Johannesburg: Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has spoken out against labelling houses as “RDP” houses and more recently “BNG” (Breaking New Ground) houses, saying that such names should not be attached to the houses built by government for its people.
He said these names dehumanised the people who lived in these communities.
“We do not build RDPs anymore. We cannot dehumanise people by naming a house and giving it to them…that was the Reconstruction Development Project. It was a policy. You cannot name houses after a policy because people who live in such houses will see themselves differently…,” he said.
The minister was addressing the Estate Agency Affairs Industry Summit in Midrand on Thursday.
He said his department merely gave people houses or provided affordable housing, and there should not be names that distinguish these houses.
The role of Human Settlements was to humanise people and provide space for people to have a better quality of life. It was a priority to deracialise residential space in South Africa.
Sexwale said in order to achieve this, he needed the help of the industry, adding that at the same time there would be benefits for the latter.
Closing the space between the townships and the suburbs would result in a good turnover and profits for those in the industry, he pointed out.
Government was moving people from shacks to “higher spaces”, spaces that the industry was involved in.
Banking finance was also provided for those who did not qualify for free homes and it was an area where the industry could become involved, he added.
The minister urged the industry to engage in a market that transcended people from shacks to houses.
The single largest thing a person could invest in and own was a house, he said.
Noting some of the challenges facing the industry, Sexwale said the world economy was in trouble and South Africa would also feel the effects as it was not isolated from the international community.
With markets not performing, the residential property industry in the country was affected as people did not have sufficient means to be involved in the market.
Coupled with the challenges arising from economic woes, was the collapse of the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB).
A number of resignations, internal strife and instability resulted in the Sexwale placing the board under administration.
It was largely due to the issues of the EAAB that the summit was the most unnecessary, he said.
“We are here because we want to resolve problems,” Sexwale added.
The minister said he would soon appoint a full board and was open to suggestions arising from the summit on this issue.
Issues around empowerment, the fidelity fund, compliance, good governance, the role of other stakeholders were also important issues that should be discussed at the summit, he pointed out.
It was also a great opportunity for those in the industry to make recommendations that may lead to changes in legislation that were critical to the industry.
Sexwale said there was some dissatisfaction with the texture and nature of the legislation governing the industry and that certain improvements were required.