Minister Lindiwe Sisulu: Human Settlements Budget Vote 2017/18 media briefing

Statement by L N Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements on the occasion of the media interaction at the Budget Vote of the Ministry of Human Settlements, Imbizo Media Centre

Members of the Media

I shall be reporting to the National Assembly this afternoon on the priorities we had set ourselves against the budget that was allocated for the financial year 2016/ 2017 and will be asking Parliament to support our budget of R33.4 billion for the 2017/ 2018 financial year.

The budget broken down is as follows:

For the financial year 2017/18, the total budget available for the human settlements portfolio is R33.4 billion of this:

R873 million is directed towards initiatives and administration of the department while

R19.9 billion is to be transferred to Provinces

R11.4 billion is availed for the eight Metropolitan municipalities in the form of the Urban Settlements Development Grant.

Transfers to Departmental Entities and related parties amounts to R1.2 billion.

Obviously against the needs of the sector, this cannot ever be enough, but we have learnt to make do and we have found innovative ways of ensuring that we can move budgets from one under-performing province to another that is performing.

Our priorities this year are three-fold:

Our first priority is rolling out 46 government led catalytic projects located in:

Eastern Cape 6

Freestate 3

Gauteng 14

KwaZulu-Natal 8

Mpumalanga 1

Northwest 2

Northern Cape 3

Limpopo 2

Western Cape 7

Catalytic projects are our new approach to build on scale and crowd in the private sector.

Our second priority is to clear the backlog of title deeds. This has become critical because the longer it takes to deal with this, the more difficult it has become.

A study found that of the six million registered residential properties in the Deeds Registry, 1,44 million were government-subsidised houses. This represents just less than a quarter of registered residential properties and could increase to 35% if the backlog in issuing title deeds is overcome.

The importance of title deeds is not only an economic one, as they:

Provide individuals with an address. As evidenced in the Tlokwe election dispute, an address is essential in the exercise of the individual’s rights;

Recognise the owner and their family as being part of the municipality; and

Enable ownership of the property to pass on to family members in the event of death.

The transfer of deeds to rightful owners is a legal obligation, where all residents have access to their title deeds. It also serves to:

maximises the housing programme’s impact by creating assets and allowing people to build the value of their assets over time;

potentially opens up more personal investment to residents thereby physically transforming housing into homes, and townships into neighbourhoods;

distributes property ownership more equitably in the country thus achieving more balanced patterns of ownership;

gives households their first entry into the property market, which can lead to improved housing conditions over generations as individuals and households trade up in the housing ladder;

creates more active citizens, as envisaged in the National Development Plan; and

improves the viability of municipalities by creating a property rates base in the long term.

A Ministerial Task Team has now been appointed, and reports directly to the Minister. I have also appointed a team of conveyancers who are part of this task team, and already they have been assigned to all nine provinces to assist with the elimination of title-deeds backlog.

A critical element in this project is the communication and consumer awareness-raising component that will set out both the benefits and risks attached to title deeds.

In the MinMec held on 9 May 2017, together with the MECs, we agreed to expedite the process of the task team to ensure a speedy resolution to this matter. I have also ensured the removal of bureaucratic red tape and blockages, which impede and delay the registering and issuing of title deeds.

The team is intended to ensure that the entire backlog we inherited at 2014 is cleared during this term of office.

The MECs have for their part undertaken to clear the current backlog from 2014 and ensure that by next year all houses built can be given a title deed when handed over.

Our third priority is the allocation of stands where we have land and we want to encourage our people to move towards this option, wherever it is available. Here, in all the land that we hold, we will ensure that services are supplied, stands cut out and encourage our people with technical support to build for themselves.

We want to encourage the use of policy options that were created to fast-track delivery and diversify options. These include:

The use of innovative materials

Agri-villages

Employer assisted housing

On the legislative front:

The following legislation will be prioritised during the current financial year:

Property Practitioners Bill – The Property Practitioners Bill has been published and all of us are invited to engage with the bill so we can all be clear how we achieve the transformation of the property industry which is the backbone of our national asset base as it touches every single family’s residential property.

Human Settlement Bill � This is our primary bill that establishes legally the Human Settlements approach in line with our policies and the NDP. A team has been established to drive this and we expect to pass it before our next budget vote.

Human Settlements Ombudsman

I indicated that we will establish an Ombudsman Office to deal with issues of conflicts between contractors, Provinces and Municipalities. With the Ombudsman Office, we are setting up a structure that will mediate, work with all stakeholders to resolve disputes and cut through red tape for the best interests of the human settlements sector as a whole.

We have completed the process of appointing a Human Settlements Ombudsman, who is Mr Themba Mthethwa. He was previously the CEO in the Office of the Public Protector and CSOS, who has been laterally transferred into the post of Human Settlements Ombudsman. We will advertise for the position of a Deputy Ombudsman because of the enormity of the responsibilities.

The Ombudsman’s role is to deal with all complaints that either the construction sector or the general public may have against the department or any of its entities.

Human Settlements Development Bank

The work of the amalgamation of the various financial entities has now been completed and the Human Settlements Development Bank is established and will be launched on Friday.

New approach

More responsible participatory citizens

Cleaner environments

Non-citizens not allowed to own property intended for the alleviation of poverty for citizens

We established a National Rapid Response Task Team and the intention was that there should not be an informal settlement whose conditions we are not aware of. We intend to enhance the capacity of this team so that, working like the census, we can employ the youth of the area to help us document the challenges of that area.

Working also with our social partners, Slum Dwellers International, we would want the communities to do the enumeration of each informal settlement. This is a long-term project, but I’m certain with this information we will be in a better position to plan for the future. With the right technology most of our current problems would be easy to solve. All except for one.

There are elements in our society who thrive on informality and inaccessibility of these areas. There is rampant criminality in some of these areas, at the expense of the most vulnerable. There is also large scale shack farming where shack lords are making a living from rent paid for shacks. The amount of money paid for a shack could pay the rent of a CRU.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

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