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Amos Masondo, Address by the Chairperson of the NCOP, on the occassion of the ministerial briefing session on Human Settlements (08/03/22)

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Amos Masondo, Address by the Chairperson of the NCOP, on the occassion of the ministerial briefing session on Human Settlements (08/03/22)

8th March 2022

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Greetings and Good Morning! Molweni, Avuxeni, Ndi matsheloni, Dumelang, Goeie Mồre
Programme Director
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Honourable Sylvia Lucas
Minister of Human Settlements, Honourable Mmamoloko Kubayi
Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Honourable Pamela Tshwete
House Chairperson for International Relations and Members’ Support, Honourable Winnie Ngwenya
House Chairperson for Committees and Oversight, Honourable Jomo Nyambi
Chief Whip of the National Council of Provinces, Honourable Seiso Mohai
Honourable Permanent and Special Delegates
Representative of SALGA
Ladies and Gentlemen

Programme Director, allow me to start by thanking you for the opportunity to open the session with some few remarks. Today’s Ministerial Briefing on Human Settlements has been convened to enable us to focus our attention on Progress in Creating Integrated and Sustainable Human Settlements.
 
The creation of integrated and sustainable human settlements speaks to the need to ensure that people have access to social and economic opportunities, where they live.
 
The intention of the briefing session is to provide the Members of the NCOP, the Provincial Legislatures and Municipal Councils (through SALGA), with the necessary information to be able to coordinate and enhance their oversight work.
 
This is critical, given that all the three spheres of government play a role in the creation of integrated and sustainable human settlements.
 

STARTING WITH THE RIGHT TO HOUSING

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Our Constitution entrenches the right of everyone to have access to adequate housing. It places the responsibility upon the state to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.
 
This is in keeping with the aspirations of the founders of our democracy who, in the year 1955 through the Freedom Charter, elaborated the vision of South Africa as follows:
 
“All people shall have the right to live where they choose, to be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security;
Unused housing space shall be made available to the people;
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry”.
 
Programme Director, it is through the judgment of the Constitutional Court in October 2000, in the matter between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and Others versus Irene Grootboom (of Cape Town) and Others, where this right was given full expression.
 
The Court’s judgment highlighted the state’s obligations under section 26 of the Constitution, which gives everyone the right of access to adequate housing, and section 28(1)(c), which affords children the right to shelter.
 
In a unanimous judgment written by Justice Yacoob, the Court noted that the Constitution obliges the state to act positively to ameliorate the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people living in deplorable conditions throughout the country. It said that the state must provide access to housing, health-care, sufficient food and water, and social security to those unable to support themselves and their dependents.
 
The Court expressed the view that realising socio-economic rights enables people to enjoy the other rights in the Bill of Rights and is key to the advancement of race and gender equality and the evolution of a society in which men and women are equally able to achieve their full potential.
 
However, it is also important to note that the Court stated that the Constitution recognises that this is an extremely difficult task and does not oblige the state to go beyond its available resources or to realise these rights immediately. 
 
Programme Director, this is therefore a task that we must continue to carefully plan and execute.
 

REGARDING THE FUNCTIONS OF NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AND OTHER SPHERES

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In terms of section 3 of the Housing Act, the national government acting through the Minister must, after consultation with every MEC and the national organisation representing municipalities, establish and facilitate a sustainable national housing development process. The national Minister is thus required:
 

To determine national policy, including national norms and standards, in respect of housing developments;

To set broad national housing delivery goals and facilitate the setting of provincial and, where appropriate, local government housing delivery goals in support thereof;

To monitor the performance of the national government and, in co-operation with every MEC, the performance of provincial and local governments against housing delivery goals and budgetary goals.

 

ON SUCCESSES IN THE PROVISION OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

 
Programme Director, apartheid planning had amongst others consigned the majority of South Africans to live far away from work.
 
In 1994, the Reconstruction and Development Programme, stated that the lack of adequate housing and basic services in urban townships and rural settlements, had reached crisis proportions. It stated that the urban housing backlog in 1990 was conservatively estimated at 1, 3 million units. This excluded hostels and rural areas. However, by the end of th year 2021:
 

Government had expanded housing to four million households;

Services and infrastructure had been provided to many communities;

Initiatives to provide mixed housing strategies and more compact urban development to help people access public spaces and facilities, state agencies, and work and business opportunities, as per the National Development Plan, were being rolled out.

 
In short, in the face of the challenges with the ever-increasing demand for integrated and sustainable human settlements, government has nonetheless made ernomous strides to provide these in spite of the limited resources.
 

BUT WE STILL FACE SOME SERIOUS CHALLENGES

 
The creation of integrated and sustainable human settlements is a co-operative national effort under the guidance of national government. There is evidence that suggests that we need to strengthen the arrangements to deliver on this collaborative task.
 
One of these, Programme Director, is the need to deal with unfinished projects. These are the projects, not only in the housing sector, where a government appoints a company but the company does not complete the project because it is either facing a court case, is liquidated, or has simply disappeared.
 
Often than not, successive administrations initiate other projects leaving the targeted beneficiaries of the unfinished project in limbo for several years. This leads to resentment and possibly protest action by the affected communities, which does not augur well for all of us.
 
One can add to this some of the challenges experienced whereby certain projects intended to refurbish hostels, with a view to amonst others convert them into family units, were also abandoned.
 
There is also the thorny issue of people who buy property, particularly in areas such as the townships, but realise afterwards that they cannot make use of the property. At times they end up with a bond but no access to their newly-acquired property. This tends to negatively impact the use of property to leverage development in these areas.
 
In some of our metros, one finds the problem of housing projects that have stalled for years – not because the developers have gone bust. Simply because gangsters demand payment or involvement in development projects in their neighbourhood, or what is known as the construction mafia.
 
Lastly, the programme to upgrade informal settlements is not without challenges. Some of the metros, townships, villages and cities are doing much better while others are still struggling.
 
Programme Director, these are some of the challenges which we need to pay attention to, if we are to succeed in creating integrated and sustainable human settlements, and to reverse the spatial effects of apartheid.
 

ON URBANISATION

 
Programme Director, research shows that in the year 2007, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population was urban. In the year 2014, this rose to 54 per cent. Expectations are that by 2050, the number of people living in urban areas is to increase by 72 per cent, that is from 3.6 billion to 6.3 billion.
 
Urbanisation brings with it economic opportunities. However, it also leads to challenges of urban sprawl, urban poverty, higher unemployemt rate, environmental degradation and so on. Therefore, we need futuristic solutions to the challenges we are already witnessing in this regard.
 
Urbaisanisation is a reality and a challenge that we need to grapple with today.
 

IN CONCLUSION

 
Programme Director, the notion of integrated and sustainable human settlements is essentially about where we live and work. To achieve it requires more co-operation amongst the different spheres and organs of the state to address the challenge of apartheid geography and to create conditions consistent with the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.
 
Once again, I wish to express appreciation for the opportunity given to me to make these remarks.
 
I thank you
 

 

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