In a virtual meeting, the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements received a briefing from the Department of Human Settlements on the Department’s 2023/2024 Annual Performance Plan and budget allocations.
The Department reported its priorities as:
- Spatial transformation and consolidation by directing grant and other investments into declared priority human settlements & housing development areas, and ensure alignment with the District Development Model
- Review of grants to support developments
- Emergency housing.
- Unhabitable mud housing
- Eradication of asbestos roof
- Upscale employment and job opportunities as a contribution to the economic recovery Plan
- Upgrading of Informal settlements
- Unblocking of blocked projects
- Registration of title deeds
- Projects Monitoring
Questions by Members of the Committee focused on specific targets outlined in the Annual Performance Plan and how they aligned with the overall goals of addressing housing needs and improving living conditions for citizens. Members also inquired about the allocation of funds and whether they catered adequately for the scale of the housing challenges faced by the country.
The Committee sought clarification on the Department's strategies for engaging with stakeholders, ensuring transparency, and effectively coordinating efforts with other relevant entities. Questions were raised about the inclusion of marginalised groups, such as persons with disabilities, and the Department's plans to provide them with suitable housing and support services.
Members sought details about the Department's progress in addressing the backlog in issuing title deeds and the steps being taken to expedite the process. They also raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Department's monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that allocated funds were utilised efficiently, and projects were completed on time.
The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) presented its 2023/2024 Annual Performance Plan (APP). The presentation covered key points, including the purpose and background of the plan, Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) outcomes and targets, sector priorities, standardised indicators, performance indicators and targets per branch, provincial targets, budgets, and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations.
The DHS said the presentation aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of its plans, progress, and financial resources, allowing the Committee to effectively assess and support its initiatives.
(Refer to the DHS presentation for more details.)
Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi, Minister of Human Settlements, outlined the current status of the housing portfolio. She confirmed that all boards had been appointed, ensuring stability within the portfolio. All CEO positions in portfolio entities were occupied, except for the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), which was involved in a court case. The PPRA CEO and board had terminated their relationship. Furthermore, she noted that some Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) had resigned at the end of March and April, and the recruitment process for their replacements would begin. The Minister highlighted the progress made in appointments, including concurrent positions at the PPRA, the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), and the appointment of CFOs for various entities. However, the CFO position at the National Heritage Council (NHC) still needed to be resolved through consultation with the Minister and the board.
The Minister reported that significant vacancies in the Department had been filled, including the appointment of a CFO for the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA), effective from 1 May.
Regarding emergency housing grants, the Minister explained that changes had been made to consolidate the responsibility within the Department from 1 April, ensuring better resource utilisation and sustainability. The provision for disabled beneficiaries has also been modified to address security concerns. She mentioned the provision of solar panels for certain beneficiaries in rural communities.
The Minister stated that the restructuring and repurposing of entities within the Department to address overlapping issues would be concluded within the year, with implementation to follow accordingly. She acknowledged that the portfolio had not fully implemented what had been decided by the Cabinet, but efforts were being made to address the backlog and improve efficiency. The Minister emphasised the importance of monitoring and evaluation and the need for a reliable and transparent digital platform.
Ms Pam Tshwete, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, highlighted two additional areas. She referred to challenges related to blocked projects and protests. She emphasised their commitment to addressing these issues and completing the unfinished projects. The relevant information had been provided to the Select Committee and the Portfolio Committee. She said the Department was dedicated to ensuring the proper issuance of title deeds, an issue raised by the committees.
She acknowledged that there were challenges in providing adequate sanitation facilities. However, they felt optimistic about their ability to improve the situation. They aimed to address the issue of toilet establishment and work towards issuing titles and providing necessary support to municipalities to enhance service delivery. She acknowledged that service delivery in certain municipalities was a concern but assured the Committee that they were actively collaborating with the municipalities to resolve these issues.
Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) referred to the Minister's mention of policy changes, particularly regarding the emergency housing grant, and sought clarification on certain aspects. She acknowledged the Department's focus on sustainability, such as using solar panels and water tankers. However, she raised concerns about the lifespan of temporary housing units and whether they would replace the need for permanent structures. She asked what impact centralising the emergency housing grant funding would have on the efficiency of delivering emergency housing.
She enquired about the timeline for implementing the digital platform, as she noted that it appeared to be in the developmental phase in the current financial year rather than the implementation phase. She sought clarity on when the system would be fully operational and implemented. Regarding the Accelerated Housing Delivery Programme, she requested information on its effectiveness in addressing issues such as incomplete projects and eradicating asbestos roofs and mud houses. She asked about the programme's progress across provinces and requested a breakdown of locations where asbestos and mud houses were being addressed.
She raised concerns about challenges related to title deeds and sought information on the Department's proposed target and its collaboration with the Department of Justice to resolve disputes. She also highlighted issues related to the quality of houses, recipients renting or reselling their houses, and the transfer of ownership. She inquired about possible policy amendments or interventions to address these challenges.
Ms Tshepiso Moloi, Acting Director-General: Affordable Housing, provided an overview of the Department's efforts regarding mud houses, block projects and title deeds. The challenges with title deeds primarily revolved around conveyancing and town planning issues. These factors hindered the Department's ability to transfer properties at the desired pace. The Department collaborated with Operation Vulindlela in the Presidency and the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to address these challenges. They were working on town planning issues and streamlining processes with relevant departments such as the Department of Rural Development and the Deeds Office. There was cooperation with municipalities to address frustrations about township registers. Additionally, the Department actively recruited professionals to ensure that Medium Term Expenditure Framework (METF) targets were achieved. Measures had been implemented to expedite the delivery of title deeds and prevent the backlog from increasing.
She explained that an assessment was conducted regarding block projects, resulting in the closure of many previously reported projects due to minor expenditure issues. Currently, there is a backlog of 690 block projects, which would be implemented within the next three years. The Department would provide a detailed report on these projects to both the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee.
Regarding mud houses, the Department was conducting an assessment to determine the extent of the backlog. They aimed to compile a baseline of mud houses and eradicate 9700 units in the current financial year. She mentioned that rural provinces were already addressing mud houses through the row housing programme. The Department planned to submit a detailed report on mud houses, outlining progress in various provinces and future eradication plans.
Similar reporting would be provided for the asbestos programme. A clear indication of the extent of units to be cleared was expected in the second quarter of the financial year.
She requested the Minister's approval to submit detailed reports on these priority areas, emphasising the Department's commitment to transparency and accountability.
The Minister mentioned the need for verification concerning asbestos, as there had been a dispute between the Department and a province regarding the existence of asbestos in certain areas. The verification process was necessary to ensure accurate data submission and to address discrepancies.
The Minister also highlighted recent informal settlements and emergency housing initiatives. Regarding the lifespan of Affordable Building Technology (ABT) units, the Minister stated that many had a lifespan of around 70 to 80 years.
She agreed with the suggestion that centralisation would improve efficiency by streamlining administrative processes. Currently, when funds were allocated to a specific province, there were administrative hurdles to overcome when addressing challenges or applying for additional funding. Centralisation aimed to simplify this process and improve efficiency. This decision was made in consultation with the Cabinet and was driven by the need to respond effectively to emergencies and major disasters.
Regarding the digital platform, the Minister said there were plans to develop and test an app in the first quarter of the financial year. The implementation of the digital transformation strategy would occur in phases, with testing and full implementation scheduled for the current financial year.
The Minister said outreach programmes had been successful. During community engagements, the Department addressed various issues and gathered input from community members. It took note of all matters raised, including cases of destitution, and followed up with the provinces and community members. They received updates via WhatsApp and monitored progress. The outreach programmes had proven effective in engaging with communities and addressing their concerns.
Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) asked the Department to provide a provincial breakdown of the annual targets to assist members in conducting oversight in their respective provinces. He referred to the Committee's 2022 report, in which it recommended that the Department provide quarterly reports on the APP, and questioned why the Department did not comply with this recommendation. He asked the Department to provide a list of municipalities that would receive support from the Department.
The Minister acknowledged that the Executive’s responsibility was to address Parliament's concerns. She clarified that the Department did submit quarterly reports, not only to Parliament but also to other relevant bodies such as the National Treasury. These quarterly reports were a standard requirement for both the Department and its entities. While there may have been occasional delays in submitting the reports in the past, there were no instances of late submission in the previous financial year. The Minister acknowledged that there had not been Select Committee meetings where these reports were presented. However, she expressed willingness to work with the Committee administratively to ensure that Members received the necessary information and content, even in the absence of formal meetings.
The Deputy Minister assured Members that the Department would be able to provide the requested information on block projects for each province.
Concerning municipalities and provinces supported by the Department, it would be difficult for her to provide an exhaustive list, but the Director -General (DG) would also respond to that particular question.
Ms Sindisiwe Ngxongo, Acting DG, DHS, assured the Committee they would provide the requested information.
The Minister provided an explanation of how resources were allocated. The Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) and the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) were provided to provinces and municipalities. Most projects funded by the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) and the Informal Settlements Operating Grant were in the eight metros. She said that the presentation provided an overview of the allocation and location of projects in different provinces. The information would be broken down to show the allocations for each province, providing a comprehensive understanding of the work being done. She highlighted the importance of considering priority areas and unfinished projects in the presentation. Information on specific areas and business plans approved by provinces could be utilised to provide a deeper understanding of the projects. The approved business plans and matrices served as tools for Members of Parliament to assess each province's financial utilisation and progress. While the presentation covered all provinces, the Department did not work directly with municipalities, except in disaster areas.
Mr C Smit (DA, Limpopo) raised several concerns regarding the allocation and management of RDP houses. He inquired about the progress in establishing a national database to prevent individuals from obtaining multiple subsidised or free houses. He expressed concern about people who owned more than one RDP house and then rented them out to others, depriving deserving individuals of the opportunity to own a house. Another issue was the need to ensure that those who received RDP houses genuinely deserved them. He highlighted cases where RDP houses were converted into double-storey houses shortly after being allocated.
He emphasised the importance of having minimum standards in place for water, electricity, streets, streetlights, and other basic infrastructure when handing over houses or plots. He expressed concern about instances where municipalities or provinces failed to provide adequate infrastructure, compromising the dignity of the recipients. He cited an example where stormwater systems were not extended beyond the town's border, causing problems for RDP houses located downhill.
He asked about the planning process for bulk infrastructure for housing developments. He noted the need to consider the capacity of water, sewer and electricity systems to accommodate the increased demand resulting from housing extensions. He stressed the importance of having the necessary infrastructure in place from the start, rather than trying to catch up later.
Ms Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, Acting DDG: Human Settlement Delivery Frameworks, acknowledged Members' concerns about the allocation of housing subsidies. She explained that the Department had developed a policy framework called the National Council, which guided the implementation of housing subsidies in the provinces.
She highlighted the importance of infrastructure in municipalities and metros. She mentioned the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure, emphasising the need for proper construction and maintenance. The Department also provided support for electricity infrastructure, tailored to the specific needs of each municipality.
Ms Buthelezi mentioned the use of two grants, namely the HIVG and USBG, to fund the provision of housing and connected services. She noted that changes had been made to enhance the provision of electricity, including installing solar panels in some cases. She acknowledged that certain areas might face difficulties in connecting to existing infrastructure. This could create problems for municipalities and was also exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasised that internal policies and frameworks were in place to address such issues.
Addressing the issue of beneficiaries selling their houses prematurely, Ms Buthelezi referred to Section 10 of the Housing Act, which prohibited the sale of houses before a certain period. She acknowledged that this was a challenge. There were ongoing efforts to educate communities about their responsibilities and provide support in cases of changing circumstances.
The Minister acknowledged the challenges faced in allocating housing subsidies and the need for a transparent and reliable national database to address issues such as selling or renting out RDP houses. However, the Department currently lacks the capacity to monitor and enforce these regulations effectively. It relied on local government assistance to gather information and verify compliance. She emphasised the importance of ensuring that the right beneficiaries received appropriate housing. She shared examples of corruption cases and scams where people falsely claimed to be associated with her or the Department to manipulate the allocation process. There was a need for a transparent system to prevent such incidents.
Regarding infrastructure, there were norms and standards for building houses. However, she acknowledged the existence of legacy issues where houses constructed before these standards were implemented might lack quality services. The Department was working on rectification programmes to address these areas.
The Minister identified the lack of information sharing between developers and municipalities as a challenge. This hampered evaluation and monitoring efforts by the NHPRC. To address this, the Department was working on strengthening the NHPRC and ensuring consequence management for those found to have acted improperly. They also planned to re-evaluate and withdraw developer status as needed. Regarding the database, there were ongoing efforts to explore the use of a financial data platform. The Department was still considering options.
Mr Smit expressed his concerns about the implementation of housing policies. He appreciated the Minister's response, but felt that the answers provided were mostly theoretical and lacked practical implementation. The responsibility for implementation fell on councillors, but he doubted their ability to ensure proper execution due to their involvement in illicit activities such as favouritism and improper distribution of houses. Due to time limitations, he intended to follow up with written questions to address his concerns. He emphasised the need for concrete action plans rather than just having policies on paper.
The Minister expressed her disappointment that the previous responses did not adequately address the concerns raised by Mr Smit. She acknowledged that Mr Smit's question concerned the existence of norms and a framework within the sector to guide implementation.
Mr Smit clarified that he wanted to know if there were specific implementation plans and policies at the provincial level, as that was where the issue lay.
The Minister responded that provinces did not have the legal authority to develop their own policies or guidelines. Instead, policies were established by the national government through directives and implementation plans. The provinces were responsible for implementing these directives and complying with the guidelines issued by the national government. The evaluation and monitoring of their compliance was carried out by national government. She acknowledged that there had been challenges in the past, particularly regarding improper project implementation. National government has developed guidelines and directives to standardise the implementation process across provinces to address these issues. This allowed for consistent evaluation and monitoring of their performance.
The Minister further acknowledged the concerns raised by Mr Smit regarding the challenges faced by communities, citing an example of infrastructure not being adequately provided alongside housing projects. Lessons learned from past experiences have led to improvements in addressing such issues and ensuring proper allocation of resources.
The Chairperson expressed satisfaction with the Department's efforts to address vacancies in key strategic positions. He emphasised the importance of good governance principles and aligning actions with mandates. There was a need to prioritise issues related to women, deputy positions, and service delivery
The Chairperson raised concerns about the status of municipalities and called for increased powers and functions to address political, governance, financial, and security challenges. He stressed the importance of revising the allocation formula to consider factors such as population, needs, poverty levels, and provincial dynamics.
The Chairperson urged that there should be consequences for non-performance and emphasised the need for accountability in delivering housing to communities. The Committee had requested an audit of a specific project that had experienced delays and raised questions about its history, expenditure, and delivery. Additionally, they discussed challenges in the payment of contractors and the eradication of asbestos in houses. They requested updates on the progress and challenges related to these issues. The Chairperson expressed the Committee’s hope for the timely completion of projects and emphasised the need for proper budgeting and infrastructure planning.
An official of the Department said that they were actively engaging with contractors and technical agencies both domestically and internationally. They used a system called HSS 1 000 to track budgeting and invoice processing. The information was compiled into an Excel sheet and shared with the provinces for review. Consequence management was being considered for heads of departments who failed to meet their obligations. The Department took into account the reasons for non-compliance. They worked closely with the provinces as a team to ensure effective implementation.
A project management unit had been established within the Department. Its primary focus was to ensure the completion of outstanding projects and the upgrading and tracking of projects in progress. Community involvement in the development process was important. It was acknowledged that there were currently discrepancies in the execution of projects and an audit should perhaps be conducted to address these issues.
The official mentioned that there were requests for visitations that had been pending for two or three years, which required allocating resources and time. There was a need for a prompt response and external partners, such as the municipalities and Department of Agriculture, could perhaps be involved to address the concerns of homeowners and comprehensively engage with them.
The Minister acknowledged the mistakes and problems that had arisen in one project. As part of the project team, the Department identified various issues, including the involvement of questionable contractors and security threats on-site. She highlighted the importance of addressing these concerns and instances where government funds were misused or improperly accounted for. Discussions were held with the relevant stakeholders, including the province, and it was agreed that the province should lead the projects. The Minister also mentioned specific issues related to the payment of service providers and the need for compliance with regulations and frameworks. Instances of extended contracts without proper processes were identified, leading to non-payment of invoices. The Minister emphasised the importance of addressing these matters separately while ensuring payments were made correctly.
Similar payment challenges were reported in other provinces and municipalities, where service providers were not being paid for their work. There was a need to address these issues and support small businesses, particularly those owned by women and young people.
The Minister highlighted the significance of catalytic projects and the need for effective monitoring and evaluation to ensure proper implementation. She mentioned a case where a project was hampered due to lack of support from the municipality and province, resulting in inadequate funding and infrastructure.
She stressed the importance of detailed business plans and regular communication with the provinces and metros to ensure proper allocation of resources. Regarding the payment of contractors, there was a need for a mechanism to address payment disputes and avoid delays or legal action. She raised concerns about potential corruption and its impact on the system.
The Minister also touched on the issue of asbestos removal, highlighting the progress made in some areas and the need for continued efforts. She mentioned ongoing disputes in certain provinces and the requirement for trained professionals to handle the removal process.
The Minister assured the members that she would look into the concerns raised about catalytic projects and explore ways to address them. She also mentioned government's intention to partner with the provinces for mega projects and the need for funding arrangements to move forward with these initiatives.
The Chairperson commended the Minister for her comprehensive and on-point responses. He expressed satisfaction with the Minister's commitment to addressing the issues raised by Members. He emphasised the importance of allowing members sufficient time to ask questions and suggested allocating more time for this purpose in future Committee meetings. He said all Members seemed satisfied with the Minister's responses, and they thanked her for her participation in the meeting.
The Deputy Minister acknowledged the importance of the engagements and feedback received, including the Minister's remarks in the National Assembly, which highlighted the need for a different approach. She gave an assurance that the Department would follow up on the issues raised by the Chairperson and other Members. She expressed gratitude to everyone for their contributions and mentioned the Department's efforts to address the housing needs of vulnerable groups, particularly people with disabilities. She acknowledged the significance of providing title deeds to ensure security for homeowners.
The Chairperson said there had been a significant improvement in the Committee's collaboration with the Department compared to when they first started. This progress would be reflected comprehensively in their future work and legislation. He observed that things were running smoothly within the Department and commended their cooperation and shared responsibilities. The Committee appreciated the Department's ability to respond to questions. He emphasised the importance of effective entities and their potential to benefit the people of the country.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.