ACCOUNT: Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips / ANA
ACCOUNT: Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips / ANA

Housing promises: Did Mashaba crack it?

By Liesl Pretorius Time of article published Nov 29, 2017

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Has Mayor Herman Mashaba made progress on the housing promises he’s been making since he started campaigning for the city’s top job?  The Star partnered with Track My Mayor* to find out:

"This increase (in funding to the Johannesburg Social Housing Company) will be dedicated for the purpose of purchasing buildings that will be refurbished within the inner city.These buildings are to be converted into low cost rental stock that will house 1164 families.” (State of the City Address, May 2017)

In October, the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) said 816 of these units had reached “practical completion level”, which meant that remedial work had to take place before the units would be ready for occupation.

“The projects that reached practical completion in June 2017 will attain final completion level and be ready for occupation in January 2018,” according to Joshco.

We asked the mayor’s office whether evictions have had to take place or will have to take place to enable the city’s plans for housing development in the inner city.

The mayor’s office referred the query to the housing department, which - last week - referred it to Joshco.

An email enquiry to Joshco received no response and no one answered the phone. 

(Read Khaya Koko’s story on what happens to people who are evicted from buildings in the CBD)

Promise outcome: In progress

  • “During my election campaign, I was horrified by the number of incomplete housing projects, where beneficiaries could only look on from a distance in their shacks. Tragically these units stood empty for long periods of time, in most cases, due to failures of the city to provide services and necessary funding to these projects. Within two months of us coming into office this list was completed and detailed over 3000 housing units that require work to enable our people to take occupation. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that we will complete 1841 of these housing units in this current financial year.” (State of the City Address, May 2017)

When we asked the city in October how many units had been completed by June this year, the mayor’s office said: “The units from Fleurhof are still not completed due to the lack of electricity supply in this section of the development.

“Plans are under way to ensure that the provision of bulk infrastructure will be completed by November to enable allocations of beneficiaries. The units at the Malibongwe Ridge development were also part of the housing units targeted for allocations by (the) end June 2017; all plans are under way to ensure allocation happens before (the) end of October 2017.”

We asked whether this meant that no units had been completed by Mashaba’s deadline but received no response to this question from the mayor’s office.

On Friday November 24, Buntukazi Xuba of the city’s Housing Department, said the units were considered to be complete.However, her statement is in conflict with the city’s initial response, which says the Fleurhof units “are still not completed”.

No meter, but big water bill to pay

In his promise, Mashaba specifically mentioned the failure to provide services as a reason why some units had “stood empty”. And it is clear that this exercise was aimed at completing units to the point where people could take occupation. In this context, the Fleurhof units cannot be considered complete. We, therefore, rate this promise as being kept in part.

Promise outcome: Kept in part

  • “Unlike before, [the official housing waiting list] will be publicly available at government offices and to communities to ensure that it is transparent. Because when the bright light of transparency shines down, the space for corruption disappears.” (Inaugural speech, September 2016)

In response to an enquiry, the mayor’s office said the housing waiting list was set to be made available on the city’s website this month. “For those who cannot (access the internet), our (housing) offices shall be available to check for the beneficiaries.”

Promise outcome: In progress - we’re keeping our eye on Thursday, November 30 to see if the online system has gone live.




* Track My Mayor keeps track of mayoral promises in the interest of increased accountability at local government level. Reporting for this story was supported by Code for Africa’s impactAFRICA fund.

@lieslpret

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