File picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA

JOHANNESBURG -  Housing is a basic right which the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is determined to ensure that residents of Johannesburg enjoy, the organisation said on Wednesday.

The SAHRC urged the provincial department of human settlements and the city of Johannesburg to work together towards providing decent housing for residents, many of whom it said had been waiting for a very long time.

The commission was seriously concerned about the looming litigation between Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and Gauteng provincial MEC for human settlements Uhuru Moiloa, spokesperson Gail Smith said.

Mashaba and Moiloa are involved in a tussle over the reduction of the Human Settlements Development Grant to Johannesburg by the provincial government.

Smith noted that South Africa had done a lot to meet its constitutional obligation with regard to housing, with data showing the government had built around four million units since the end of apartheid rule.

"However, the country is still reeling under the challenge of lack of housing, especially for the poorest members of society.  The challenge is even worse in big metropolitan cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, because of the incessant influx of new people to these areas," she said.

"This makes it even more critical for provincial and local governments in these provinces to work harder and work cooperatively towards meeting the challenge."

"The members of the public, who expect to benefit from the disputed housing budget, will be left waiting in the shadows for a very long time and their rights to have access to housing will remain indefinitely suspended while one level of government fights the other in courts of law, over resources that should have been used to achieve a progressive realisation of that right, in the first place," Smith added.

"The SAHRC will monitor developments in this regard and is available to mediate should parties deem it necessary."

African News Agency (ANA)