Department of Infrastructure Quarter 4 2022/23 Performance

Infrastructure (WCPP)

11 August 2023
Chairperson: Ms M Maseko (DA)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


The Standing Committee on Infrastructure (the Committee) in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) convened virtually for a briefing by the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure, previously the Department of Human Settlements, on its fourth quarter performance for the 2022/23 financial year.

The Department exceeded the target for awarding subsidies through the Non-credit Linked Programme by 1% (272/250) at the end of March 2023 but underperformed in the targets set for awarding subsidies in the Financial Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP), and the delivery of houses in the Breaking New Grounds (BNG) project. Only one of the six targeted informal settlements was upgraded to phase 3 and 44% (1 230/2 747) of the serviced delivery sites had been delivered by 31 March 2023. Of the pre-2014 title deeds registered for development by 31 March 2023, 41% (1 880/4 500) had been registered compared to the 21% (974/ 4 500) of the post-2014 title deeds registered for development.

The Committee was concerned that municipalities have not been adequately supported to improve performance in terms of spending on housing allocation. The Department had since the announcement of the fourth quarter results, introduced initiatives to address the lack of capacity at the municipal level that had contributed to the underachievement in the targets set for human settlement projects, especially in terms of housing developments and title deeds transfers. The Committee resolved to further engage the Department on its role to address the challenges at municipalities.

Meeting report

The Chairperson invited the Minister of Infrastructure to make his opening remarks.

Mr Tertuis Simmers, MEC for Infrastructure, said the Department would be reflecting on the results of the last quarter of the 2023 financial year. The last quarter was an extremely difficult period for the former Department of Human Settlements. The performance of the Department accounts for 44 of the indicators. Progress showed that 25 of the indicators were fully achieved, six were partially achieved and 14 had not been achieved. The performance must be understood in the context of internal and external factors impacting the capacity of the Department to deliver. During the fourth quarter of 2022/23, the former Department had undergone internal restructuring which resulted in an influx of resignations. The targets for the MTEF period under review were based on previous delivery figures and did not consider future internal and external factors that might affect delivery such as Covid-19 and land invasions. Other factors included unexpected budget cuts and increased invasions of sites and projects. In addition, the appearance of the construction mafia raised its ugly head in the province, especially in the City of Cape Town. Millions had been spent on security to protect the assets and sites in the province. The money could have been spent on housing in the same period. He expressed his heartfelt appreciation to Ms Schuurman in her capacity as the last HOD of Human Settlement in the Western Cape and every team member present who punched above their weight since 2019 and especially in the last quarter. He was delighted to inform the Committee, that despite all the happenings in the last quarter, the Department again achieved an unqualified audit with findings, which is a remarkable improvement from the previous year.

The Chairperson confirmed that the last quarter was the final period under the Human Settlement portfolio hence the report is based on the performance of the Department of Human Settlement (DHS). The first quarter would start as the Department on Infrastructure but the status quo remains. The Committee would appreciate more detailed information in future reports to help in understanding the progress of projects and the changes in the Department. The portfolio is new to everyone and appears to be bloated. The Committee needs to do justice in terms of its oversight duties.

DHS Presentation
Ms Labeeqa Schuurman, DDG, WC Department of Infrastructure, emphasised two points to echo the MEC’s sentiments. Under very difficult circumstances in the last six months, the level of engagement with municipalities had increased as well as the quality of engagement to close the gap between the IDPs and the National Business Plan. Many of the existing indicators would no longer surface in the Department of Infrastructure in terms of the Human Settlement Branch. Some would be included in the main platforms of support. A review process with the National Department would be commencing within the following week, to consider the indicators that would inform the plan for the next five years. All the background detail in terms of achievements on each project is available.

While waiting on the presentation to be flighted, the Chairperson requested the MEC and the HOD to arrange an information session, on an agreed date, to unpack the Department of Infrastructure for Members who are new to the portfolio. The workshop would assist in doing justice in understanding all the programmes and responsibilities of the Department and to align the targets with the achievements at the end of the financial year.

The MEC, Mr Simmers, said the portfolio covers a large number of areas. He agreed to compile a list of the top five programmes and to do a detailed presentation per branch on the performances and successes achieved.

Mr Benjamin Nkosi, Chief Director: Strategic Management Support, WC Department of Infrastructure, stated that the presentation reflected the performance information of the former Department of Human Settlement. The programme constituted of four performance areas, i.e.:

Targets were achieved for all of the six indicators, except in respect of the number of evaluation studies. One study was completed and two were in progress. The report on the study on assessing if the provision of housing opportunities addresses the needs of beneficiaries is available for sharing with the Committee. Work on the remaining two studies had started and if agreed, it would be implemented in the new department.

Housing, Needs, Research and Planning
The targets set for the thirteen indicators have mostly been achieved. The policy on housing, needs, research and planning does exist but the signature of the Minister was appended after 31 March 2023. For audit purposes, it was reported as a target not achieved but the policy was available.

Housing Development
Results in this programme were mixed. Some of the targets in respect of the sixteen indicators have been exceeded while others have not been met. Challenges were experienced with the delivery of housing projects due to ongoing unrest as well as extortion by the construction mafia.

Title Deed Transfers
The Department was unable to achieve success in the six indicators due to capacity challenges in both the department and at municipalities. Tracing the original beneficiaries to confirm ownership of housing units is proving to be challenging because people move around and documents go missing. Illegal occupation of houses is adding to the difficulty in transferring of title deeds.

(See Presentation)


The Chairperson asked for patience from the DHS officials because most Members were new to the portfolio. This was the first opportunity to engage with the Department and therefore some questions might initially be to get an understanding of the programmes.

Mr I Sileku (DA) would have appreciated an understanding about the prior year quarterly performance for background information and to compare the quarter four performance with that of the previous year. This would allow Members to detect when targets are not met on a quarterly basis. He got the sense that synergy was lacking between the Department and municipalities in terms of the business plan to achieve the targets of the Department. He suggested the Committee needed a plan to help the Department achieve its goals.

Mr P Marran (ANC) found the presentation template problematic because it was indicating annual targets but no quarterly targets. The Department dropped the ball on key issues. Only 367 of the 2 000 FLISP applications were delivered in quarter four. The Breaking New Ground (BNG) targets were low. He asked why no targets had been achieved in the prior three quarters. The 32 rental buildings devolved to municipalities came from the Stellenbosch municipality only. He asked if there were no rental units in any of the other municipalities. Of the 4 500 pre-2014 annual title deeds delivery target, 84 had been achieved in quarter four. He asked if this meant that 1 880 were achieved in quarters one to three.

Ms C Murray (DA) enquired about the factors that contributed to the improvement in achieving an unqualified audit outcome.

The Chairperson asked if the Department had been making use of a diagnostic assessment tool to obtain the rationale for setting targets. She wanted to know if the Department had been identifying shortcomings during engagements with municipalities in order to provide technical support in developing the annual performance plans (APPs). She asked if municipalities are being supported given the underperformance due to lack of capacity at municipalities. She wanted to know if the Department was making use of a matrix of shortcomings. She sought clarity on whether all underperformance was due to extortion by construction mafias. She questioned the Department’s rationale for setting targets because engagements with the National Department take place after the provincial targets have been set. She wanted to understand the reasons behind the title deed targets. In engagements with the Laingsburg municipality, she was confronted with complaints about title deeds. She asked if the Department was considering doing something different to resolve the persistent problems.

MEC Simmers said he would respond to governance issues and officials to administrative issues. The 2021 local government elections resulted in a number of stable and unstable councils. In stable councils, progress is reported in terms of the human settlement processes. Outreach programmes are held twice a year to give guidance to councillors. But in unstable councils, 60% of human settlement processes are stuck at the council level. For example, the incompetent administration and coalition government in Theewaterskloof tried to change the processes and ignored the historic work that had been done. The situation was found to be similar in Beaufort-West and Knysna. The processes in terms of what is needed cannot be executed because these municipalities are led by pariah states at the local government level who want access to tenders and jobs for pals. He responded to Mr Marran that the reporting template feeds into information that the Committee had received earlier during the year. The focus is on programmes three and four. In terms of FLISP, the focus in 2020 was on affordable housing. The target has since been increased. Given the stringent fiscal environment, the Department was doing well. The National Department often uses the framework of the Provincial Department to assist with the implementation of projects. At the local government level, 60% of BNG projects are stuck because municipalities want access to funds for cadres which impacts supply chain processes and the delivery of housing units. The Western Cape is the only province that reached phase three in terms of informal settlement upgrades. The issue of title deeds concerns all provinces. The inability to trace the original beneficiaries is causing problems for municipalities. An intervention in quarter four resulted in the handover of title deeds in George on the same day that beneficiaries were traced. He had lobbied the National Minister to deal with the title deed backlog. He acknowledged the behaviour of beneficiaries was making it difficult to reduce the backlog. A competent administration and council are needed to deal with the matter because dysfunctional municipalities will not be able to achieve the target. The Department cannot force councils to accept support but there will not be progress without political maturity.

Ms Schuurman replied to Ms Murray that the improved audit outcome was as a result of improved internal controls. Prior year audit findings were workshopped and Standard Operating Procedures (SPOs) on internal controls were amended. The indicators were originally set very high as part of the five-year strategic plan. In the 2021/22 financial year, the targets were found not to match the high bar. In the 2023/24 financial year, the gap in the targets was addressed by making the targets more realistic for the next five years, taking the factors that the Department can control into account. The title deed backlog was a finding for the Department but is based on municipalities not having competencies in managing the housing subsidy system. As an intervention, the Department spent time with municipalities in February and July 2023 which informed the adjusted business processes. This point of departure was tabled with presentations from the regions in the Advisory Committee meetings.

Mr David Allie, Director Planning, WC Department of Infrastructure, said the Department was providing support according to the different needs of each municipality in the province including planning and strategic support on managing the title deed backlog and simplifying applications.

Mr Gavin Wiseman, Director: Affordable Housing, WC Department of Infrastructure, said the increase in interest rates has seen growing pressure on affordability and the inability to access housing finance. Aid is being provided to communities in Cape Agulhas. The Department has a good relationship with the banking sector forum and has been engaging directly with the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) to get private sector involvement with the goal to unlock state investment and leverage off affordable housing projects.

Mr Roy Stewart, Director: Land and Asset Management, WC Department of Infrastructure, emphasised that the Western Cape Government is a title deed coordinator between the National Department and municipalities. The bulk of title deeds are managed at the municipal level. All provinces are struggling with similar issues due to the lack of direction at the national level. It is not a transfer process but a beneficiary administration process. Documents are often missing of beneficiaries who are deceased. The programme managers that were appointed have been doing significant work to consolidate the efforts of municipalities. Resources should be the starting point to deal with the backlog but support from the National Department is minimal.

Mr Nkosi replied to the issue of diagnostic assessments and advised that the Department is following a rigorous process to set targets. The process includes engagement with stakeholders and taking prior performance outcomes into account. It is a challenge when stakeholders are not playing their roles in executing their responsibilities. The APP is concluded in February but certain processes, which are dictated by the National Department, come into effect after the APP is finalised. The late engagement with the National Department has an impact on targets which can only be amended under strict circumstances. He apologised for not including the targets for the fourth quarter and undertook to make it available. The information is also contained in the APPs.

Mr Stewart said rental units in the metropole were offered to the City of Cape Town but the municipality does not have the capacity to accept the offer. The matter would be escalated to the MEC to consider the reasons. He advised that no rental units are available outside Cape Town.

The Chairperson requested the Department to make available the report on the Housing Needs Evaluation study.

Mr Marran felt that the MEC’s response was more of a political nature and doubted that the underachievement could be attributed to only three of the thirty municipalities in the Western Cape. The number of pre-2014 title deeds delivered in quarter four is 84. He sought clarity on whether the 1 880 reported as a year-end total was delivered at an average of 600 title deeds for the first three quarters.

Mr P de Villiers (GOOD) requested the Department to make the research report available. He found it worrying that most of the targets not met related to service delivery. It is unacceptable to allow people to suffer because of capacity challenges and incompetent municipalities. He suggested that the Department draft a comprehensive report of the challenges and make municipalities aware of what is expected of them.

MEC Simmers disagreed that he was taking a political stance. The three municipalities were mentioned as examples although it was not the sole reason for the underperformance.

Ms Schuurman said multiple factors had an impact on reduced delivery. The focus should be on what the Department is able to control. Coordination between the three spheres of government is critical. She drew attention to formal correspondence and written minutes as evidence of the coordination over the last six months. Part of the engagement involved the removal of projects that have been in the pipeline for a number of years without movement. In the 2024/25 financial year, blocked projects would be removed from the business plan and municipalities capacitated to ensure delivery and avoid the rollover of projects. There is a need to unblock bulk services for specific projects. She acknowledged that the playing field is not equal in terms of capacity and implementation.

The Chairperson thanked the officials of the Department and the MEC for the engagement. She agreed that human settlement is a difficult portfolio because it is a moving target. It becomes even more challenging if municipalities are not functioning. She acknowledged that municipalities were trying but are also facing challenges. She was concerned that some families did not receive titles for houses built after 1994 but have been occupying the houses for more than 20 years. She wanted to know how these families could be empowered to legally become beneficiaries. She asked if the readiness of municipalities to implement bulk infrastructure is assessed prior to compiling the APP. She suggested that it would be advisable to also engage junior municipal officials because, unlike senior officials, most of them have experience of ten years or more.

MEC Simmers thanked the Committee for the robust session. He agreed that a change in the Act might be required to accommodate families living in BNG houses over long periods. A sales agent is following up on those who have been selling houses illegally. The City of Cape Town had identified 11 000 illegal occupants. The portfolio is difficult to manage given the complex dynamics to identify the original owners who qualify and those who jump the queue.

Resolutions and actions
The Committee adopted the following minutes without amendments:
28 July 2023; and
31 July 2023.

Mr De Villiers’ request for the report on the Housing Needs Evaluation study was accepted as a resolution.

Mr Sileku proposed that the Committee assist failing municipalities, where possible, to deliver on their mandate. Where the synergy is lacking, the Committee should be the buffer between the Department and municipalities.

The Chairperson proposed that the Committee engage the Department about updating the APP for this financial year. A date before the budget must be set, either toward the end of the year or early next year. To add value to the engagement, the Department should provide a list of municipalities that were underperforming on some projects due to capacity challenges. The Committee needed to understand the responsibilities of the Department in this regard. She asked when the appropriate time would be to engage the Department.

Mr Sileku suggested that a list of all municipalities that have not been spending the grants to the maximum must furnish reasons why they are not utilising the grants optimally. The session with the Department should happen afterwards where the problematic municipalities would be presented. The Department would be asked to explain how the problems would be dealt with and municipalities assisted to improve performance in terms of spending on housing allocation. The business plan for the next five years should be assessed in terms of the challenges and achievements to determine if the human settlement business plan is doable.

Mr Marran agreed with Mr Sileku on obtaining a list of all municipalities because the MEC only referred to three municipalities.

Mr De Villiers asked that officials provide a detailed description of the capacity challenges that had been identified. This would assist the Committee to assess its own capabilities in terms of the help that it would be able to offer.

The Chairperson asked if it would be appropriate to request the list of municipalities and to assess the capacity challenges before or after the annual report.

Ms Murray replied that it would be preferable to do the assessment after the annual report.

The Chairperson stated that the oversight visit to Theewaterskloof would proceed given the suspension of the taxi strike.

Mr De Villiers requested details of the location.

The Chairperson indicated the Caledon Casino as the meeting place.

Ms Murray registered an apology. She would not be able to join Members due to a long-standing commitment.

Mr Marran committed to join the team although he has the flu.

Mr Sileku said he would inform the Chairperson of his attendance by the following afternoon.

The Chairperson felt that Members were abusing their democratic voices. As the responsible accounting officer, she instructed all Members, except Ms Murray, to be present for the oversight visit.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related

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.

Share this page: