Cape Town - Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has expressed her concern over the incomplete low-cost housing projects she found during her nationwide tour since her appointment to office three months ago.
“I was also shaken and disappointed by the number of projects that are incomplete, with beneficiaries who have been waiting for their houses for 20 years or more. I was concerned about the poor workmanship that endangers the lives of beneficiaries, left behind by contractors who worked in collusion with government officials,” Kubayi said.
She said the sight of the incomplete 1.9 million houses reminded her of the difficulties she personally experienced growing up in an informal settlement surrounded by hopelessness and broken dreams.
“It was heartbreaking to listen to would-be beneficiaries who have been wronged one way or the other to the extent that they have lost confidence in our housing delivery system,” she said.
Kubayi made the statement when she was briefing the media on Friday on the state of human settlements and progress made.
During her briefing, she shared some of the stories told to her by the beneficiaries, who still wait for the houses, with some expressing great doubt over the government’s ability to help them to get access to housing opportunities.
“This was a clear message to me that the crimes that are committed in the human settlements sector are not victimless. Access to decent housing remains a major challenge in our country. Disrupting the apartheid spatial development remains a deferred dream.”
Kubayi also said her department had their work cut out for them.
“We have to sharpen our systems so that they are properly geared to deliver housing opportunities for the majority of our people.”
She, however, noted that significant progress had been made through social housing grants, but there were also significant challenges in the department’s programmes and implementing agencies.
“It is in this context that one of my priorities when I arrived in the portfolio, was the stabilisation of the Human Settlements entities, some of which were wreaked with infighting, rapid and frequent leadership changes, poor governance, corruption and loss of technical capacity.”
Kubayi also said she was pleased, during her visits, to find much has been achieved. Many families have been granted access to decent shelter, and there were men and women who are working very hard to make this possible.
“One of the highlights was to meet Grade 7 and 8 women-owned companies in construction who are on the ground building houses for families. This is a practical demonstration of our government’s intention to equalise the playing field by deliberately supporting women entrepreneurs and workers in our sector.”
She announced that that the forum of the human settlements minister and MECs has approved 40% set aside for women in their sector, and 10% for youth and 5% for people living with disabilities.
Kubayi has since appointed new boards for the Housing Development Agency (HAD), National Housing Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), Community Scheme Ombud Service (CSOS), Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) and Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA).
“The leadership instability, infighting and loss of technical capacity at both HDA and NHBRC, compelled us to appoint administrators for both institutions,” she said.
She said nominations would be invited for members of the public willing to serve at the National Housing Finance Corporation board, which is in the process of becoming a Human Settlements Bank.