Chairperson, hon Minister, fellow colleagues, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to deliver my maiden speech in the House today as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, which is very close to my heart. [Applause.] Hon Minister and members of the portfolio committee, we, as the DA, are in support of the total eradication of the bucket system. I must share my concern at the fact that this matter did not receive top priority in the Minister's speech.
The fact that the DA-led Western Cape accounts for only 0,4% of the nation's bucket toilets bears testament to our unwavering commitment to bringing this unsanitary system to an end. This system is inhumane and has, for years, stripped our communities of their basic dignity.
The total eradication of this system is our foremost priority. You, here today, should also share our frustration with past Ministers who have come and gone, while the bucket system remains.
Former Human Settlements Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, spoke about the abolition of this system in 2008. He said it would be done away with during his term of office. That did not happen. The hon Connie September also accepted that this system undermined the dignity of our communities, and vowed to ensure its total eradication. Unfortunately, she did nothing about the matter.
This is a genuine problem, hon Minister, and it affects every South African in every corner of the country. Poor sanitation exists in places like the Free State, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape, where there are tens of thousands of bucket toilets still in use. I would urge that, under your leadership, hon Minister, this matter should receive top priority.
Your department must work together with the Department of Water and Sanitation, and urgently co-ordinate efforts to make sure that this happens. There still remains too much confusion as to who will be responsible for what, following the creation of the new portfolio. I trust that this division will be made clear, especially in the budgeting process.
It must be specifically made clear insofar as the use of the rural household infrastructure grant is concerned. According to the Department of Human Settlement's 2012-13 annual report, the department failed to spend 39,6%, R135 million, of the rural household infrastructure grant.
While the primary focus of the grant is to promote water and sanitation services to rural communities, since 2009 the grant has been grossly underspent.
Hon Minister, grants like these play a crucial role in addressing some of the numerous inequalities and human rights violations rural communities have had to endure due to apartheid's disgraceful legacy. This underspending is simply unacceptable, given the current state of affairs of our systems.
There is hope for our people. Indeed, in the DA-led Western Cape, we are setting the trend. [Interjections.] According to census data, in the Western Cape 99,1% of households have access to piped water and 96% have access to toilet facilities. Through an increase in the sanitation and sewerage infrastructure budget, the number of toilets has tripled from 10 591 to 34 225, ensuring access to 88% of its total population. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
The hon Deputy Minister, Zoe Kota-Hendricks, knows what I am talking about.
We can emulate this example in many other places in South Africa, from Nelson Mandela Bay to Egoli, from Ekhuruleni to Tshwane, if the people give the DA a chance in the 2016 local government elections. [Interjections.] [Applause.] I am confident that, with this development, we will finally make real progress in bringing dignity to our people. Thank you very much. [Applause.]