Chairperson, those who did not applaud may not get their houses ... [Laughter.] ... so I will listen very, very carefully. Thank you for inviting us to this important House, the National Council of Provinces. Chairperson, you said that Ministers may not vote. That applies to Minister Lulu Xingwana and to Minister Baloyi. Once a premier, always a premier, so I have voted! [Laughter.]
Hon members of this House, Chairperson - as I have already indicated
- and the chairperson of the select committee, ladies and gentlemen, in his inaugural state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma made three pronouncements in respect of the Department of Human Settlements, or the then Department of Housing. These were the name change from Housing to Human Settlements; policy change and the practicalisation of this new paradigm shift to transform the landscape of housing in South Africa.
Over the last four years we have remained seized with the implementation of this new mandate, or Outcome 8. We can state the following without equivocation: A firm foundation has been laid towards a sustainable and integrated Human Settlements objective, Vision 2030. Consequently, we have a comprehensive strategy, premised on three segments around human settlements: firstly, housing for the poor; secondly, housing for people who fall in the gap market; and thirdly, housing for middle to high-income earners, many of whom are sitting here.
How are we going to implement Human Settlements Vision 2030? Let us start with housing for the poor. It is common knowledge that the main focus of our housing delivery strategy remains the poorest of the poor, many of whom are in and around what are called informal settlements, otherwise known as ghettos. At this stage, let me make the following message clear: This government does not build slums. When you see the more than 2 000 informal settlements - imikhukhu or amatyotyombe - it is not this government that built those things. These squalid areas have their roots in the wars of dispossession. They have their roots in the 1913 Natives Land Act - the centenary of which is commemorated this year - and in subsequent apartheid policies. These policies gave rise to landlessness and joblessness in this country, which saw, and continues to see, the destitute among our people escaping poverty by turning towards urban areas, particularly vulnerable women.
Let me repeat what I said at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University concerning slums - amatyotyombe and imikhukhu:
They are essentially shanty towns, littered across all provinces, particularly around the more affluent metros and municipalities. This therefore results in a situation of the classic undesirable urbanisation, which is driven less by economic growth and more by the rural-urban migration of the poor and jobless.
That is the sad story of South Africa, where you have urbanisation but it is driven by poverty. The question that arises is this: What steps have we taken to address this? Apartheid has done what it did. That is a problem, but what steps have we taken to win back our country and give dignity to our people? That is why we are here. As stated, our focus remains the poor. Over the past four years our department has thus far delivered, through grants, over 750 000 houses and housing opportunities.
This has made it possible, during this term of government alone, for the total number of housing units provided since 1994 to break, for the first time, the 3 million threshold for those people who earn between R3 500 and zero. That is what we call the poorest of the poor. To be precise, to date the delivery by this government in this term alone is 3,3 million houses and opportunities, with the cost of each unit being around R85 000. It is a sliding-scale ruler and can go higher than R85 000, depending on how far we go in the building of houses in different areas because of transport costs and so on. The backlog we are dealing with here is 2,1 million housing units, covering approximately 8 million to 10 million people. So far, with these 3,3 million houses, we have addressed the housing needs of more than 12 million people.
Let's talk about the second area of housing delivery, which is what we call the gap market. It was also named by the President in his last state of the nation address. These are the financially assisted people. This second element of our strategy concerns financial guarantees for affordable housing. This policy is for citizens who earn between R3 500 and R15 000, as announced by the President in his 2012 state of the nation address. The department's task is to implement this finance-linked policy, which covers housing for, among others, school teachers and principals, police and members of the armed forces, nurses, firemen, prison warders and blue-collar workers. The good news is that this is now a reality and it is being rolled out in all provinces via what we call the National Housing Finance Corporation, the NHFC, which is our bank. This implementing agency, the NHFC, provides finance-linked funds to those people who fall in that gap market. This supports all qualifying beneficiaries with the certainty of being granted loans, as well as bonds and mortgages by banks and other financial institutions. With the amount of R300 000, beneficiaries have the option of buying an existing house, building a new one, or purchasing land. To clarify, there is the R89 000 that is for your Reconstruction and Development Programme house - it is free of charge; it is a grant - and then these finance-linked instruments provide assistance for people to go up to R300 000 to buy a house, construct a new one or purchase land.
Therefore, to all those people who have been -lost| in what was then known as the gap market for earning too much to qualify for an RDP house and too little to access bank finance, we say this: Rest assured that this government cares. We support you in getting your bonds from financial institutions.
Let's talk about housing for middle-income to high-income earners - abomashayela phezulu - some of whom are here. In this area, we rely on three instruments. Human Settlements covers the entire landscape of housing in South Africa. There are three instruments to help some of those people who are sitting here: Firstly, we have the Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act and here we request the banks - or we don't request them but work with them - to provide finance. Secondly, we have the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, to assist people in the resolution of disputes, for example in the case of golf estates and so on.
Lastly, thanks to the sterling work done by its administrator, Mr Taswell Papier, we now have the Estate Agency Affairs Board, EAAB. The EAAB has been now stabilised, having been transferred from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Department of Human Settlements.
In summary, the three elements of our strategy are all critical and applicable for different requirements in the comprehensive Human Settlements environment. However, quite clearly, the continuous allocation of grants for free housing to the poorest of the poor is unsustainable going forward. Strictly speaking, this is more of a welfare programme approach than a long-lasting housing policy, because this programme is driven by the triple evil of unemployment, poverty and inequality. For as long as this is the case, this programme shall remain because we as the ANC-led government are committed to the poor. We shall not abandon those who are poor through no fault of their own, even as we recognise that RDP houses and these grants cannot continue forever as a housing policy. It is a welfare approach.
It therefore stands to reason that, given the current socioeconomic circumstances, the most optimal and practical Human Settlements strategic approach is the enhancement of the finance-linked programme, where we provide guarantees and then make sure that banks provide bonds, mortgages and loans.
Regarding integrated human settlements and the question of how we integrate the entire system, firstly, the deracialisation of residential areas is at the top of the list of all the budgetary challenges that confront the entire country. We have to tackle the unique question of deracialising the residential space. This, more than anything else, reflects the real evil of apartheid social engineering, which motivated the UN itself, in 1973, to pass a unanimous resolution declaring apartheid a crime against humanity. To undo this crime will take a gigantic effort over a long period, requiring major resources.
At this stage, it is noteworthy that just today I tabled a Cabinet memorandum for them to decide about hosting the UN-Habitat conference here in South Africa in September. Minister Baloyi, you are an important partner and you will be a speaker at that conference.
Our residential deracialisation strategy is underpinned by seven elements in view of the crime that was committed in this country. I will quickly take you through these elements. So, what do we do to deracialise this country? We want to make sure that we do not just mix because Bafana Bafana or Amabhokobhoko are playing and then, after that, we return to different places to sleep. We go to the same shopping malls but to different places to sleep. We go to the same schools but to different places to sleep. That is very dangerous for this country. One of the functions of Human Settlements is to make sure that we are deracialised. So, what is our approach? These are the seven points.
Firstly, to deracialise white - or originally white - suburbs by continuing, through the Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act, we need to coerce - and I am not using -coerce| in the negative sense - the banks to continue to provide loans to people so that they can go and live in those areas. There should be no redlining of any individual. It is our job to do that and the Act is there to do that. I received a soft complaint from the Banking Association of SA, Basa, when I made this point in the National Assembly, saying we appeared hostile to the banks. I want to say here to Mr Cassim Coovadia, who wrote to me, that we are not coercing them in a hostile manner. We are urging them to get the banks to also play their role, because government alone cannot and will not succeed in discharging this mission if the banks don't come forward. So, it is in that spirit - but all legislation is coercive in nature. The Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act requires all banks to report to this Minister, or the person in my position, about their lending practices. That is one way of deracialising South Africa.
Secondly, we have what we call inner-city housing. All cities have been white cities and deracialising them means that as Human Settlements - you may not be aware of this - we buy buildings and refurbish them from office spaces into residential homes. They may be 5, 10, 15 or 20-storey buildings. You may think it is private companies but no, it is your hard-earned tax money that is changing those buildings in Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and so on. We buy and refurbish. You may not be aware of this. Those homes and that kind of space are very popular with young people. So, that is what is happening in your inner city.
Thirdly, with regard to inner-city land, we have the Housing Development Agency, the HDA, which acquires land inside the city. This is land that belongs to state-owned enterprises like Eskom, Telkom and so on. We take that land, even from private companies, and build new buildings inside the city via the whole policy of densification. After all, land is limited and so we densify by going up. We understand that people have questions about what will happen to their goats when they slaughter them, or what will happen to the coffin, but people solve those things. Time passes and people move on.
Fourthly, there is the question of buying land in the outer areas, the perimeters of cities. All cities are expanding, either upwards or sideways. We buy land in the immediate proximity and build new places there. Some of you have been to such projects throughout the country; projects that aim to get people closer not only to their places of work but also to certain amenities and facilities. Fifthly - and I'm not doing this because they are here - there is the most painful one to deal with. This is the one that exposes apartheid. It is called -no man's land| and lies between Johannesburg and Soweto, where I am from; between Mamelodi and Pretoria; between Cape Town and Khayelitsha; between Durban and Umlazi; and between Port Elizabeth and Kwazakhele. There is no city or town in this country that is not separated from the black area that was supposed to provide it with labour. There is always a stretch of land that forces people to travel to work. That is the land we are now occupying. It is the best land we can get because we are able to build in those areas. Some of the most beautiful houses we are building are there - high-rises, stand-alones and so on. A mix of various types of homes is being built there.
The sixth step in addressing deracialisation is township upgrading. No white person wants to go and live in Soweto if Soweto continues to be a dormitory, which is what it was originally. Therefore, the upgrading of Soweto has seen white people and other racial groups going to live in these places. However, they will only go and live there if we upgrade. In this regard, we want to congratulate the former mayor of Johannesburg, Mr Masondo, because it started under him, and Mayor Tau, who is holding on right now, for Soweto being upgraded. That is what we expect townships to do - they must be upgraded. That is why we work with you, Minister, because that is primarily the function that we share directly with you in terms of your own outcomes. You have Outcome 9 while we have Outcome 8. So, we work together on that.
Last but not least, the seventh item is that of building new nonracial cities, as the President charged me to do. He said, -Minister, let us have cities that do not have townships. It must be the city by itself.| Our mandate is to establish new nonracial towns and cities to concretise the principle of a united and nonracial residential area. The new town of Lephalale - Joe Slovo City - which is under construction in Limpopo at this moment, driven by the economies of the Medupi Power Station, is an example in point for us. Others are in the pipeline.
We have other challenges besides the one of deracialisation. Challenges that confront us are the need for greater co-ordination with other, related government departments responsible for big- ticket items such as bulk services. We need water and big dams for human settlements. We need electrification - there must be power stations. That is not us; we have got to link up with other departments. We need sewerage plants, roads and transportation. Whenever these things are being built, by whichever Ministry, they have got to be built towards the objective that asks: Where are the people? So, Human Settlements lies there, but it cannot survive on its own. The challenge is one of co-ordination. The good news is that the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission, whose efforts are beginning to bear fruit, is the answer to this question of co-ordination. So this is not bad; it is actually a good challenge.
However, given the fact that after the passing of budgets by the National Assembly and this House, we always speedily transfer funds to provinces and to accredited municipalities, it is unacceptable that some fail to spend. Many of them discharge their responsibilities perfectly well and are applauded, yet some fail to spend. Many - and it is not their fault - need these services. You cannot start a township without bulk services. You can't put up houses without services because you will just have to break those houses down again. However, the headache of underspending remains with us.
Some of the provinces and municipalities sometimes resort to fiscal dumping, which often results in shoddy workmanship, leading to wasteful rectification amounting to billions of rand. Our director- general, Mr Zulu, is here. That becomes a headache for us because we are a housing or human settlements entity. That is our job. We are not a rectification or repair company, but we are faced with this problem of rectification amounting to billions of rand. It is a sad story but it has to be done. The newly appointed board of the National Home Builders Registration Council, the NHBRC, carries a huge responsibility in this regard. It must safeguard proper procedures in the construction industry countrywide. I sit on their shoulders and stay on their tail to make sure that we do not have this kind of shoddy workmanship continuing in the country.
I therefore urge the select committee, led by the chairperson, the hon Sibande, to redouble its efforts and, together with us, to come down hard on those responsible. For our part, we have taken some of the severest actions against those who engage in shoddy workmanship or fail to adhere to norms and standards in respect of sanitation, for example.
On this point I want to make the following clear. It is totally, totally, unacceptable that although we provide funds, the responsible government entities and certain municipalities fail to even build a simple toilet while the serious stench of the bucket system prevails in some parts of the country. For me as Minister, this is unacceptable. You give me the budget - I also get it from the National Assembly - but then it is passed on to people who cannot build a toilet! [Interjections.] Sometimes, when toilets are built, some are left uncovered, such as in the recent scandalous cases of Makhaza and Moqhaka in the Western Cape and the Free State. [Interjections.] This even prompted the Human Rights Commission to get involved.
Our response - taking funds away from poor performers - is required by law. Remember, I don't take funds from provinces or from municipalities because I want to do so. When you give me this money, the law - you - say that if I don't perform, the money should be taken back. That is not the job I would like to do. As I indicated, capacity issues need to be addressed. Most importantly, this is my message to members who sit here as representatives of political parties: Political parties must ensure that their deployees are capable people. There is nothing the matter with cadre deployment. I am deployed here as a cadre. There is nothing wrong with that policy, but make sure, political parties, that after these elections you deploy the right people. Make sure that your deployees are people who have a strategic understanding of what they are doing because, in turn, they have to put in place employees who have skills. That is where we fall - when deployees put the wrong employees in place. [Interjections.]
Our commitment and resolve to rooting out corruption is a well-known one and it remains undiminished. We continue to take a dim view of those housing beneficiaries who are engaged in double-dipping. That is a practice of people who come from other parts of the country. MEC Helen Sauls-August is here. People come from her province and go to Gauteng or other provinces. She has provided assistance; she has given toilets; she has built houses and yet some people crook the system by going to other provinces and pretending that since 1994 they have never benefited from this government.