External Service Delivery Improvement Plan: workshop

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

2 May 2001

Chairperson: Ms N Hangana

Documents Handed Out :

The National Department of Housing has appointed MBM Change Agents to assist with the development of an External Service Delivery Improvement Plan. Various stakeholders, including this committee, will be interviewed in workshops to establish how the national department can improve housing service standards.

MBM Change Agents utilized the workshop to outline its role and relationship with the Department. The discussion illustrated that the committee needed clarity on issues pertaining to the quality and standards of houses currently being built and the process of housing delivery. The committee was informed that MBM is neither involved in housing delivery nor the formulation of housing policy. MBM confirmed that they are a consulting agency aimed at conducting research and making recommendations to national government.

Comments elicited from the Committee during the workshop revealed that it was not satisfied with the pace and process of delivery and suggested increased monitoring and interaction with communities to improve departmental awareness.

Ms Hermien Cohn, a senior Consultant for MBM Change Agents confirmed that MBM Change Agents is employed by the National Department of Housing to assist with the development of an External Service Delivery Improvement Plan.

Mr Dlamini asked if rural areas (now part of the municipality structure) were included in the MBM programme.

Ms Cohn responded that rural areas are included and added that MBM is working with all direct customers of the department whether they are in rural or urban areas. Furthermore, Ms Cohn highlighted that MBM is not involved in policy formulation and does not direct where services should be delivered. Ms Cohn stated that MBM assesses delivery standards where services have been delivered.

Ms Ramakaba-Lesiea (ANC) commented that the housing policy is urban biased, she said people from rural areas are not accommodated.

Mr G Scheemen (ANC) asked how MBM planned to obtain information about housing service delivery at a grassroots level.

Ms Cohn said citizen feedback indicated a need for comprehensive research in areas previously identified as focus areas. Ms Cohn stated that MBM would develop a report in terms of the identified service delivery standards.

Mr Sikhosana (ANC) asked whether MBM had guidelines for service delivery standards.

Ms Cohn clarified that the function of MBM is not to consider the nature of guidelines for service delivery standards or to set these guidelines, but to assess whether the department complies with the action guidelines for service delivery standards.

Ms Ramakaba-Lesiea asked how the government will assist those people staying in informal settlements who are not catered for by the housing subsidy schemes.

Ms Cohn replied that the scope of subsidies is a policy issue that needs to be addressed by government but added that the subsidy issue should be looked at in terms of the resources available to government.

Mr Sikhosana asked whether the government has made a provision to ensure that houses are built on land that is suitable for housing people.

Ms Cohn replied that MBM would invite public comments about housing service delivery via community radios and other means of communication.

Mr Dlamini (ANC) stated that currently persons wait for a minimum of eight months and a maximum of four years prior to housing delivery. Mr Dlamini suggested that ways be found of shortening this process since actual delivery at present is taking three to four years.

Ms Cohn explained that subsidies are made available through the provinces and not directly to institutions which make provision for the delivery of houses resulting in a lengthy process. Ms Cohn added that there is a need for limited funding to build capacity within the communities prior to the initiation of the process and noted that no funding is available from the national department for this purpose. MBM will be discussing this problem with the National Department of Housing on the 7th May. Ms Cohn stressed again that the MBM programme is not concerned with policy issues.

Mr Sikhosana asked how the department separated powers amongst itself, the local and provincial structures.

Ms Cohn replied that MBM is currently consulting with parliament and will be consulting with provincial and local structures to seek recommendations that could be considered by the National Department of Housing.

Ms Southgate (UDM) stated that there should be monitoring of housing delivery at national and provincial level.

A member asked whether MBM Change Agents has the power to overrule or bypass provincial and local government decisions in their programme.

Ms Cohn replied that MBM is working for the national department towards the improvement of external delivery standards and is consulting provincial and local governments about service delivery from national government. Ms Cohn concluded that MBM does not exercise any powers with regards to overruling or bypassing provincial or local government.

Mr Singh asked if there are any existing quality and standard guidelines that can be used by individuals to assess the quality and standards of houses currently being built.

Ms Cohn stated that existing international standards are not necessarily suitable for South Africa and that South Africa should develop her own standards.

Mr Nash (ANC) commented that the construction of houses and the capability of construction companies needed to be monitored.

Ms Cohn agreed that there should be a strong monitoring function coupled with a strengthening of various monitoring bodies. Ms Cohn added that there is a great need for co-operation amongst Ministries, particularly the Department of Land Affairs to ensure that land is available for housing. Furthermore Ms Cohn highlighted that communities must be involved in the recommendation process in order to assess progress.

The meeting was adjourned.


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