Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members. Today’s ANC Motion notes firstly that “the KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlement Department is regarded as the best performing Department in the whole country;”
As the IFP we acknowledge this fact and commend both the Hon. MEC, the Head of Department and all Officials for this performance; especially their drastic improvements of the quality of houses they deliver. However, while we acknowledge this fact, we are mindful of the fact that there is still a logn way to go.
We are saying this because, while the KwaZulu-Natal Department is regarded as the best-performing in our country, there are still huge housing backlogs facing the very Department as well as the whole country.
Again we are saying this because, while KwaZulu-Natal does well, we are not sure if the same can be said about other Provinces which are also under the ANC rule since South Africa is a unitary state.
The second part of the Motion goes on to note that the “Department overspent its Mid Term Budget by more than 33% due to its acceleration of housing launches.” I am not sure if the drafter of the Motion meant “housing launches” and not housing delivery because you cannot spend so much money on launches. Having said that, we wish to state that indeed the motives for over-spending were good. However this is tempered by the fact that over-spending in simple terms, means that you have consumed more than you have. In this case, it is the Department itself that provides a forecast of what it may need in a particular period. To over-spend therefore suggests it must re-adjust its projections. Again, let it said for the record that we acknowledge that fact that the motive is good – which is to ensure that as many people as possible do get access to houses.
R200M MORE ALLOCATION
Hon. Speaker, the Motion then goes on to “commend honourable MEC Pillay and his Department for getting R200 million more re-allocation from the minister due to its spending patterns against projected targets in line with the new bidding process.”
Indeed this was positive news. It was positive because it ensured that provision of houses could be accelerated.
The IFP is however tempered in its joy at the news by the fact that while it is significant, the R200m will not move the Department towards dealing decisively with the housing backlogs in this Province.
Secondly it does not address the challenge the Hon. MEC shared with this House on 12 May this year during his 2015/16 Budget Speech when he stated: “Our successful implementation of existing projects and a strong pipeline of new projects presents us with an overriding challenge, that of inadequate budgets. The decrease in the conditional grant and the increase in the subsidy quantum [i.e. the cost of building each house] has necessitated that we think of innovative ways about doing more with less.”
The Hon. MEC went on to state: “The housing backlog in the province as per South African Census 2011 is 742,019. The bulk of this backlog resides in the eThekwini Metro…
“Since then, we have reduced the provincial backlog by approximately 100,000. However, we also have to contend with the rising tide of urbanisation, a national and global phenomenon.”
The primary issue to be addressed is that of the inadequate budget which makes it impossible for the Department to deal decisively with housing backlogs that are, inter alia, made worse by the fact that more people raise their hands and add their numbers among those who are looking at government to provide them with decent houses.
The MEC also informed this House that his Department had taken a position that it would only approve housing projects if bulk infrastructure funding was confirmed through a Council resolution and credible budgetary allocations. This places a challenge on the Premier to ensure that other role-players like COGTA do come to the party by cooperating with this Department so that it is able to execute the immense responsibility on its shoulders.
Hon. Speaker as I leave this podium, allow me to state that the Mover of the Motion referred to the Freedom Charter. I was then urged to revisit the utterances of my President Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi on the 26th June 2002 in Kliptown (on the occasion of the Unveiling of the Design for the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication and Regeneration. He stated):
“The soil beneath our feet today is fertile soil. From this soil has grown the democratic transformation of our country, a change we came here to demand in 1955 and a future we came here to write. The Freedom Charter adopted in Kliptown on June 26, 1955 was the seed from which South Africa’s first democratic Constitution would evolve. The Congress of the People, representative of every South African who recognised that our country was destined for something more and something better, gathered in Kliptown for two days and brought together the vision of a people into one of South Africa’s most historic documents. I am proud to stand here today where the Freedom Charter was forged and finished, to remember those who, like former President Mandela, dedicated their lives to the struggle for liberation.”
I thank You