Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Zoe Kota-Fredericks
Premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhura
MECs and MMCs of Human Settlements
Chairpersons and Members of the of the Portfolio and Select Committees on Human Settlements
Director-General of Human Settlements, Mr Thabane Zulu
Chairperson and Members of Boards and Chief Executive Officers of all Human Settlements Institutions and Agencies
Representatives of the Banking Association of South Africa
Ambassador of Angola, Josefina Pitra Diakite
Ambassador of Cuba, Carlos Fernandez DE Casio
Ladies and gentlemen
I am happy to be here today, especially on this occasion to share with you our successes, our achievements and to have the opportunity to thank all of you for the work that you have done. For the work that you have not done, I’ll address you on another occasion. Today is a joyous occasion. We will only concentrate on our achievements and by the look of our awards, there are a great deal of achievements that we can be proud of.
So, today is a happy event of a gathering of people whose interest it is to tirelessly serve South Africa, to ensure that each and every one of her citizens lives in security and comfort. Whose interest it is to ensure that one day, all her citizens will have a secure home, to call their own, surrounded by all the amenities that are necessary for life in a middle income economy such as ours. Where every child can go to school – a racially integrated school, within 5 kilometres of their home and every adult person has a clinic – an integrated clinic, within 5 kilometres of their home and every community is serviced by a highly mobile, agile police service, where there are amenities for our youth to keep them occupied, where every citizen understands it is their responsibility to report crime, to protect their children and be responsible to keep a clean environment. Where, as we give as government, citizens must understand the corollary is responsibility.
This, might not happen during our tenure at Human Settlements, but I am certain that we are all committed to ensure that we lay the foundation that ONE DAY, those who come after us will have the humility to say “those people who strove to make a better life for us”. So today, we celebrate some of those people and we rejoice with them in their success and hope it encourages them to do even better. To those who might not get an award today, next year might be your turn. Rejoice with us for those who have earned these awards and tomorrow they will rejoice with you when you too are recognised for your work.
Our intention with the Awards this year was to confer a special Lifetime Award to Mrs Ephainette Mbeki for her commitment to her community and her support of our work. We thought this would be fitting for a woman whose entire life was dedicated to fighting for our democracy and a better life for all. Unfortunately we would be denied that opportunity to thank her in her lifetime.
We want to reconfirm that we remain firmly in her footsteps and those of her late husband Oom Gov, both of whom were champions who served the interest of their people until their last day came. Our thanks go to the Mbeki family who allowed us when we started with these Awards process in 2006, to name the event after an outstanding stalwart - Oom Gov Mbeki. We enjoyed total support from the late MaMbeki and we are grateful for that.
Today we also want to recognise an outstanding, humble man who helped us shape our policies and understand how people who live in slum conditions are not victims, that they have the power, together with our support, to take themselves out of their poverty. His name is Patrick Magebhula and he passed away on Monday 4 August 2014. It is a sad loss for us. We will bury him on Saturday with all the dignity that he deserves. Today we honour him as an internationally recognised champion and pioneer of the empowerment of the poor and acknowledge his outstanding contribution. We and his broader family of the Federation of Urban Poor and SDI will have to double our collective effort to further his work to ensure that his life passion was not in vain.
I further want to take the opportunity to recognise the ground-breakers who have led and given direction to the portfolio we now call Human Settlements. In particular, our first Minister of Housing, Mr Joe Slovo, who conseptualised and launched the Botshabelo Accord which became a historic agreement by all stakeholders, including trade unions, business and communities, laying a basis for us to understand our obligations towards the reconstruction of our country after the ravages of Apartheid. We have come a long way from the Joe Slovo time and I think we should give ourselves a big round of applause. Just see how far we have come.
I want to acknowledge Mr Slovo’s Director-General, Mr Billy Cobbett. A constant compass for us and a supporter of our initiatives and work.
I have a new set of MECs and we have had a number of very good interactions. Their energy is very evident and we have committed ourselves to build 1 million houses and create 500 000 housing opportunities in the next 5 years. This is a very tough call, but we are up to it. Our departments and entities are reshaping, understanding that we are in the 5th gear.
Relax and enjoy with us our successes, for we have a lot to celebrate. Before we get too complacent, I was tempted to introduce a new category for the Awards. This would be that of “worst performer of the year”, if only to make sure that nobody would want to see themselves going up to the stage to receive that award. This might be an incentive for all of us to commit ourselves to excellence, because our people expect nothing less. But, the worst performer needs not worry too much, because he or she would invariably get a prize – an amount of R5 000 to buy the necessary energy boosters. We can “boo” him or her all we want, but they will receive their prize and would never want to walk that road of shame again.
Beyond our interaction today, I hope I’ll see all of you at the Human Settlements Indaba on 25 and 26 September 2014, which will bring together all our stakeholders and partners to thrash out our challenges, the solutions to our challenges and recommit ourselves.
I trust that by the end of the Indaba, we will be able to get all our stakeholders to recommit to the Social Contract which we had signed in 2005. Recommitment to the Social Contract is essential, because it is when we work together in a partnership as Government, Business, the Banking sector, Labour and Communities, that we can move South Africa forward. More details on the Human Settlements Indaba will be communicated through the media.
We will be selling space for stalls for anyone who might want to showcase their work and we would like to encourage those of you who have innovative ideas to showcase your innovations, or proposals. They will have the space to sell their work and ideas to all.
During the month of August we celebrate women and recognise the women of the country and especially the women in human settlements and construction. Please take the opportunity to give the woman next to you a hug. They are an outstanding species. When they put their mind to doing something, it happens. When they build, they build with the same meticulous care with which they raise a child. And I would still say this, even if I was not a woman myself. They need our support, because the world is far from fair for women.
We spent R2 billion on rectifying houses. I don’t know how we came to this unacceptable situation, but it is my intention to scrap this programme and ensure that the onus is on each and every contractor to build properly or return to repair. This will allow us to return these resources to people who have been waiting for houses. The rectification programme was only meant to cover houses that were built before the NHBRC was established. The NHBRC has been up and running for some time, hence my reluctance to continue using tax payers’ money to rebuild houses. For all of us sitting here, taking part in any contract, please know that you may not continue without the required certificates from the NHBRC. Let’s cut the waste. This makes occasions like this so important to emphasise that quality leads to achievements and implore all of you to build houses like you are building your own. Or better still, build them like women.
Next month we will be concentrating on the housing needs of our military veterans. The policy instrument for building houses for military veterans was approved in 2006 and not a single house stands to attest that we have a housing policy for military veterans. This is a sad state of affairs and we need to correct that immediately. These are people who fought selflessly to make us what we are and I implore all of you here to direct your attention in September to ensure we can build the first 5 000 houses for military veterans. It is a basic tribute they deserve and is a responsibility we need to live up to.
Next year we will have awards that are more reflective of Human Settlements as opposed to merely building houses. So that those who install our electrical fittings, those who build our community halls, those who establish our vegetable gardens, all who make our human settlements what they are, are also recognised. We should be able to acknowledge the person who installed electrical fittings on the N2 Gateway Project in the same way as the contractor of Conubia. We must live out our mandate to build human settlements and not houses. The contractor who builds the best roads in our human settlements is as important as the contractor who built Cosmo City, because all of us here will have put something into making human settlements a better place for our people, and therefore all of us who do, need to be responsible for the efforts we put in. And more importantly, feel appreciated and acknowledged for that.
Do enjoy your evening. Our congratulations to all the winners, may they be an inspiration to all others.
I thank you.