Gauteng still failing the poor - SAHRC report
Johannesburg - As Human Rights Rights Day was commemorated at the weekend, Gauteng’s poorer inhabitants continued to experience lack of access to their basic human rights - despite being in the most urbanised and richest province in the country.
This is according to the recently released report by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), State of Human Rights in Gauteng.
The report said many of those who lived on the margins of the provincial economy were left behind by the government in terms of access to their rights.
“The right to an adequate standard of living (health, housing and water and sanitation) in the province is relatively better compared to other rural provinces; however, there are systemic challenges that need a concerted effort from the national and provincial governments if the province is to tackle the structural inequalities, poverty and unemployment,” the report said.
The report also looked at policy efforts by the province to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030) principle of leaving no one behind, and the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP 2030) objective by the government of building a capable state.
According to the report, the cost of living has continued to increase as incomes, social services and work opportunities have stagnated and even declined.
The SAHRC also examined investigations into the alleged violations of socioeconomic rights of residents, including the Alexandra Renewal Project, which found that the State had, in some instances, been guilty of violating the rights of the poor instead of advancing them.
“The human rights violations that were found by the commission demonstrate that the state is still falling far short of meeting its human rights obligations to protect, promote and fulfil the enjoyment of the right to health care for the majority of Gauteng citizens,” the report said.
It pointed out that the failure by the State to provide adequate housing and basic services in townships like Alexandra was indicative of the structural challenges that had persisted in the delivery of multimillion-rand investment projects.
“The backlog in low-cost housing provision, poor co-ordination between local, provincial and national governments and the rising tensions in communities that are left behind when projects of this magnitude are promised and not delivered further perpetuates a culture of violent service delivery protests, as communities in the province feel neglected and that their rights are trampled on by political office bearers,” the report read.
The SAHRC report recommended, among other things, that the provincial government ensure that its envisaged mega-projects were developed through a clearly co-ordinated mechanism, and that intended beneficiaries for the projects were clearly communicated.
With most residents in Gauteng dependent on public health care, the report found an overwhelming number of the 54 public health-care facilities inspected to be performing way below the 80% threshold, with only 12% of them performing at 50%.
Only one clinic performed above the required standards to claim an acceptable level of care, the report revealed.