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The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements has called on the national Department of Human Settlements to intervene in Limpopo, to fast-track the delivery of houses in that province.

Today, the Limpopo and Gauteng Human Settlements departments appeared before the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements to discuss their challenges in the delivery of houses in the two provinces. While the Committee was relatively happy with reported progress in Gauteng, Members of Parliament were concerned about the slow pace of delivery in Limpopo.

Commenting on a report by the Limpopo Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Committee Chairperson Ms Nocawe Mafu described the situation in the province as “worrying” and requiring intervention from the national Department of Human Settlements.

“When looking at the report, I am a bit worried. It seems like the province is shifting their responsibilities to the Housing Development Agency (HDA), almost everything that was supposed to be done, even title deeds. I am not sure what will the province will remain doing,” she said.

“The national Department needs to be hands-on in Limpopo. We are looking disaster in the eye and probably there is something that can be salvaged. One thing that is becoming clear from this engagement is that the MEC and the department will have to come back to present the second and third quarter reports, so that the Committee can continue to monitor progress and identify challenges for possible solutions,” the Chairperson said.

Committee Member Mr Solly Malatsi said the report “reflects the magnitude of the problem in the province” and a worrying picture of what is likely to happen at the end of the financial year. “Part of the report acknowledges that there is ineffective contract management, [and] no punitive measures for contractors who don’t perform.”

Limpopo MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Mr Jerry Ndou said the interaction with the Committee will help his Department to see where the real challenges are and also to check what went wrong. “We commit that we won’t come back to discuss underperformance of Limpopo. We will be reporting on progress on the delivery of houses to the people of our province,” the MEC said.

Ms Xoliswa Mkhalali, Acting Deputy Director-General in Gauteng, briefed the Committee about progress and challenges in the delivery of houses in Gauteng. She said the biggest challenges facing the province included high demand for houses due to population influx and the effects of urbanisation. Another challenge is citizens who approach the department for housing assistance after their homes have been repossessed by banks following retrenchments.

Mr Joseph Leshabane, Deputy Director-General in the National Department of Human Settlements, said the department was fairly comfortable with how the province was dealing with the issues, adding that Gauteng “has refocused itself”. On house owners who are unable to service their home loans, he said the state has to pay specific attention to this difficulty, which is as a result of the country’s economic performance.

Sakhile Mokoena
7 November 2017