Housing Consumer Protection Bill: DHS briefing

Infrastructure (WCPP)

28 April 2023
Chairperson: Ms M Maseko (DA)
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Meeting Summary


The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) gave a briefing on the Housing Consumer Protection Bill ([B10B-2021], which seeks to repeal the Housing Consumer Measures Act 95 of 1998. The presentation touched on the purpose of the Bill, the summary of provisions of the Bill, economic, employment, and infrastructure development, as well as implications for provinces.

Members expressed their concerns about the Bill and the rejection of Clause 39, which was initially a regulation of the Bill. There were also concerns about the fact that the Bill, such as those before it, did not strengthen oversight responsibility and might not be as effective as intended. Members continued to outline that the structure of the Bill did not enforce an environment to ensure that appointed MMCs and MECs carry out what is envisaged by the Bill to avoid the repetition of scenarios such as the one seen in the Wolwedans Housing Project.  

Meeting report

Department of Human Settlements (DHS) briefing on the Housing Consumer Protection Bill

Ms Sindisiwe Ngxongo, Acting Director-General, DHS, said that the Department would be making a presentation on the Housing Consumer Protection Bill [B10B-2021], which seeks to repeal the Housing Consumer Measures Act 95 of 1998. This came after an assessment that the current legislation had gaps the sector sought to close. She stated that consumers had been placed at the centre of the Bill so that they could benefit more in terms of protection. What was to be highlighted were the changes made and the new enhancements in terms of the Bill.

Mr Paul Masemola, Head of Legal Services, DHS, presented on the Objects of Housing Consumer Protection Bill, which covered the following;

  • Purpose of the Bill
  • Summary of Provisions of the Bill
  • Economic, Employment, and Infrastructure Development
  • Implications for Provinces

[See the presentation for details]


The Chairperson opened the floor for questions and asked whether any Members from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had additional remarks.

Mr R Badenhorst (DA, Western Cape) indicated that the presentation they had received was different from the information Mr Masemola presented and asked for a copy of the actual presentation.

Ms C Murray (DA) asked whether the Department and relevant entities briefed other legislatures and asked for details on the matter. She inquired if there had been other public participation that took place, the challenges experienced, and the expected way forward in terms of the Bill, particularly at the legislative level.

Mr I Sileku (DA) said that he wanted to ledge on to the statement that the only omission was Clause 39, which the whole Committee did not agree on. He asked whether there were any concerns from Members during deliberations before the Bill was sent through to the NCOP or whether the Bill was agreed upon unanimously.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the intention Clause 39 was trying to fix before it was rejected. She asked what the ripple effects were now that it was not mandatory and was a regulation of the Bill.


Mr Masemola stated that there were public hearings held in about 27 districts in municipalities. He said that there would have been concerns raised and these were dealt with in those specific meetings, and later in the Portfolio Committee. He added that a number of issues would have been resolved, which led to the Bill being approved by the National Assembly.

Ms Natasha Fouche, Head of Legal Services, National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), mentioned that concerning Clause 39, the provision provided for establishing a non-profit company for the purpose of risk-based insurance offerings concerning the structural integrity as a whole. This would have been after the lapse of the warranty if there was a need or a housing consumer wanting to extend their particular warranty. Some of the discussions, concerning the section, were to say that if a clause had to remain, it would result in the NHBRC venturing into the insurance market and for those reasons, the Committee then rejected it.

Ms Ngxongo said that public participation was done before the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding the legislature, the process began on 28 April 2023 in provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape. She stated that going forward, the processes would be directed to different provinces where feedback would be used to enhance the Bill. Also, all comments received from public participation were included and the Bill has served in the National Assembly, where it was supported.

Mr Sileku asked for the Department to elaborate on what is meant when speaking about oversight given to Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs) and Members of the Executive Council (MECs), and what was meant when it was said that the accounting officer, which is the MMC, would be the one to sign off funding.

He inquired on how the Department would make sure that whatever is envisaged in the Bill is going to be accomplished while taking into consideration the history of local government, especially when it comes to releasing funds. He added that municipal managers are sometimes intimidated by their political principals and asked about the measures in place to ensure that whatever the Bill seeks to accomplish is achieved.

He said that what normally occurs is that a Bill would have good intentions, however, these end up not being accomplished on the ground.

Mr Masemola clarified that the Bill made a provision that when the Council becomes aware of the incompetence of an MMC, the failure then needs to be reported to the Minister, who will be able to escalate it further.  

Mr Sileku said that Mr Masemols’s response indicated that if the Council fails to fulfil its oversight role, then there are no other measures to counter issues that might arise. He added that there would still be ongoing issues of low-standard housing and incomplete projects as no measures are in place to ensure that problems are reported.

The Chairperson asked Mr Masemola whether he agreed with Mr Sileku’s interpretation of his answer.

Mr Masemola did not agree with Mr Sileku and said that there are also inspectors available, which meant that irregularities could be reported. He said that it was an expectation that any individual that might have information that needed to be reported, should come forward so that the Council and the NHBRC are made aware.  

The Chairperson clarified that Mr Sileku’s concerns stem from past realities and that he wanted to make sure that when the current Bill is taken to public hearings, it would make sense to stakeholders in the building industry. She made an example of the ongoing issue of the Wolwedans Housing Project, which has become an interesting case study. She added that the Bill had to empower the oversight responsibility to ensure that such cases are not repeated again.

She highlighted that there had been a loophole in the past that had not been identified. The common belief is that Bills serve to assist with the oversight responsibility to avoid problems that are costly to the government. 

The Chairperson thanked the representatives and requested Ms Ngxongo to send through an update of the locations where public hearings have already been held. 

Deliberations on public hearings for Expropriation Bill and the Housing Consumer Bill

Referring to the Committee Members and WCPP officials, the Chairperson reminded them of the agenda that spoke to the Expropriation Bill and the Housing Consumer Bill. She proposed that public hearings for both Bills be conducted concurrently to cut down on costs and time. She stated that since the meeting was informal, the Committee would need to request time for the Expropriation Bill to be extended because the deadline is 14 June and the hearings are set to begin on 26 May. She added that she had already requested for an extension and was waiting for a response from the NCOP.

She asked for a volunteer to speak on how things would be done differently so that the resolutions of the programme for the legislation of the two Bills could be adopted.  

Mr Matthys Odendal, Media Officer, Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP), said he thought linking the two Bills was a good idea. From the communication side, the website will be used as a central area of departure with all the information. The Bills will be communicated in different languages. A paid Facebook advertising campaign will be added as another venue for communication in support of the existing official Facebook and Twitter pages, where constant reminders for public input will be sent until the deadline. He said that all these avenues are linked to the official website page, making it easy for people to access the information. 

He asked whether the Bills would be separated when asking for input from the public.

The Chairperson explained that the Housing Consumer Bill has specific stakeholders that need to be targeted directly, and the Expropriation Bill involves a broader scope.

Mr Khayalethu Mkunyana, Senior Public Education and Outreach Officer, WCPP, said that the WCPP had already spoken to municipalities in George, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Mossel Bay and places such as Oudtshoorn and Kannaland would be targeted. He stated that the plan was to send a delegation to these areas, Thusong Service Centres would also be contacted so that notices could be put up for people to be able to have access to the information, and the Department of Local Government and CDW would also assist with mobilisation. He added that the approach would be to transfer neighbouring towns to the centres.  

The Chairperson stated that the previous resolution taken was that there would be 18 public hearings and that the Committee needed to maximise every decision taken.

She suggested that the first scenario is that one public hearing would be held in each district, and these are the city, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo, District Garden or West Coast District. She said that the Committee would look at the central town, which will be easier for the PO to assist with the transport. She added that the Committee depended on the PO to identify specific places to visit.  

Mr P Marran (ANC) supported the plans stated by the Chairperson.

Ms Murray wanted to confirm if the public hearings were planned to occur over the constituency period and said that this might not be the best time to have public hearings.

The Chairperson indicated that she understood Ms Murray’s viewpoint, however, since the legislation has a life cycle that cannot be shifted, the Committee was caught up in a scenario where public hearings needed to happen during this period. She asked that Members agree to the proposition as the Committee needed to carry out its responsibility.

She added that if the hearings are not done, the Committee might end up not having a negotiating mandate to submit, which would not look good.  

Mr Marran said that it would not be the first time that the Committee does something else during the constituency period and that this should not be an obstacle for the Western Cape to not have a negotiation mandate.

Mr S August (GOOD) said that he did not have a problem with the suggested plan and asked about the clashes that might occur as some Members would be flying out to George on the 22nd or the 23rd for another public participation. He inquired whether it was possible to collaborate with other Standing Committees.

The Chairperson voiced her concerns about the costs of flying to George but stated that it was not an issue if there was a budget for it.

Ms S Jones, Committee Procedural Officer, said that the only clash after the amendment was the Saturday which is a weekend, and no other dates fall under the constituency period. She said that if there are collaborations, there would be clashes since the two Bills to be addressed will start at 5 pm until 9 pm.  

The Chairperson said that the Committee already has a challenge because the start date for the hearings of the two Bills is on 26 May which is during winter time, and around 5 pm, it is already getting dark. She stated that she did not know how the process would work as she did not expect people to make submissions around 7 pm until 9 pm and that the possibility of such happening was a minus.  

Mr August asked whether the George public participation could be held on Wednesday, as most Members would already be there. 

The Chairperson stated that Mr August’s suggestion would not be possible.

Mr August asked if it was possible to arrange the public hearing on the 24th; if not, he said that he would submit to the decision made.

Ms Murray supported Mr August.

Ms Jones stated there would be a sitting on 25 May, a public hearing for mobility on the 23rd, and a Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the 24th.

Mr August agreed with the decision of the Committee.

An official from the WCPP said that he liked the idea of having both Bills done at the same time. He said that the Expropriation Bill, however, was in a category of its own and was more specific to industry specialists. He asked whether the Committee planned to have six hearings at the same place because, as he understood it, industry specialists would prefer to travel to Cape Town as they are the kind of people who have access to data and are able to even join virtually.

The Chairperson said that she understood the official’s point, and that the PO needed to play a role in communication in this area.

Mr Odendal said there was an option to push for an editorial in the local media for smaller towns, as this came at no cost. He added that this, with a combination of social media, would allow the Committee to get good traction.

Mr Mkunyana said that from a mobilisation perspective, when the entity speaks to stakeholders, they are normally presented with two scenarios where at times it might not be possible for people to speak and therefore each organisation would need to have a representative. He added that another suggestion would be to ask people to take down their names and contact details, which would then be followed up on with written submissions if they are not able to engage with the Committee due to time constraints. 

The Chairperson said that the Committee would depend on Mr Mkunyana and his organisation to determine whether what he stated would be possible. She added that, if possible, there should also be recordings of the submissions and that people would need a template to guide them on how to go about it.  

An official from the WCPP stated that he wanted to understand what the Chairperson was saying, but the Committee needed to think about the reasons why people come to a hearing and this was because they wanted their voices to be heard. He said some people might be offended if asked to write down their comments. He suggested that if the queues are long, people should rather be given five minutes to voice their contributions and there should also be enough security in place.

The Chairperson said there should be good planning as the issues were emotive. She said Members would be sent further information.

Meeting adjourned.


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