The Portfolio Committee convened on a virtual platform for a briefing by the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) entities on their budgets, strategic plans and revised annual performance plans (APPs) for 2022/23. The Department and the Deputy Minister of the DHS joined the meeting, along with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), the Housing Development Agency (HDA) and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA).
In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister reaffirmed the DHS's solidarity with those affected by the recent flood disasters and assured the Department was working to help those affected. It had consulted extensively with its entities to formulate their APPs to ensure that their strategies were in line with those of the Department. A key initiative was the focus on transformation.
The NHBRC was requested to provide reasons for the decrease in the number of trained home builders. The decrease was due to the pandemic but the service would be fully operational by the end of the current financial year. It was also asked about its role in the flood disasters and confirmed that it was a part of the coordinated initiatives to find solutions and would be working on the ground to ensure the implementation of Temporary Residential Units (TRUs), which it was already doing. The entity had received a 12.6% saving in its budget through reduced expenditure on travel and staff.
A Member praised the HDA's new board for its identification and commitment to mitigating the issues the entity faced in the past and ensuring stability in the organisation. Its target of an unqualified audit without matters of emphasis was described as "bold," as the entity still had outstanding issues from previous years that needed to be resolved. It was asked what the HDA’s plan was to address the issue of beneficiaries not receiving houses, mainly due to the problems around beneficiary lists, and whether there were any alternative approaches to providing housing. The HDA confirmed that the appointment of the chief executive officer and chief financial officer was in its final stages. It highlighted its transformation targets for businesses owned by designated groups to support and capacitate them, with 40% procurement spend allocated to women. Training and support programmes were planned for small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs). It confirmed a Member’s suggestion that the HDA could move from building houses to giving people vacant stands to deal with backlogs. The HDA said it was committed to ensuring ethical leadership, as reflected in its values.
Regarding the SHRA, one concern raised by a Member related to its shortfall in the delivery of 10 363 housing units in the previous financial year. The SHRA said that it was behind due to the pandemic, and it did not have sufficient projects approved earlier for delivery. To address this, it would ensure projects were completed and timeously planned for. A Member commented that the SHRA’s norms and standards were not uniform across the provinces, and SHRA responded that its norms and standards were standardised through the provinces.
Notable issues concerned contractors not being paid within 30 days as stipulated by regulations and progress around the digitisation of the housing beneficiary lists. All the entities reassured the Committee that they were paying contractors and SMMEs within 30 days, with SHRA and NHBRC conducting payment runs regularly. The Department assured the digitisation of beneficiary lists was being prioritised, as it would enhance the credibility of the Department’s processes.
The Chairperson welcomed the chairpersons and chief executive officers (CEOs) of the entities. The afternoon meeting was a continuation of the morning briefing by DHS, led by the Minister.
Deputy Minister’s opening remarks
Ms Pam Tshwete, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, introduced the teams from the various entities. She extended the Department’s solidarity and compassion to the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape following the devastating floods that took lives and left many displaced. The DHS was working tirelessly to assist those displaced to find shelter again. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for lives lost, but families continued to be put in prayers. The Department had held a meeting that morning to ensure the provision of shelter for those in the Transkei.
A lot of consultation had gone into the formulation and finalisation of the 2022/23 annual performance plans (APPs). As raised in the meeting earlier, the alignment of the entities in terms of the District Development Model (DDM) was a concern. The Department had decided to put more emphasis on ensuring that the APPs of the entities were aligned to those of the Department to feed into broader strategies and close the gaps going forward. The DHS entered the 2022/23 financial year with solid and eager entities, and it was confident that the targets set would be achieved. A number of key initiatives were introduced, and the opening and transformation of the sector remained central to the achievement of sustainable economic growth.
National Home Builders Registration Council's (NHBRC's) APP 2022/23
Ms Nomusa Mufamadi, Chairperson of the NHBRC, presented the entity’s APP for the 2022/23 financial year. The planning period had come about when the global and SA economy was still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. In approaching its strategic planning, it had taken the exigencies of the current recovery period into account. It also catered to the need to create the capacity to ensure sustainable operations in the future. This would be done through the training interventions which had already begun. Its planning had been finalised according to the three NHBRC programmes: administration, regulation and protection. Administration focused on governance and support functions. Regulation and protection focused on the core mandate of the organisation.
Mr Songezo Booi, CEO, NHBRC, presented the key outputs set for the organisation, as outlined in its APP.
Its delivery pillars/programmes were:
- Protecting the housing consumers by ensuring they knew their rights and responsibilities and resolving consumer complaints efficiently and timeously;
- Enabling home builders to achieve the industry standards through training initiatives and ensuring stakeholders in the sector understood their rights and obligations.
- Regulating, influencing and enforcing compliance to building standards by enforcing compliance and remediating or penalising defaulting homebuilders.
The key initiatives in the programmes were:
- Preparing for the NHBRC Bill amendments (undergoing the parliamentary approval process);
- Implementation of the inspectorate model and operating model in light of new technologies;
- Rolling out of e-services to enable stakeholders to engage with the organisation (ongoing);
- Improved risk management of the NHBRC Warranty Fund, where the entity was looking to engage with National Treasury; and
- Financial sustainability. The entity was striving to save 10% in operational expenditure.
Mr Booi provided the Committee with the NHBRC's programme summary.
Programme 1: Administration - Maintaining clean corporate governance through audit outcomes, implementation of approved internal audit plans and driving a culture of non-tolerance to fraud.
Programme 2: Regulation - Registrations and renewals of home builders; housing inspections (subsidy and non-subsidy sector); dispute resolution; and training and providing exit and placement opportunities for certain groups.
Programme 3: Consumer Protection - Enrolments; and green-edge house construction in the Eric Molobi Housing Innovation Hub.
(See presentation slides 14-21 for programme outcomes and output indicators)
Ms Tamlyn Bouwer, Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO), NHBRC, presented the budget presentation for 2022/23.
She said the NHBRC was a self-sustaining organisation which derived 96% of its revenue from enrolments. The budget for the 2021/22 non-subsidy enrolments and subsidy home enrolments was at a low base, based on the uncertainty around Covid-19 at the time. Due to the economy being still slightly depressed, the budget had increased only slightly.
The NHBRC was looking at achieving an operating profit of just over R41 million. Total revenue was anticipated to increase to R838 440 205. The total surplus was expected to be R508 492 119. Expenses were forecasted to be R796 779 470.
Housing Development Agency's (HDA's) APP 2022/23
Ms Marina Dumakude, Deputy Chairperson, HDA, introduced her team and appreciated the opportunity to present the entity’s APP. As a board that was appointed in November 2021, it was taking the opportunity to be the custodians of good governance and champions of ethical leadership at the entity. The board was committed to setting the tone at the top by providing ethical and courageous leadership reflecting the organisational values of excellence, accountability, teamwork, integrity and performance orientation.
Mr Stephen Poya, CEO, HDA, stressed that the entity continued not being capitalised sufficiently to perform its primary mandate. There were only five projects identified in the current financial year to be looked at as business cases so that the entity could be supported in its role as a developer. The issue would be continuously raised to find a solution to the issue of capitalisation.
Ms Teboho Sejane, Strategy Manager, HDA, presented the entity's APP.
The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) targets aimed for the achievement of:
- 94 priority development areas declared for human settlements development;
- development plans for all 94 priority developed areas, categorised and prioritised, with budgets and finance options;
- 470 000 housing units and 300 000 serviced sites;
- rezoning 100% of acquired land within the priority development areas;
- a number of hectares of well-located land acquired within the Priority Development Area (PDAs); and
- 1 500 informal settlements upgraded.
Other key macro indicator targets for 2022/23 included:
- 3 428 housing units delivered in respect of projects implemented by the HDA;
- 4 517 serviced sites delivered in respect of projects implemented by the HDA;
- An unqualified audit outcome with no material findings;
- 40% of the annual HDA procurement spend targeted at businesses owned by women;
- 40 integrated implementation programmes for PDAs completed per year;
- 50% of the 1 786ha of land acquired between 2014 and 2019 falling within PDAs rezoned;
- 1 500 hectares of well-located land acquired within PDAs; and
- Six provinces provided with programme planning and implementation support for the revitalisation of distressed communities.
The outcomes against which the HDA could be measured were derived from, aligned with and responsive to, were the national priorities for human settlements as reflected in the MTSF 2019-2024, which was derived from the country’s NDP: Vision 2030, and the strategic shift in the role of the HDA of serving as a fully-fledged public sector property developer. The two outcomes were effective and efficient management and good governance of the HDA (Programme One) and integrated and sustainable human settlements and security of tenure (Programmes Two to Four).
Ms Sejane said there was a projected decrease in total revenue from R539 749 394 in 2021/22 to R508 266 998 in the 2022/23 financial year.
Interventions for the mass employment programme embraced 40 programmes, with 4 720 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) supported, 7 704 job opportunities to be created, and a 45% average of women to men employed.
(See slides 17-26 for programme outputs and annual targets).
Social Housing Regulatory Authority's (SHRA's) APP 2022/23
Ms Busisiwe Nzo, Chairperson, SHRA, said that the entity's APP was developed to align with the five-year strategic plan that outlined its mandate, strategic focus priorities, the impact of its work and positive outcomes. It sought to open the sector to more participation by aspiring social housing institutions (SHIs); strengthen the performance of current SHIs through compliance and capacitation; and strengthening the regulatory function so that projects were preserved so that they did not fail, as they were assets of the state.
In its growth plan, the SHRA sought to double the production rate of social housing, as it was very much needed. Certain elements of the growth plan were prioritised and incorporated into the APP. However, SHRA realised the shortfall in its budget to deliver the 18 000 social housing units, which was the target set by the Department. SHRA believed its plans could be realised through cooperation with other DHS entities. It prided itself in forming partnerships with financiers and appreciated the opportunity for the entity to be part of the infrastructure fund.
Mr Dewalt Koekemoer, Acting CEO, SHRA, said the key strategies informing the APP for 2022/23 were the MTSF Priority 5 (spatial integration, human settlements and local government), the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), the social housing growth plan, and the gender mainstreaming strategy.
SHRA's strategic outcomes were to administer functional, efficient and integrated government; invest in quality, affordable social housing delivered in strategically located areas; enable enhanced performance of delivery agents and projects; enable increased capacity of municipalities and provinces to deliver social housing; effectively regulate a sustainable social housing sector and transform the social housing sector value chain
The entity had a delivery target of 18 000 units for the 2019-24 MTSF but forecasted delivery of 13 837 units, thus resulting in a shortfall of 4 163 units by the end of the MTSF term. The SHRA would require an additional R1.5 billion in grant funding to cover this shortfall
Key headline deliverables in support of SHRA’s strategy for 2022/23 year were:
- To build sector compliance through competent and efficient social housing property owners;
- To progress towards the achievement of the 18 000 units target;
- Focus on unlocking delayed projects; and
- Strive towards achieving a clean audit and ensuring a corruption-free environment.
Ms Nzo said the SHRA expected an increase in total revenue from an approved budget estimate of R857 million in 2021/22 to an estimated R887 million in 2022/23.
(See slides 19-24 for programme outputs and annual targets).
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) said that in the HDA’s strengths-weakness-opportunities-threats (SWOT) analysis for the 2023/23 financial year, it had identified the weaknesses and threats that would hinder progress in their work, but it had not indicated the strategies it would utilise to overcome these threats. These included threats such as the lack of capacity and capital amongst construction SMMEs; weaknesses such as the filling of the CEO and CFO posts that had not been completed; inadequate executive management level leadership and support. How would it ensure that the process of filling the vacant CEO and CFO posts was not delayed further?
In the 2021/22 financial year, the number of trained home builders had decreased, and she asked the NHBRC what the reasons were. When was rolling out of the digitisation programme going to start and when would it be completed for the 2022/23 financial year? In programme three under the operating profit budget for the 2020/21 financial year, it had managed to save 22.6% on its budgeted expenditure. Her question in this regard was inaudible due to her network connection.
She asked the SHRA why it had a shortfall in delivering 10 363 housing units in the 2021/22 financial year?
Mr A Tseki (ANC) appreciated the language used by the Deputy Chairperson of the HDA because it reflected a commitment to avoid the past issues that the HDA used to face. The APP reflected an avoidance of this past, although it did not refer to the past specifically. How could the government move away from building houses to giving people serviced stands? From what had been observed when visiting Gauteng -- and he believed in other provinces too, once reports were seen -- SHRA was generally doing a great job. The only issue was that SHRA was busy building in towns or near towns. Areas such as Mogale City were close to the townships. Could SHRA comment on the business opportunities in townships? People in construction could assist SHRA in townships because they did not have the capacity required for towns and would like their inquiries relayed to SHRA.
The Chairperson welcomed the presentations and the APPs, which were well articulated. Provinces were developing Transitional Residential Units (TRUs) as part of their flood interventions. Was the NHBRC participating in this project? If not, the Committee hoped that the Department would ensure it participated to avoid issues that might cause problems for the Department, such as the Talana hostels in Tzaneen.
She welcomed the commitment of the new board of the HDA, particularly the target of an unqualified audit without matters of emphasis, considering that in 2021 it had had a qualified outcome with matters of emphasis. Irregular expenditure sometimes took very long to resolve through condonation by National Treasury, which might affect the HDA in later years. She was concerned and uncertain about how realistic the target of an unqualified audit without matters of emphasis was but would take their word for it. She was not encouraging the entity to get a qualified outcome but was merely worried that there were still many outstanding issues from previous years that needed to be resolved quickly.
Addressing SHRA, she commented that the norms and standards were not the same in all the provinces. How would SHRA make sure that the norms and standards of the units it had built became the same? There was even a difference in interpretation of those norms and standards in other areas. There was the problem of contractors not being paid within 30 days as stipulated by regulations and an outcry from suppliers and contractors. Could the Department brief the Committee on how to address this issue? Was this issue included as part of the targets by provinces, or were they just leaving it the way it was?
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) apologised for her network issues. She was happy to hear that the HDA was aware of the Department's huge challenges, which it had inherited from the previous board. Through the HDA board’s turnaround strategy, it would be able to identify the challenges where the HDA previously had limitations. The entity had very clear priority areas in development, as they were the implementing body for the Department.
The lack of a well-consolidated beneficiary list was traumatising people, including the owners of houses and family members who had been waiting for a house but whose names had disappeared from lists. What was going to be the strategy of the HDA to address that particular area? On the digitisation programme, did the HDA believe the system would help? She wanted to ensure that the HDA believed that the digitisation programme would help and restore dignity to the people. Emphasis had to be placed on this issue. On the 40% set aside, how would the HDA, as an implementing organ, ensure that the transformation agenda was well achieved?
Mr Tseki said the digitisation issue went hand in hand with transparency because the Department had promised that the beneficiary list would be published for anyone to see. Digitisation and transparency could not be separated.
Ms Dumakude said that the board had concluded the recruitment processes for the CFO and CEO positions, and the recommendations had already been forwarded to the Minister. The board was waiting for feedback from the Minister's office, after which those people would then take up their positions and ensure that they addressed the challenges facing the HDA.
Regarding challenges highlighted and strategies not indicated, those issues spoke to the lack of capacity of SMMEs to implement the HDA's projects. Firstly, part of the HDA’s targets was transformation to ensure that 40% of its procurement spend went to women, 20% to youth-owned companies, 5% to people with disabilities, and another 5% to military veterans. Concerning that, the HDA went to market to look for service providers that could help implement its projects. It was looking into implementing enterprise development and capacitating the companies that it was looking to support.
In response to Mr Tseki’s question regarding whether the HDA could move from building houses to giving people stands, slides 11, 22 and 23 of the presentation partly addressed this question. They indicated that part of the mandate of the HDA was to acquire land, hold land, develop it and release it, either as empty land or as land with an asset on it. Slide 11 indicated the target concerning land and provided that there were 4 517 serviced sites to be delivered. Once those sites were serviced and handed over, a decision would have to be made regarding what percentage of those would then contain top structures and what percentage would have to be released as part of the rapid land release programme.
Slide 21 indicated that 1 500 hectares of well-located land had been acquired within priority development areas and that 50% of the 1786 ha of land acquired during 2014-2019, which fell within PDAs rezoned. Land parcels were being developed and made ready for human settlements, and the goals set out in the APP could be achieved.
She reiterated the board’s commitment to setting the tone at the top by ensuring ethical and courageous leadership, as reflected in the HDA’s values. Practically, the board had ensured the establishment of board committees and that governance was occurring at that level.
On the target for unqualified audits, the HDA did have the audit and risk committee addressing this target, and the HDA had ensured that it had internal auditors that were monitoring the previous findings closely. The committee sat regularly, and the board monitored it regularly to ensure hard work towards the achievement of a clean audit. The HDA’s Land, Properties and Project Development (LPPD) committee monitored the organisation's performance entirely as part of its turnaround strategy to address challenges and move speedily in achieving the organisation’s targets.
Mr Poya said that the HDA had been given projects by various provinces seeking support with issues such as title deeds and beneficiary management. It was not involved in systems development but was doing very well in assisting provinces because it had the necessary capacity. The Department was better placed to respond to systems development.
On the 40% set aside and the monitoring of those targets, the last two slides of the presentation had outlined which projects it had identified where it would be able to achieve the targets. The HDA created capacity to conduct training and support SMMEs in development. It had also sourced funding from other skills development agencies within the country to provide support to those programmes, but the key to this was monitoring and ensuring that those programmes were achieved. The HDA had created a system where it monitored its projects weekly to see if its targets would be met in that financial year.
On the issue of serviced stands, it was advisable to release land or serviced land and give beneficiaries title deeds to build their own households. It would mean that the entity could reduce the backlog much faster. It was the most appropriate thing to do and was done based on an agreement that was given to the entity through its land team, where it could be part of the rapid land release programme. The HDA supported provinces in achieving their targets in the rapid land release programme, as it had the capacity and the capability to assist.
The HDA prided itself in making payments well in advance to SMMEs. In fact, it was paid twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A key challenge was that people expected their payments be made within seven days, and when they did not do that, contractors would make a noise. However, the entity hardly ever went beyond the 30 days. It was only in exceptional cases -- for example, where an engineer was busy verifying the certificate and there was a disagreement between the engineer and the contractor over the certificate, and as a result, the entity could not pay for that certificate as it was not valid. Generally, the entity paid well before the 30 days.
Ms Dumakude said that since the board came in in November, it had been seized with ensuring stability and governance in the organisation and was doing very well in that regard. Part of that was ensuring that it was achieving the goals set and monitoring them very closely. The APP presented would be monitored very closely, and where plans had to be made to remedy targets it could not meet in time, it would certainly create these plans. The HDA did have targets for transformation, and it was important to make sure that SMMEs were paid on time, as late payments negatively affected contractors. It was monitoring this issue very closely in one of its sub-committees and ensuring that this was done adequately. The HDA was committed to making sure it would achieve the goals set in the APP.
Mr Koekemoer, in response to Mr Tseki, said that the SHRA was working closely with municipalities on their spatial planning and ultimately aligning with the priority development areas highlighted in its presentation. It was correct to say that townships were not necessarily what they used to be and had become more vibrant communities and were ready for levels of integrated development where social housing played an important role. SHRA was working on this issue and in some of the more recently promulgated zones -- for instance, in Mpumalanga and the Free State -- quite a number of township areas in those municipalities were included for the delivery of social housing. However, there was always more to do to ensure that happened on a wider scale, hence the importance of its work with municipalities in terms of its municipal support programme.
Regarding the concern over the shortfall of the 10 363 units, he said that reflected the shortfall currently for the MTSF period up to 2024, and was not only for this past financial year. SHRA was behind due to the pandemic, but in previous financial years, it did not necessarily have sufficient projects approved early enough for them to be ultimately delivered. The entity currently had 55 active projects, with about 27 338 units somewhere in the process between having been approved and under construction, and close to tenanting. To meet the shortfall, the entity was working to ensure that those projects were actually completed, and that those units were tenanted to meet the shortfall. More planning needed to be done earlier on to address the issue, which the entity had done. This now created the opportunity for it to meet the MTSF target if it did its work properly, monitored the projects, and ensured delivery.
Referring to the uniformity of norms and standards, he said there was a set of norms and standards approved by the Council, which needed to be finally approved by the Department. However, they were standardised throughout, and SHRA would ensure uniformity in the projects and provinces. Ultimately what was perceived as a social housing unit in one province had to be similar to what a social housing unit would be in a different province.
On the budget set asides, the APP reflected SHRA’s targets. Targets 6.5.2, 6.5.3 and 6.5.4 were about the construction spend per the set aside requirements. As the HDA had also mentioned, SHRA reported on this quarterly, but within the organisation itself, it tracked it monthly to ensure that the construction spend was in fact aligned to those set asides reported against.
Ms Nzo said that it was encouraging to receive positive feedback from portfolio committees when it was doing well. She thanked Mr Tseki for the encouragement.
The Chairperson asked whether SHRA was paying SMMEs within 30 days.
Mr Koekemoer replied that SHRA paid SMMEs within 30 days and ensured that it had a report on monitoring this. It had payment runs twice a month, and it did this to make sure it processed all payments within 30 days.
Ms Mufamadi said that the decrease in the training of homebuilders during the 2021/22 financial year was mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and she was happy to say that the entity was working on it. The service would be fully operational towards the end of 2022/23.
Regarding the TRUs, all the entities within the Department had learnt from what had happened in the various provinces. The NHBRC in the past had come in at the tail-end, and had to do assessments and provide reports as to what should be done to remedy those situations. The difference with the current disaster in KwaZulu-Natal was that the NHBRC was part of the coordinated initiatives that were working towards finding a solution. Currently, it would be involved as and when those TRUs were being approved for implementation, to avoid past problems. It would be on the ground working closely with other stakeholders such as implementing agents and provinces and municipalities.
On NHBRC’s role in the flood disasters in KwaZulu-Natal, at the time they occurred, the entity’s APP had already been with the Department for approval. Nevertheless, it was still looking for ways to respond to the disasters. To that end, it coordinated with other stakeholders in all three spheres of government. It had identified technical teams of different professionals who would be assisting with the assessments with other entities within the province, and this would be coordinated by the provincial department. It was also looking at what it could ring-fence in terms of its corporate social investment (CSI) budget.
He said the digitisation process had started and was being implemented in phases.
Mr Booi responded to Ms Mokgotho’s question on the rolling out of e-services and said that e-services were being implemented in phases. The entity had gone online with its registrations and renewals for homebuilders in the previous financial year. This year, it would be looking to move the enrolment process, the enrolment of homes in both subsidy and non-subsidy sectors and the inspection process online. They were looking to have the project fully implemented by February 2023.
Ms Bouwer said that the NHBRC had achieved a 12.6% saving in its budget and expenditure from the prior financial year. This was largely due to savings in travel expenditure because it had resorted to virtual meetings, as well as around staff costs, as it had not implemented any salary increases or filled any vacant positions.
Regarding the 40% set aside, the NHBRC had identified some projects in its budget and had also established a working group within the entity that would make sure that those targets were met. For its payments to SMMEs, it did have a weekly payment run and did manage to pay all its suppliers and SMMEs within the 30-day period.
Ms Mufamadi said that the NHBRC supported the APP presented and would monitor it regularly to ensure its implementation and that the targets set were met. The NHBRC requested the Committee’s approval of the APP.
Ms Sindisiwe Ngxongo, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Entities Oversight, IGR, Monitoring and Evaluation, said that the board had already concluded the process of the appointment of the HDA's CEO and CFO, and the Minister would be approaching Cabinet for approval. This process would be completed before the end of May. The Department was earmarking the next Cabinet sitting for those two appointments.
Mr Mbulelo Tshangana, Director-General, DHS, said that the quality of the APPs presented had improved significantly. There was clarity of purpose in all three APPs and clear contracting and targeting. The entities had contracted clearly to implement the 40% set aside and assisted the Department in monitoring this in provinces. The HDA acted as an implementing agent for some metros, municipalities and provinces and contracted the 40% set aside. The DHS drove the digitisation target and every entity, province and municipality would be affected by that target. In other words, any organisation that was in the business of delivering subsidised housing would be affected because in delivering, they interacted with the beneficiaries. The intention was to enhance the credibility of all the Department’s processes, whether it was beneficiary allocation or the allocation of houses in general.
The process of the appointment of the HDA's CEO and CFO was well advanced and would be concluded as Ms Ngxongo had said. On the issue of norms and standards, there was no vacuum. The NHBRC was not only guaranteeing the Department quality assurance, but it was also assisting in ensuring that there were no deviations from the norms and standards. The Department worked with the NHBRC to deliver on targets such as the TRUs. It had to be ensured that what happened at Talana would be prevented.
It was important to be proactive and not reactive in dealing with most issues. The bulk of the questions directed to the Department, such as the 40% set aside issue, was addressed in the APP and earlier meetings. The Department needed to answer these questions by implementing the business plans of the provinces and the implementation of the APPs by the entities. He was impressed by the quality of the APPs presented, and implementation had to begin now.
Deputy Minister Tshwete thanked the team from the Department as well as the entities for the responses. She praised the turnaround strategies that the DHS had implemented to stabilise the entities. Occasionally there would be challenges, but the Department was closer to filling the existing gaps. She agreed with Ms Sihlwayi’s concern about the beneficiary lists, as people were not being given their houses, particularly the elderly. The Department had prioritised people with disabilities, the elderly and child-headed households, even if they were low on the list. The Department did not hesitate to make sure they were given houses. Elderly people sometimes died in the long wait for a house or a title deed, after which the Department would come and provide a TRU. Only when there was death would the Department bring TRUs, which was a bad mark for the Department.
She apologised in advance for not being able to attend the next meeting because she was going to Port St. Johns, as the President was going there. Whenever there was a disaster, shelter was very important, and it needed to be known how the DHS would be responding. She thanked the Members and acknowledged that the Department was not always right or good, and sometimes it would make Members angry, but they were always ready to advise. She encouraged the Committee to keep calling the Department to account, and it would account and correct their mistakes. The Department took everything raised in the Committee seriously and would follow up on the important issues raised. It tried by all means, to put pressure on provinces and entities to implement the 40% set aside because it was pronounced by the President and was an obligation. She thanked the Committee for its patience, considering the Department occasionally submitted documents late.
The Chairperson thanked the chairpersons of the entities and said that they would meet later as the Committee interacted with its report to monitor how the plans presented were being implemented. On the issue of 30 days for payments to SMMEs, she suggested that outside the meeting, the Department establish a channel to which people facing this issue or raising it with the Committee could be directed. While the Department itself said it was complying with the 30 days, there were still contractors saying they were collapsing because the Department was not paying them. Establishing a channel or person would allow a person dealing with the issue to expect a response or intervention by the Department or its entities.
The meeting was adjourned.
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