The Standing Committee on Human Settlements met on a virtual platform for a briefing by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements on the Deliberation on Vote 8: Human Settlements in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill.
The Department presented to Members that the budget allocated to it for the 2021/22 financial year was R2.35 billion, which had been broken down into four programmes. The Department’s delivery focus areas were affordable housing and informal settlement upgrade. In addition, there would be a focus on beneficiaries falling into prioritised categories of people who were 60 years and older, the disabled, those who had been on the waiting list for more than 15 years and military veterans. That focus was online with the national directive and would be communicated to all local governments.
The Department further outlined key activities it would deliver in, during the 2021/22 financial year. Those included the implementation of four information and communications technology interventions, the conducting of eight municipal managements, the delivery of two management projects and a resolution to pay all invoices within 90 days.
The Department would also focus on delivering access to adequate housing and empowerment in the Western Cape. That included securing security of tenure through home ownership by transferring 8 110 title deeds to qualifying beneficiaries. Added to that was the establishment of liveable neighbourhoods. Those would be achieved through two implementation plans and four township establishment processes. Six percent of land acquired during the previous term would be rezoned. Ten projects that were aligned with national and provincial priorities would be approved. Further, 150 young people would be trained within the built environment, and 500 houses would be built using sustainable building technologies.
Members questioned comments made the previous day by MEC Western Cape Provincial Treasury during his Budget Speech, where he said R125 million had been allocated to restore the Department’s baseline. Members asked where that amount was in the Appropriation Bill and what it would achieve.
Members also asked how the Department would decrease its staff complement by 80 members and what national incentives were in place. Members questioned why the administration costs of the Department had increased by eight percent, despite a three-percent budget cut and felt that the Department was not being prudent enough.
Members also interrogated the Department on how it would assist the elderly, as prioritised beneficiaries when they no longer conformed to the traditional family unit; whether the 500 houses built from sustainable building technologies included the Trans Hex Housing Project that had been significantly delayed; how military veterans were identified and vetted as prioritised beneficiaries; what a liveable neighbourhood comprised of and what kind of technical assistance would be provided; what portion of female contractors would be awarded the Human Settlements Development Grant contracts and for a breakdown of the skills the Department was going to allocate to the training of the 150 youths.
The Committee resolved to adopt both the report on Vote 8, Human Settlements in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustment Appropriation Bill [B-3-2021], 2020/21 financial year as well as the report the Schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill [B4-2021] of 2021/22. The Standing Committee also resolved to request the two policies mention by the Department of Human Settlements and the details on the Garden Route District Municipality Agreement.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming everyone to the meeting and reminding Members about the rules of engagement on the virtual platform. She asked that officials from the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (DHS) introduce themselves before speaking, for the convenience of alternate Members of the Standing Committee and anyone new on the platform.
The Chairperson asked Members whether they preferred to ask their questions before Mr Tertuis Simmers, MEC: Western Cape Human Settlements, and Ms Jacqueline Samson, Head of Department (HOD): Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, gave their opening remarks or they would rather proceed with the agenda, as was set before them.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked that the DHS draw Members attention to the aspects that it believed were vital and for the Committee to proceed thenceforth.
Mr D Smith (DA) agreed with Mr van der Westhuizen subject to whether MEC Simmers would be present after the presentations. If MEC Simmers were to leave after his input, then Mr Smith preferred to ask questions at that stage.
MEC Simmers asked for confirmation of the order of events as per the agenda he had received.
The Chairperson gave confirmation and then handed over to MEC Simmers for his opening remarks.
Opening Remarks by the MEC
MEC Simmers welcome the Standing Committee to the deliberations and asked his team members to introduce themselves. He reassured Mr Smith that he would be present for the duration of the meeting.
He indicated that there would also be a presentation on the main Vote. The delivery focus areas were affordable housing and informal settlement upgrade.
He believed that the Adjustment Estimates covered a comprehensive area. First, it began with the R150 million that had been allocated to specific projects. Six of those projects took various forms in the DHS and were in the metropolitans. Secondly, R32 million had been earmarked for emergency structures, of which the first 440 had been completed with the sportsfields underway. He said there was R70.8 million that was the Provincial Emergency Housing Grant (PEHG), and it would only be utilised for the provision of permanent housing solutions for Masiphumelele as per the agreement with the national DHS through the ISUPG (Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grant). There were two grants: the HSDG grant that was the main grant and a portion of which had been set aside for the ISUPG.
He emphasised that the projects listed under both grants had been through a national matrix, so if it were not listed it meant that something was outstanding from local government and not from the DHS. He added that because he was aware that in the past, the DHS had received questions from specific Members about why certain projects were not included in a specific business plan to be funded.
MEC Simmers said that the Committee should note that emphasis would be placed during the next year on prioritised beneficiaries and that had been circulated to all municipalities. That was supplemented by the national DHS’s directive, which also required the prioritisation of beneficiaries when it came to full-state subsidised housing, and the DHS agreed with that.
Additionally, there would be a focus on the security of the tenure ownership because the DHS believed that Project Space 24 needed to accelerate the provision of title deeds despite a portion of the grant being reduced at a national level. The DHS had found a way to continue the project in the province.
On the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, MEC Simmers said the DHS would focus on improved efficiencies through the accelerated use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) infrastructure as a department. That would ensure that the end user, being the citizen of the Western Cape and beneficiaries, had a smoother virtual interaction with the DHS or the relevant sections within the DHS. It also applied when the Councillors began utilising the platforms. He indicated that two specific platforms would be launched during the current quarter of the year. Those would integrate all project information, placing the information at the palm of one’s hand. That would enable government to give their communities a specific report, which would be factual and updated thus establishing seamless interaction with communities.
Mr Simmers added that the DHS would continue it engagements with various stakeholders throughout the year, which would cover all aspects of the Human Settlements family. The various role players would also be engaged because the DHS believed that all the partners ought to be on the same page as the DHS.
Lastly, he indicated that a new fund would be introduced within the Western Cape, which sought to unlock affordable housing opportunities. The fund was to compensate and accelerate certain projects in the pipeline across the province, which MEC Simmers believed spoke to the strategic objective that focused on affordable housing across the Western Cape.
Briefing by the Head of Department
Ms Samson indicated that as per the agenda, the first presentation would cover the Adjustment Budget. She discussed the R220.8 million that had been received from the national and had been broken down into the additional HSDG grant, which was funding reallocated from other provinces that had underperformed and the Western Cape benefited from. An additional R17 800 000 had been received for the PEHG, specifically for the long-term solution for Masiphumelele.
Mr Francois de Wet, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Management Support, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, said that MEC Simmers and Ms Samson had covered a lot of what he wanted to say. He confirmed that the R150 million would be spent, as a business plan had been submitted and all that was outstanding was for it to be gazetted in order to be included in the Adjustment Budget. The DHS was aware of that. The national DHS recognised the DHS’s good performance in the Western Cape, which was to prevent a deceleration of certain projects due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chairperson asked Members if they had any questions.
Mr B Herron (GOOD) had questions about the Adjustment Budget. He referred to the R220 million that was received from national government and pointed out that the figures did not add up and asked for an explanation. There was the R150 million for HSDG (Human Settlement Development Grant) for the six projects and the R70.8 million for permanent structures as part of the provincial emergency fund for Masiphumelele. MEC Simmers had also mentioned a R32 million for temporary structures, which brought the total beyond R220 million. Was the R32 million from another source of funding? Which projects were to receive the extra R150 million? Why do they need the funding and what would it achieve?
On the permanent structures for Masiphumelele, he wanted to know what land or sites the DHS had identified to accommodate the permanent structures in Masiphumelele.
Mr A Lili (ANC) asked a similar question to Mr Herron about the availability of land. He pointed to the R32 million allocated for the permanent structures and asked where the land was located, as the City of Cape Town was in conflict with a civil society organisation that fought for the land to be in the City instead of on the outskirts of the City. He thus wanted to know where the land for the temporary and permanent structures was located.
The Chairperson interjected to remind Members that there was one Adjustment Budget and the Main Budget. She thus asked Members to use the allocated time to interrogate the DHS about the budget presently before them. She said it would be difficult for her to allocate time to questions that were not about the agenda. She was not trying to box Members in but wanted to maximise the time allocated to address the budget currently before the Standing Committee.
Mr P Marran (ANC) thought Members were to ask questions in response to the opening remarks that were made. His question was like Mr Herron’s about the figures not adding up to R220 million. He thought the confusion was around the temporary structures for Masiphumelele, which cost R32 million. He figured that maybe it had been mistakenly mentioned again and included under the R70.8 million for permanent structures.
MEC Simmers said he would provide clarity, as he had been crystal clear when he spoke about the R150 million and the R70.8 million. He said the R150 million consisted of six projects that were all related to the broader Human Settlements perspective in the non-metro areas as well as the R32 million for the emergency temporary structures for Masiphumelele. These totalled to R150 million and, therefore, the R32 million was not a portion of the R70.8 million. He also mentioned that the R70.8 million was for the PEHG and was to be utilised for permanent housing solution for the Masiphumelele after the disaster.
In response to Mr Herron’s question about additional funding, Ms Samson said that the DHS always needed additional funding because it had projects in the pipeline ready for implementation – projects which were curtailed due to a lack of funding. Thus, the Western Cape was always ready to absorb additional funding.
Ms Phila Mayisela, Chief Director: Human Settlement Implementation, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, answered the questions on the allocation of the land. She said the identified land for the permanent solution for Masiphumelele was Erf 5131 and was on the other side of the sports field in Masiphumelele. The City Cape Town had started with the planning of that land for formal development, two to three years prior to this meeting. When the fires broke out, the DHS had to regroup to accommodate the affected families. An agreement was reached that the City of Cape Town could no longer proceed with its planned development because the land was needed to accommodate more than 800 people, which exceeded those to be accommodated by the City of Cape Town’s original plan. The approvals for the land were anticipated in October 2021. Should the DHS not receive any objections from the surrounding landowners, interested or affected parties, construction of the permanent solution was anticipated to commence in January 2022. The top structures would kick in once the implementation of the services had been completed by the City of Cape Town. She said the funding that the DHS received implemented the top structure solution.
Mr Herron said that he understood that the DHS always needed additional funding of any amount, as any department needed extra funding, but he found Ms Samson’s answer unsatisfactory. Mr Herron referred to MEC Simmers and Ms Samson’s indications that the R150 million had been allocated to six specific projects that were already in the pipeline and he asked what exactly the R150 million did for the six projects. Had it added extra units or expedited them? If there was a project on the plan then it already had a budge. Why did it require an extra R150 million? What did the R150 million do for the six projects?
He addressed the response to the question about the land in Masiphumelele, where the DHS said a site had apparently been identified; he asked if that site was situated in Masiphumelele. As Mr Herron had understood it, the big problem in Masiphumelele had always been a shortage of land. There had been an attempt to purchase the smallholdings surrounding Masiphumelele to accommodate a housing development. Where was the land? Is it in Masiphumelele, outside it or is it part of a deal with SANParks where the Department has taken a portion of Table Mountain National Park?
Ms Mayisela said the land in question was near the SANParks land. It belonged to the City of Cape Town and was located within Masiphumelele. She said that following numerous engagements with the community, the City of Cape Town was informed that the community did not want to be relocated anywhere else and wanted to remain within Masiphumelele. Hence why the land the City of Cape Town wanted to develop had to be repackaged for the community members. Added to that land parcel was a portion of SANParks that had already been encroached upon and SANParks had already been requested to release that land. In essence, the land was within Masiphumelele.
Ms Mayisela also responded to Mr Herron’s question about the rationale behind the projects. She said the projected had been budgeted for but because the DHS was constrained by the current financial year, the number of units in those projects had to be reduced. The additional funding had enabled the DHS to accelerate. In certain instances, the quantum had not been enough due to the extraordinary duties. For example, in Plettenberg Bay additional funding was required to deal with extraordinary conditions. So instead of delaying that project, the DHS was able to incorporate that land parcel to develop that project as part of that phase due to the additional funding. She also said that the upgrading of informal settlements was a national and provincial priority, which informed what the R150 million was used for.
Ms Mayisela also repeated the explanation of the R32 million.
MEC Simmers added to the points about the land parcels and where they were located: he indicated that the DHS had been following certain comments made by certain Members of the Standing Committee. He asked the Chairperson to encourage Members of the Standing Committee and MPs in general to speak out against land invasion. He said it was not useful for the DHS, as part of the three spheres of government, to accelerate, only for Members to debunk the work done by indirectly encouraging land invasions through semi-undertones. MEC Simmers said Members of the legislature needed to stand firm against land invasions, as ultimately the people who had been waiting for a long time as qualifying beneficiaries were impacted.
Ms Samson said that she would provide Members with a list of the projects. She repeated that the R32 million was for the temporary shelter for the victims of Masiphumelele.
Mr Marran said that Masiphumelele was in a rural area and the metro included the whole municipality. He understood that Masiphumelele was included under the six non-metro projects. He said it was clear that the R32 million was part of the R150 million because it was requested to cater for Masiphumelele. Mr Marran said he thought Masiphumelele was part of the metro and the R150 million was for non-metro areas, so perhaps that was where the misunderstanding occurred.
MEC Simmers repeated that the R150 million contained the six non-metros and the R32 million for Masiphumelele. Together these made up the R150 million. MEC Simmers added that listening and understanding was a skill.
Mr Marran replied that MEC Simmers ought to have been clearer.
The Chairperson attempted to interject but Mr Marran thanked Ms Samson for her clarity and said the Chairperson should have called MEC Simmers to order when he made the remark.
The Chairperson said she did not always interject when a Member, Minister or official spoke because she respectfully waited for the person to finish talking and if there was anything untoward, she would then intervene. She said she could not interrupt when someone was still speaking, especially on the virtual platform, as that was rude and untoward. The Committee meetings had been running smoothly since the pandemic began and the DHS had always been held accountable. Members had never shied away from asking difficult questions and neither had the Department shied away from answering them. She thus asked Mr Marran that they continue in that spirit.
Mr Marran agreed with the Chairperson but stated that MEC Simmers ought to behave appropriately as two Members asked the question about the R32 million and where it came from because MEC Simmers had not been clear about it. Mr Marran therefore felt MEC Simmers was unwarranted in remarking that listening was a skill. Ms Samson had made it very clear where the R32 million came from.
The Chairperson noted Mr Marran’s comments. She asked MEC Simmers if they could start on a clean slate and communicate properly.
The Chairperson asked that the meeting be steered back to the agenda. She asked whether the resolutions should be completed at the end of both budgets.
Mr D America (DA) and Mr Herron said that they had no preference.
The Chairperson said that the resolutions would be taken at the end and continued with the agenda for the deliberation of Vote 8. She asked MEC Simmers for introductory remarks on the budget.
MEC Simmers said that he had already given his opening remarks when the meeting started but would reiterate them again to be crystal clear so everyone could move forwards in good spirit.
He said that Ms Samson, in her presentation, would highlight key drivers in the budget for 2021/22 cycle. From an oversight perspective, as MEC, he emphasised that the focus would be on affordable housing and informal settlement upgrade that was well in line with the national DHS. The DHS would continue with the prioritisation of beneficiaries who would benefit from subsidised housing. A provincial directive was issued in August 2019 and it was supplemented by the national DHS in 2020, aimed at the elderly who were 60 years and older, the disabled, individuals who had been on the waiting list for 15 years or more and military veterans. The DHS would continue to focus on improved efficiencies with the introduction of ICT infrastructure as reiterated above. MEC Simmers added that the security of tenure would be a focus as well and the DHS would provide title deeds for homeowners that had been living in B&G units since 2014.
Presentation on Vote 8 Budget Breakdown 2021/22
Ms Samson gave the presentation and said that the budget allocated to the DHS for the 2021/2022 financial year was R2.35b. A breakdown per programme was provided
Ms Samson said that the DHS’s delivery focus areas were affordable housing and informal settlement upgrade. There were to be prioritised beneficiaries who would include the elderly of 60 years and older, the disabled, those who had been on the waiting list for 15 years or longer as well as backyarders.
Ms Samson outlined the key activities that would be delivered during 2021/2022. Four ICT interventions would be implemented. There would also be eight municipal managements held. Two knowledge management projects would be delivered, and one evaluation study would be completed. There was also a decision that 98% of all invoices would be paid within 90 days.
Ms Samson said there was a focus on access to adequate housing and empowerment opportunities in the Western Cape. A total of 14 596 housing opportunities would be delivered; 800 jobs would be facilitated with the built environment; 50% of the HSDG would be awarded to contractors in designated groups. In addition, 150 young people would be trained within the built environment and 500 houses would be built using sustainable building technologies.
Liveable neighbourhoods were within the priority housing development areas. The DHS had two implementation plans and four township establishment processes to be completed. Ms Samson detailed that six percent of land acquired during the previous term would be rezoned. Ten projects would be approved which were aligned with national and provincial priorities.
She indicated that 25 municipalities would be provided with technical support with two policies and policy guidelines to be approved.
Finally, the DHS aimed to secure security of tenure through home ownership. Ms Samson said that 450 beneficiaries would benefit from the Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme (EEDBS); 8110 title deeds would be transferred to qualifying beneficiaries.
Mr Herron asked a question about the comment made by Mr David Maynier, Western Cape MEC for Finance, on the previous day during his Budget Speech, where he had spoken of allocating R125 million to restore the Department’s baseline. Mr Herron wanted to know where it was in the Appropriation Bill and how it was allocated. He asked for an explanation of where it was listed and what it would achieve. What does ‘restore the baseline’ mean? He understood it to mean that the funding had been cut over several years and that was an attempt to restore the budget to where it had previously been.
Mr van der Westhuizen referred to table 7.1 on page 351 in the 830-paged 2020/21 Western Cape Estimates. He read that the DHS would have to decrease its staff complement by 80 staff members, to which he had some questions. He asked how the DHS was going to achieve that and whether there were any national incentives. It seemed to Mr van der Westhuizen that the current incentives announced by Mr Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance, had not been as effective as National Treasury had hoped for. What was evident was that despite the 3% budget cuts of the upcoming year, there was a budgetary increase under Administration of almost 8%. It seemed to Mr van der Westhuizen that the public service needed to work smarter going forwards. The money spent on service delivery had decreased yet the overheads of the administration costs had increased by 8% and 6% in terms of the recess and planning complement. He asked for clarity on the matter from the DHS, as he felt critically that it was not achieving what Minister Mboweni was trying to achieve in terms of the Public Service.
Secondly, Mr van der Westhuizen referred to the prioritisation of certain groups in receiving top structures. The elderly were among those who would be prioritised, but his impression was that the elderly no longer conformed to the definition of a family because their children quite often were no longer minors, which meant they did not fulfil the definition of a family. Considering this, how would the DHS help the elderly in that regard? He added that he always got surprised when he read about young people in their early twenties who had received housing, but he admitted it no longer upset him because he later read that those were disabled people, which qualified them.
Lastly, Mr van der Westhuizen pointed to the Human Settlements Development Grant on table 6.1. He highlighted the trend depicted over the last number of years, which indicated that Human Settlements was not a priority for national government. It was his impression that was the money allocated to the province from National Treasury; he asked whether that was correct.
Mr Marran referenced Ms Samson’s earlier statements that there were efforts made to ensure that certain projects did not slow down. The presentation spoke about 500 houses building sustainable technologies. He asked whether the Trans Hex Housing Project would contribute to the 500 sustainable building technologies. Mr Marran said that project had been slowed down significantly and he wanted to know why that was so. The first batch of houses was supposed to have been handed over in December but that had not taken place. Why had that project slowed down?
Mr America extended a note of gratification to the DHS for the receipt of additional funds in recognition of its ability to deliver on each objective. Moving onto his questions, he said it was laudable that the categories of beneficiaries for housing projects be identified. He often heard of military veterans and he had seen individuals often in their twenties and early thirties parade as military veterans, but what was the DHS’s definition of a military veteran listed as a beneficiary category?
In addition, Mr America referred to the technical assistance the DHA was to provide to municipalities, which meant all municipalities in relation to living neighbourhoods. He said that in the past there had been no real particular attention to great environments, which could be classified as healthy living neighbourhoods for the beneficiaries of the housing opportunities. Mr America thus wanted more information on what was considered a liveable neighbourhood and what kind of technical assistance would be provided.
Mr America was also concerned when the presentation said that the DHS’s objective was to pay its service providers within 90 days, which was then corrected to 30 days. He said substantial transfers to municipalities occurred. So if the DHS had high aspirations to pay its suppliers 89% within 30 days, how would it ensure municipalities that received said substantial funds would also aspire to reach the same objective?
Lastly, Mr America congratulated the DHS on its rapid progress in delivering the housing units in Barrydale and said they were beautiful. The beneficiaries were looking forward to taking occupation of the houses.
Mr de Wet responded to Mr van der Westhuizen’s question about the reduction of staff members. He said the allocation had been made after long discussions with the Western Cape Provincial Treasury and Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPAC) over the past couple of years. The DHS had been using OPSCAP (operational capital) to pay for its operational costs, which he said was totally wrong. Mr de Wet said that they made it clear it would not be allowed to continue any longer. The DHS was told to fund it from its PES (provincial equitable share). Provincial Treasury recommended that an amount of R120 million be allocated to the provincial DHS over the next three years to augment the money that was no longer available. The administrative costs increased by 8%, which meant that certain projects and items funded from the grant would then be funded by a separate budget. This would release approximately R50 million directly to service delivery. Mr de Wet was happy about the allocation. He reason for the decrease was a review of the service delivery model in the province and the DHS, as government could no longer afford bloated establishments. With that allocation, the number of personnel would have to be decreased. The compensation of employee budget was R245 million, then R230 million and then down to R215 million. However, that was subject to the review of the model and other processes currently being executed by Provincial Treasury. He said the DHS currently had 70 contracted staff members. They were appointed on contract because the DHS could not afford them from its equitable share. The Department was reviewing how certain staff members could be repurposed.
On the HSDG, Mr de Wet said it had been split into two grants. The HSDG had been reduced and the Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grant (ISUPG) for provinces was introduced. Together they made R2.032 billion and the DHS were very surprised to have received such a handsome allocation after the allocation cuts from the previous financial years. He said the projects were ready for implementation, which is why the DHS could take up that specific grant.
On the increased administration costs, Mr de Wet said that those costs came from the equitable share and money moved directly back to subsidies.
On beneficiaries over 60 years old, Ms Mayisela said that the subsidy programme was designed to benefit households instead of individuals. The idea had been to spread the access under coverage. The beneficiaries were still required to meet the criteria of having dependents. Dependents, in this context, could be a spouse or cohabiting partners. Ms Mayisela said many grandparents over the age of 60 in South Africa often lived with children or their own children and they were therefore expected to have dependents to meet the criteria.
On the Trans Hex Housing Projects, Ms Mayisela said that the reason for the delay was the contractor’s inability to allocate adequate resources to that site. This was in the form of contract managers and foremen, etc., and being based in Johannesburg further exacerbated the situation. She said the DHS had invoked some contractual clauses to address the poor performance. A replacement contractor would be sought. Ms Mayisela said the target itself formed part of the 500 reflected in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). The DHS still intended delivery as there was nothing wrong with the product itself, but the challenges experienced with the contractor.
Mr Brian Denton, Director: Project Administration, Western Cape DHS, answered Mr America’s questions about military veterans. He read a definition from the Military Veterans Act (Act 18 of 2011), which defined military veterans as any South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations, statutory or non-statutory, which were involved on all sides of South Africa’s liberation war from 1960 to 1994; those who served in the Defence Force before 1961 or became a member of the new South African Defence Force (SANDF) after 1994 and has completed his or her military training. That definition may apply for the housing allowance through the Department of Military Veterans (DMV). If recipients were found to conform to the definition, then their housing allowance need would be registered and thereafter the list would be referred to the National DHS, which would approve the capturing and processing of the applications. Mr Denton said that the DHS had assisted more than 300 recipients to date. Currently, there was a list of R250 waiting to be processed, although that was not a finite figure because there were more military veterans registering for the benefits.
An official from the Department answered the question about liveable neighbourhoods. He said the DHS had incorporated into the designs and neighbourhoods to respond to the three key priority areas of jobs, safety, and wellbeing. The DHS sought to achieve spatial transformation and of liveable neighbourhoods the need for inclusivity, mobility, access and economic development opportunities. There were 14 priority housing development areas that had been promulgated and gazetted by the national DHS. The 14 areas were throughout the Western Cape Province as mentioned throughout the APP. What also needed to be ensured was that the neighbourhoods had spatial efficiency, were compact and walkable. They had to have access to amenities like education facilities, police services, transport services, water and sanitation. Those all contributed towards the concepts of liveable neighbourhoods.
On the technical assistance provided to the 25 municipalities, he said that the town planners were in constant engagement with municipal housing and planning officials. That assisted them with the analysis of their development plans, the preparation of their human settlement plans as well as with a transfer of skills to those municipal officials. They also assisted with the assessments of the IVP’s (Infrastructure Visualisation Platforms) and in certain instances there were targeted training interventions identified by the DHS for those officials. It was an all-encompassing indicator of the technical assistance provided to the housing officials in the planning space.
Mr de Wet answered the question on the 30-day payment cycle. He said on the 15th of every month the municipalities reported to the DHS’s internal control unit on the amount of money received from the DHS and confirm that they had paid and if there was a difference it had to be explained. The DHS considered it a huge risk when contractors complained about not receiving payment as the money could have been utilised for other purposes. In such instances the municipalities were placed on terms and the contractors paid directly.
The Chairperson asked about the military veterans. She wanted to know whether the DHS developed the list from the municipalities or did it receive a verified list from the Department of Defence (DOD). How did the DHS claim its money back after it had built the houses? Had the policy changed in that the DHS could build houses for the military veterans without claiming those costs back?
Mr Denton responded that the list of the beneficiaries of military veterans was successful at the DMV, who were registered under HSS at national level. That then allowed the provincial level to process them. If any person were not pre-registered under HSS then their application would not go through the system. They needed to be registered and approved by the DMV for the list to be made available to the DHS. The DMV contributed R92 000 towards funding and the DHS breach financed that. Once the transfer took place and the letter signed by the military veteran then those were submitted in bulk to the DMV, who would reimburse the DHS for the breached funding.
Mr Smith asked if the DHS knew of any municipality that had entered agreements with implementing agents for longer than 30 years. He had noted in the past that some municipalities would sign agreements with implementing agents to freeze all the planned projects for the cycle. That meant that after the last town was completed there would be an implementing agent in the municipality for more than 20-25 years. Was the DHS in a position to advise the Committee on that matter?
Secondly, Mr Smith said that he also found that some of the appointments of the implementing agents were found to be irregular by the Auditor-General South Africa (AG) in previous financial years. Was that still the present situations in some of the municipalities?
Mr Marran asked a follow-up question to Ms Mayisela’s response about Trans Hex. He acknowledged that the contractor and he being based in Johannesburg were the problems. He asked whether that meant further delays. He referred to Ms Samson’s remarks about the Western Cape being ever prepared but the projects being unable to spend R82 million two years prior. It seemed to Mr Marran that there would be further delays with the project when the community had been promised the delivery of houses by December 2020 but that had not happened. He understood it would take a long process to find a new contractor.
He turned page 456 and asked about the 31% rise in expenditure in MEC Simmers’ Department. He asked Ms Samson why there was a sharp rise within the MEC’s Department.
The Chairperson asked another question. She referred to the 50% of HSDG that would be awarded to contractors in the designated groups and noted that women had not been mentioned. She asked if there was a portion of the 50% allocated to female contractors, and if that were the case, what the actual allocation was.
On the 150 trained youth, the Chairperson asked for a breakdown of what skills the DHS was going to allocate the training to. Has the DHS researched what skills were lacking in the construction industry? How have the specific skills been chosen and where did the information come from? Did it come from the universities through partnerships or had it been what contractors had said was lacking?
On the liveable neighbourhoods, the Chairperson asked to what extent had the DHS engaged with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) for the spatial planning, as she was concerned about the lack of vision displayed by the municipalities in planning the spaces. They did not consider the factors mentioned by the unnamed Department official mentioned above. How would the DHS make sure that the liveable neighbourhoods spoke to the social aspects of the communities within the municipalities?
On the technical support provided to municipalities, she asked: considering the new norms, what specific technical support would be granted to the municipalities because one of the challenges discussed was about project implementation by municipalities, which was echoed by Mr Smith’s question about implementation agencies? The municipalities signed contracts with implementing agents because they felt they did not have the skill set. It thus created confusion about who had to bear the responsibility. The Chairperson said she believed that the municipalities had to carry majority of the responsibility of implementation. She asked for information on the policies Mr Simmers mentioned in his briefing.
Lastly, she asked about the 500 built houses for the use of sustainable building technologies. Was that temporary or permanent housing? If it were permanent, she asked what its lifespan was and what was different about it when compared to traditional building technologies. Why should Members give their buy-in, which is what the communities need?
Mr de Wet first answered the question about the implementing agents. He said the DHS identified a period of where implementing agent contracts might have been at risk as though not in line with the Municipal Finance Management (MFMA). The DHS required, in their funding, agreements that all procurement must be done in terms of the MFMA. There were, however, contractual commitments with the implementing agents and over the last couple of years the DHS had informed the municipalities that the agreements should be re-looked at. The AG also found that some of them were irregular but if there was a contractual agreement in place it needed to be honoured. He said some municipalities had already stopped using implementing agents in on the current agreements. He clarified that the contracts with the implementing agents had not run for 30 years but for 10-12 years.
On page 355, the DHS had expressed its dissatisfaction with that fact, as it did not contribute to local empowerment or the DHS’s empowerment initiatives. The 50% target did include women and youth. He said the provincial procurement regulations were declared unconstitutional. Although the DHS strived to empower the vulnerable groups, it could not force but it did contribute to the DHS’s vision of job creation.
On the budget for the office of the MEC, Mr de Wet said that it included a lot of administrative actions. He said that 2021 could not be compared to 2020/21 because in 2020/21 there were huge budget cuts and they were office bound, not being able to move out into communities or have big meetings with them. Thus, compared with the main budget for 2020/21 it was only a 10% increase from the baseline. He said the risk register determined that community communication and engagement by the political head was of the utmost importance to ensuring everyone was informed and happy to restore confidence. Provisions were therefore made for the Minister to more accessible to the communities.
On Trans Hex, Ms Mayisela agreed that the delay was regrettable. She said that as soon as a notice was issued to the contractor, the DHS began running its own internal processes so that when the contractor was released the DHS would immediately be able to bring the new contractor on board by following the emergency procurement processes. The actual handover will be delayed, as the DHS had hoped to hand over the 190 houses by the end of March but that would not be possible. Contractors had been identified and what would be done differently would be to focus on multiple contractors as opposed to one to mitigate risk.
On the training of youth, Ms Mayisela said that the DHS looked at what skills were required for the delivery of the other service site. In the past training had been provided on plumbing, carpentry, painting, electrical, plastering and bricklaying; training in these trades would be continued in the new financial year.
On partnerships with universities, Ms Mayisela said that the DHS were in partnership with the TVET Colleges to provide in class training. That was also facilitated through the partnership with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).
On the portion of female contractors under the 50%, Ms Mayisela said that it remained a challenge for the DHS. The Department had tried in the past to award and bring women on board but had failed to reach those targets. That was why it had been revised to 10% and 4%. The DHS will investigate increasing it in future and will try to encourage more people within the designated groups to participate.
On the liveable neighbourhoods, the Department said that there was very close relationship with DEA. It did comment on funding applications from the municipalities and DEA was given an opportunity to formally comment in order to ensure all environmental aspects were catered for. They also sat with the DHS on several transversal for a, one of which was the Spatial Development and Infrastructure Support Forum; another forum focused on safety aspects as well as the Safety Community Practice. The DEA also contributed to strategic projects that needed elements to be fast tracked within the environmental process. They provided advice on which facets within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) could be fast tracked and have to be assisted in that regard.
On facilities in the liveable neighbourhoods, the Department said when the projects came in and the spatial planners put together the development plans, they checked with each Department of Health, Education, Public Works and Transport to find out if their requirements were catered for within the site layout and development plans. If not, the DHS would not approve the plans. They said problems arose when departments had to budget for facilities in the area and encountered hurdles when the approached the Provincial Treasury for the funding. That is an area the Committee could assist with.
On the technical support, the Department said that the planners would assist municipalities in getting their project application documents, assessments of their ADF’s and IDP’s to eliminate delays. In the past, a five-day training programme had been run for the municipal officials that explained everything in human settlement from beginning to end. That was done in conjunction with the African Centre for Cities and the University of Cape Town (UCT).
On the policy and the policy guidelines, Ms Mayisela said that the four policies for the new financial year were the selection guidelines to be re-drafted to be in line with the new priority categories of beneficiaries outlined by the national DHS. The last set of guidelines developed as a province was in 2012 and a lot had happened since then. Presently, elders of 60 years and above had to be prioritised. Communication had to be given to municipalities to inform them of what to do with beneficiaries who were below that age and had been on the waiting list for a long time.
She also talked about the Western Cape Housing Delivery Model, which was also in line with communications from national about the shrinking budget. It required the DHS to find out how they would still deliver affordable housing, which beneficiaries would qualify and various other issues to be unpacked. Ms Mayisela added that national DHS was about to add a new programme for FLISP (Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme), and the provincial DHS would need to develop its own policy so it could respond accordingly on how it would streamline the roll-out of the expanded FLISP. There would also be major changes on the housing code that mentioned inner builder subsidies and various others around land assemblies. Mayisela said that policy guidelines would also need to be developed for that.
On the sustainable building technologies, Ms Mayisela said that in the present financial year, the DHS had submitted its first SBT policy for the DHS, which is a big upgrade from previous green procurement. There had been multiple projects the DHS explored in the past, but it had developed different permanent houses that could be extended by the occupants. In the past, there had been projects that explored different types of material that had been assessed and households had been interviewed to assess whether they were happy with them. That was packaged into a document to caution the DHS on the checklist to be used to determine whether a product should be supported for alternative building. The only thing outstanding was for officials to be trained in the new financial year so that they understood how to read tender documents from service providers that purported to build with sustainable building technologies.
The Chairperson asked about the Garden Route District Municipality agreement. It was a new thing introduced by the DHS and she wondered if it would be rolled out to other District Municipalities. Was the agreement still in its testing phase and thus limited to the one municipality?
MEC Simmers said it was entered into in December 2020. The agreement sought to collaborate with the Garden Route Municipality in selected DHS initiatives across the garden route, which consisted of seven municipalities. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expired on 21 March 2023. The agreement sought to ensure the DHS was in line with Cabinet’s approved joint district and metro approach in the Western Cape, where various spheres of government and stakeholders worked together to accelerate and enhance service delivery within the respected areas like the Garden Route. It was the first of its kind and R5 million had been budgeted to the Garden Route Municipality. MEC Simmers said that the purpose of the agreement was to focus solely on specific projects to seek better cooperation, collaboration and co-planning within a district to ultimately benefit the end user. In addition, other municipalities had approached the DHS, but it was not a one-size-fits all and so different municipalities would need to have tailored MOU’s to fit their needs.
Ms Samson said that the accreditation of the Garden Route District was to supplement and compliment certain DHS functions in the seven municipalities, within the district. The Garden Route had the benefit of land parcels in its name, which could be utilised for human settlement development. She confirmed that other municipalities had applied for accreditation and the DHS was ready to assist them.
The Chairperson thanked the DHS for their contributions.
MEC Simmers thanked the Committee for a vigorous and active engagement. He said the DHS aspired to answer all answers honestly and factually. The journey to be embarked upon over the next three years would be unusual but was the reality in all communities. He said the DHS sought to address the injustices of the past within the available resources and to come up with sustainable solutions.
The Chairperson opened the floor for the public to ask any questions.
Ms Samson accepted MEC Simmers’ remarks as the concluding remarks.
Mr van der Westhuizen thanked the DHS for responding the questions and said that he found them satisfactory, as they enhanced his understanding of the budget. It was clear a new way of thinking, service delivery and cost efficiency had to be adopted.
The Chairperson thanked the DHS once again and released its officials.
Adoption of the Report of the Standing Committee on Human Settlements on Vote 8, Human Settlements in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustment Appropriation Bill 2020/21 Financial Year, 2021[B-3-2021] dated 17 March 2021.
The Chairperson asked Members whether they supported the Vote. She said the resolutions would take place after the adoption of the Vote.
Mr van der Westhuizen proposed the deletion of the words ‘does not support’ so it would read that the Standing Committee supported the Vote. He also asked for the deletion of the word ‘of’ and a space to be inserted before the words ‘referred to the Committee’. With the amendments, he proposed the adoption of the report.
Mr Marran spoke under Rule 90 of the Standing Rules and said the minority view of the African National Congress (ANC) was not to express a view on whether to support the Vote. He asked that the view be captured within the report.
The Chairperson confirmed that the changes would be made.
Mr America supported the motion for the report to be adopted.
The Chairperson asked Mr Marran to clarify his position.
Mr Marran said that Rule 90 stipulated that the minority view ought to be reflected in the report. He reiterated that the ANC did not have a view now but that could be subject to change later.
Mr Marran’s view was captured in the report.
Mr van der Westhuizen said the report before Members was not in line with what had been discussed.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) said she did not have voting rights as an alternate Member so she asked the Chairperson if she could give her input.
The Chairperson said Ms Makamba-Botya had placed her in a difficult position because the Chairperson had not even realised that she had been in the meeting or when she joined the meeting. She asked Mr Johan Vermeulen, Senior Procedural Officer, Western Cape Provincial Parliament, what the procedure ought to be in such instances.
Mr Vermeulen said it was up to the Chairperson and the Committee. He said every Member had the right to speak, although as Ms Makamba-Botya did not have the right to vote, as she said.
The Chairperson said that Ms Makamba-Botya’s contribution would be appreciated.
Ms Makamba-Botya spoke on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), saying it rejected the Vote.
The Chairperson asked if Ms Makamba-Botya was an alternate Member of the Committee.
Ms Makamba-Botya said yes.
The Chairperson asked Mr van der Westhuizen what changes needed to be made to the document for it to reflect the meeting.
Mr van der Westhuizen referred to the last sentence about the ANC’s position and said that he was under the impression that the ANC wanted to keep its options open.
The Chairperson said that Mr Marran had corrected it to reflect the ANC’s position.
Mr Marran said that his understanding was that the deliberations were currently underway in the Standing Committee and that the ANC would reflect whether they support in the House but not at the present stage.
The Chairperson confirmed that this was captured. The deliberations had been concluded but the position on whether to support the budget would be communicated later.
Mr America said he understood what Mr Marran said, that the ANC needed to take a decision at its caucus and would then make an expressed opinion later.
Mr America addressed the remarks made by Ms Makamba-Botya. He said the EFF’s position in terms of Rule 90 could not be reflected in the report because the record would reflect that Ms Makamba-Botya joined the meeting after deliberations had taken place. He said that if the EFF did not support the Vote, it could be expressed in the House, thus the report did not need to be adapted to accommodate that remark.
The Chairperson said that Mr M Xego (EFF), whom Ms Makamba-Botya was standing in for, was not a permanent Member of the Standing Committee on Human Settlements either so the EFF could not give its view in the Committee report.
Mr Herron said that he was going to ask for clarity on whether Mr Xego was a Member of the Committee, as he did not remember him as such. He also expressed support for the Vote and the report.
The Chairperson read through the report to confirm the changes and for it to be adopted.
The report was adopted with amendments.
Adoption of the report of the Standing Committee on Human Settlements in the Schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill 2021/22 [B4-2021] dated 17 March.
The Chairperson asked that Mr Marran’s remarks about the ANC’s position be copied from the previous report and inserted in this one, as it was the same position.
Mr America asked if it were a different report relating to the Third Adjustment or if it were the same report.
The Chairperson said that it was not the same report as it was the 2021/22 Western Cape Appropriation Bill.
The Chairperson read through the report.
Mr van der Westhuizen pointed out that the previous report was Bill B3 and the present one Bill B4. He proposed the deletion of the words ‘does not support the Vote’ so that the second paragraph ends with the words ‘that it supports the Vote’.
He proposed that the report be adopted.
Mr Marran supported the adoption but asked the Chairperson why she did not ask Mr Lili as Mr Marran was an alternate Member.
Mr America agreed with Mr Marran, reiterating that Mr Marran had no voting powers in the Committee if the permanent Member was present, as was the case with Mr Lili.
Mr Marran interjected to correct Mr America. He said the ANC always had one vote, so it did not matter who expressed the vote if it was a singular vote.
The Chairperson asked Mr Lili for his input, as he had been silent.
Mr Lili said he was present and jokingly remarked that Mr Marran always took over, but guaranteed they were part of the same family.
The report was adopted with amendments.
Resolutions on the Third Adjustment Budget
The resolution reflected that the Chairperson asked to receive the two policies that MEC Simmers spoke about in his introductory remarks.
The Chairperson asked for details on the Garden Route District Municipality agreement.
Adoption of Draft Minutes of 04 February 2021
The Chairperson took Members through the minutes page-by-page.
Mr van der Westhuizen said there was an error in the spelling of his name.
Mr van der Westhuizen said there were five Members of the Committee thus there should have been an apology recorded.
Ms Shumeeze Jones, Procedural Officer, Western Cape Provincial Parliament, indicated that she did not receive any apologies, so could not include one in the minutes.
The minutes were adopted with amendments.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their engagements during the meeting.
Mr Marran asked the Chairperson about the petrol claims.
Ms Jones explained that there was a process to be followed for petrol claims. She had submitted the claims and awaited feedback. There had been a delay in Members Affairs in receiving the allocations, but the claims were in the process of being processed.
The Chairperson asked Members to keep Mr Herron’s father in their prayers, as he was in hospital.
The meeting was adjourned.
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