Human Settlements Report

Delivered by MEC Ravi Pillay MPL
at Umzinyathi Legislature Sitting

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Pietermaritzburg Thursday, 07 November 2013

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members; the report tabled by the MEC for Human Settlements during the Legislature Sitting at Umzinyathi was primarily a public-relations exercise. From the outset the report directed our attention to 500 houses that had been handed over at Nquthu. The previous day they had handed over 250 houses at Ingwe.

 

REPORT ABOUT HOUSES SINCE 1994

 

Hon. Speaker; the report told us that since 1994 when the ANC government took over, it has managed to build 355 290 units. Let it be stated for the record however that - for ten of those years - we had a joint-ANC-IFP government. Yet suspiciously, the report fails to state unambiguously as to how many houses were built since 2004 when the ANC took over government.

 

For the sake of this debate let us look at the record from 1994. If you divide the 355 290 houses by about 20 years since the advent of democracy, you come up with about 52 houses built per day. Do you call that commendable performance? The report is also suspiciously silent on those houses which were either rectified or totally demolished and started afresh because of shoddy workmanship. I dare say that if you factor in thousands of such units, you will be ashamed of this government’s record.

 

UNFAIR TO MEASURE ANC AGAINST NP

 

The report goes on to gloat that “our country is indeed better than it was before 1994.” This is the political massage that has led the ANC to this dismal record. Hon. Speaker, the ANC government must be disabused of deceiving our people by measuring themselves against the record of the National Party government. No serious democratic government can attempt to politically massage itself by comparing apples with oranges.

 

Hon. Speaker, the National Party government’s policy was dismal because it was their policy to oppress, discriminate against black people. To them it was not failure that black people were not developed and not empowered. It was part of their policy whose objective was to keep black people in the state of underdevelopment. This ANC government on the other hand is democratically-elected and its policy is to develop and empower all citizens of this country regardless of the colour of their skin. Now how can a democratic government gloat and hide their failures by measuring their performance against an undemocratic government which had no intentions to develop black people?

 

The ANC declared that there shall be houses for all. The NP government had never made that declaration. The ANC government can only measure itself against other democratic governments; not the apartheid government; for their policies and objectives have never been the same.

 

ANC’S FAILED PROMISES

 

The sad reality is that when the ANC took over power from the National Party in 1994, they promised houses to all. And they also promised that by 2010 all communities will have access to clean water and decent sanitation; and that by 2012 all houses will have access to electricity. But they have failed.

 

In fact this ANC government has even failed one of its foremost Presidents, Mr Oliver Tambo. Ms Florence Zwane told the Multi-party Committee which visited Umzinyathi District that she had a letter written by Mr Tambo where he made an undertaking that “all detainees will be provided with houses…but till today nothing has been done.” Is this not a disgrace?

 

On page 16 the report states that “we have built bigger and better houses…” Yet the same report on page 69 states: “Houses erected during the democratic government era…require rectification due to shoddy workmanship or bad planning.” It goes on to say that “significant resources have to be directed to rectification.” This is a contradiction!

 

Almost 20 years since the advent of democracy, multitudes of citizens of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa have not realised their dreams. THE 2011 CENSUS REVEALED THAT THERE ARE 635 INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS IN KWAZULU-NATAL. OF THESE 695, ABOUT 494 INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS ARE IN ETHEKWINI REPRESENTING 149 289 HOUSEHOLDS.

 

One other glaring evidence of the government failures is in the disturbances by different communities in different parts of our Province, who, almost daily, rise up in protest against government for failing them.

 

WHY ANC HAS FAILED

 

Hon. Speaker, why do we find ourselves still suffering almost twenty years since the end of apartheid? Here are some of the reasons:

 

a) Bloated Public Service: When President Jacob Zuma assumed Office in 2009, he increased his Cabinet from 28 Ministers and 22 Deputy Ministers, to 34 Ministers and 32 Deputy Ministers.

 

Lest we forget, the appointment of a Minister/Deputy meant by-and-large, new staff in the Ministry as well as staff for a new Department. Consequently, according to the findings of the Fiscal Financial Commission, the public sector wage bill has risen to R400bn. In other words, the money that should have been channelled to delivery of houses in particular and service delivery in general, is servicing a bloated cabinet and public service.

 

b) Shoddy Workmanship: The quality of housing is often substandard as the report itself admits. This is mostly due to the fact that the government and municipalities have unscrupulously followed a blind cadre-deployment policy by employing people who have no adequate skills. In addition, they award tenders and job opportunities to unqualified and incapable comrades and pals. This results in government being forced to demolish and rebuild or rectify thousands of houses.

  

The case of a company known as Stedone Civils is a classic example of this situation. According to reports, the MEC admitted that “R 428m worth of low cost housing projects in the province look set to be abandoned.” The MEC further admitted that “Stedone will not be able to complete the work in the vast majority of cases…” Reports went on to reveal that one of Stedone’s subsidiaries, Deebo Construction, is owned by Mr Zuma’s cousin, Sibusiso “Deebo” Mzobe.

 

What worsens this situation is that, government has failed dismally to doggedly pursue everyone who provides shoddy service and force them to re-do the work at their own costs or pay back the government after it has rebuilt or rectified the houses.

 

c) Corruption: The worst cancer which ravages this ANC government and thus hinders the rapid construction of houses is that the procurement procedures are riddled with fraud and corruption. Millions of Rands meant for the housing development end up in the pockets of individuals.

 

What is worse is that instead of ensuring that they stick to the job of providing free houses as promised, some ANC Councillors are involved in corrupt schemes of selling the very few RDP houses. Mr Philemon Zondi, a former Councillor at Umvoti Municipality, told the Multi-party Committee of “allegations of corruption in RDP houses. It is alleged that the rightful owners are side-lined and houses are given to contacts of ward committee members.” What is unfortunate is that this report continued to state that “the community has written to the MEC Pillay without any success.”

 

d) Under-developed Rural Areas: The MEC’s report hit the nail on the head when it states that “the migration of people to the economic hubs increases the challenges of provision of houses in densely populated areas…” (p.9).

 

Hon. Speaker this is the nub of the problem. The primary reason why multitudes leave the rural areas for urban areas - which results in informal settlements especially in big cities and urban areas in general - is that the government does not have a commitment to develop the rural areas, both as industrial bases and comfortable habitats.  As long as rural areas remain poor, underdeveloped, without any tarred roads, transport system, properly-equipped clinics and hospitals, water, electricity; without any chance of attracting industries and companies which may create jobs and empower people economically, we will never be able to stop our people from flocking to the big cities to look for opportunities.

 

Writing about this problem in 2009, Michael Frances said: “KwaZulu-Natal still has more than 55% of its population living in rural spaces. It clearly needs to focus on rural planning and I have only heard one party discuss rural issues in any meaningful way. The Inkatha Freedom Party actually makes a lot of sense on these issues.”

 

Therefore I say unless and until there is a comprehensive strategy and political will to uplift rural areas to the level of urban areas, we will always grapple with the problems of housing delivery as well as delivery of essential services such as water and electricity. It is for this reason that above everything else and as a very top priority, the IFP government would focus on ensuring that rural areas are developed economically such that residents see no reason to move to the cities where they end up in informal settlements.

 

DUDU MAWELA AND ASSOCIATES

 

Hon. Speaker, allow me to briefly address the MEC on the case of Ms. Dudu Mawela from Abaqulusi Municipality. I was informed of their case that they “forced themselves into RDP houses…in 2009,” according to the Multi-party Report (dated 17-21 September 2013; p.17) tabled before the Legislature at uMzinyathi District.

 

When I met Ms. Dudu Mawela prior to that report, she told me that they also informed the Hon. MEC about their plight when he visited Abaqulusi in April this year and that the MEC promised to return in August this year with a response. Unfortunately the MEC has not had an opportunity to return to them.

 

May I also state that I did in the past write to the HOD about this matter. Unfortunately I did not receive any written reply. However on making my own enquiries, I was informed that this matter was being handled by Mr. Mbonane. On speaking to Mr. Mbonane he told me that he was working on an investigation.

 

I promised Ms. Mawela that I would bring this matter to the attention of the MEC. Let me state however that I am not raising this matter because I condone in any way any illegal occupation of houses. My only concern is that this matter has been dragging on for about 4 years. My plea therefore is for the MEC to please intervene to ensure the speedy resolution of this matter, in whatever way it can be resolved.

 

FURTHER COMMENTS OF THE REPORT

 

Community Protests

Hon. Speaker, the Report by the MEC for Safety and Security raises concerns around “Service Delivery Protests.” Some of the issues raised are in my view the province of the Human Settlements Ministry.

 

MEC Mchunu’s report states that among other reasons for these protests are “housing allocations” (p.9), “demands for service delivery and housing,” (p.10); “housing, water and electricity” (p.13). On page 12 this report highlights yet another failure of the ANC government. It talks about communities who had to rise up in protest at Isipingo. The reason is that they have been kept in so-called “Transit Camps” as from 2010. In some areas they are there since 2009. In all honesty Hon. Speaker, can any person with a sense of Ubuntu dump our people in these conditions and refer to them as “transit camps” yet leave them there for up to 4 years?

 

Do we then wonder when communities rise up in protest? And then, instead of addressing the plight of the people, the ANC Mayor Mr James Nxumalo had the temerity to visit Cato Crest to try to pacify communities by distributing meat parcels. When is the ANC going to stop trying to “drug” our people with the politics of meat and food parcels?

 

The MEC for Safety and Security may provide temporary relief in terms of ensuring temporary peace and stability. But lasting peace and stability lies in the Human Settlements Department and Municipalities making good the ruling party’s promises of free houses for all.

 

1500 at Thethe

On page 15 MEC Mchunu’s report indicates that the Human Settlements MEC “delivered 1500 houses to be built in Thethe within the period of 3 months.” Although I am a bit confused when the report says the Human Settlements delivered houses to be built, I suppose it meant he made an undertaking or commitment that those houses will be built. If this is the case, we would like the MEC to let us know when such an undertaking was made and when did the building begin, because if the houses should be completed within 3 months, the project must have begun by now. So we would like to know when it was started so that we will monitor whether indeed within 3 months the houses are completed.

 

CONCLUSION

 

As I conclude I wish to state that, I pity the MEC because, however noble his intentions may be, he will not succeed as long as the ANC is in power in this country.

 

ENDS

 

Contact

Mbongeleni Joshua Mazibuko, IFP MPL

083 992 6135