Oversight report of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements to the Free State Province 19-23 July 2010, date 03 November 2010

 

Background

 

In terms of the RSA Constitution of 1996 and Parliamentary Rules, the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements has a responsibility to conduct oversight over any executive organ of State that falls within its portfolio. In line with this mandate, the Strategic Plan of the Committee undertakes to conduct provincial visits to oversee the implementation of project plans and programmes. The Committee also undertakes to evaluate progress made and identify any challenges encountered in the implementation processes. Furthermore the Committee seeks to promote and enhance Co-operative Governance principles in the Human Settlements delivery services. To fulfil its strategic plan the Committee conducted an oversight visit to the Free State Province during the second term of the Parliamentary program as from 19-23 July 2010.

 

The objectives of the visit were as follows:

 

The objective of the oversight visit was for the Committee to be briefed on the following issues and to conduct site visits:

       Implementation of a Comprehensive integrated human settlements strategy in the Province;

       Performance in meeting service delivery targets set for 2009/10 and challenges encountered and ascertain whether there has been value for money;

       The role played by the public and private sector in service delivery;

       Plans, programs and service delivery targets for 2009/10;

       Progress report in support of the disaster affected communities;

       Blocked projects and plans to unblock them;

       Progress and plans made on the rectification programmes;

       The number of informal settlements, the plan and the progress in upgrading such settlements including Community Residential Units (CRUs);

       Progress in the implementation of Farm Worker Assistance Program;

       The coordination and management of the Beneficiary List and incorporation of backyard dwellers to the Provincial Housing data base and

       Projects constructed with alternative technologies.

 

 

Multiparty delegation

 

The delegation consisted of Hon BN Dambuza (ANC), Chairperson and leader of the delegation; Hon MR Mdakane (ANC); Hon TMA Gasebonwe (ANC); Hon Matshoba (ANC) ; Hon NA Mnisi (ANC) ; Hon V Bam-Mugwanya (ANC); Hon G Borman, (ANC); Hon D Dlakude (ANC); Hon AC Steyn (DA); Hon T Botha (COPE) and Hon KP Sithole (IFP). The delegation was also accompanied by the National Department of Human Settlements; Mr L Jolobe and Ms M Pine, Ms T Mabalane. Parliamentary staff members were Ms K Pasiya (SC); Mr A Salmon, Researcher and Ms N Mnyovu (CA).

 

19 July 2010

 

Day 1: Meeting at the department of Local Government and Housing

 

The delegation was welcomed by the Free State Provincial Chair of Chairs, Hon. Maloka.

 

The Chairperson, Ms. Dambuza welcomed the opportunity given by the MEC, Mr. Zwane, for the Committee to exercise its Constitutional mandate to oversee the executive. She also thanked and appreciated the presence of representatives from all spheres of government including other relevant co-departments. She further appraised the province for a proper coordination for the visit as compared to previous visits whereby other spheres of government were not part of the initial briefing session. The Chairperson presented a summary of issues the delegation would be focusing on as follows:

 

       The implementation and adherence to legislative and policy programmes.

       Cost effective utilisation of appropriated funds in coherence with the three year planning cycle of the medium term strategic framework of government.

     Challenges amounted to 147 blocked or incomplete housing projects and to ascertain plans to unblock them.

      To ascertain housing backlog and to what extent does urban migration affect the housing programme

      Alignment of strategic plan with the national priorities as outlined in the State of the Nation Address (SONA), including the departmental performance indicators and targets. Over and above, the incorporation of sanitation plan and programme into the Provincial strategic plan was very paramount, as sanitation function has been currently transferred to human settlements. The committee was also concerned with the continued existence of the bucket system toilets whereas the eradication programme was expected to be completed in 2007.

 

Ms Dambuza indicated that there were quite a number of key programmes that the provincial department was expected to embark on:

 

       Expansion of social and rental housing.

       Setting its own target on how to contribute in reaching the national target in acquisition of 6000 hectares of land by 2014.

 

In addition, despite the various critic and explanations given for poor quality and slow delivery of houses, the question remains; what role the community plays to stamp out these corrupt activities of selling and buying of building materials especially cement, from corrupt contractors. Therefore government has a huge responsibility to interact extensively with the public about these issues. The end product, quality of houses was a great concern as it resulted in a high level of projects for rectification. The enrolment of projects to National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) was crucial for quality control measures.

 

She concluded by advising the department that the visit was primarily about progress evaluation, provide advice and support where necessary, share experiences, as well as to make recommendations for necessary interventions.

 

The MEC welcomed the delegation and he informed the meeting that the province considers the visit as useful opportunity for strategic constructive criticism. He believed that the Committee is a strong arm to assist the province and gave the assurance to speak freely, and share common understanding on service delivery experience by the province. He stated that to improve focus and delivery in the Province, the Provincial Executive resolved to appoint two Heads of Department (HOD), one for Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs and one for Human Settlements. He further indicated that the Province has undertaken a process of separating these two departments.

 

The Head of Department for Housing, Mr M. Mokoena presented the provincial housing delivery status which included the following:

 

1.       Performance for 2008/09

2.       Farm Worker Assistance Programme and Projects

3.       Community Residential Units (CRUs) and plans to upgrade

4.       Peoples Housing Process - Support

5.       Informal settlements and plans of upgrading Informal Settlements

6.       Bucket Toilet Eradication Programme

7.       Beneficiary Management/Backyard dwellers

8.       Blocked projects and plans for unblocking

9.       Disaster Management and support granted

10.   Public and Private sector Partnerships

11.   Emerging Contractor Programmes and Support Systems

12.   Alternative Building Technologies

13.   Plans, programmes and service delivery targets for 2009/10

14.   Delivery challenges

 

Figures given for the performance are summarised in the following table:

 

Housing Programme

Targeted outputs

Funds allocated

Revised budget

Actual Delivery

Actual Expenditure

Financial Intervention

2824

R91, 402, 246

R154, 136, 689

2512

R120,229,757.35

Incremental Housing

13 245

R768,474,254

R835,484,000

17451

R834,951,238.00

Social and Rental Housing

412

R45,500,000

R2,500,000

-

R1,705,440.00

Rural Housing

1000

R57,382,500

R5,871,661

269

R5,871,660.00

TOTAL

17 481

R962,759,000

R997,992,350

20232

R962,758,095.35

 

The primary challenges highlighted by the HOD were the following:

 

       Chronic personnel constraints in key components of the department.

       Difficulty in meeting the deadlines for the submission of prescribed planning instruments/ documents like Estimates of Provincial Expenditure 2010/2011; the Annual Performance Plan and the Business Plan for the Human Settlements Development Grant.

       Delayed in finalisation of the (Presidencys) Outcome Based Plans.

 

Deliberations by the delegation

 

The delegation enquired about the withdrawal of approved seventeen thousand six hundred (17 600) subsidies by the Province and what were the plan to address deregistration and reversal of funding. How will this impact of the Housing Subsidy System (HSS) and strategy to inform the beneficiaries.

 

Subsequent to deliberations the department responded as follows:

 

The alignment of the approved plans and targets with the following priorities was slow but ongoing:

1. Eradication of informal settlements

2. The creation of affordable rental stock

3. The supply of affordable housing finance

4. The acquisition and /or release of land suitable for Human Settlements

5. Rural development.

6. Withdrawal of subsidies was confirmed and committed to submit a full report to the delegation the following day.

 

The delegation expressed dissatisfaction about the quality and substance of the report presented. Subsequent to that, the Chair of Chairs also articulated the same sentiments echoed by the delegation on the status of the report. The delegation requested the National and Provincial Departments to meet and come up with a concrete and substantial report which outlines the specific areas of delivery, sanitation plans, housing backlog within the province, and progress in unblocking blocking projects as well as the timeframes and challenges.

 

In addition it was decided that the report should address all concerns raised by the delegation including the detailed information about the issues tabled by the HOD. Furthermore, that report should be presented to the delegation on the following day.

 

The areas of additional information or concern raised by the delegation were the following:

 

       The extent and degree to which housing subsidised units would require rectification.

       An information on the implementation of incremental housing programme

       The extent to which land tenure had been considered in Provincial policy on farm worker assistance.

       Housing Development Agency progress report on performance per district was required.

       A breakdown that should reflect on the geographic spread of the completed as well as incomplete projects

       The progress made on the accreditation of municipalities.

       Has the province ever explored or considered other sanitation alternatives other than the Ventilation Improved Pit (VIP) toilets, having undertaken a study tour to China, three years ago, hence the VIP toilets are not acceptable by the communities. If not why?

       The specific challenges amounting to incomplete bucket eradication programme and the current plans to address the situation.

       Whether military veteran housing projects were implemented in the province and to what extent.

       Progress made on backyard dwellers policy as well as on the beneficiary list management.

       Plans to overcome water scarcity.

       Progress or challenges on the Finance Linked Institutional Programme Subsidy (FLIPS).

       Report on management of emerging contractors.

       Progress report on contractors who build sub-standard houses and whether they will be held accountable.

       Plans to assist child headed families or homes.

       Progress on provincial occupancy audit on government subsidy houses as the rate of selling was very high.

       Clarity on Community Development Workers collaboration with the Human Settlements department.

       Report on youth and women in-construction programme

       More information was required on the blocked Peoples Housing Process projects

 

The Provincial department then responded to few questions raised and undertook to provide a report on the issues raised. The Provincial Chair of Chairs then thanked the delegation and meeting adjourned.

 

20 July 2010

 

Day 2: Briefing at Moqhaka Local Municipality

 

The delegation was welcomed by the Hon. Mayor of Moqhaka and was introduced to the entire team represented by national, provincial and local government, including private contractors. The Chairperson then outlined the objectives of the visit; including the desire to be informed of challenges such that the necessary support and assistance could be provided. She indicated amongst others a concern on several reports or allegation that councillors tend to manipulate the housing beneficiary waiting list. Hon. Dambuza then expressed other areas of particular interest such as staff shortages, retention strategies and gender mainstreaming. She also requested an update on the ability of the municipality to take on the new responsibility of sanitation assigned to the Department of Human Settlements for roll-out to rural areas, schools and clinics.

 

The presentation by Moqhaka municipality focused on two projects, the construction of 200 housing units in the Marabastad Area as well as the upgrading of a connector road and provision of a storm water bridge in Koekoe village.

 

The delegation was informed that the Marabastad project was as a result of the visit by then President Montlathe and supported by the then Premier of the Free State. The units are 56 m2 and the targeted market was the indigent community, the aged, and disabled. The houses have been built on a site which was formerly serviced with an outside toilet but were never inhabited. However the province decided to develop the site in compliance of the BNG policy which raised a critical question of double provision of the toilets (inside and outside).

 

In phase one there were 104 units to be built, houses are electrified and have geysers and ceilings. There were also 75 houses that would have been completed within two weeks after the visit. In phase two, 96 units were to be constructed and 52 foundations had been laid. Altogether approximately 150 of the total 200 units were almost complete and to be inhabited around the end of August.

 

The budget allocation value was R12, 812, 380 for the project. The project started in September 2009 and the developer is Thutela Bogolo. The project was challenged by a labour pay dispute, weather, late payments, funding shortages, vandalism, theft, delivery of materials, and unavailability of bulk services.

In Koekoe village, the connector brick paved road being completed is 2, 1 km long. The township was established with no municipal services and the roads were dirt and gravel. The community thus struggled to access the village during the rainy season. The budget allocated to the project was R6, 201,915.00 and the approved available was R5, 530,000.00. The deficit or top up required was R671, 915.95, for which additional funding had been applied for but awaiting an approval by the province.

 

The targeted market for the project was business and commercial, social infrastructure, the transport industry and emerging services access. The progress on the construction was 89% complete, with all paving blocks and kerbs completed. The contractor was busy finalising the construction of vehicular crossing over the new storm water channels.

 

The contractors were requested to raise their challenges, and the following were identified:

       Labour unrest was around demands for a daily rate instead of the contractor standard of payment per project.

       Rainy season was causing construction delays.

       There was a lack of skilled labour

       Lack of funds resulting in delayed payments.

 

The delegation expressed disappointment that only two projects had been presented on and requested a broader report to be made available as soon as possible. The municipality indicated that they were only requested to report on these two projects by the Province. Subsequent to that, the municipality made a request in writing to brief the Committee on all their housing programs, projects and challenges. A request was honoured for a later date but the municipality did not confirm their availability for the proposed dates by the Portfolio Committee.

 

Site visit to Marabastad revitalisation project- 200 units

 

The project has 104 units constructed but not completed; electricity connection and plumbing was underway. Houses have two bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet, an open kitchen and lounge as well as an outside toilet. The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) is also involved in the project.

 

Site visit to Koekoe village

 

In Koekoe village, the connector brick paved road under construction is 2, 1 km long.

 

21 July 2010

 

Briefing by the office of Registrar of Deeds and tour of the offices

 

Mr M Malekele (Deputy Registrar of Deeds), welcome the delegation. After a brief introduction, Hon Dambuza outlined the purpose of the visit as follows:

       To assess whether the laws that were passed by previous Parliament were implementable and if not, what were the challenges, especial on Human Settlements delivery;

       To assess whether the Housing Act of 1997, as amended, clause 10 (a) and (b) was ever implemented in the Province through the Deeds Office processes for example deregistration of units in compliance with the Act;

       Causes for delays in issuing Title Deeds for government housing subsidies and;

 

Mrs. De Klerk then briefed the delegation. She informed the delegation that the Registrar of Deeds is part of the Rural Development and Land Reforms Department. The office has a staff complement of 115, performing different duties. Its function is to maintain a public register of land; preserve all the records and provide information to the public. The duties of the office are derived from the Deeds Registrar Act, 47 of 1937. The registrar of Deeds uses a land registration system known as Casadral, which entails the identification of land parcels and the registration of ownership.

 

Mrs. De Klerk alluded to the fact that the downfall of the system is that transfer of ownership only takes place on registration. She said in some instances it does not reflect a true picture of the state of affairs as it does not automatically update the information. In some cases when you get married in community of property and already have a house or buy a house and you do not update the status with the Registrar of Deeds, the partner would not be the co-owner of the house. Incompleteness or inaccuracy is therefore possible.

 

Mrs. De Klerk further stated that in December 2001, the Registrar of Deeds launched an electronic system, the Deeds Office Tracking System (DOTS), which enabled the office to scan deeds into different tracking points. The data preparation took six days to finalise unless there is a document missing and rejected. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses took only three days to be processed. The conveyances dealing with RDP projects need to apply to the Deputy Registrar of Deeds prior the registration to be given preference. A red stamp is affixed onto the deeds indicating RDP and expedite.

 

The delegation was also informed that the Housing Act as amended was never used by the Registrar as there was no request from the Province. This could be a problem since RDP houses are sold almost everyday, even though such transactions are illegal.

 

The challenge was poor conveyancing with regard to RDP hence there was no indication that the house was in compliance with an eight year or preemptive clause. The missing information in a batch spoils the whole process of registration. It was further advised that the Province should inform the registrar upfront for upcoming projects to allow for proper planning.

Briefing by the Surveyor General (SG)

 

Ms. Mokhele informed the delegation that there are SG offices in five provinces and another one will be opened soon in Limpopo province. Northern Cape shares a Surveyor General with Free State and the North West is the only province without SG office. There area has approximately 2 million land parcels. The staff complement: 57 taking care of the above mentioned land parcels. The sector is male dominated of which 70% are white land surveyors and 80% of them are in a retiring age. The survey geometics in only provided by two province which is Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal university. Out of 15 land surveyors six (6) are black females who are qualified as Surveyor Generals. Due to the rare skill in the country, the department was embarking on the search of student candidates to do Geodesy to increase the skills base.

 

 

The business of the surveyor general is:

       To examine and approve diagrams, general plans and sectional titles plans before any registration is effected in Registrar of Deeds.

       Preserve and maintain all records and documents pertaining to the cadastral surveys.

       Prepare and maintain cadastral index maps and both paper and digital plans.

 

Ms Mokhele highlighted the challenge of township establishment in one province where the Surveyor General was requested to approve general plans including some land falling under potentially harmful power lines. The SG indicated that when she highlighted that to the Province and the municipality she was informed that, that was a political mandate. Subsequently the delegation toured the area and to see various offices and staff performing their duties.

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting at Mangaung Local Municipality

 

The delegation was briefed by the General Manager, Mr M Mokoena who gave a background of the municipality. He indicated that the local municipality has three urban centres with a backlog of 438 172 households. The municipality has 24 informal settlements with 17 867 households.

 

Members raised some concerns but due to lack of information provided by the municipality, the delegation requested the following information to be forwarded later in writing to the Committee

       number of houses that requires rectification, and those that would be demolished

       the progress made on urban renewal and whether the Enhanced Discount Benefit Scheme budget was utilised

       the backlog and the number of areas to be covered under the bucket eradication programme

       the progress made on the informal settlement policy and plans to prevent the mushrooming of informal settlements

       the number of emergency or temporary units for disaster management

       progress report on occupancy audit, the illegal occupation and the selling of RDP homes

 

Site visit to Peter Mokaba village Peoples Housing Process (PHP)

 

The project was implemented as a PHP but later became blocked. The houses are mostly dilapidated due to structural defects arising from inferior construction.

 

Batho Location- Premiers intervention project

 

The project came about as a result of the Premiers intervention on operation Hlasela. The show house build was 60 m2, with three bedrooms, a bathroom an open plan lounge and kitchen with a sink and was already occupied. The house has a ceiling and installed with electricity. It was built with a total amount of R92 000. The delegation was informed that there were two plans that beneficiaries were to choose from and a total of 300 houses were still to be built as part of the intervention. The beneficiary was pleased to own a house.

 

The Head of Department informed the delegation that most departments had joined together in developing the area. The Department of Public Works was busy constructing roads and the Department of Agriculture was providing fruit trees as well as a vegetable garden to green the area.

 

22 July 2010 Mantsopa Local Municipality

 

The delegation was welcomed by Mayor, Mr SD Ntsepe. Hon BN Dambuza outlined the purpose of the visit. Mr Ntsepe then briefed the delegation. He informed the delegation that the municipality was established in December 2000, comprising of five towns and eight wards. The population is approximately 72 000 of which 10627 households are most residing in urban areas.

 

Projects in the Mantsopa municipality

 

New developments and new projects

       422 residential sites and 45 hectors in Platberg;

       59 sites allocated for land restitution;

       Open township register for 211 erven in Hobhouse;

       135 sites in Thaba Patchoa;

       Upgrading of roads and storm water canals in Koma Village under the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG);

       Upgrading of 5th Street and Manyatseng Tladi roads that will be out of the municipal coffers under the Expanded Public Works Programme;

       Upgrading of Itumelleng hall Manyatseng by MIG and;

       Platberg sewer reticulation, funded by Motheo District Municipality (R8million)

 

Current projects

       Tweespruit and Hobhouse there was a bucket eradication project funded by MIG, and Motheo District Municipality.

       Upgrading of water treatment works in Hobhouse was funded by MIG and Motheo District Municipality.

       Upgrading of Ladybrand roads and storm water by Mantsopa Local Municipality

 

However, the Mayor informed the delegation that the municipality would require R4 million to eradicate bucket system in Hobhouse. It was reported that in Tweespruit and Hobhouse communities were rejected the VIP toilets.

 

Blocked projects

 

There were Peoples Housing Process (PHP) project blocked since the 2002/03 financial year. There were about 250 units allocated in various support organizations. The projects were blocked due to mismanagement of funds; poor quality of houses due to usage of inferior materials; lack of participation by beneficiaries and lack of technical and project management expertise. There was quite a number of old slabs lying unused for approximately seven years.

 

Rural villages

 

The province and municipality were engaging with the owner of Riverside farm on ownership land. The municipality would engage with the province and beneficiaries on ownership of land by the Lechabile Trust. The relocation of Hutu to Tweespruit and Ladybrand was in progress. The municipality was also busy with the applications of four farms. The farmers were assisting by pumping water from their farms for the communities. The challenge was that tanks were not in good condition.

 

Emergency housing

 

There were eleven families affected and their structures were repaired and others were provided with temporary structures.

 

Project Link Subsidies (PLS) projects

 

There were 114 units completed and 20 still outstanding

 

Enhance Extended Discount Scheme (EEDS)

 

In the programme 100 households benefited in various towns within the municipality.

 

 

 

 

Site visit to Manyatseng

 

The delegation visited the project where 50 m2 houses were built, with two bedrooms, a shower, a lounge and a kitchen. They used sand stone bricks which were supplied by neighbouring country, Lesotho. The challenge in the project was the demand of the material (sand stone bricks), the slow delivery as a result of transport challenges as well as the electrification of houses by Eskom.

 

Across that project there was a blocked People Housing Process (PHP) in the area called Lusaka. The project was blocked since 2003, at foundation phase. The support organisation disappeared. The residents were impatient of waiting but due to lack of resources there was nothing they could do. They requested the government to assist. There were no access roads in the area and that made it difficult to be assisted in times of difficulty. The Mayor was to engage with the Province on plans to assist residents of Lusaka and unfortunately there were no timeframes.

 

Community meeting in Makgolokweng

 

Mr Mzamo, the Executive Mayor opened the meeting and welcomed everyone present. Hon. Dambuza apologised to the Chief and to the community at large for being behind the scheduled time and she outlined the purpose of the visit.

The Community raised the following concerns:

       lack of housing development in rural areas; tired of promises by delegations visiting the area as nothing happens thereafter

       lack of clean water, people drink water with live stock;

       request for government services to be brought closer to people especially for the elderly like clinics; social services and home affairs

       it was reported that 500 units were promised to be built however, the information currently circulated by the municipality indicated that only 100 houses were to be built and thus raising a great concern to the community;

       another critical issue raised was that when leadership in government especially pay a visit to the area; the electricity is connected and then cut off after they have left. The community was very aggrieved about this tendency.

       the Community also complained that the province appoints contractors from outside the area and these contractors do not provide job opportunities for local people.

 

Most of the challenges raised were revolving around home affairs, health and social development services.

 

Hon BN Dambuza indicated that government is working together with the Chiefs to ensure that the service delivery is spread all over to all communities. She explained that when Parliament visits any community all challenges irrespective of that particular portfolio are listened to and reported to relevant the Committee for further consideration. Therefore the community was reassured that the concerns raised pertaining to other portfolios would be forwarded. Hon Dambuza also explained that PHP is about capacitating people in building their homes, through Letsema processes. She further emphasised that people need to participate in building their homes to curb the selling of material that result to poor structures and the selling of houses as well. She indicated that the delegation will engage extensively with the Mayor to establish the reason why only 100 houses would be built instead of 500 as was initially approved.

 

 

 

 

23 July 2010

 

Makeneng site visit

 

There were 50 subsidies allocated to Federation of Urban Poor (FEDUP) in Qwaqwa. The project started in April 2009 and there were 42 houses completed, with two bedrooms, a bathroom with no bath tub, open plan kitchen, lounge and toilet, but with no washing basin.

 

The project challenges were:

       Municipal Infrastructure Grant took long to be acknowledged by municipality

       Business Plans took long to be acknowledged and by the time of approval the funding has escalated

       Material supply

       Road construction delays

       Land claims

 

Maqhekung site visit

 

In the village 36 houses were completed and 64 houses were incomplete. The houses were 64 m2 with incomplete ceiling, no geyser, basins and toilets not installed. In August 2009, private engineering consultants (DMV) were appointed to continue with the project. Due to lack of temporally relocation Units the contractor utilised a nearby school to relocate people and in some instances they were demolishing shacks before they build. They were building 56 m2 and 58 m2 units with a ceiling. The unit comprised of a three bedroom, one toilet and an open plan lounge and kitchen. Main sewer pipes were available but not connected yet.

 

The developer was given 300 houses and 101 were completed and the plan was to finalise the construction in October 2010. The challenge was the lack of temporary structures to relocate inhabitants and this was hindering the progress as demolishing was also time consuming.

 

Visit to water purification Bulk water supply in Sterkfontein

 

Sterkfontein dam is the second biggest dam constructed of natural materials in the world; built in 1980 and was used to supply water to Gauteng province only. The water purification programme was for the people of Makholokweng, Diatalawa as well as the University of Qwaqwa. Phase 1 - contract to pump water to the reservoir, purifying water and pump it to Tshiami, and Mokholoeng. Phase 2 pump water to Makhweleng, Harrismith and Ntabazwe. Phase 1 was envisaged to be finalised by end December 2010 and phase 2 was to be done by end December 2011 where Qwaqwa was to benefit. There were no challenges with regard to labour, as they received training.

 

The following challenges were identified for the project:

       Funding allocation which was later resolved

       Cash flow

 

Site visit to Diatalawa

 

Diatalawa is a converted Agri-Village, Diatalawa means falling apples because it used to be an apple farm, and the 36 families living in this area were farm labourers.

 

It is one of the best Agri-Villages, due to collaboration by Department of Human Settlements in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. These departments ensured that land is provided to build homes and provision is underway for chicken shelters with 200 chickens, 240 cattle, and 120 dairy cows to promote Local Economic Development.

 

Seven 75m2 houses with three and some with four bedrooms were completed. There was also sanitation provision where a VIP toilet was installed. The construction of a gravel road leading to this village was still in progress and would be completed by end of August 2010. The construction of a Crche, Primary and Secondary School were also underway.

       Both departments were working together tirelessly to ensure that the dignity of the people was restored by:

       Advancing and promoting the Rural Housing Program

       Rural development and ensuring that our people share the wealth of the land they work on.

 

Challenges:

 

The families in the village requested the Department of Human Settlements to plaster their houses as the backwash was not their preference. They also requested that the area should be electrified, have water connections as well as streets in the village.

 

Harrismith Hall wrap-up and closure

 

The Head of Department, Mr M Mokoena thanked the delegation for the visit. He indicated that good and bad projects were visited. Advices given by the delegation was to be taken seriously and act on accordingly. He further indicated that the information that was requested was going to be collated and forwarded to the Committee as well as National Department. He expressed gratitude to all participants.

 

       The delegation, in its closing remarks, showed appreciation that it has observed that, the Free State Province was the first province whereby communication was done properly to various core departments and stakeholders. Although there was a challenge of the information that was required to be presented by the municipalities, there was an improvement as the delegation proceeded with the visit. The province demonstrated commitment; however delivery was very slow as compared to the provinces population.

 

Committee observations

 

         Houses constructed do not adhere to national norms and standards in terms of size per square metre, that is exceeding an average of 40m2. This situation is not sustainable and creates a challenge of similar expectations in other provinces. Funding from the Housing and Integrated Human Settlements Grant only cover a unit of 40m2. There is no clear explanation of where additional funding was sourced in order to contracts units that exceed the standard size.

         The bucket system is still widely used in the province; e.g. Mantsopa municipality requires R4 million in order to eradicate the system.

         A total of 17 600 housing subsidies were approved, but subsequently retracted by the province. The province was unable to provide an explanation to the Portfolio Committee.

         Houses are constructed with all amenities on the inside, while an additional toilet is constructed on the outside of the building. This raises a question of wasteful expenditure.

         The province further reported challenges in upgrading of White City hostel due to lack of cooperation from the hostel residents irrespective of several attempts to assist with various proposals. The delegation could not verify this information, and will have to consider alternative arrangements for engaging with hostel residents in future.

         There was lack of information on sanitation

         The total number of houses to be rectified or demolished was not clear (which cause poor planning)

         There was huge discrepancy in terms of blocked projects, the province should provide correct information.

         Lack of temporary relocation areas was delaying the housing delivery process in some areas.

         The delegation appreciated the Agri-village and the cooperation of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reforms as well as the Department of Agriculture.

         The use of indigenous technology in Manyatseng as well the Sterksfontein dam project was worth-noting

         The projects in rural areas were also admirable especially in Makeneng and Maqhekung, and the developer was proved to be committed

 

As the delegation was not thrilled by the presentation made by the province during the briefing session as well as the first round of meetings with municipalities, both, the national and provincial Departments were requested to draft a substantial report jointly which was to be presented to the delegation before its departure. The Committee notes that this report was never presented to the delegation, as requested.

 

Recommendations

 

The Portfolio Committee find it essential for the report that was requested by the delegation to be presented by the National Department together with the Province before the Committee as to a greater extent, more information is very paramount to oversee the performance of the department within the province. The report should also entail the following:

         A detailed report on reasons for retracting of 17 600 housing subsidies

         A progress report on Community Residential Unit (CRU) programme especially (White City hostel)

However, a full report as per the request is still outstanding. Therefore a full presentation is expected on or before end February 2011.

 

Report to be considered.