Lindiwe Sisulu
Cape Town - Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu believes the government will be able to address the backlog of two million houses in the country.

Sisulu told Independent Media in Parliament after her budget vote that the backlog was still huge, but that the Expropriation Bill and other measures would enable the department to meet the demand for housing.

“The backlog is around two million. But the problem with our backlog is that it is not static,” said Sisulu.

The government had over the past 25 years built over three million houses but the demand continued to grow.

“While the number of houses is set, the number of people who are waiting for housing grows,” she said.

“It’s a demand of urban migration; it’s completely unprecedented and it’s out of control.”

However, Sisulu said the department had to accept that urbanisation was a phenomenon.

She said one of the measures that would ease the difficulty in acquiring more land for housing was the Expropriation Bill.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure will soon table the bill in Parliament.

But Sisulu said despite the bill falling under the Department of Public Works, her department would comment on the bill. She said her department wanted a specific clause in the bill calling for the expropriation of land to build houses.

Her department should be the first in the queue for the expropriated land.

The government has been pushing for the expropriation of land without compensation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a panel on land reform. The panel’s report will be released soon, and it will identify land parcels for expropriation.

On top of the list of parcels of land to be expropriated is the land under the ownership of departments and state-owned entities.“If the law is on track, as it is, because we have the Expropriation Bill, we will suggest (introducing) a clause that all public land must be for human settlements,” said Sisulu.

She said the bill would be key in speeding up the process to acquire more land for houses and meet growing demand.

Sisulu said technology would be used to monitor the building of houses. Her comment comes after reports that some companies built shoddy houses for the state.

A few years ago the government was forced to spend billions of rand on rectifying faults in state houses in some provinces.

Sisulu said the technology would enable her department to evaluate whether houses built were of the quality the government wanted.

Former minister of Human Settlements Nomaindia Mfeketo told Parliament last year that the government had spent more than R3.1 billion on fixing shoddily built houses in some provinces in the previous five years.

Mfeketo said in the Eastern Cape the government had spent over R2bn on repairing substandard houses.

This led to the government blacklisting some of the companies that had been involved in the projects to build low-cost houses.

Sisulu said it was their responsibility to ensure that houses being built were of good quality.

They did not want to end up in a situation where houses built for the poor were of a low quality.

But the technology would enable the department to monitor progress made in the building of houses.

Sisulu said they believed the centralisation of the database for housing beneficiaries would eliminate corruption in the department.

People have, over the years, been complaining that they are still waiting for houses despite being on the waiting list for houses for many years.But Sisulu said they now had a complete database, and would be able to eliminate corruption and delays in people receiving houses.

Political Bureau