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Mthembi-Mahanyle: Handing over cheque for Khayelitsha housing (18/02/2003)

18th February 2003

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Date: 18/02/2003
Source: Ministry of Housing
Title: Mthembi-Mahanyle: Handing over cheque for Khayelitsha housing


KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HOUSING MINISTER SANKIE MTHEMBI-MAHANYLE AT THE HANDING OVER OF A CHEQUE TO THE EXECUTIVE MAYOR OF CAPE TOWN FOR THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AT SITE C, Khayelitsha, 18 February 2003

Programme Director
MEC Hangana
Executive Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo
Councillors
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

In the past few years, I have visited this area on a number of occasions to launch a number of housing projects for the homeless of Khayelitsha. These projects ranged from people's housing process to rightsizing and ordinary low-cost RDP houses. During my visits to this area, I witnessed firsthand the plight of the homeless living in the informal settlements and eventually measured the challenge we face in the delivery of shelter throughout the country. I have also been fortunate to observe substantial social and economic contributions made particularly by the very same people in an effort to improve their living conditions.

For this I commend the community of Khayelitsha for responding positively to the programmes that the government has introduced, standing up to initiate projects that are transforming the lives of many households in this area. It was also during these visits that I observed how local residents, many of them women, have come to embrace the housing programme, particularly the people's housing process, where we support them through technical and financial assistance. In some instances, as with Masibambane project, which I launched last year, I have been touched by the manner in which people have managed to successfully mobilise funds and other resources without any government assistance, as they tried to address their housing needs.

I therefore want to proudly declare that Khayelitsha's housing efforts demonstrate this community's clear grasp of the real challenges facing the country, especially within the historically marginalised communities and the importance of public participation in housing developments. This community is in the forefront in terms of community participation, and is one of the first communities to understand and accept the good intentions offered by the Servcon's normalisation programme. Khayelitsha is among the first communities to initiate and implement the rightsizing projects.

I did mention at the launch of the Khayelitsha rightsizing project in 2001 that one of the positive aspects of our housing programme is that it tries to normalise the housing environment while at the same time creating new opportunities for the homeless. We cannot run away from the fact that we inherited abnormalities in the housing sector that require to be addressed concurrently with the rest of other challenges. One of these is the issue of bad housing loans that resulted from default by about 33 000 households who borrowed from the commercial banks and other sources.

Some of these loans were taken by the households residing in Khayelitsha, and the fact remains that we need to sort out this problem. It is therefore important for people to understand that the government and the banks have established a joint venture structure that is tasked to assist people affected by the problem of bad loans up to 1997. Let me hasten to say that it is currently the only structure that has a mandate to assist in this regard. Servcon has already managed to sort out more than half of these loans with a total value of about R700 million. Affected families have to be relocated to more affordable RDP homes through an approach we use across the country and not just at Khayelitsha. I therefore want to thank all those who cooperated with Servcon and Thubelisha Homes in assisting them to move to more affordable homes.

I have no doubt that the majority of residents here understand the essence of our programmes; hence they are committed to corporate with us in our endeavours. I have been made to understand that you are also responding very well to the City of Cape Town's initiative aimed at bringing all the stakeholders together to develop a shared and common approach to the resolution of the Site C housing problems and those of the entire Khayelitsha community. I am informed that a stakeholders committee has been established to put through a number of workshops relating to the housing development issues in this area. Concurrently, a number of meetings being held with the local community on the proposed developments put the notion of community participation in good context.

A dispute resolution committee that you have established, comprising of representatives from the ward development forums, councillors and officials is also a step towards the right direction. Through a committee of this nature, any dispute relating to the projects and involving the identification of beneficiaries could be easily resolved.

It is therefore disappointing that with such a good institutional arrangement in our midst, we still experience incidents of opportunistic pressure groups, operating outside the established arrangements. These individuals who call themselves anti-eviction groups, are going around confusing and mobilising people against the established institutions government has created to assist them in resolving a debt they accumulated in an arrangement between themselves and the banks. You have a duty as a community to isolate these groups, as their intention remains to derail delivery and to introduce misleading power bases for ambitious individuals leading in this irregular activity.

Any development initiative will definitely be a winner without these groups. We have information in our possession that shows that a number of elderly people and other community members they claim to represent have managed to repay their debt to the banks. We also are aware that some of them are using innocent people as a stepping-stone towards the formation of their own political parties.

Ladies and gentlemen, the government is pretty aware that many of our people are still homeless and jobless, and that a large percentage of our population still lives in informal shelter. The government is also aware that South Africa has a growing population of burgeoning informal settlements in the cities and Khayelitsha is one of those affected by this growth. I therefore would like to assure you that government will support Khayelitsha through the Urban Renewal Programme that will ensure that we don't just provide shelter for the homeless, but we also intensify our integrated development cluster programme that will impact in the different aspects of life of people in this area.

The pattern of poverty and homelessness and the structures of our towns and cities make us painfully aware that our nation was divided into pockets of haves and have-nots. Khayelitsha was developed in the 1980s to accommodate squatters moved from Crossroads. Although the move from Crossroads never materialised, the pressure of new arrivals and the increasing demand for housing in existing overcrowded areas contributed towards the expansion of Khayelitsha, albeit as a poorly serviced settlement.

The 1996 census estimated the population of Cape Town at 3 million people, 410 000 of whom lived in Khayelitsha. It is estimated that the population of Khayelitsha alone has grown to 600 000 people at the moment. Of this population, 40% of the adults are unemployed. The average income per household per month is R1499, 00.

We are here today because we believe that we need to maintain the momentum in housing delivery. For that, government continues to invite communities and households to share the responsibility of transforming our society, regardless of who they are and their status in life as we are all entitled to life, freedom, dignity and the pursuit of happiness.

It was in this understanding that when the community of Site C approached government, through the City of Cape Town, with a clear business plan for housing development in the area, we welcomed them. I am therefore pleased to announce the grant of R11,56 million to the community of Site C. I trust that this will make a meaningful contribution to the development of housing opportunities for the homeless people of this area. Soon you'll be joining eight million people who have, in the past nine years, benefited from our housing programme. What we are giving you is part of the R22,3 billion that we have invested in our people through the low-cost housing programme since the inception of democracy in our country.

Let me seize this opportunity to thank you all in your support and dedication shown in our development programme. As you are aware that I'm visiting you for a last time as a Minister, I want to also urge you to continue supporting this government and its development initiatives. The achievements of the last nine years have given all of us hope that we can, when we coordinate our efforts, begin to reduce and alleviate levels of poverty around us.

I thank you.

Issued by Ministry of Housing
18 February 2003
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