Backlash after government directive to reduce delivery of housing amid Covid-19 impact

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By Marvin Charles November 20, 2020

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Cape Town: The Department of Human Settlements is facing backlash following its instruction to provinces to reduce delivery to government houses.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu sent a letter to the provinces asking them to put in place measures to immediately reduce the delivery of government houses due to the dire economic situation in South Africa.

In Cape Town, the city said it would be severely affected by the department’s instructions.

Malusi Booi, member of the mayor’s committee for human settlements, said: “This will have a number of implications in the city. Some of the projects that have already been hit by the budget cuts are the Highlands command, in the fields it has a cut of over R17million, the Macassar Breaking New Ground project where we budgeted R40million for it, there was a huge budget cut of R 10 million.

“We have suffered over 400 million rand in budget cuts and that translates into the fact that we would have built over 3,100 houses and that will not be achieved.”

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He said communities in urgent need of services have also suffered due to the reduced budget for the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG).

“We have a problem with the ongoing land invasions in the city where plots of land are invaded and the resources at our disposal are very limited,” Booi said.

Between 2018 and 2020, the city saw a reduction of Rand 403 million from its Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) budget and Rand 155 million from its USDG budget.

Human settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said: “The directive from national ministries actually seeks to reduce the delivery of housing projects, which means that provinces will not be able to make contractual commitments for public administrations as of April 1, 2021. , which is imminent.

Housing projects planned for next year will finally be supported with certain criteria, firstly if they give priority to the elderly, veterans and people with disabilities. This clearly illustrates an attempt by the national government to centralize decision making going forward, ”said Simmers.

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“This not only restricts us but also raises the issue of managing expectations. Many communities have waited years for projects to be completed. “

Sisulu sent the directive out last week, she recently appeared before the National Council of Provinces of Parliaments where she commented on the government revising its housing model.

Sisulu said: “We took time during the foreclosure to revise our housing delivery model and we have developed a model where we will give them available land to build their own houses, it is cheaper for us. , it gives people more responsibility. and we hope it will be of better quality because they will build it themselves.

AD spokeswoman for human settlements Emma Powell said: “With a land title backlog of 893,222, provincial and local housing departments will have to deal with the fallout from this decision. Provinces and municipalities have already faced a series of major budget cuts that prevent them from meeting the demand for housing.

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“This comes at a time when Cape Town is seeing a significant increase in land invasions across the city which have in many cases interrupted its well-planned and coordinated human settlement delivery programs,” said Powell.

Department of Human Settlements spokesperson McIntosh Polela said: “The need for more focused prioritization and spatial targeting stems from a number of factors, including increased pressure on the sector resulting from increased urbanization and reduction of funds made available to the department.

“It is common knowledge that government budgets are limited, which affects the funds available to all provinces.

“Therefore, recent statements by some stakeholders that this directive targets the micro-management of the Provinces and will affect the delivery of housing is therefore baseless and is dismissed with the contempt it deserves. | Cape Argus

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