South African members of parliament were sceptical when the country’s housing minister boasted about her department’s service delivery rate.
“The achievements of this department are enormous, even if we are to say it ourselves… To sum up our successes: our daily rate is truly amazing,” Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told members of the human settlements’ portfolio committee during her 2017 budget vote speech.
“We deliver 1 200 houses per day,” Sisulu repeated twice for emphasis. Some members then started jeering and heckling.
Does the housing minister have her numbers straight?
No source to back up claim
An online copy of Sisulu’s speech shows that she went slightly off script, leaving out the end of the sentence. It reads: “To sum up our successes, our daily rate is truly amazing, measuring that we build 1 200 houses per day over 23 years”.
If her claim is true, it would mean that government had built or delivered over 10-million houses in 23 years.
Her spokesperson, Vusi Tshose, told Africa Check that Sisulu was “referring to a study that was done by someone else”. He wouldn’t say who but promised to send us a copy of the study.
At the time of publishing, we had not received it. (Note: We will update this report if we do.)
‘10 million is a lot’
Africa Check tried to find the study but didn’t have any luck. We asked two experts if they had come across the statistic Sisulu cited.
Director of research and advocacy at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), Lauren Royston, told Africa Check that she was unaware of any study that had reached this conclusion.
Associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s school of architecture and planning, Aly Karam, said the same: he did know about any study that put the delivery of housing since 1994 at over 10-million.
Karam co-authored a recent book chapter with Professor Marie Huchzermeyer on South Africa’s housing policy between 1994 and 2014, which looked at the department’s housing delivery data.
“Ten million is a lot – they are not at that level,” Karam told Africa Check.
3-million houses since 1994
Statistics from Sisulu’s department don’t back up her claim. The housing department’s website shows that government built 2 835 275 houses between 1994/95 and 2013/14.
A further 95 210 were built in 2014/15 and 100 339 were built in 2015/16. Data for 2016/17 – the most recent financial year – is not available yet.
Add these together and the total number of houses delivered by the South African government since 1994 comes to 3 030 824.
This works out to an average of 377 houses being built each day over 22 years – a third of the number claimed by Sisulu.
These housing delivery numbers have not been independently verified, however. Huchzermeyer and Karam advise that the they “should be read with caution” and viewed as “indicative rather than entirely conclusive”.
Conclusion: Government delivered 377 houses per day, not 1 200
South African housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s claim that her department delivers “1 200 houses per day” is not supported by her department’s statistics.
Sisulu’s spokesman said that the statistic was from a study “done by someone else”. He did not provide the study, although he promised to do so.
Government statistics show that South Africa has built 3 030 824 houses for low-income people over 22 years – an average of 377 per day.