In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee received a briefing on the status of shelters provided to victims of gender-based violence (GBV), dealt with a petition from residents of Ekurhuleni, and responded to a complaint lodged by a community located in the Breede Valley municipality.
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said it had investigated the state of shelters provided to victims of GBV during the 2018/19 financial year in response to several complaints, and had recognised that the funding for shelters was inadequate. It had recommended that the Department of Social Development (DSD) formulate a special needs housing policy, and that it should work together with the National Shelter Movement on the provision of shelters.
Members were unanimous in their support for the work done by the CGE. They stressed that there must be a clear distinction between a temporary shelter and the housing provided to victims, as the provision of shelters was not a permanent solution, and a policy on transitional housing needed to be implemented by the Department. The Department responded that it was working on finalising a policy framework, which would make clear the role of non-profit organisations (NPOs) in running and managing shelters
The petition raised by the citizens of Ekurhuleni was based on the annual 10% tariff increase imposed by the Ekurhuleni City Council on its rentals. Representatives from the City explained it had imposed this tariff increase because it needed the income to maintain its rental stock. Members indicated that they were concerned by the increase, and were worried that the affected citizens would not be able to afford the rent. They warned the City not to evict any of its tenants during the lockdown, as required by the regulations. The City indicated that it had decided to place the 10% increase on hold until the finalisation of the matter, and would communicate with its stakeholders on the revision of the policy within 30 days. Members were satisfied with the City’s commitment.
The third item on the agenda dealt with the status of the New Mandela Square housing project in the Breede Valley municipality. It was claimed that the municipality had not yet completed the project, even though it was approved in 2013, and the residents in Mandela North informal settlement had not been provided with basic services. A complaint had been lodged with the municipality, and then the province, but had received no response. Representatives from the municipality and the provincial Department clarified that construction had begun on the New Mandela housing project, and several homes had been built.
Members voiced their concern on this matter, as it formed part of the national issue of citizens’ lack of access to housing. It was indicated that the Deputy Minister planned to engage with the community and would present the findings to Parliament at a later stage. The Committee agreed to await the Deputy Minister’s report before proceeding further on the matter.
The Chairperson noted apologies from both the Minister and the Deputy Minister, who were not able to attend due to their attendance at an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
Ms E Powell (DA) complained that the original agenda that had been provided to the Committee last night, had been changed. She said it was neither fair nor appropriate for the Chairperson to unilaterally change the agenda, and suggested that the previous agenda should be used.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) responded that it was not important that the agenda had been changed. He added that Members should not dispute the current agenda.
Ms M Mohlala (EFF) suggested that the Committee should not accept the apology from the Minister, as she had not attended a meeting for quite some time. She also seconded Ms Powell’s suggestion that the agenda sent out last night should be used for the meeting.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) said that while he recognised Ms Powell’s grievance, he also respected the decision that had been made by the Chairperson to change the agenda.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee adopt the agenda of the meeting, and asked if the Committee should vote on whether it should accept the apology of the Minister.
Mr Tseki supported the proposal to adopt the agenda, and Mr Mashego seconded
Ms Powell said that in the future, the Chairperson should not take a unilateral approach to the adoption of an agenda.
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) said that it was unacceptable that the Minister was not attending the meeting.
Mr Mashego said that since the Minister was not a part of the Committee, she could not be expected to attend all of its meetings.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) said she also supported the proposal to adopt the agenda.
Ms Powell said that she had received a number of insults from some Members when she previously highlighted that the Minister did not attend Committee meetings. It was unacceptable that the Minister put the interests of the ANC over those of the country.
Mr L Basson (DA) said that it was not required for the Committee to vote on the acceptance of the Minister‘s apology. However, it should be concerned by her lack of attendance.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said she accepted the apology of the Minister, as she had an obligation to attend to matters of her party. She suggested that in the future, the Committee should find a method to deal with the Minister’s non-attendance.
The Chairperson indicated that the majority of Members accepted the apology from the Minister.
Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) asked the Chairperson if the Committee could attend to the business of the day.
The Chairperson reminded the Members that it was agreed that meetings on Friday were set aside for deliberation with stakeholders. Tuesday meetings were set aside for the Committee to deal with reports. Meetings with stakeholders did not require the Minister to be present, rather that representatives from the Department could attend on her behalf. She would request that the Minister be present when there were matters that concerned her.
Ms Mohlala said that the Committee meetings were governed by the same rules that applied in Parliament. As such, it was inappropriate that a Member had been able to enter the meeting late to vote on the adoption of the agenda. This would not usually occur in a normal sitting.
The Chairperson said that if Ms Mohlala had taken issue with her, she had to follow the correct procedure to report her grievance. She asked for the representative from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to present its report.
CGE on state of shelters in SA
Ms Tamara Mathebula, Chairperson: Commission for Gender Equality, said she would be providing a report on the state of shelters in South Africa.
She said the CGE was an independent statutory body created under Chapter 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 1996. Its mandate was to promote and protect gender equality in government, civil society and the private sector. To this end, the Commission for Gender Equality Act 39 of 1996, as amended, gave the Commission the power to monitor and evaluate policies and practices of organs of state at any level, public bodies, authorities and private businesses, enterprises and institutions, to promote gender equality and make any recommendations that the Commission deemed necessary.
The Commission had investigated the state of shelters during the 2018/19 financial year as it had received several complaints recognised that the funding for shelters was inadequate. There were deep-rooted systemic challenges that needed to be addressed at the highest level of institutions that were expected to offer services to survivors of violence. The investigative report had recommended that a public investigative hearing be conducted in the 2019/2020 financial year, and that the heads of the nine provincial Departments of Social Development (DSD), and the Directors General (DGs) of the DSD and the National Department of Human Settlements (DHS) all account to the Commission on how shelters were allocated resources, how shelters functioned, and the coordination involved.
The DHS had indicated that it was working on the development of a national policy that would deal with a special housing needs programme that would be complementary to the National Housing Code. Thus, this programme aimed to cater for the construction of shelters for people with special housing needs.
The DHS confirmed that it was not receiving financial assistance from the government. It relied on donations and private sector credit. Currently, it was in the process of sending letters to provinces to highlight which projects had provided shelter to the victims of gender-based violence (GBV). The Commission was yet to receive formal confirmation that this had been done.
In view of the findings, the Commission had made three recommendations:
The Department must finalise its special needs housing policy by June 2020;
It should consider communicating with both the National Shelter Movement and the CGE on challenges facing shelters; and
The Department must submit its draft special needs housing policy to the CGE.
Ms Mathebula said the DHS was yet to provide a special needs housing policy.
The Chairperson asked the DHS to comment on the report.
Mr Neville Chainee, Deputy Director-General: Strategy and Planning, Department of Human Settlements, confirmed that there had been consultations between the parties, and the DHS had undertaken the necessary processes.
After the report was provided, it had been circulated to all the provinces, metros and municipalities, and to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) for comment and advice. There were various documents that had been provided to the Committee on the process.
The Department had hosted a workshop on 15 January to contextualise the issues and to find resolutions. Unfortunately, there had been no representative from the CGE.
The delegates of the National Shelter Movement had been invited to the workshop. The Department was currently finalising the comments, and a virtual meeting would be undertaken on the policy by August. This would include the outcome of the set details of the implementation guides. This would allow for the Department to take the policy for approval at the Ministers and Members of Executive Council (MINMEC) and the National Treasury. It would also allow for funding to be allocated to either the provinces and the municipalities -- either the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) or the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) -- for the provision of shelters, as per the recommendations of the GCE.
The Department was undertaking a consultation with the Department of Social Development (DSD), as the adjusted budget had set aside money for the provision of shelters, particularly for victims of GBV.
The Department supported the recommendations from the GCE, and was committed to address each of the issues raised.
One of the issues that the Department would raise, as part of the policy, was the responsibility of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority in terms of its social housing policy to undertake that process. Another aspect was the allocation of funding to provinces and municipalities, together with the special grant that was approved by Cabinet and Parliament. The projects could then begin.
Ms Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, Chief Director: Operational Policy Framework, Department of Human Settlements, said that the projects mentioned by Mr Chainee had been done in collaboration with the Departments of Health (DOH) and the DSD.
Mr Tseki said he supported the National Shelter Movement and its efforts. The placement of victims of GBV in shelters was a temporary programme for when an individual’s rights had been violated - it was not a permanent home. The Department must ensure that it contributed to the provision of shelters within the country. GBV was multifaceted, so it was important that both the DOH and the DSD were involved in trying to assist in this matter, as it required the work of all departments.
It was important that each shelter should not be seen as a permanent solution for the lack of housing for the citizens of the country, as this would cause chaos for the Department.
Ms Powell commended the CGE for its work, as they were the last line of defence for women. She asked when the special needs policy would be finalised and presented to the Committee.
Ms Mokgotho asked whether the Department had a comprehensive policy and plan in place to address the lack of transitional housing for domestic violence survivors who were ready to leave the shelters (such as the Khanyisa victim centre) but could not return to their homes, as they did not have anywhere to go. Had the Department budgeted for this matter?
Was it the mandate of the Department to improve the quality of shelters? If so, why had shelters such as the Khanyisa Victim Centre and Kwandokuhle not been provided with adequate security? She asked if this was because the Department had failed to utilise grants received over the years from the Treasury. She also wanted to know whether the Department had a record of the number of shelters that had been provided for victims of GBV.
Ms Sihlwayi thanked the Commission for the programme that it had implemented in each Department. She asked what the Commission defined as a shelter, and how it differentiated a shelter from a house. Why were women removed from the shelters, instead of the men accused of abuse? This allowed the perpetrators to remain safe and did not assist in addressing the inequalities in the country.
She suggested that the Department should assist the GCE with its progress report.
She asked what the role of the Shelter Movement was, and for clarification on the partnership between it and the GCE.
Ms Mohlala read out the Domestic Violence Act of 1998, and said that the Act was silent on whose statutory duty it was to provide and fund shelters provided for victims of domestic violence. She asked if the CGE could look into this gap within the Act, and look to enforce and mandate specific departments, to ensure accountability.
She asked if the CGE could clarify if there was a legislative provision for the regulation of shelters for victims of violence.
Ms Tseke commented that the Commission had done a lot of work with a limited budget. She asked the CGE to provide clarity on the difference between houses and shelters. To her knowledge, centres for GBV victims were funded by the DSD and not the Department of Human Settlements (DHS). However, in one of the findings of the CGE, it was said that the DHS had indicated that it did not receive funding from the government for the construction of shelters, but relied on donations from the private sector. She asked for clarity on this.
She suggested that both the CGE and the Department make recommendations on the Victim’s Bill, as it was out for consultation. She also encouraged the Department to work with municipalities, the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA) and the DSD to identify victims who needed houses, through the community development workers (CDWs), who fell under COGTA.
She asked the Department to brief the Committee on when it would finalise the special needs housing policy, as it had been due to be tabled in June of this year.
Mr Mashego said that both the Department and the CGE had different mandates, and the Committee should caution against promoting a parallel process of duties. He added that if the Department was creating villages which housed people with disabilities, this might have the unintended consequence of the stigmatisation of the people housed there. It needed to be established whether these shelters would be either temporary or permanent. It was also important to establish a plan for how the victims would be eventually moved out of the shelters.
Victims of GBV were not always women -- men were also vulnerable to such abuse. He therefore asked why it was the case that the men were not moved out of their homes into shelters. From his understanding, the CGE was looking to create shelters near areas where there were high instances of GBV.
He concluded by saying it was encouraging that there was a relationship between the CGE and the Department, and that this should continue in the future.
Ms Seoposengwe said that it was important that the country contain Chapter Nine Institutions, as they assisted Parliament with its oversight mandate. It was unacceptable that municipalities were not budgeting for GBV matters, as the victims of such abuse resided in the municipalities. An impression had been created that the efforts of ordinary citizens were not supported by their municipalities. She asked what municipalities were doing to support GBV victims, and suggested that each municipality budget for issues of social ills.
Ms N Tafeni (EFF) suggested that the Department should build a centre that offered counselling services to the victims of GBV.
The Chairperson welcomed the report, and said she was satisfied with the work of the CGE, especially under the difficult circumstances. She agreed that there needed to be a working relationship between the CGE and the different spheres of the Department, and was encouraged by the fact that both the Minister and the Department had supported the findings of the CGE and had committed to working with it in the future.
She mentioned that the strategic plan on GBV had been established through the Presidency, and it dealt specifically with GBV matters. She suggested that the provision of shelters to victims of GBV should be incorporated into this plan. This would assist with dealing with the uncoordinated and individualistic functioning of each department. Also, legislation should be passed to achieve the outcomes envisioned in the strategic plan.
Both the Committee and the CGE had to monitor the Department’s implementation of the programme for the care of vulnerable groups, and through this report, the Committee could engage on what the CGE suggested should be done. She asked for both the CGE and the Department to respond to questions posed by Members.
Ms Mathebula said that she was humbled by the reception of the report by the Committee. She said the funding that the CGE received from the National Treasury was not enough to support the work of the CGE, which had been difficult, especially as incidents of GBV had increased during the lockdown.
Defining a shelter, she said it was a place which gave temporary refuge. In most cases, it was women who left their homes with their children, but the CGE acknowledged that men did face GBV as well. The CGE had seen an increase in the number of men arriving at shelters. During the lockdown, some men had left their homes and were placed in shelters. She clarified that the perpetrators were not removed from their homes, and this was due to the legal prescripts. The CGE was looking to give input to amend the Domestic Violence Act, so that this could change.
There were no conditions for the placement of victims into shelters. The period of stay was only until the victim felt comfortable to go home. Each victim received psychosocial support, which included counseling, during their stay and when they were discharged. The counselling was also offered to the perpetrator and the families of victims. This usually lasted for six months.
The shelters were not designed to house only people with disabilities. What she had tried to communicate earlier was that the shelters must provide the conditions for peoples with disabilities to be accommodated, as many victims of GBV were people with disabilities. She added that shelters had not accommodated members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community adequately.
She said that the CGE was reviewing the gaps within the Domestic Violence Act (DVA). It was an opportune time, as the National Assembly had adopted the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on femicide. The CGE recommended that within that process, two Acts must be reviewed -- the DVA and the Sexual Offences Amendment Act. The CGE had prioritised these acts during the financial year. It also planned to address issues and gaps in services provided and not provided by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Referring to the funding of shelters, she said that one of the findings had mentioned that the DSD allocated funding per annum to the service of shelters. The funding was allocated based on what shelters needed for the year, but since the demand was usually greater than the money allocated, shelters had to look to donors to provide more money for capacity.
Each shelter had to have guidelines and must work with the National Shelter Movement. The CGE recommended that both the DSD and DHS should work with the National Shelter Movement, as it had vast experience in providing guidelines on what needed to be put in place within shelters.
She said the CGE would ensure that coordination in the new structures and the new NSP occurred. It would also monitor the implementation of the NSP on GBV and femicide. Monitoring of structures such as SALGA, which had been put in place to coordinate in the country, would also be done.
Ms Buthelezi said that Section 3 of the Housing Act stated that the national Department of Human Settlements had a different mandate from the provincial Departments. The national Department was expected to determine policy and norms and standards. Before determining either, it had to undertake detailed research on the issues that it must deal with. Subsequent to the research, an instrument that addressed a specific identified problem would be developed. Consultation with stakeholders would follow, and this was to gain assistance on specific matters.
The consultation on the special housing needs project had brought several sector departments, as well as non-profit organisations (NPOs), together to assist with the provision of shelters, and also to assess what had been catered for and had not yet been catered for in the shelters.
She added that the Department had the responsibility for achieving national goals, as well as the allocation of budgets. After the allocation of budgets, it had to monitor the implementation of the approved policies. At the moment, the Department had a policy document and had consulted with the relevant stakeholders. This document had been presented to both the DOH and the DSD. The stakeholders had agreed that the policy must address the issue of people with special housing needs. These were people identified as requiring housing opportunities for a variety of reasons. To qualify, one must indicate that one cannot live independently, and in a normal housing environment. Therefore they would require assistance in a safe and supportive environment. There must be a level of care towards these people, whether they were sheltered temporarily or permanently.
The other sector departments provide assistance with the level of care. For instance, the DOH provides nurses, and the DSD provides counsellors. The Ministry of Police would provide the security needed. Each department must perform, based on its legislative and constitutional mandate. She added that the DHS would assist with the infrastructure required, such as a roof or water, or other services.
It had been agreed that when the policy was approved, this would also cover children with disabilities, as well as children who were orphans and persons who were terminally ill.
Mr Chainee said that there was a policy framework that the Department worked with, and had attached a budget framework to it. This framework covered matters such as the requirements for shelters to be constructed, as well as the roles and responsibilities of NPOs to both manage and run shelters. It also included the age of the people who needed to be institutionalised. The issues of transitional and special needs housing had to be defined and developed by the Department, the DOH and the DSD.
He added that there were grants that were provided by the municipalities to the NPOs. There was a draft of the policy, and the Department would present it to the Committee any time from 15 September.
Ms Mokgotho said that some of her questions have not been answered. More specifically, the question on why there were shelters such as Khanyisa Victim Centre and Kwanokuhle that had not been provided with adequate security.
The Chairperson asked Mr Chainee to answer this question.
Mr Chainee said that the DHS was not responsible for the funding of shelters – specifically, shelters that were privately owned or managed outside of the state. According to the policy framework, the Department could use the funding only for transitional and emergency housing.
The Chairperson proceeded to the next item of the agenda.
Ms Powell asked how the Committee would manage the rest of the time allocated for the rest of the matters that needed to be dealt with in the meeting.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Powell, and said she would add additional time to deal with the other matters on the agenda. She asked that Ms Ismail present the petition.
Ekurhuleni residents’ petition
Ms H Ismail (DA) thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present a petition from residents of the City of Ekurhuleni. It was a petition from the residents of Actonville, Benoni, in connection with the rental tariffs charged by the City of Ekurhuleni. The report also covered the criteria used for rental tariffs charged to the current and qualifying rental beneficiaries.
The Ekurhuleni City Council had an approved rental policy, which had been adopted in 2008 and reviewed in 2010. This policy had several shortcomings, some of which were:
The tariff rate model was based on income,
The tariff discrepancy between new tenants and old ones (+10 years renting),
No clarity on what happened when the lessee passed on; and
Tariff differences between two and three bedrooms in some instances were very low (R13), and there was a risk that two-bedroom units remained vacant.
This report aimed to explain and outline the approved tariff determination model that the City of Ekurhuleni had adopted, and currently employs.
She said the existing rental policy was currently being revised, and the oversight committee for Human Settlement had submitted its report to Council on 25 June in which it was resolved:
That the annual rental tariff increase be put on hold, pending the finalisation of the reviewed policy by Council;
That the Human Settlements Department be requested to issue a 30-day written notice to all affected tenants on any change affecting them subsequent to the conclusion of the public participation process on the Council-owned rental housing stock.
Mr Lesiba Mpya, MMC: Human Settlements, City of Ekurhuleni, said that there had been an erroneous schedule presented to the Council on the low tariffs. In terms of the Rental Housing Act, the City had to run its rental stock in a manner that was sustainable. The City had to provide maintenance services to the properties, and ensure that the upkeep was up to standard. As the stock was aged, this had been a challenge for the City. The erroneous schedule would have been rescinded at a particular time.
He added that there was a relationship that regulated the City (which was the landlord) and the tenants (who were the lessees). There was a mandatory 10% annual increment, and this was mentioned in the lease that each individual signed. As a result, the lessees were aware that in each year there would be 10% annual increment in the lease. This increase was to ensure that the City was able to maintain its rental stock.
An application had been brought before the court. The initial court applicants numbered 21, led by Mr Mchunu. 30 more individuals had been prompted to join the court application. There were two aspects to the court application -- the first was to unblock the prepaid meters, and the second was to implement the erroneous schedule 6. The court had granted relief for the unblocking of prepaid meters, which the City had done Unblocking prepaid meters was to grant the secession on the evictions of the tenants, pending the ruling of approved tariffs.
Subsequently, the Council had rescinded the Schedule 6, and as a result the application had been dismissed by the court. This had allowed the City to continue with its credit control measures, as the it wanted to prevent the eviction of tenants. In the law, it was stated that the tenants should pay their tariffs, but the tenants had not and thus breached the law. Tenants had to pay their rates, and individuals had to approach the City to negotiate the reinstatement of policy, which was in line with the policy of credit control. The City was willing to help tenants, so long as it was in line with the credit controls.
He asked that the Head of his Department provide additional information.
The Chairperson asked that he be brief in his remarks.
Mr Andile Mahlalutye, Head: Human Settlements Department, City of Ekurhuleni, said the Department had submitted a formal response on how its rental stock was operating. The response also outlined how the City would address some of the discrepancies it had with the existing policy.
The Department admitted that the policy did have its shortcomings, specifically the fact that the tariff model was based on income. In some instances, there was a large discrepancy with tenants who had been in the units for the last ten years, and new tenants. Due to this, the Department had reviewed the policy to ensure that it was uniform. The item had been submitted to Council in November 2019, and was then referred to the oversight committee. The committee had deliberated the issue and delivered its report on 25 June. The Council had resolved that the 10% increase being paid from 1 July every year be put on hold until the finalisation of this matter, and that the policy being reviewed be subject to public participation, especially by those who had been affected by this matter.
The Department was governed by the Rental Housing Act of 1999. The portfolio had 39 complexes for families, which consisted of 2 220 housing units. Of the 39 complexes, 35 catered for senior citizens.
The Chairperson asked that the National Department provide a response.
Mr Chainee said that the Department was in agreement with the position that the City had taken, and this fell within the scope of its authority. The Department would work and assist the City to ensure there was a proper process of approval, and that there was equity.
Mr Tseki asked if Ms Ismail could provide her input on what the City had presented.
Ms Ismail said that this petition was not to address the court case, but rather to address the 2008-2010 matters raised earlier. She sought to put forward that this had been a matter that had been ongoing for 12 years. She asked if the City could provide timeframes for when it believed it would address each matter.
Mr Mpya said there was work on the item, and the process was in public participation. Due to Covid-19, the City had had to come up with different methods to allow for public engagement. Once this process was complete, the City would provide the report to the Committee. The City was aware of the contents of the petition and had focused on that. It commented on the only court issue, as it had to brief the Committee.
The Chairperson asked if the City had a date to which it could commit to submit the report.
Mr Mahlalutye said that due to the Covid-19, the Department had submitted to the oversight committee the manner in which it wanted to undertake public participation. If it was satisfied, the Department would engage the relevant stakeholders within 30 days, and then submit a report to the oversight committee, which would then present it to Council.
Ms Ismail said she appreciated that a 30-day timeframe had been given by the Department.
The Chairperson said that there had been progress on the matter. She opened the floor for questions.
Mr Mashego said that it would not assist if there was no separation between homes provided through the social housing project and residential housing. If the citizens could not pay for houses of the state, they must apply for special housing needs, as their non-payment affected the City’s balance sheet. It seemed that Ms Ismail’s proposal implied that unemployed and indigent citizens could stay in social housing without paying their rentals.
The Chairperson clarified that Ms Ismail was not suggesting that the citizens must not pay their rentals.
Ms Powell commended the progress made by the Department, but mentioned that it was unacceptable that it had taken 12 years to get to this point. She welcomed the undertaking of the 30-day period, and asked if the item could be brought back in September to ensure that the Committee could provide oversight on the Department’s progress.
She commended Ms Ismail’s efforts on economic justice, but remained concerned by the 10% increase. She asked where it came from, and whether the City was making a profit off this annual increase.
Ms Mohlala said that petitions must be a priority in committees, as they were expressions of the people’s views and concerns. It was unacceptable that this petition had been processed only now, as it had been filed on 6 February. She asked why this was the case.
She was concerned by the 10% increase, as it was too much for the citizens. The City must ensure that the residents were not evicted during the lockdown.
Mr Tseki declared his conflict of interest, as he worked closely with Mr Mpya on these issues. He added that it must be commended that the City’s efforts indicated a shift from bourgeois thinking to more of a socialist thinking. He said that Mr Mashego’s remarks on social housing were important and must be considered by the Members. The remarks must be an item for a discussion on both Covid-19 and the challenges of social housing in the country.
Ms Mokgotho said that the Council must look into the issue of why some tenants had to pay market-related rentals, whilst others did not.
Ms Tafeni seconded what Ms Mohlala had said.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Ismail for presenting the petition to the Committee. It would ensure that the City’s oversight committee processed the report, and it would request that the report be sent in September. She added that this engagement had helped the Committee to continue to engage with the matter of social housing and renting.
Ms Mohlala again asked why this was only being processed now.
The Chairperson suggested that she ask the Office of the Speaker.
Mr Mpya asked if the Department should respond to the questions in writing.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would allow the Department to process the report, and it must ensure that it submits the report to the Committee in September.
Ms Powell asked if the meeting could proceed after 12, to allow for full engagement with the representatives of Breede Valley Municipality.
The Chairperson indicated that the meeting could continue until after 12. The Speaker of the Council would provide the details of the matter.
Breede Valley Municipality Service Delivery Report
Mr Neil Mercuur, Speaker: Municipal Council of Breede Valley, said that Councillor Moses Mangali would read out the memorandum.
Cllr Moses Mangali said that before contacting the Committee, he had emailed his complaint to the Province. In his email, he had raised the issue of the project of New Mandela 652, which had been approved in 2013. The municipality had completed the beneficiary list for the project. In the financial year of 2017/18 the municipality had sent back R13.5 million of its housing allocation to the Province, which had been set aside for one of the projects. There were other projects that had been approved, but construction was yet to begin.
In the 2018/19 financial year, the municipality had sent back R80 million to the province. This allocation was set aside for housing. This indicated that the municipality was not interested in serving the poor citizens of the municipality. Referring to the Mandela North project, he said that people had lived in informal settlements for the past 16 years. At least 6 000 people lived in this settlement. In 2017/18, the municipality sent a NPO, Khayamnandi, to assist in the settlement. After six months, a new NPO had been sent to do the same job that Khayamnandi was doing. This had been a waste of finances. He claimed that currently no basic services were provided to the citizens in this settlement. The municipality was supposed to budget on this issue, as agreed upon in 2012. On Tuesday last week, there had been a council meeting dealing with Integrated Residential Development Programme (IRDP) matters, and this same point had been mentioned
In Idle Park, the people had relocated to a new home. They had done this because there was a crisis there, and the municipality also had not dealt with this matter.
The Chairperson asked him to summarise.
Mr Mangali continued that the people who had relocated did not have access to basic services, such as toilets.
Mr Mercuur said that the Department of Provincial Housing was present. He suggested that the discussion begin with the New Housing Mandela Square Project.
The Chairperson suggested that Mr Mercuur conclude with his input. Afterwards, the provincial and national Departments could provide their input on the matter.
Mr Mercuur asked that the housing manager of the municipality provide information on the informal settlements and the service delivery issues.
Mr Simphiwe Mayeki, Housing Manager: Breede Valley Municipality, clarified that New Mandela and North Mandela were two different areas. New Mandela had been fully developed, as there were roads, flush toilets and electricity. North Mandela was an area that had developed over the years, and until 2019 had been outside of the urban area.
The first study mentioned by Mr Mangali related to the informal area in New Mandela. There were currently 2 000 settlements that had been built by the municipality out of a total of 7 000 settlements. The development had been sponsored by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The project had been delayed, as the municipality did not have the data it required to develop the area. It had therefore obtained a different service provider, who would continue the work of the previous service provider, which was to provide a conclusive report for Council to make a decision on the development of the area, and for the allocation of money from the Provincial Department. The municipality did not believe that the change of the service provider had been a waste of funds.
The Council had extended the boundaries, to include all of the surrounding informal settlements for development. In the North Mandela informal settlement, the municipality had provided chemical toilets, stand pipes and water tanks. The city was aware of its shortcomings, as the recent invasions of that land had put pressure on the existing services. In 2016, an assessment on the chemical toilets in the area had been done, and the municipality had used this assessment to increase the number of chemical toilets. At the moment, the municipality had spent R300 000 to provide chemical toilets.
When the municipality spoke of the beneficiaries in the area, it was referring to the beneficiaries occupying the serviced plots. This had delayed the project, as the municipality had had to deal with the beneficiaries.
Mr Preshane Chandaka, Director: Implementation, Western Cape Provincial DHS, clarified that the Provincial Department had prepared a comprehensive report on the query raised by the municipality last year. The TransX project was a provincially run project, and the provincial Department was the client which hired the contractors directly, as well as the consultants. The funds allocated to the project in each financial year were spent by the Department. There had been delays due to the underestimation of the number of rocky sites, and there were also delays with the contractors, the community and local sub-contractors. Therefore, the project had not spent what was budgeted in the previous financial year, so funds were not allocated to the municipality. The project had serviced 1 500 clients, and was back on track.
The New Mandela Square project had been approved in 2002 and 1 800 sites had been serviced to date. He explained that when the municipality was ready to begin the construction phase of top structures, it then had to submit a separate application to the Department based on whether it had enough beneficiaries for that phase, and whether all the planning rights were in place.
The first phase had been constructed and 626 top structures had been built. The second phase, referred to by Mr Mangali, was the 602 opportunities, and that application was still with the Department. The Overberg project had been approved, but not its second phase. This was due to the issue of beneficiaries, and there was a requirement for the site development plan and traffic impact plan to be in place, as well as the township establishment information. Once this information was provided by the municipality, the Department could consider this phase for approval. The Department had allocated this to the budget in the next financial year, in anticipation of approval.
The municipality would apply for the remaining top structures in future phases. Municipalities usually planned for the next phase once the current phase was near completion. Everything that had been mentioned could be found in the report sent to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked for input from the national Department.
Mr Chandaka mentioned that in February, when the query was raised, the national Department had asked that the report be completed on this matter, and an engagement with the community had to happen. However, because of the lockdown, this could not take place.
Mr Chainee asked Mr Tshoshe to speak on the matter.
Mr Vusi Tshose, from Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete’s Office, confirmed that the DHS, through Ms Tshwete’s Office had received and interacted with the councillor in February. The Department had visited the area and had had discussions with Mr Mangali. Human resources (HR) meetings had been organised and had taken place between all the spheres of government. At the last meeting in March, it had been decided that the province would compile the report, and the report would be taken by both the Deputy Minister and the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) to the community.
The Chairperson asked if Mr Mangali was in agreement with the process that had unfolded. She said that there had been progress in the matter.
Mr Mangali said that he was not in agreement with the remarks of the officials from both the province and the municipality. He asked how the 602 phase had not been approved when a contractor had already been appointed. The extension of Urban Edge had not been mentioned to the community of Mandela North. A majority of the residents did not have electricity.
The Chairperson said that Mr Tshose had indicated that they had interacted with the province and the municipalities. She suggested they should have prepared a report and engaged with the community on the report. Nonetheless, there had been progress on the matter, and the Committee would allow the Deputy Minister to engage with the community once there was normality.
Mr Mangali said that he was fine with that process.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee would allow the Deputy Minister to first engage with the community on this report, and she could then provide an update for the Committee.
Mr Tseki asked that Mr Mangali continue to raise these issues, as many people in the Western Cape were living in dire circumstances. The Committee would provide support for him.
Ms Powell said that the provincial Department’s presentation had clearly explained the matter to the Committee. The community had invaded an area demarcated for decanting, because this was an Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP).
She said that this was part of a broader national issue, as a result of the government's failure to provide housing. In the budget on Wednesday, the ANC had cut the housing Department’s Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) budget which the Western Cape used to provide formal top structures, by R1.7 billion. The USDG had been cut by R1.1 billion. This was funding that Breede Valley used to build toilets and other infrastructure. This cut was strange given that R2 billion had been dedicated to e-tolls. She congratulated the Western Cape government for its efforts. It was the only province to have spent its total HSDG.
Ms Mohlala said that the settlements in which many of the country’s citizens resided were poor. She commended Mr Mangali’s work. She suggested that the involved parties should sit down together to try and reach an agreement on the matters raised. Once the Deputy Minister had completed her engagement with the community, she must present herself to the Committee to update it on the progress.
Mr Mashego said that such matters must not be politicized, as this was a non-partisan matter. He added that the process followed had not been correct, as Mr Mangali had had to address his issue with both the provincial Department and the municipality within this meeting. This matter should have been addressed first by the municipality or the province.
The Chairperson said that the law stated that any Member in government could raise a petition within Parliament. In the future, the Members could be asked to address the option of amending these rules in Parliament. The Committee should also note that it ran on a tight schedule, and had to deal with several issues.
Ms Tseke said she supported the proposal that the Committee wait until the Deputy Minister had completed her engagements with the community in Breede Valley. She added that it was unacceptable that Ms Powell politicised the issues. There were several issues within the City of Cape Town, but there was no benefit in politicising the issues that the people in the communities faced.
Mr Mercuur said that the municipality noted the directives given by the Committee. Together with the reports compiled by the province, the municipality would like to add that it had provided basic services to Mandela North and the other informal settlements. The municipality was in constant discussion with all ward councillors on these issues, particularly with Mr Mangali. A meeting had been set for next week with all the ward councillors of the area. Also, a workshop would be conducted, and would focus on all the service delivery issues of the municipality in that area.
Mr Chandaka said the Department agreed with the resolutions of the municipality. It would continue to engage with the Deputy Minister’s officials, the councillors and municipalities. He noted that the Department was following due process with the approval of projects, as well as the budgeting process. If the Committee wanted to engage on the report, it could be provided by the Department.
Mr Tshose said that the Department would commit to endeavour with the spirit of inter-governmental relations (IGR) until the matter was resolved.
Mr Mangali said he hoped that there was a follow up meeting, as mentioned by the official from the Office of the Deputy Minister. He clarified that he had first raised this matter within council, and he had then elevated it to the provincial Department, but had received no response.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had concluded that it would wait for the process between the Deputy Minister, the municipality and the province to be completed, and expected the report to be presented. She agreed with Mr Mashego that these issues should be dealt with by either the municipalities or the provincial Department, in order to prevent Parliament from being inundated with issues, as there were several municipalities within the country.
She thanked all parties for their contributions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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