The Committee was briefed by the National Home Builder Registration Council (NHBRC). The Committee expressed concern over the accessibility of their offices to the public, the post-training support of emerging builders and the capacity of the NHBRC in the Eastern Cape region. It was felt that more offices were needed in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, especially the former Transkei and Ciskei. Financial figure discrepancies between projected and actual expenditure were attributed to the projection of small numbers of high value projects and the actual reality of large numbers of low value projects. The Committee was satisfied with what NHBRC had to say, except for the issue of the Eastern Cape.
Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment (PIE) Bill
The Chairperson said that if the Committee agreed, she would send a letter to the Department of Housing stating that it would be better if the Department worked in conjunction with the Department of Land Affairs. The letter would state that the 2008 Amendment Bill would not be dealt with as the concerns from 2005 Amendment Bill had not been addressed and that the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) needed to be aligned with the PIE Bill.
Mr A Steyn (DA) said that he agreed, and confirmed that the Bill being referred to was B8-2008. He suggested that letter also state that the amendments to this Act be prioritised.
Ms S Sigcau and the rest of the Committee agreed.
National Home Builder Registration Council (NHBRC) briefing
Mr Phetola Makgathe (CEO:NHBRC) outlined the presentation as per the PowerPoint document.
Mr D Mabena (ANC) asked how many youths had been trained so far. He added that he was worried about the figures on the presentation slide dealing with subsidies and noted that, in terms of home enrolment, there were problems in North West, Western Cape and Gauteng.
Ms B Dambuza referred to the ratification procedure and said that the NHBRC had already made proposals to the provinces, but the Eastern Cape had stated that they did not have confidence in the NHBRC. She did not understand this in light of what the presentation was saying. She asked what was the possibility of another province taking this route. She questioned the distribution of offices in the Eastern Cape, specifically the neglect of the former Transkei area. She asked about the use of constituency offices to improve service delivery.
Mr Makgathe replied that the Council was debating whether to have an office in Umtata, but decided to test current satellite offices then reconsider, there was tendency to favour mobile offices in that area. He added that they would look at the use of constituency offices.
Mr S Masango asked how far they were in uplifting of the historically disadvantaged. Did they take a proactive role and go to those who needed to register, especially in rural areas? Mr Masango asked for elaboration on the forensic auditing process. He added that project enrolments should not be guesstimates and that the NHBRC should look at provincial business plans in order to determine an exact figure.
Mr Makgathe replied that forensic auditing had been done at the request of the province. He added that they had a very long list from the Eastern Cape, who came to them late last year. They employed engineering companies to go to the sites and do an audit, which the NHBRC subsequently audited. He noted the problem of the shortage of engineers. They had supplied the Eastern Cape with a list of engineers that could help with remedial work. It was the role of the province to ask for help and NHBRC would facilitate this and monitor it. He stressed that they did not do any actual building and that the training was contracted out to SETAs. In the future they hoped to do their own testing and training.
Mr C Thorp (Executive Manager: Finance, NHBRC) replied that they had used statistics to arrive at these figures, projections indicated smaller numbers of enrolments of higher value projects. Tthe opposite had occurred resulting in the figure discrepancy.
Mr Steyn agreed with Ms Dambuza on the access issue. The amendment bill put the onus on the individual to seek exemption. However the NHBRC needed to go and explain to people that this needed to be done. He asked why forms could not be made available through the municipalities. Mr Steyn noted that the actual figures were much higher than the projected targets for the year. However the finances seemed to contradict this. He asked if there was any follow-up on individuals after they had completed training. He asked whether they counted homes by project numbers or by numbers of units.
Mr Makgathe replied that they had said to the service providers that they wanted training available in every locality, including youth and women. Traditional home building programmes were open to everyone, free of charge, provided the builder got enough people to undertake the training. The training would be done in an area convenient to them. He added that “friendly” municipalities that employed these people in building projects after training, was the route currently undertaken. Training of women builders had only been done in the Western Cape as of yet. He explained that owner-builders were usually the ones who wanted exemption and that they needed to register first regardless.
The Chairperson said that according to the Eastern Cape MEC, registration with the NHBRC delayed projects. They had given the NHBRC R34 million already and were not seeing any progress. She added that there was the understanding in the Eastern Cape that the NHBRC was doing the building. She was glad that this was cleared up now. The Chairperson urged the NHBRC to talk to the Eastern Cape and report back to the Committee.
Mr Makgathe replied that he had tried to arrange a meeting with the Eastern Cape MEC on two occasions in the past, but was currently trying to arrange a meeting with the new MEC.
Mr Mabena asked if training had actually improved and increased. He expressed concern about the trend for trained individuals to be constantly “emerging” but never fully formed and utilised.
Ms Sibongile Nene (Chairperson of Council: NHBRC) stated that they did not do training for the sake of training and that it needed to be attached to projects.
Ms Sigcau expressed concern that emerging contractors were not being properly utilised by the larger contractors.
Ms Nene replied expressing concern about post-training support. However the role of support is beyond the mandate of the NHBRC and it is the job of municipalities to absorb the trained youths into projects after completion of training.
Ms Sigcau stated that many builders were suspended over their refusal to repair building defects and asked if there was not an agreement signed beforehand, that mandated this.
Mr Makgathe relied that every builder was required to complete the building and that the same went for repairs of any latent building defects. He explained that the inspector first issued a warning, and only if the repairs were still not done, was there then suspension. Suspension meant that further enrolment for the building of houses could not occur. Suspension affected the builder’s grading. Further disciplinary action did not exist as of yet.
Mr B Dlamini (ANC) asked how they hired contractors. He asked what prompted rejections. Finally he also asked if NHBRC could influence municipalities to pay contractors on time, as this was a problem.
Mr Makgathe replied that they had talked to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) about this issue.
Mr Steyn asked how they decided whom to subsidise. He also asked whether the province paid the NHBRC for the forensic audit.
Mr Makgathe replied that there were two processes: one was to source emerging material suppliers and another to support emerging builders contracted by the provinces. He added that the decision was up to the province.
Ms Sigcau asked whether the NHBRC had any influence over the spread of projects. She noted that nothing was occurring in the former Ciskei area.
Mr Makgathe replied that the allocation of projects in the provinces lay with the MEC.
The Chairperson noted several areas of concern. The accessibility to enrolment / registration offices, the need for the NHBRC to serve as an incubator for emerging builders due to their extensive databases (despite this not being part of their mandate) and the need for government to come up with incentives. She added that she was satisfied with the engagement, but still worried about the Eastern Cape
The meeting was adjourned.
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