The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements met on a virtual platform to consider the Committee's reports on its participation at the World Urban Forum 11, the Human Settlements Indaba and Exhibition, the Committee minutes and its fourth term programme, strategic plan and annual performance plan for 2022/23.
Members wanted more information on what the delegation that had attended the World Urban Forum 11 conference had learnt, and what they had found to resonate with the South African context, particularly regarding spatial integration and gentrification. A date would be set when Members could further discuss the issues raised at the conference.
A Member appreciated that strategic issues had been highlighted in the report on the Human Settlements Indaba, and had linked the issue of gentrification to the question of strategic planning in urban areas and how this could be dealt with in light of densification and the proliferation of informal settlements. The report was adopted.
When the Committee’s draft fourth term programme was discussed, a Member raised the issue of land invasions and requested an urgent deliberation on this matter. The Chairperson commented that the Committee would prioritise the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRRs), as these could not be postponed. The issue of land invasions would be addressed when the Committee met with the metros to understand their challenges.
A concern was raised that the Housing Development Agency (HDA) had not met with the Committee to present a report on its stabilisation and turnaround plan, which the Committee had undertaken to receive every quarter. However, a Member said that the Committee had in fact met with the HDA, and that it would meet with the entity again in the coming quarter. The stabilisation of the entity would be dealt with in its annual report. Members welcomed the proposal that the Committee get a report on the work of the Policy and Legislative Review Team.
There had been a delay in adopting the Committee minutes dated 25 May, as in previous meetings, there had been no quorum and seconders, after the minutes were referred back for reworking. A Member raised a concern about their attendance persistently not being accurately reflected, and it was requested that this issue be addressed. The minutes were adopted.
A Member requested that they be given more time to engage with the strategic plan and annual performance plan, and it was also suggested that the plans needed to be made more practical through the initiation of bills and laws. In particular, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act needed serious amendment to address issues such as land invasions. The Chairperson clarified the limitations of her powers and mandate, which excluded allocating time for Committee meetings and addressing issues raised on an individual basis.
The Chairperson said that the meeting was not scheduled in terms of the programme, but it had been realised that there were outstanding matters that had to be adopted by the Committee to allow space for other matters, as the parliamentary programme had been extended for the week.
The meeting agenda was adopted.
Dr N Khumalo (DA) thanked the Committee Members for their support during her time of bereavement, including their thoughts and prayers, and what had been sent to her family.
The Chairperson welcomed her back and encouraged her to take it easy on herself and continue to heal. She indicated that flowers had been sent to Dr Khumalo’s family on behalf of the Committee.
Draft Portfolio Committee report on its participation at the World Urban Forum 11
Mr Sabelo Mnguni, Committee Content Advisor, summarised the draft report on the Committee's attendance and participation at the World Urban Forum 11 from 26 to 30 June in Katowice, Poland.
The Chairperson requested that the declaration of the conference be attached to the email containing the report that had been sent to Members.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) said Members had gone to the World Forum to learn and bring back ideas for possible implementation locally. The issue of urban or new cities was something that they needed to discuss in the country, linking it to what the President had said about smart cities. There had to be a statement that indicated that as parliamentarians, they would like to take the experience to their communities for further engagement to develop new cities that were responsive to renewables, had pavements and streets, and integrated transport. He envisioned a vibrant city that was awake for 24 hours. He hoped Mr Mnguni could phrase this better.
Dr Khumalo asked if there was a way to get access to the information and ideas that the delegation had gained so that the Members could have an idea of what the delegation had learnt, including their discussions.
The Chairperson said that this proposal was acceptable and referred to the conference website and the documents contained therein. She suggested that these be packaged and circulated to Members.
Adv M Masutha (ANC) asked if Mr Mnguni could flag the global strategic challenges facing urbanisation, specifically those the delegation found to be resonant in the South African context. In particular, he wanted to know how the issue of spatial integration was dealt with, and whether it had come up in the deliberations. Had it been dealt with in the context of the issue that some countries characterised as gentrification, which was a class issue, where the poor were in cities and cleansing themselves of poverty? (His network was poor, and he became inaudible). He said he was very unfortunate with this Committee, as whenever it was time for him to speak, there was load-shedding which affected the network and made it very difficult for him to contribute meaningfully to the work of the Committee. He abandoned his effort.
The Chairperson suggested that after all the conference documents had been circulated to Members, as Mr Tseki had proposed, a date could be set where Members could discuss issues further. Those at the conference could then lead the discussion on what other countries had raised as their challenges on spatial integration, including how they had managed to build proper cities like the city where the conference was held. In that city, one could see that it had everything required as a city.
Adv Masutha agreed with the proposal, but said that he was trying to contribute to the report that was presented for discussion, but the communication network was failing him. He believed that having lived in more than one inner city and having observed over a period of time fundamental changes in the social structure underpinning some of those changes, there were specific issues that he wanted to raise. For example, he had lived in the inner city of Johannesburg for over a decade, and had observed radical social change. He believed there were issues that the Committee had to be seized with around radical positive or negative changes that appeared in cities, and how it responded strategically to those changes. This would have been his theme, but since he had difficulty with his connection, he would just defer his contribution until a better opportunity arose.
Mr T Malatji (ANC) said that they had had a progressive conference, and the report reflected most of what had been dealt with. He agreed that the Committee needed to find more time to give more meat to the report.
Mr C Malematja (ANC) agreed that Members should be afforded the opportunity to go through the report. The report was very good, interesting and well informed. They would hear from the Committee office on when it could be arranged for Members to give their input.
Draft Committee report on participation at Human Settlements indaba
Mr Mnguni summarised the draft report on the Committee's attendance and participation at the Human Settlements Indaba from 4 to 5 September in Ethekwini, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
Adv Masutha said that the strategic issues covered were most appreciated and relevant to the Committee’s mandate. He was keen to know how the issue of social class and how it impacted strategic planning in urban centres had been dealt with. It was linked to gentrification and the issue of using urban centres for densification as opposed to gentrification, given issues of availability. Increasingly space was becoming less available and more costly to acquire for purposes of human settlements. He was not aware whether different models had been proposed in different jurisdictions. For example, he had seen the Chinese ramping up densification to accommodate large numbers of people in small land portions or special places to address questions of access to opportunities in urban centres, general development and related issues. These were challenges that still confronted South Africa. How could they reverse the trend of the proliferation of informal settlements by ramping up spatial planning pre-emptively to avoid the situation of self-help based on desperation? People were moving ahead of the Committee’s strategic policy planning -- how had other countries been able to manage this?
Mr Malatji said that Mr Malematja had formed part of the delegation, and asked that this be reflected.
The Chairperson requested that the declaration be attached to the report, as she thought it might be important for Members. Maybe they should wait, because there was an agreement that the report be tabled to the Ministers and Members of Executive Council (MINMEC) first and adopted by Cabinet. Then it would be circulated, after which the Committee would return to it.
The report was adopted.
Draft Committee fourth term programme
The Chairperson went through the draft programme for the fourth term. She said that from 12 October, the focus would be on the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR). Fortunately, the DHS had tabled its annual report. She proposed an amendment to extend the time given to the Auditor-General (AG), as it was too little. A meeting had been requested for Friday 14 October to finalise the BRRR before the Minister of Finance presented the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) budget in October. The Committee had requested more Friday meetings to be within the prescribed time required by Parliament to table its report. She suggested that in the week of 17 October, those provinces whose findings would have been mentioned by the AG, be added.
The Committee had received an invitation from the Department, which was hosting the United Nations (UN) again as part of the implementation of its commitment that it had made on the issues of informal settlements, on about 16 and 17 October. The Committee had made an application that those Members who were available could be part of those discussions to better understand how the world and national governments intended to deal with the issue of informal settlements.
Ms E Powell (DA) asked where the meeting with the UN would take place. About two terms ago, when the Committee adopted the report on recommendations related to the stabilisation of the Housing Development Agency (HDA), one of the recommendations contained in the report was that the Committee receive quarterly reports on the stabilisation and turnaround plan of the entity. The Committee had not had a meeting on that issue in the past term, and she noted that it would not be deliberated on in the fourth term either. How did the Committee plan to implement its own resolution in that respect?
She was glad to see that meetings on the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) expenditure were scheduled, noting that the Committee would be able to get the fourth quarter final reports on expenditure from these metros. They had met physically with the various provinces on the issue of the blocked projects. She was aware that costs might be an issue, but suggested that the Committee also physically meet with the respective members of mayoral committees (MMCs) and executive directors from the relevant municipalities.
On the point of the DHS planning to respond to the issues that had been raised during the public hearings, she proposed inviting and including the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) in that meeting, because a lot of the issues that were raised during the public hearings concerned the constitutional competencies of the district and local municipalities. National departments may be hamstrung in their ability to respond from a municipal perspective, so getting CoGTA in could assist.
Lastly, she had sent the Chairperson an email a number of weeks ago, before the start of the third term, asking that the Committee have an urgent deliberation with the national Minister of Human Settlements on the crisis of land invasions. This issue kept coming up in almost every Committee meeting, and as a Member of the Committee, she was within her rights to request a deliberation on any issue. She was concerned that time had not been made for that discussion in the upcoming term. Could she have the Chairperson’s undertaking as to when they would be able to schedule such a discussion?
Mr Tseki said that he always viewed the programme as being flexible, because there may be things that had to be changed, so he accepted it as a base for the Committee to work from. On the invitations to the metros, he acknowledged that the meeting had been about how they had utilised the USDGs. He was not sure whether that would be inclusive of the issue of the managing of beneficiaries, where there had been allegations that councillors had come in and left the other previous lists that were there. He was also keen to know how metros managed beneficiary lists, how they responded to people's grievances on issues like where a house was not well-built, and their relationships with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). The experience that the Committee had gone through was so broad concerning the activism of the metros and municipalities at large. It was fine if the meeting on the USDGs would allow Members to raise those concerns, or the Chairperson could, as she had previously done, have a template outlining the issues that the Committee wanted the metros to address, instead of having a blanket agenda.
On Ms Powell’s comments, he said that she must accuse the Committee of not getting a report from the HDA in the previous three months. Indeed, it had been agreed that the Committee would get a report from time to time. There was nothing wrong with Ms Powell reminding the Chairperson that the Committee should get the latest report on the developments of the HDA, instead of making it seem like the Committee was hiding something. When the Department came to the Committee, there was also nothing wrong with asking questions on the quarterly reports if it was not on the agenda. The Department could further send the Committee a report if it was not part of its presentation. This was an open debate, and there were no constraints against the Committee getting the information Ms Powell had requested.
The Chairperson assured Members that it was on the agenda that the Committee would meet with the HDA when it presented its annual report. The annual reports would better explain to Members whether the HDA was able to stabilise itself, because it reflected the issues of the Agency, and its board and executive would be attending.
On 1 October, as part of the discussions on the BRRR and the annual reports, the DHS and its entities would be explaining how they were able to implement the programme of the Department that financial year. The AG would even help the Committee understand whether, indeed, the HDA was able to do what it was saying. The Committee would then be able to take a proper decision with the informed insight of the annual report.
She advised that the meeting with the UN was going to be held in Johannesburg.
On the chatline, the Committee secretary clarified that the meeting would be held in Pretoria, and that the venue was yet to be determined.
The Chairperson said she did not have an issue with the proposal to meet with the metros physically if it would be helpful for Members.
On the land invasions, she said Ms Powell was correct, in that it was an important discussion that needed to be had, but the Committee had prioritised the issues that affected the BRRR and the Bill itself. The Committee’s view was that the Bill must be finalised by this year to provide enough time for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to proceed with its processes without any pressure. This was a section 76 Bill, and if the Committee’s interest was to see the Bill adopted by Parliament, including the NCOP, the Committee should agree that it needed enough time to proceed with its processes. There would then be enough time next year to look at other issues. When the Committee met with the metros, it would start with the issue of land invasions to understand their problems and challenges, and why they were not implementing the legislation as enacted. By the time the Committee called the Minister, the Committee would then have a clear understanding of the problems, why the municipalities were not acting within the legislation to stop land invasions and whether it was due to capacity issues. Most metros had more budget than provinces so budget could not be the only issue.
The Committee had agreed that they needed to have a workshop around the issues of housing and see what bottlenecks existed in the system for the Committee, through the Department, to provide sustainable human settlements in the country and address land invasion and all the issues that affect the provision of houses of having integrated human communities in the country. In terms of the law, the Committee had to prioritise the BRRR, as it could not be postponed.
Ms Powell said that in respect of the HDA stabilisation plan adopted by the Committee, they were in dereliction of their own undertakings as a Committee. She suggested that it was a statutory requirement of the Committee, and it did take an undertaking on how frequently it would meet to receive stabilisation reports from the entity, which it had not done. The Committee would need to adopt a revised report regarding their original undertaking because it was not, as Mr Tseki said, a decision to take from time-to-time. The Committee had in the actual report itself inserted a specific time period agreed to at the time. Her concern was that the Committee had not performed a function that it itself had undertaken to perform.
The Chairperson said that Ms Powell was not telling the truth. The decision was taken in the last quarter, and the Committee had in fact met the HDA. The Committee would meet with the HDA in the coming quarter. It would be dealing with the annual report, in the process of which it would then assess whether there had been stabilisation in the entity.
Mr B Herron (GOOD) asked whether the Committee could get a report on the work of the Policy and Legislative Review Team (POLERT) some time in the future. He was new to the Committee so he did not know whether it had already received the outcome of the POLERTs work. POLERT was established in October 2018 to review the housing code and the policy frameworks for developing human settlements in South Africa. The team was disbanded in October 2021 and he was not sure if the Committee had ever received a report on the outcome of that work and what progress was made. If not, he asked for this to be scheduled at some point.
In the meeting chat, Ms Powell said that the Committee had not scheduled the meetings as agreed in the report it had adopted. It had also not met with the HDA in the current term.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Herron’s proposal.
The programme was adopted.
The Chairperson requested that the minutes of May be adopted because in the previous meeting, there was no quorum, and in the other meeting there had been no seconders.
Mr Mnguni indicated there had been an argument regarding the minutes in the previous meeting, so they had been referred back to be reworked.
The Chairperson said that the minutes had been reworked and tabled in the previous meeting and there was no seconder, so they were sent back again. Then, on the day the Committee was supposed to adopt the minutes, there was no quorum due to Members being lost to load-shedding.
Ms Powell requested that Mr Mnguni go through the minutes with the Committee.
Mr Tseki proposed the adoption of the minutes.
Ms Powell asked whether her request had been overruled. She said that there had been no quorum in the previous meeting, and there were Members in the current meeting that had not gone through the minutes.
Mr Mnguni went through the minutes page-by-page as requested.
Mr Tseki said Members were facing load-shedding and their device batteries were dying because of something that could have been dealt with a long time ago. He requested that Mr Mnguni summarise the minutes and conclude.
Ms Powell supported this request, as she did not realise the minutes were 17 pages long.
The Chairperson said that the long minutes were a result of the intern minute-taker writing out each sentence of what Members had said.
On the meeting chat, Dr Khumalo asked that the minutes be corrected where it indicated that she did not attend the meeting, because she was 100% certain she had attended.
The Chairperson requested that her attendance be reflected.
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) requested that Mr Mnguni resend the minutes to the Members.
The Chairperson said the minutes could not be resent before adoption. They must be adopted before being sent.
Ms Powell, commenting on the Chairperson’s response to Ms Mokgotho, said that Members usually got draft minutes sent to them to read before the meeting.
The Chairperson said that the Members had a copy of the draft minutes, as they had been sent several times. She was proposing that the minutes be first adopted, after which they would be sent to Members.
Dr Khumalo was concerned about the accuracy of the minutes, specifically on her attendance since she joined the Committee. Every time minutes were being approved, she had to make amendments reflecting her attendance. She requested that the secretariat pay more attention.
The Chairperson said that she had previously indicated that these issues impacted on Members’ tax returns, and their parties would have a problem if they were not attending. She asked that the secretariat pay attention or change the system of taking note of Members’ attendance so that they would not have to add one name at a time all the time, and forget.
The minutes were adopted.
Adv Masutha asked whether matters arising from the minutes were usually dealt with after the minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson said that this was not on the agenda, but Adv Masutha could raise it. She said the process followed was for the Committee to put forward what it wanted to appear on the agenda for the Members to adopt. However, she sympathised with his request, because the minutes had been to and fro and Members might have lost the gist of what had happened in that meeting.
Adv Masutha said that he had no problem with the content of the minutes, but a discussion on the issues that had arisen from them would be useful. (His connection became unstable and he was inaudible.)
The Chairperson indicated that they could not hear Adv Masutha and requested that he make his contribution on the chat.
Adv Masutha abandoned his effort.
Committee's 2019-24 strategic plan and 2022/23 annual performance plan
Mr Mnguni summarised the strategic plan and the annual performance plan (APP).
The Chairperson said that the strategic plan was a copy-cat of the strategic plan the Committee had at the beginning of the term. This strategic plan had just isolated the issues of human settlements because the Committee could not develop a strategic plan towards the end of the term, as it was still implementing it. It could review the plan only if there were certain things that needed to be reviewed.
On risk one of the strategic plan, she said she did not have the power to allocate time to the Committee meeting -- this was allocated by the programming committee. She requested that this be changed. The Housing Indaba took place annually, and should be part of the APP.
She said it needed to be seen how the relationship with legislatures could be strengthened, because most of the time, issues that the Committee dealt with were supposed to be dealt with by the provinces. She suggested that these issues ended up at the national level because there was no relationship such as an oversight role. How could the Committee make sure that it continued overseeing issues arising from provinces to strengthen the relationship with provincial legislatures?
Ms Powell said that she would personally like more time to read the plans in detail, given the timing of the meeting.
Mr Tseki said that at some stage, the Committee needed to make the plan practical, because sometimes the Committee was moving in response to what the Department said, not necessarily based on the mandate of the Committee. It was not about waiting for the bills that were brought to it -- the Committee could initiate laws or bills, as it had the mandate to introduce them. For example, in 2019, he had requested engagement on the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE Act). This was an act that needed serious amendments initiated by the Committee.
On capacity building, he suggested that the Committee invite a learned person on human settlements to spend an hour with it to speak on the issue of evictions. For example, Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (REBOSA) and other non-state institutions could give a 30-minute presentation and engage with the Committee to build capacity and give it another perspective.
The Chairperson agreed that engagement with stakeholders should be added. When it was still the Committee on Human Settlements and Water, it had targeted Fridays to engage with the stakeholders primarily because it believed that the time allocated to the Committee was not sufficient to deal with the issues of human settlements and water simultaneously.
Ms Powell supported the proposal by Mr Tseki that a critical engagement take place in light of a number of issues that the plan did not cover, which was why she would have liked more time to engage with the plan. On the issue of the PIE Act, the DA currently had a Private Members Amendment Bill to the PIE Act in the Government Gazette that would tabled before the Committee, in line with the rules of Parliament and official parliamentary processes, as soon as the legislative unit for Parliament deemed it appropriate. It was out for public comment at the moment. It was one of the reasons she had been so insistent that the Committee engage on the issue of land invasions and the current limitations of the existing Act. It was something that had come up in almost every single meeting with all role players from entities, to provinces and municipalities. The national Department had made it very clear that there were no current legislative amendments in the pipeline, so she thoroughly supported what Mr Tseki had said in light of the fact that the Committee could itself make recommendations and initiate legislation. This definitely had to be added to the plan. She did not know if other colleagues had the opportunity to thoroughly engage that afternoon with what was presented given load-shedding across the country. She personally supported a somewhat more thorough engagement around this, with a view for further input, but this could also be made in writing if there was no time for further deliberation.
The Chairperson said that the Committee’s plan needed to be submitted to the parliamentary process so that it could be engaged with. She wanted it to be done in a manner where the Committee started from the beginning by dealing with the Constitution and the Committee’s mandate. The plan was the Committee’s input into the system of Parliament. Although Members may have agreed with the plan as presented, this did not mean it would be integrated within the committee sections where the entire budget was reviewed, as the APPs and strategic plans had to be costed. She said that Mr Tseki’s proposal on the PIE Act and amendments had to be added to strengthen it. The Act was one of the pieces of legislation that the Committee had to deal with, and Members would decide on how to deal with it.
The rules spoke about the Chairperson’s responsibility to preside over the Committee and implement its decisions, not the decisions of individuals. Anything that was done by the Chairperson had to have been agreed upon by the Committee, hence programmes, proposals and agendas were brought before it to adopt. The support stuff gave the proposals to Members, and when they were adopted, the Chairperson was obliged to make sure they got implemented. She did not have the mandate to deal with individual issues or proposals on what should happen that had been sent to her. Her mandate was to preside over the Committee and make sure its reports were implemented. If there was anything that Members felt was not captured in what was presented, they could write to the Committee secretary to correct it, including typing errors, language errors and other additions.
The meeting was adjourned without adoption of the strategic plan and the APP.
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