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HOUSING PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 February 2004
POLICY AND LEGISLATION UPDATE: BRIEFING BY MINISTER OF HOUSING; COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Ms Z Kota (ANC)
Documents handed out
Housing Draft Annual Report
Presentation on National Housing Summit
Community Reinvestment (Housing) Bill Presentation
The committee was briefed by the housing Minister. The two summits which had been held in 2003 had really been an evaluation of the department's work thus far. She reiterated that the government was committed to providing sustainable human settlements but that there challenges, one of these being the access to housing finance. The increasing number of informal settlements leading to urban sprawl was a priority of the government. She also informed the committee that the Community Reinvestment Bill and the Prevention of Eviction Bill was still in process.
The Minister of Housing, Ms. B. Mabandla, briefed the committee on two summits that had been held and the progress of two bills which still had to be passed. The briefing is contained in the Powerpoint presentation attached.
Concerning the National Housing Summit, the minister added that she had postponed it when she came into office and was glad that she had done this as it gave the department more time to consult with all stakeholders. The summit was well attended and had brought together people from all walks of life who were involved in housing such as NGOs, CBOs, tertiary institutions, professionals and StatsSA. The census report had assisted the summit to obtain a picture of the situation in the country. The summit held discussions around seven themes as seen in the Powerpoint presentation. There were many concerns around informal settlements and it was felt that a comprehensive policy was needed. The department was committed the UN millennium goals on this matter. Regarding social housing, it was felt that the current subsidy program was not suited to social housing. Housing for the disabled and child- headed households as a result of AIDS was also discussed at the summit. This issue will now be a priority of the Department. The Minister pointed out that what had emerged from the discussions was the fact that policy had to be enhanced. It was therefore an evaluation of the present work of the Department. The Department was trying to create synergy between the different departments. Task teams had already been set up with the DPLG and the Department of Land Affairs. Recommendations were being looked at which the different departments had suggested.
Mr. M Steele (DA) referred to the work done by MINMAC and wanted to know whether there would be a full discussion and a report around their work.
The Minister confirmed that there would be a report from MINMAC and that it would go to parliament first and then to cabinet to be discussed.
The Chair added that the Committee would deliberate further on the on the summit in subsequent meetings.
Women and Housing Summit
The Minister reported that this was a very vibrant sector that was clear about what was needed. The engagement with the sector was very thorough. The issues raised were really an evaluation of what the department was presently doing. It emerged that there was need to involve women more as developers for example as architects. The women felt that they did not only want to be involved in the People's Housing Partnership (PHP), but wanted involvement in the business of housing as well. There was sense that women were only inolved in the PHP as volunteers and this had to change. Concerns around housing finance for women was also discussed. The Department had decided to make this a policy issue.
Community Reinvestment Bill
The Minister started by sketching the background to this Bill. She said that right at the beginning when the first minister of housing had been in office, the priority had been to provide housing for the poorest of the poor. Government had realised however that it was unable to do this alone and that the participation of the private sector was needed. The biggest challenge however was to find middle ground and to obtain finance and to develop trust in the financial sector for this. Government had put up R1 billion towards this end. Servcon was then born out of this. It was in this context that the Community Reinvestment Bill was conceptualised. The Bill was now in abeyance until the Financial Services Charter was completed. She reiterated that government was serious about finding a solution to the urban sprawl which was taking place in most cities. There was a need to provide sustainable settlements in the cities.
Prevention of Eviction Bill (PIEBILL)
The Minister pointed out that the Bill deals with the eviction of people, was therefore very sensitive and therefore needed thorough investigation. Certain sections of the Bill were still ambiguous and could lead to wrong interpretation. The department was proposing and amendment to the Bill and was liaising with the Department of Land Affairs.
The Chair added that before the Land Affairs committee dealt with it, it was also important that this particular committee also interacted with this Bill.
The Chair pointed out that the committee had received their invitation to the Women's Summit quite late and therefore did not send a delegation.
Ms. J Semple (DA) wanted clarity about the establishment of the Office on Women and when this would take place.
The Minister said that all departments had an Office on Women to address these issues. The Department on Housing however wanted to make theirs more prominent. They needed to find ways to strengthen this. The task team would also need to get input from the portfolio committee.
Mr. Steele (DA) wanted to know whether the department was investigating other ways for women to have houses besides the freehold system. There was no response to this question.
Ms. M Ramakaba-Lesiea (ANC) wanted to know whether there had been any discussion at the Housing Summit regarding the upgrading of hostels to family units.
A member of the department said that that this did come up. This however is a rental option which needed to be revised. The units would have to be revised to accommodate families. This work was still in progress.
Mr. J Nash (ANC) raised the question about banks selling houses where people could not afford payments.
The Minster said that this was a critical matter and related to finance and it was important to find a solution to this.
The Chair then thanked the Minister and the members of the department for coming to brief the committee.
Adoption of reports
The chair presented the Committee with three reports viz. The Mayoral Reports, the Imbizo Report and the committee's annual report.
Ms. Semple (DA) referred to page 4 of the mayoral report and wanted clarity around "council owned stock". She was not sure what this meant.
The Chair said that this was taken straight from the Johannesburg report. She pointed out that this referred to the transfer of housing from the council to the owners. There was however concern around the language used.
The Chair asked if the report could be adopted. Ms. Buthelezi-Oliphant (ANC) proposed that it be accepted. Mr. Skhosana (ANC) seconded.
Ms. Buthelezi-Oliphant (ANC) pointed a number of spelling mistakes in the Imbizo Report.
Ms. Semple (DA) said that the reference to the DP should be changed to DA at the beginning of the report.
The Chair pointed out that an important matter raised in the Imbizo Report was the fact the financial years of the province and the local governments differed in the Eastern Cape. It was recommended that this be rectified.
Ms. Semple (DA) added that there were a number of other spelling errors in the report.
The Chair suggested that this report be put aside.
The annual report if the committee was adopted unanimously.
The Chair reminded the committee that they would probably sit in March to discuss a number of important issues.
Mr. Steele (DA) suggested that the Department of Housing be called in to answer questions around the fact the some people were obtaining more that one housing subsidy.
Mr. Nash (ANC) said that the DA should rather take it up directly with the Department.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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