Remarks by the Minister of Human Settlements on the occasion of the Budget Vote of the Department of Human Settlements, Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament
Members of the Media
MECs of Human Settlements
Chairpersons and CEOs of Human Settlements Entities and Institutions
Chairpersons and CEOs of our Social Contract Partners
I am accompanied this afternoon by the Deputy Minister, the Director General and his team, Chairpersons and CEOs of Human Settlements Institutions.
The theme for today’s Budget Vote is “Building a nation through partnerships”. The choice of the theme is informed by two things. First, the need that we actually have to build a nation. Unless we as South Africans identify with a national consciousness and a national identity, most of the things we commit ourselves to do will come to nothing. Very often when we write in the media and we talk, it is about when we accept responsibility that the government is in a difficult spot. The truth of the matter is that the nub of the sentence is “we”. The second thing is that we would like to raise the consciousness of the collective “we”, so that we can make good of all the things we say at the Budget Votes. We are a great nation, if we can harness the power of the collective.
This was further informed by the commitment of the various stakeholders who attended the National Human Settlements Indaba in large numbers and signed the Social Contract in October 2014 and emboldened by the determination and commitment of an extraordinary large number of organisations from across the country that attended the National Youth Summit in December 2014 to discuss our flagship programme, the Human Settlements Youth Brigade.
Through the Youth Accord signed at the end of the Summit, young people said to all of us that they need jobs, they need empowerment, they need to build their future. This was music to our ears, because we need to harness the energy and the readily availability of our young people to ensure that in building our nation, they have bought into the concept and will continue with it long after we have gone.
Last year was also a watershed year, because we had a lot of goodwill from people who want to partner with us, ranging from mining companies, banking institutions and businesses, to non-governmental organisations, to private individuals. We regularly receive letters from people who are offering to assist us and I want to refer to two of the hundreds that we received. Their central message is “We want a partnership with our Government to build a better nation and a better future”. We have therefore decided to centre our theme around this, because the issues we are tackling can only be efficiently done by all of us.
In summary the 2015 Budget Vote is the vehicle to:
Cure systemic challenges and fast track delivery
Build partnership and stimulate the affordable housing sector
Stimulate the housing sector and through it provide our economic transformation with a solid base where everyone has a stake in the economy.
Empower young people with jobs and inspire them to take charge of their future
Introduce innovative ways that will take us out of our mindset, stuck in the past
Our commitment as we indicated last year is to build 1.5 million houses and housing opportunities to accommodate our growing backlog. But we are exploring the issue of partnerships. Not just partnerships with the industry, but a partnership with society. Society cannot afford to be a passive recipient of government services. We would like it to be an active part of the delivery process. We appeal to our people to look after their houses. A beneficiary of a house has a responsibility to fix a broken window or door latch when it is broken. We are embarking on a nationwide consumer education to empower our people to understand the value of the houses they own, the importance of caring for it and most important why they must not easily sell it to address short term challenges. In partnership with one of our entities, the Estate Agency Affairs Board, we will educate them on how the property market works.
Following the Human Settlements Indaba held last year, we signed a Social Contract with the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA). It is our intention to translate this contract into a vehicle that will assist us towards an increased and enhanced delivery plan.
We indicated to you last year that we will be building 50 catalytic projects. These projects are intended as game changers in the process of spatial planning in our country and fast tracking service delivery. We no longer have the space or time to deal with uniform, small projects. We are now concentrating on mega projects, because we believe only they have the catalytic impact we need in terms of the jobs created and the industries that will be spawned by them.
We now want to build new cities that reflect who we are. The cities we live in were built with apartheid in mind, for apartheid purposes. We now have to build cities that fit the purpose for our current situation. We are determined to do things differently and we are very encouraged by the stand taken by the Premier of Gauteng. We would like to see all other Premiers take the same route, building new cities that define us and who we have become.
We were pleasantly amazed that more than 150 project applications were received from both the public and private sector. These will be staggered over the next four years and we want to conclude the following: Thembalethu and Southern Corridor N2 Gateway Phase 2 in the Western Cape Bendor 100 and Lephalale Altoostyd Integrated Development (Ext 102) in Limpopo Lerato Park and Upington 7612 in Northern Cape Cosmo City and Fleurhof in Gauteng and extensions of Cornubia in KwaZulu-Natal. We want to begin to create the corridors of freedom as expressed by the Premier of Guateng. In all of these projects 60% of the labour will be from the Youth Brigade. This is part of the conditions of the mega projects. Funding for the Youth Brigade has been ring-fenced by Provinces.
The underlying principle of all of these is that they are all spatially targeted interventions whose main objective is to intervene to deliberately restructure settlement patterns and impact on the environment in terms of creating integrated, connected and compact cities. When completed the investment in these projects will be up to R250 million.
To support provinces to fast track implementation of mega projects, the HDA has been requested to restructure itself to become a fully fledged developer that would be able to sub-contract on a rotational basis that is fair and transparent, thus removing a source of grievance from especially our municipalities.
By the end of the MTEF we would have built more than 5 854 houses for our military veterans across the country.
We manage over R30 Billion annually. It is a lot of money. We will be reviewing the tender system, one of our biggest headaches in the Human Settlements environment. The review will focus on pre-qualifying contractors based on skills and capacity rather than price. We know the price, so there is no competition on price.
As I indicated last year, Human Settlements is focusing on 22 mining towns in six provinces as tasked by the President. For the last financial year more than 4 000 units were delivered, mainly in Mpumalanga and Northwest, which are the main pressure points.
In the Marikana area, there are two human settlement projects being completed that will deliver over 500 units, built on land donated by Lonmin. Anglo American has embarked on a project to provide more than 10 000 housing units.
In total, Government has committed R6.3 billion over the MTEF period. Of this amount Human Settlements’ contribution is R2.1 billion and the Mining Houses have contributed an amount of R3.5 billion..
We are interested in establishing a National Human Settlements Corporation. We are currently consolidating our financial institutions, NHFC, NURCHA and RHLF to achieve this.
Communications and outreach programmes are part of our frontline services to ensure that the correct messages reach our people. In order to reduce the social distance communication gap referred to I have decided to appoint a National Rapid Response Task Team that will help us communicate with our communities before implementing any policies, so that they understand the benefits, who would qualify and who would not, etc. This, we believe will lessen the tension that always arise when there is development. This Task Team will also assist us to understand where there is a problem and allow us to rapidly respond to problems as they arise.
Also very important, we would like to gradually abolish hostels in our towns. Hostel dwellers who have lived in our towns for a number of years would qualify for a BNG house or the Community Residential Units (CRU) subsidy, depending on their specific circumstances. Together with the Mayors we have agreed that the upgraded hostels would be bought by SHRA and managed as social housing projects.
We remain very concerned about the subsidy quantum which, as of 2014 stood at R160 573 per house as compared to R77 868 in 2009. This phenomenal leap is unsustainable and Minister and MECs have decided to curb the quantum of the subsidy at its current level, notwithstanding inflationary pressures we current face in our sector. We take this as a challenge to find more efficient ways to finance our housing commitment for our people.
We will ensure that the housing benefits due to the victims of apartheid, as determined by the TRC are completed. A process has been put in place and TRC beneficiaries have received priority access to subsidy housing in a number of provinces and the Department is awaiting progress reports from the provinces.
I indicated to you last year that we have taken back the N2 Gateway Project as a national project. We have made a great deal of progress on this project. It has been the most difficult project to undertake and therefore most satisfying that it has been one of our biggest successes. On it we have produced 15 000 units and by June 2015 we will have finished Joe Slovo Phase I. The President will visit the N2 Gateway before the end of this month to see for himself progress that has been made.
We hope we have shared with you some issues that are in the budget vote.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Human Settlements
Source : South African Government