BY: HON. MEC NTUTHUKO SIBIYA
Debate by: Mbongeleni Joshua Mazibuko; IFP MPL
Member: KZN Human Settlements Portfolio Committee
Friday; 21 May 2021
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature; Pietermaritzburg
Hon. Chairperson and Hon. Members. I rise to add the voice of the IFP to the voices of my Hon. Colleagues as we debate the 2021-2022 Human Settlements Budget Speech. Allow me however to preamble my debate by wishing Hon. Sibiya all the best in his new deployment as MEC of Human Settlements.
IFP SUPPORT OF BUDGET
At the outset, I must register the IFP’s unequivocal support of the Budget tabled before this House. We unequivocally support this budget because our hearts are with multitudes of our people who are still residing in about 900 informal settlements in eThekwini Metro and other areas within our Province. We are determined to ensure that funds that are allocated to rescue our people from these unhealthy situations, are swiftly released and directed towards the accomplishment of their intended objectives.
We do this Hon. Chairperson, with our hopes pinned on the MEC’s commitment to ensure that every cent budgeted for this purpose, reaches those to whom it is directed. We also pledge to perform our oversight responsibilities to ensure that indeed this happens.
BUDGET CUTS UNDERMINE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
Hon. Chairperson; the Department’s Vision, Mission, Values and Strategic Objectives provide a roadmap to a better future, if religiously adhered to.
Yet the unhealthy economic situation in our country undermines our march to this future. There is a danger that budget cuts and cost-cutting measures in general are likely to negatively impact the delivery of core services. This unfortunate situation is further complicated by some within the public service who see public resources as self-enrichment schemes.
While the government devises and implement plans to re-ignite the economy, it is imperative that it must display no mercy to anyone who wants to enrich themselves through the public purse.
STAKEHOLDERS TO PLAY THEIR ROLES
Hon. Chairperson; something else complicates and hinders the work of the Human Settlements Department at times. It is that, while the Department is expected to deliver dignified human settlements, some aspects which are supposed to contribute to such human settlements are however not in the control of the Department. The issue of bulk services is one very clear example of services which are not controlled by the Department. As long as other players do not swiftly come to the party to complement the work of the Human Settlements Department, its work will be compromised. We therefore call on all relevant stakeholders to play their roles so that justice is done to millions of our people who are still waiting for shelters above their heads and better lives.
In fact, the Bridge City is the ideal example of a human settlements project which addresses the totality of human lives through the cooperation of different stakeholders. Indeed, as the Hon. MEC says, this takes strengthening partnerships with key stakeholders.
PLIGHT OF FARM DWELLERS
Hon. Chairperson, the Hon. MEC has hit the nail on the head as he characterizes our people who are found on the farms, as “a vulnerable group who continue to live in squalid conditions without security of tenure.” Indeed, this section of our people cries out for urgent and drastic intervention. The Hon. MEC can count us in, as he spearheads the campaign to restore the dignity of farm dwellers.
VICTIMS OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND FEMICIDE
Hon. Chairperson, gender-based violence is indeed a scourge, a curse and a crisis which is visiting our nation. Any sane person cannot just be nonchalant as girl-children, young and old women fall prey to hooligans. Hence, we fully support the MEC’s commitment towards building houses to victims. Again, the Hon. MEC can count us in.
Likewise, we are encouraged by the Hon. MEC’s determination to deal with hostels which are a feature of our oppression.
ERADICATION OF TRANSIT CAMPS
Hon. Chairperson; we are encouraged by the Hon. MEC’s honesty characterizing the Transit Camps as “an eyesore and embarrassment” and his commitment to expedite their decommissioning. Our Portfolio Committee Report of 29 September 2020 expressed similar sentiments on this matter.
Again, we applaud the Hon. MEC’s commitment to the speedy eradication of transit camps. And again, he can count us in.
We also urge the affected communities to co-operate when such programs are undertaken so that there are no unnecessary hindrances. In addition, we urge communities to work with authorities to ensure that, once they have been moved from such structures, no new occupants emerge from nowhere.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF RELEASE OF LAND PARCELS
Hon. Chairperson, the Hon. MEC has spoken about the drive to provide serviced sites which will have an incremental effect on more households. Fortunately, he has responded in advance to the question we intended to pose about the progress regarding this program which was announced by the MEC’s predecessor on 18 September 2020.
We offer our support to the Department because this is one other avenue through which the aspirations of many people will be realized.
ETHEKWINI METRO HOUSING CRISIS
Hon. Chairperson and Hon. Members; in her 2020-2021 Budget Speech of 3 June 2020, the former MEC stated that eThekwini Metro receives its annual budget of R1.8bn for the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) directly from the National Department of Human Settlements for the installation of services such as water and sanitation in informal settlements and other urban projects.”
She continued to say that: “In addition to that the Metro receives R1bn from the Province for construction of top structures from the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG).”
Yet, according to Lee Rondganger in the article of 21 March 2021 housing problems grow “louder in the eThekwini Municipality every year – with an estimated one million people in need of government-assisted housing.”
(SA’s housing crisis: At current rate, it will take eThekwini 100 …http://www.iol.co.za › south-africa › kwazulu-natal)
We readily admit Hon. Chairperson that eThekwini, as the only Metro in KwaZulu-Natal, is confronted with the never-ending floods of “growing migrant population, mushrooming informal settlements and tens of thousands of people who don’t qualify for free houses or subsidised homes…” (Ibid). These are facts.
But it is a fact too that part of the problem is the failure of the Municipality to effectively and honestly utilize the financial resources allocated to it, to address the housing backlogs.
Hon. Chairperson, we therefore wish to encourage the Hon. MEC and his Department to quickly fulfil the intention the MEC expressed, to get closer to eThekwini Metro to offer whatever assistance in order to strengthen the utilization of financial resources allocated for human settlements.
NATIONAL TREASURY OPINION
Hon. Chairperson, we note the opinion by the National Treasury which exonerates the Department from the faults of Municipalities. This is a positive step for the Department. Having said that, we applaud the MEC’s commitment to deal with irregular expenditure wherever it rears its head.
INPUTS BY THE STAKEHOLDERS IN PORTFOLIO REPORT
The Report of our Portfolio Committee just tabled here, among other issues, addresses the meeting we held with stakeholders on 18 December 2020, in Umzinyathi District Municipality. Two of the issues raised by stakeholders, were the following:
- That the Department must provide estimated timeframe for completion of projects. People affected must be made aware of those timeframes.
- That the Department must produce quarterly reports timely in order to keep everyone informed on the developments regarding infrastructure in Umzinyathi District Municipality.
These requests highlight the fundamental role to be played by communication between the Department and its stakeholders. Ensuring constant communication helps to strengthen healthy working relations between communities and the Department. And this contributes towards averting protests by communities. Hence, we wish to urge the Department to always ensure that there is no break in communication with those whom it serves.
FOCUS ON ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Hon. Chairperson, just like I observed with the Public Works Budget Speech yesterday, I have noted that the MEC’s address today does pay sufficient attention to issues of skills acquisition and economic empowerment. In addition, it is also punctuated with a sense of urgency and determination to leave no stone unturned to ensure that the mandate is accomplished.
We applaud the MEC and Department because we also believe that, paying attention to skilling and training our people, assisting them towards economic empowerment and housing them with speed, are the springboards towards rescuing our people from the jaws of unemployment, hunger, poverty, insecurity and economic emancipation.
CONCLUSION: IFP COMMITMENTS TO MEC AND DEPARTMENT
As the IFP, we end by declaring our patriotic responsibility. As a responsible party, the IFP raises these issues, not because we accuse the government of doing nothing. In fact, our President Emeritus, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said as much on 18 February 2020 in the National Assembly:
“It is not that Government has done nothing to fulfil them (commitments made in 1994), but that the good work started has not been completed.”
“The great tragedy is that our work has not followed a linear course. Our work, our commitments, our intentions and our plans have been thoroughly waylaid by what Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke called “the spirit of self”. Leaders living above the people, enriching themselves.”
Therefore, we will continue to offer our unequivocal support and encouragement to the MEC and his Department as they take steps towards the realization of the noble objective to rescue our people from the clutches of landlessness and homelessness. We will warn, chastise or advise whenever we sense that there is a deviation from this noble cause