued updates on pertinent matters in the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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