Shelter is a basic human need, necessary for survival. Our Constitution, in Section 26 of the Bill of Rights, states that “Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing”, and further, that “The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.”
This task – providing access to adequate housing for those in need – has proved challenging to the government of the day. According to NGO, the Development Action Group, the “national housing backlog sits at an estimated 2.6 million houses, that is, 12 million people in desperate need of decent accommodation.”
Therefore, the importance of the work of the Department of Human Settlements, and the prudent use of the budget allocated to its work, cannot be overstated.
As we gather today, this budget is under additional pressures: not only due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also, more recently, the devastating floods which left thousands of people in KwaZulu-Natal without any form of shelter.
The lofty – and necessary – ideals dictated by the National Development Plan, that “by 2030, measurable progress towards breaking apartheid spatial patterns would have been made”, as well as the “issue of transformation in the housing sector”, face almost insurmountable setbacks as we are forced to look to diverting funds to provide emergency relief to communities in need.
As the IFP, we therefore welcome the overall budget allocation, which increased by R1.34 billion, from R31.67 billion in 2021/22, to R33.02 billion in 2022/23.
However, the Department’s revised five-year MTSF targets must be noted: “300 000 Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses delivered, and 20 000 households that received financial assistance and purchased units through the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP)”. Additionally, “300 000 serviced sites delivered, 18 000 rental housing units delivered in priority development areas (PDAs) [and] 5 000 Community Residential Units (CRU) delivered.”
Considering the sheer scale of the task at hand, we must pose the question: are the MTSF targets ambitious enough?
As the IFP, we therefore echo the concern and recommendation of the Committee with regards to blocked projects: with so many people in need of housing, it is unacceptable that projects have been blocked; also, the Committee has asked for budgets and timeframes – we would further like to suggest detailed feedback be provided on such projects. Surely, there was budget allocated already to these projects? If so, there must be no duplication and no room for mismanagement of these funds.
The issue of the housing beneficiary lists is further of the utmost importance. The slow pace of the digitisation of these lists is unacceptable, and leaves this process open to manipulation on the part of unscrupulous individuals. As the IFP, we are further in full agreement with the Committee, that “The beneficiary list or allocation policy should prioritise child headed households, the elderly, and people with disabilities.”
We further wish to make mention of the importance of cooperation between the three spheres of government – national, provincial, and municipal – needed to achieve results and provide our people with decent housing. This is not the time to play politics – the people must come first.
As the IFP, where we govern, we are committed to the principle of servant leadership, and good governance, free of corruption. As long as provincial and national government show a visible commitment to the same, and to avoiding irregular, as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, we are willing to work together to ensure decent housing for all.
The IFP supports the Budget Vote.