For years, residents living at Avoca Hills have been struggling to obtain their title deeds. Pictured are community leaders; Teddy Mngadi (ward committee leader), Pete Graham (ward councillor) and France Mchunu (induna) Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has urged the Department of Human Settlements to rapidly improve its title deeds-issuing programme, this as the department has underperformed significantly in this area in the first quarter.

 According to the chairperson of the committee, Rosina Semenya, the fifth Parliament’s legacy report suggested that the department should improve on the issuing of title deeds, as deeds are a wealth legacy that can be passed on from one generation to another. 

“The committee is concerned that the department only issued 7 435 of the 28 796 title deeds that it had planned to issue in the first quarter. The committee recognises that the department must do a thorough verification before a deed is issued, especially for pre-1994 deeds. Nonetheless, measures must be put in place to move the process forward,” Semenya said. 

She said the committee welcomed the preliminary performance indicators for the first quarter, which showed that 43% of targets were achieved, 43% were partially achieved and 14% were not achieved. 

“The committee is satisfied with the department’s assurance that it has systems in place to ensure targets are achieved as planned,” she said.  

The spending of the Human Settlements Development Grant is also a matter of concern for the committee.

“Northern Cape, Limpopo, Free State and to a lesser extend KwaZulu-Natal expenditure is not adequate. The provinces have not spent 77%, 52%, 52% and 11% of the transferred funds respectively,” she said. 

Grant non-expenditure undermines the vision of creating sustainable and integrated human settlements that improve family life, and access to basic services and secure tenure.

She said the committee has called for a clear directive on the provision of business opportunities for women developers and contractors. 

“We welcome the news that the department is investigating making this a requirement in the Division of Revenue Act. This will compel provincial departments to give at least 50% of business to female developers and contractors,” she said. 

Semenya said they are calling on Mangaung and City of Cape Town to spend the allocated Urban Settlements Development Grant. They are currently the only metros that have not spent over 90% of allocated funds between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.  

Semenya added that they were pleased to hear that the department is paying service providers within 30 days. 

“Small businesses are an important pillar in the economy and paying them on time is one way of ensuring that they thrive and jobs are created,” she said. 

 The Mercury