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HOUSING PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 June 2001
NORTHERN CAPE VISIT COMMITTEE REPORT: ADOPTION; WESTERN CAPE EVICTIONS
Chairperson: Ms N E Hangana
Documents handed out
Committee Report on visit to Northern Cape Province (19 March 2001) - see Annexure
The committee adopted the report on their visit to the Northern Province.
Members raised concern regarding the evictions taking place in Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape. They pointed out that this province is run by the Democratic Alliance and not the ANC. Therefore the Authority which must account for this situation is the MEC for Housing in the Western Cape. Accordingly, the committee wants to summon this MEC to appear before them. He should appear before Monday 25 June. They will ask him to explain why people have been evicted without alternative accommodation being provided.
- The Chairperson announced that the committee is visiting Indonesia instead of India. They are also considering visiting an African country.
- The Chairperson raised the issue of the evictions taking place in Mitchells Plain. It concerned her most that the people being evicted are poor and that the evictions are taking place in the middle of winter.
Northern Cape Report
The Chairperson asked the committee members if they wished to make any amendments to the report.
Mr Singh (DA) asked if the committee would follow up on the problem raised in the report (after the report has been tabled before the Minister). The problem was that the cement used to build the houses was not up to standard. It had been suggested that the houses be plastered to prevent water from filtering through the bricks when it rains.
The Chairperson replied that the report would come back to the committee if any amendments had to be made to it.
However the delegation that went to the Northern Cape felt that the report was accurate and should therefore be adopted. The only issue that will be raised with the Minister will be the Budget.
Ms Coetzee-Kasper (ANC) (who was not part of the delegation to the Northern Cape) said that she visited a site where houses were built in the Northern Cape in 1998. At that time the same problems (as the ones identified in the report) were raised with the MEC of Housing in that province. The affected authorities said that this was a problem which the builders of the houses had to deal with. They told the complainants to raise these concerns with the responsible company.
The committee agreed to adopt the report.
Evictions in Mitchell's Plain
Mr Maserumule (ANC) asked the committee to deal with the evictions that were taking place in the Western Cape (particularly the evictions in Mitchells Plain). He said that the committee should deal with this issue before it reaches Ministerial level where it will be politicised.
The Chairperson said that people on the ground are organizing themselves against these evictions. She named the ''Anti-Eviction Organisation'' which is a non-political organization dealing with evictions. Eviction is not only a problem facing African and Coloured people, it also affects poor white people.
Mrs Ramokaba-Lesiea (ANC) said that the evictions taking place in the Western Cape show that the Democratic Alliance (DA) is not committed to the upliftment of the poor in South Africa. The MEC in the Western Cape know very well that they cannot evict people from their houses without providing alternative accommodation for them.
Mr Singh said that there was no truth to the contention that the DA is not serious about the plight of the poor. If the committee was really serious about looking into the evictions in the Mitchells Plain area then they should get into their cars after the meeting adjourned and inspect what was going on in these areas.
The Chairperson said that the Western Cape is governed by the DA. Therefore it is appropriate that the questions around the evictions in Mitchells Plain should be directed to the MEC of Housing. She added that she had first-hand experience of what takes place during an eviction. Therefore she did not see the need to visit the area.
She asked Mr Singh to meet with his party colleagues responsible for Housing in the Western Cape and arrange with them to come before the committee to explain what was taking place in these areas.
Mr Singh explained that he suggested that the members go to the affected area because he is not from the Western Cape. Therefore he is not in touch with what affected the communities in the Western Cape.
He felt that the committee itself should write a letter to the relevant MEC and Department to request them to appear before the Housing Portfolio Committee.
Mr Maserumule pointed out that Parliament would be in recess from Tuesday. Therefore a timeframe should be given to the MEC (between Wednesday 20 June and Monday 25 June) to respond to a meeting with the committee.
Mr Dlamini (IFP) suggested that they write a letter to the relevant authorities. In this way they could urge them to halt the evictions until the committee and the Provincial Government Department have resolved the issue.
The Chairperson said that they would look into this. The meeting was adjourned.
Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Housing on visit to Northern Cape province, dated 19 March 2001:
The Portfolio Committee on Housing, having undertaken a study Tour to the Northern Cape reports as follows:
A multi party delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Housing undertook a study tour to the Northern Cape Province on 18 and 20 March 2001. The delegation under the leadership of Ms MS Maine consisted of six members and two officials, Ms M Buthelezi (ANC), Mr LPM Nzimande (ANC), Ms E Ngaleka (ANC ), Mr BW Dhlamini (IFP), Mr A Singh (DP), Ms Anna - Maria Jojozi (Committee Secretary) and Ms Koliswa Pasiya (Committee Assistant).
2. Objectives of Tour
The Committee decided to embark on the provincial study tour to Northern Cape, with the following objectives:
- To fulfill its monitoring and oversight function The Committee intended to establish the progress made on the "Housing the Nation" programme.
- To have exchange of views and experience with the Legislature and hear the feelings of people on the ground about the housing projects.
- To undertake a study tour to the various housing projects such as People's Housing Projects and other Inner City Developments.
3. Meeting with the MEC
3.1 Housing Impact
- The Northern Cape has a low population density in most areas. Some housing projects are far from Kimberly as the province is very vast province. A number of criticisms from various dimensions regarding housing programme have resulted in the development of a number of policy tensions. The Northern Cape Government is delivering faster compared to other provinces and is playing too much a role in housing projects. The Government has placed more emphasis on people driven delivery. The main idea of the concept of "people driven delivery" is that the people are in control of decisions taken about their own housing constructions. This has resulted in a much larger top structures and higher satisfaction levels. The 'People's Housing process" has contributed enormously to the delivery of houses much bigger than 36 square metres.
3.2 Housing Delivery
- In 1995 the Department decided that no developers should build houses less than 33 square metres. Considerable progress has been made in the Province with regard to the delivery of houses. This delivery has however been achieved through co-ordinated efforts of developers, financial institutions, local authorities, women's groups in housing and material suppliers. The past six years have been a great success for the Northern Cape, over 22 000 houses have been built.
The Department has identified a few projects for disabled people and is waiting for Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) to get back to the Department.
3.3 Housing Allocation
The National Department of Housing allocated R65,475 million to the Department for the low cost housing programme for the 2001/02 financial year which can afford to deliver 3,500 units across the entire Province. In support of the National Department, the Northern Cape Department of Local Government and Housing embarked on a process to draft a housing plan that is appropriate, realistic and affordable for the continuation of the housing process in the Northern Cape during 2000/2001 financial year.
This plan will serve the following purpose:
- To serve as a guideline for all departmental officials to implement the housing programme effectively
- To serve as a tool to communicate the processes to be followed with external stakeholders. The process is therefore transparent.
- To intergrate the housing process with other programmes
- To propose a clear strategy with targets and time frames for the 2000/01 financial year.
3.4 External Factors / Problems Experienced
There are different circumstances which have a direct influence on the low cost housing programme, namely:
- The geographic vastness and low population numbers resulting in long distances between small communities and towns. The Northern Cape is a vast province and there are long distances between housing projects and towns. To transport building material to the different projects is very costly.
- Building material is not always available in small towns and has to be transported over long distances
- The constant migration of communities between towns as well as between towns and cities
- The funds allocated to the Department of housing for housing projects are not adequate enough to address the needs of the communities.
- There are only three areas where women are involved in construction and yet most beneficiaries are women.
- It is difficult to identify disabled people from the application forms that are used for housing applications
- There is sometimes conflict between developers and the Department. When the Department give advice to the communities, the developers complain that they are playing too much a role in housing delivery.
- The pace of delivery is very slow in the province. This is due to the fact that:
Â· It takes time before projects are approved this is due to the fact that there is a lot of
administration backlog, there is shortage of personnel to deal with administration and
finances related to housing delivery. In the Department of Local Government and
Housing, there are 22 staff members to deal with administration and finances related
to housing delivery. The head of the Department is at the level of Chief Director, In
other provinces the head is at the level of the Deputy Director - General. In other
provinces there are about 100 staff members who work with housing delivery projects.
Â· There aren't enough funds to process applications for people who qualify for housing subsidies.
3.5 Future Developments
- In 2001, the province will review what has been built so far, the constraints women face in obtaining access to housing opportunities. The Department will continue to forge links with the private sector and financial institutions. Subsidy benefits subject to individual savings performance will be made a prerequisite to gaining access to both ownership and rental housing. A sound strategy based on the public / partnership, to reward those who save would appear to be the right route to follow.
- People with moderate incomes still do not have access to ample affordable housing finance hence a strategy aligned to the Savings Strategy is needed to ensure an adequate flow of private lending funds to the low-income segment of the market on terms and conditions, and with lending practices that are appropriate, fair and equitable.
- The Northern Cape Government will continue in its endeavor in providing shelter to the homeless and gently restoring the rights of our people to a secure place in which to live with peace and dignity.
4. Galesewe Housing Support Centre
The primary objective of the Housing Support Centre is to facilitate beneficiary families to build and or to make improvements to their own houses.
4.2 Project Objectives Achieved
The project has achieved a significant increase in the rate of delivery of low cost housing
- The Galesewe Housing Support Centre was involved in the facilitation of the construction of houses in Roodepan (391) and Boikhutsong (415). The construction of houses in these areas have been finalised
- The projects where the Housing Support Centre has played a major role in the implementation process was Greenpoint (233), Coville / Floors (64), Chris Hani Park (251), Boikhutsong phase 11 and John Mampe 111.
4.3 Problems Experienced
- There is slow pace of delivery in the province.
- In winter the shacks that are built in some areas in the province catch fire.
5. Chris Hani Park - People's Housing Process
5.1 Project Profile
- This project was started on 23 March 1999. Weekly meetings were held with the Community Development Forum in an attempt to resolve all problems regarding the development of the top structures.
- The Department of Housing and Local Government has supported 20 females by supporting them with the necessary tools to build their own houses. The houses they have built are bigger than the houses that the Housing Support Centre in conjunction with the Kimberley Municipality have built
- The houses that were built are 45 square metres and 54 square metres, with two bedrooms, kitchen lounge and a bathroom. The owners have to pay R150.00 for electricity connection. The houses cost about R15 000.00 including services. The owners are happy with the houses.
5.2 Problems experienced
- A large number of people want to withdraw from the Kimberly City Council housing projects because of the bigger houses that the 20 females have built for themselves. The problem with these houses is that they are not of good quality and standard.
- Confusion is created by the fact that the Department of Housing and Local Government has started with a second project in the community. This project is going to be stopped due to political problems in the area. Two houses still need to be built.
- There are people who are occupying a church site unlawfully. A rezoning application for the rezoning of the church sites has been submitted to Town Planning. This is to ensure that these people are accommodated.
6.1 Project Profile
- Kutlwanong is located eight kilometers from the city of Kimberley. Kutlwanong was founded in 1994 through an effort of a local civic organisation putting pressure on the municipality to establish a recognised community from the growing settlement. Kutlwanong housing project is the result of the United States - Republic of South Africa Gore-Mbeki Binational Commission (BNC) Energy Conference held in Kimberly in 1995. Several community leaders attended the conference, and this spawned a decision by the Kutlwanong Community to use the environment engineering firm of PEER Africa to help plan and rebuild the township into a holistic, sustainable, and economically viable community. The intention was to incorporate environmental and energy efficiency awareness, economic upliftment and capacity building into the planning, development, and implementation process.
- The community is governed by an elected council of eight, called the Kutlwanong Civic Executive Committee. The Executive Committee work closely with its community to ensure that they have support in their initiatives. Because housing is a priority, the Executive Committee met with developers before selecting PEER Africa 9comunity based developer) to assist in organising the community for training and building new homes. The Kutlwanong style house is a product of participative management and design by PEER Africa. The process involved first understanding the resident's acceptable living standards and developing those standards into a basic house plan. The beneficiaries defined th e number of rooms and the total space required to achieve a liveable, comfortable home.
The Kutlwanong style house has the following features:
- Correct (Northward) orientation of the dwelling
- Placement of windows on the North side of the house to maximize thermal benefit in winter when the sun is low on the horizon
- Extension of roof line to shade windows during summer when the sun is high on the horizon and thus minimizes unwanted solar gain.
- Installation of an insulated ceiling to moderate the thermal comfort zone in the dwelling
- Installation of wall cavity to further prevent heat loss in the winter and the heat gain in summer
Kutlwanong has adequate infrastructure: paved and wide streets, electricity, individually serviced water and sewerage plots. Provision of formal housing is a priority for the community.
6.2 Problems Experienced
- Kwatlenong is not conveniently located, potential places of employment and shopping are far away and transport to these places is very expensive.
- *At present, the majority of the community live in 20 to 30 square metre shacks constructed of corrugated iron sheeting. These shacks have no ceilings and curtains are often used as room dividers. The shacks are colder inside than outside in the winter, and hotter inside than outside in the summer.
- There is high rate of unemployment in the area which makes it difficult for the community to sustain their houses
7.1 Project Profile
Prior to the implementation of the housing policy in the province in 1994, the lack of adequate housing was the single largest problem with which Warrenton Municipality had to contend with. It was therefore decided that at least 1000 houses be built in Warrenton and its surrounding areas in order to address the lack of adequate housing which by that time reached crisis proportions.
The various communities of Warrenton, in collaboration with the CBO's, Warrenton Municipality and the Department Government and Housing, identified the urgent need for the provision of housing as well as to upgrade the unacceptable living conditions for the inhabitants of Warrenton. This was the birth of the first housing project in Ikhutseng. Warrenton Municipality constructed 200 houses in a former traditional poor black township, which was completed in 1996. Ikhutseng was incidentally enormously disadvantaged and is still suffering the effects of the apartheid government reign.
The construction of the 121 houses in Warrenvale by Warrenton Munipality as well as the construction of 600 houses in Ikhutseng by Grinaker Housing was approved shortly afterward. The construction of the 121 houses in Warrenvale and the construction of 475 houses in Ikhutseng were both completed in 1996 subsequently generating a number of employment opportunities.
7.2 Problems Experienced
- Some of the houses are falling especially during rainy seasons and the Department is busy trying to fix them.
- There are people who apply for houses when they already own them.
8.1 Project Profile
The town of Windsorton on the other hand has encountered much of the same experiences as that of Warrenton but in many instances, conditions were far more severe.
The first project was approved during 1995 by the MEC for Local Government and Housing. This project was completed during 1998 whilst the size of the structures were as little as 16 square metres, which was not acceptable to the MEC. He was horrified at the delivery of these small top structures, which formed part of the initial projects that were implemented in the Northern Cape.
Communities started complaining about the small top structures that were delivered by China Feng Pu and New Way Development. The MEC issued a directive stating that all houses to be constructed in future would not be smaller than 32 square metres. Housing delivery has since become a major topic of discussion at a number of meetings and news reports and although the housing programme has been criticized severely, the Government of the Northern Cape will continue in its endeavour in providing shelter to the homeless whilst gently restoring the rights of its people to a secure place in which to live with peace and dignity.
- The roofs are also not intact and the beneficiaries have placed stones and bricks on top of he roofs.
- There are 41,60 square metre houses which were built in 1998, in 2000, 44,8 square metre houses were built and now the beneficiaries of the 41,60 square metre houses are complaining that their houses are small and they also would like to occupy the 44, 8 square metre houses.
9. Comments and Recommendations
- In order to ensure that housing delivery occurs, rollover funds allocated to other provinces for housing projects should be made available to needy provinces
- Housing subsidy application forms used should cater for disabled people so that the Department is able to determine from the application forms who is disabled and who is not.
The Portfolio Committee members are convinced that with regard to the delivery of houses, the Department of Local Government and Housing in the Northern Cape has played a big role. Amongst the provinces that the Committee has visited, the Committee has observed that the Northern Cape has delivered more houses than any other province.
* Most of the information on the Kwatlehong project file and problems experienced has been obtained from a report written by the United Nations Conference of the parties 111 dated 6 December 1997. The situation could have been improved by now - 2001.
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