Friday, October 31, 2014

Housing not free for all - MEC

Cape Town - Western Cape Human Settlement MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela had tempers flaring in the provincial legislature on Thursday when he said the government was not obligated to give free houses to everyone.

Tabling his department’s annual report, Madikizela said only the most deserving, those who had been on the waiting list the longest, would be prioritised.

There is a housing backlog of more than 500 000 and only 12 681 houses were built during the past financial year.

EFF MPL Nazier Paulsen questioned why such a low targets were set as a goal for the past financial year.

Madikizela explained that the constitution did not state that government must give people houses for free but instead stipulated that the state must provide within its “available resources”.

“That’s what the constitution says, it does not give us a blank cheque,” he said.

But Paulsen interjected saying “only sell-outs agree with it”.

Madikizela also criticised the notion that giving unemployed people houses was a solution.

“If people have houses and they are not working they end up selling them, so this notion that because people are not working they must be given houses and we think that is a solution, it is not,” Madikizela said.

He stressed that the days of giving 20 year olds houses were also over.

“We need to encourage young people to demonstrate for jobs instead of demonstrating for houses… As a country collectively we have to deal with the challenges of unemployment but you can’t then compensate by giving someone a house.”

The MEC said apart from exceptional cases like child-headed households and people with special needs or disabilities, would also be prioritised.

Conceding that the state must do everything possible to deal with the legacy of the past and apartheid the MEC cautioned against “overcompensating for the past at the expense of the future”.

“It is a reality that we cannot give this impression that government will provide everything for people and people must fold their arms. And that is the impression that some of the honourable people are giving here. We are misleading our people if we say that,” he stressed.

But ANC MPL Khaya Magaxa said that free housing was a very important issue for people who had been historically marginalised for many decades.

“It is not a mistake that every poor household has to have a free house; it’s an acknowledgment of our past. And I think 20 years after democracy that is still far from being resolved.”

And he lashed out at Madikizela saying “I think to reduce it to just a mere (issue of being) dependent on the state, is irresponsible even for an African to say that,” he said as he urged for sensitivity.

Magaxa questioned Madikizela about his department’s engagement with communities to avoid situations like the sanitation issue which saw resistance in some communities.

But the MEC said they were required by law to embark on a consultation process prior to starting any projects.

He said the people who were at the forefront of demonstrations were the same people who were at the forefront of consul- tations, agreeing with government. “We’ve learnt valuable lessons, that there are people who are gatekeepers in communities who claim to represent communities while they represent their own interests,” he said.

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

- Political Bureau

Draft report ‘absolves Zuma on Nkandla’

Cape Town - A draft report by the parliamentary committee on the Nkandla controversy has absolved President Jacob Zuma and concluded that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings against him on misspending on his private home were not binding.

“The remedial action of the public protector is not binding,” states the document, discussed by the ANC-only committee on Thursday.

The report also states that contrary to arguments by the political opposition, it was not necessary to call Zuma to answer questions on the so-called security upgrade at his home that spiralled to a cost of R246-million and has haunted him since he took office.

“There was not a need to call persons mentioned as the investigations extensively and exhaustively extracted information from political office-bearers,” it continued.

The draft report accepts damning findings by Madonsela, the Special Investigating Unit and an inter-ministerial team that the project flouted regulations, but lays no blame on Zuma.

It states firmly that “the president did not request the upgrade” at his Nkandla homestead and that the minister of safety and security approved neither the cost nor the design of the project.

This meant, it adds, “that the project was initiated and implemented without the necessary authority and the expenditure could be deemed unauthorised as per the Public Finance Management Act”.

ANC MPs suggested additions to the document - compiled by parliamentary content advisors - that would unambiguously exonerate Zuma and recommend steps against officials who flouted the law.

Mmamaloko Kubayi suggested that the report should include a clear pronouncement that Zuma did not contravene the Executive Ethics Code, since neither the SIU nor the inter-ministerial committee found that he had.

Madonsela, in her report released in March, found that Zuma had in fact contravened the code and had unduly benefited from improvements to his homestead.

Veteran ANC MP Mathole Motshekga contradicted this directly, saying he believed it would be “premature to come to a conclusion that there was undue benefit”.

He went on to ask that the point be made in the report that Zuma had not acted improperly by introducing his personal architect Minenhle Makanya to state officials, and that they had elected to appoint the project leader and failed to follow proper procedure to do so.

“I find that there was gross negligence on the part of the officials,” he added.

Kubayi added that the report should oblige government report back to Parliament on the steps it had taken against officials to prevent future abuses and a perception that the state wasted taxpayers' money.

The drafters are due to next present a final report to the committee from which opposition parties withdrew in protest last month over the ANC's attitude towards Madonsela's report on Nkandla.

They argued that her directive that Zuma repay a portion of the funds spent on his home could only be reviewed by a court of law, and that therefore the ANC and the president's rejection of it was unconstitutional.

But on Thursday, ANC MPs said the ruling party's view had been vindicated by the Western Cape High Court's ruling in the Hlaudi Motsoeneng case last week.

The court correctly held that reports by the public protector were not binding, and therefore put paid to the opposition's campaign calling on Zuma to “pay back the money” - in the catch phrase of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Motshekga.

“That court has actively come to our assistance by finding that the remedial action of the public protector is not binding and enforceable,” he said.

Motshekga added that this meant that Madonsela's letters to Zuma in recent months, imploring him to respond adequately to her findings, had been misguided.

“The letters of the public protector to the president demanding compliance were informed by her wrong interpretation of the Constitution and the (Public Protector's) Act.”

He said since interpretation had informed the opposition's demands that Zuma reimburse the state, the “pay-back campaign has therefore collapsed”.

Pre-empting claims that the committee lacked legitimacy because it consisted only of ruling party members, Motshekga said these would be “outrageous” and called on the opposition to return to it.

“I hope they will come back and help us understand the basis on which they withdrew.”

The Democratic Alliance, the party that went to court in a bid to enforce Madonsela's findings against the SABC on Motsoeneng's appointment as chief operating officer, has claimed that the same court ruling in fact vindicated its views on the status of her reports.

The DA pointed to the court's qualifying remark that state bodies could only deviate from the remedial action implemented by the public protector if they declared rational grounds, that would stand up in a court, for not doing so.

On Thursday, Kubayi said the committee's thorough reflection on the findings of all three investigations into the Nkandla allegations meant it had rationally applied its mind to the matter. 

- Sapa

Thursday, October 30, 2014

State to decide who can hear Nkandla inquiry

Durban - Media companies face being barred from the government inquiry on the conduct of Department of Public Works officials involved in the upgrading of security at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

The media were allowed to report on all the preliminary hearings, but were told on Wednesday to submit a formal application before November 5 to be allowed any further access.

A “media hearing” will be held next week, where attorneys representing the media will have to present their arguments before the three chairmen, the state’s attorneys, the accused and their representative, the Public Servants Association.

The media application must include details of how the stories will be used, including whether articles will be shared with sister publications, plans for publishing online and on social media platforms.

Murray Hunter, a spokesman for the media freedom organisation Right2Know, said: “In the battle to get the Nkandla procurement documents released, top Public Works officials lied under oath about the contents of the documents. They claimed that the contents were so critical to national security that not even one page could be released, which turned out not to be true. So the department’s conduct has eroded public trust.

“Making this process open would be the best way to ensure that the civil servants get a fair hearing – it would also be crucial to ensuring that the public finally got to know the truth.” The inquiry is taking place in Durban, where 12 officials have to answer to charges of failing to comply with the statutory and regulatory measures that governed the procurement of goods and services by the department for the R246 million project.

Earlier this month, one of the chairmen, Thulani Khuzwayo, announced that the media would have to make a formal application to report on the hearings. This is believed to be on the instruction of the department.

Advocate Joseph Nxusana initially permitted the media to report on the inquiry when he presided over the first sitting on September 30. This was in spite of argument by the department’s attorney, Lynette Naidoo, that the identities of the state’s witnesses would be compromised by the media’s presence. She also said the inquiry was by the department, that it concerned the conduct of its own employees, and media should not be present at internal hearings.

The Public Servants Association’s labour relations officer, Roshan Lil-Ruthan, has on many occasions stated that the association’s members have no objections to the media covering the hearings.

In September, he said if the hearings were like that of any other internal inquiry, the State would not have hired external attorneys as prosecutors and the proceedings would have been chaired by senior employees of the department instead of advocates from the KZN Society of Advocates, as was the case.’

- The Mercury

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minister defends housing age limit

Parliament - Apartheid did not steal the youth of South Africans under 40, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday as she defended her department's age criteria for qualifying for free public housing.

“What apartheid could never take from anybody is their age. They are young, they are energetic, they are able to do,” Sisulu said on the sidelines of a briefing to Parliament's human settlements portfolio committee on her first 100 days in her portfolio.

The minister was accused by the Economic Freedom Fighters last week of misleading voters and creating a generation of “hobos” after she told journalists in Durban nobody under 40 would get a free house from the state.

She said she had referred to the age of 40 on that occasion because everybody present was younger, but it was established state policy that the minimum qualifying age was 60.

Asked when the policy was introduced, her office referred to a recent press release issued by Sisulu in which she stated that the decision to make 60 the qualifying age dated to 2009 Ä towards the end of her first term as housing minister.

The minister and all provincial human settlements MECs “resolved in 2009 that priority must be given to the elderly”, the statement said, and to that end the criteria were changed to prioritise those above 60, military veterans and people with disabilities.

“The housing database or waiting list is also being audited and adjusted to prioritise possible beneficiaries by age, starting with the elderly and those with special needs,” the minister's statement added.

Sisulu told Sapa there was a basic, universal understanding that the poor and elderly would be first in line for state benefits.

“If I should ever be able to say there is no 80-year-old without a house, I would have achieved something.

“If I can say there is nobody above 60 without a house, I will celebrate, I might even get to the 40-year-olds but right now our indigency policy does not accommodate any of you.

“Our policy speaks to 60, because that is the qualifying criteria worked out in our policy. Anything that is free ... there must be a cut-off point otherwise it will be a free for all. So in human settlements that is the criteria we use.”

She said the group of journalists in Durban's protests that they too were disadvantaged by apartheid, because for example they were taken out of school, were not persuasive because they were better able to fend for themselves than the aged. They were also eligible for other forms of state support, such as subsidised low-cost rental.

“What apartheid did do to the elderly is it has taken their lives away. There is nothing an elderly person can do,” she said.

“So it had nothing to do with schooling or advantages, it had to do with the fact that there are other programmes that we have in housing that caters for a whole variety of people who are able to do that.

“What people under the age of 40 have is an enormous ability to do things themselves. That which the older people can't do.

“They have sweat equity, which is one of the programmes that we have. They can go into rental if they can get a job. We are creating a youth brigade so they will get a job.”

She added the government did not want to create a young generation dependent on state benefits.

“We want our young to grow up and be self-sufficient, we don't want them to be dependent on the state. The state has only so much that it can cater for.”

- Sapa

Wife to get RDP house in divorce: Sisulu

Parliament - A law amendment is in the pipeline to ensure that if a couple in a free government house get divorced the house goes to the wife, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday.

“That is how our policy should read,” Sisulu told Parliament's portfolio committee on human settlements after a briefing on the first 100 days of her second stint in the portfolio.

“In 2006, we were involved in a women's build in Gauteng and after that we had an imbizo, and we came up with an idea that I had hoped in my second coming would have crystallised into policy, where we agreed that the house belongs to the man and the wife for as long they're married.

“When they get divorced the house belongs to the woman. That is our policy. So the man picks up his jacket and gets out,” she added.

The minister said her thinking was informed by the fact that mothers were the primary caregivers for their children.

“The wife stays because the wife is indeed responsible for the children.”

Sisulu suggested the policy had not yet found its way into law because the department had been “presided by men”.

She said if a wife died the house would go to the husband, on condition the children were also considered beneficiaries and that the house accrued to them if he remarried.

“If he finds somebody else, he gives the house to the children and goes to the other woman.”

Sisulu served as housing minister from 2004 to 2009. The portfolio was then given to Tokyo Sexwale before she returned to it earlier this year.

She told Sapa the provision on divorce would be enshrined in upcoming amendments to the Housing Act. She hoped in a year it would be on its way into law books.

In the meanwhile, her department would implement it as policy, she said.

- Sapa

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lindiwe Sisulu and the New Denialism

In 2005, early in her in her first term as Minister of Housing, Lindiwe Sisulu announced that the state had resolved to 'eradicate slums' by 2014. This was a time when the technocratic ideal had more credibility than it did now and officials and politicians often spoke, with genuine conviction, as if it were an established fact that this aspiration would translate into reality.

It was not unusual for people trying to engage the state around questions of urban land and housing to be rebuffed as troublemakers, either ignorant or malicious, on the grounds that it was an established fact that there would be no more shacks by 2014.

As we head towards the end of 2014 there are considerably more people living in shacks than there were in 2005, in 1994 or at any point in our history. The gulf between the state's aspirations to shape society and what actually happens in society have also been starkly illustrated at the more local level. Sisulu's flagship housing project, the N2 Gateway project in Cape Town, resulted in acute conflict and remains in various kinds of crisis to this day.

One of the lessons to be learnt from the denialism around the nature and scale of the urban crisis that characterised Thabo Mbeki's Presidency is that although the state is certainly a powerful actor, it has often been profoundly wrong about its capacity to understand and to shape social reality.

But Sisulu's first term as the Minister of Housing is not only remembered for her failure to grasp either the scale of the demand for urban land and housing or the limits of the state's response. There was also a marked authoritarianism to her approach. She did not oppose the escalating and consistently unlawful violence with which municipalities across the country were attempting to contain the physical manifestation of the urban crisis via land occupations.

Sisulu also offered her full support to the failed attempt, first proposed in the Polokwane Resolutions, and then taken forward in the KwaZulu-Natal parliament in the form of the Slums Act in 2007, to roll back some of the limited rights that had been conceded in the early years of democracy to people occupying land without the consent of the state or private land owners.

At the same time she also earned some notoriety for her unilateral, and clearly unlawful, declaration in 2007 that residents of the Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town would be permanently removed from the (entirely mythical) 'housing list' for opposing forced removal. She was also silent in the face of the violence marshalled through party structures against shack dwellers who had had the temerity to organise around issues of urban land and housing independently of the ANC in both Durban and on the East Rand in 2009 and 2010.

Her second term as Minister, in a portfolio now termed Human Settlements, has been marked by a similar silence in response to the even more brazen forms of repression, including assassination, now visited on people organised outside of the ANC in shack settlements in Durban. But there have been some important shifts in her position.

One is that like her predecessor Tokyo Sexwale, she no longer speaks as if the 'eradication of slums' is imminent. In this regard the state has developed a more realistic understanding of the situation it confronts. Another shift is Sisulu's opposition to unlawful evictions in Cape Town. This is, given her on-going silence in response to violent and unlawful evictions elsewhere in the country, clearly an expedient rather than a principled position. But in a context where land occupations are routinely misrepresented through the lens of criminality or political conspiracy her framing of her opposition to eviction in Cape Town in the language of justice may open some space in elite publics to politicise the contestation over urban land, something that is relentlessly expelled from the terrain of the political by a variety of elite actors.

But it is Sisulu's recent declaration that the state intends to do away with the provision of free housing and that people under forty will no longer be eligible for public housing that has been particularly controversial. Both aspects of this comment position her in direct contradiction to the law and the policies to which the government is, at least in principle, committed.

This is nothing new. When it comes to its response to the urban land occupation the state routinely speaks and acts in direct contradiction to both law and policy. What is significant here is the indication that the state, increasingly short of cash, intends to step back from some of its commitments to sustain some forms of public welfare.

Sisulu is presenting the state's public housing programme as if it were a temporary state response to apartheid, which now that things have been normalised, can be abandoned. Both parts of this equation are seriously problematic.

The ANC, in a posture that these days is simply farcical given that it is Putin rather than Lenin that restores the sparkle to Zuma's eyes in tough times, likes to pretend to itself that it is a revolutionary organisation. But public housing, far from being some kind of unique and temporary South African exception to the general status quo, is a standard part of even basic social democratic programmes.

Countries in the South like Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela all have public housing programmes of various kinds. These programmes all have serious flaws, but the fact that they exist and that other states are committed to public housing as a principle, should not be denied. In Venezuela the public housing programme includes housing that is entirely free for entirely impoverished people. There are also governments in the South that have actively sought to legalise land occupations and support the improvement of conditions in shack settlements.

Sisulu's assertion that people under forty "have lost nothing [to apartheid]" is one of the most extraordinary statements to have escaped from the mouth of a cabinet minister since 1994. The pretence that apartheid's consequences came to an end in 1994 is the sort of denialism that is so out of touch with reality - and in a way that works to naturalise inequalities inherited from a long history of brutal oppression that turned race into class - that it's almost obscene to even engage it as if it were a serious proposition.

In a situation in which millions of people cannot access housing through the market the state should recognise the social value of land occupations, offer all the support that it can to improve conditions in shack settlements and develop the best and most extensive public housing programme possible.

But if the state continues to see most land occupations as criminal and to curtail its own public housing programme, it will place millions of people in a situation that is just not viable. The inevitable consequence of the state committing itself to an urban agenda that simply has no place for millions of people will be a radical escalation of the already intense conflict in our cities. To put it plainly guns will become even more central to how our cities are governed. Sisulu's comments amount to a declaration of war.

Dr. Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University.

- allAfrica

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dear Lindiwe Sisulu

Dear Lindiwe Sisulu

by Biko Monyatsi @bikomfident on twitter

Daughter of the struggle, flower of the relentless revolution of Azania, when the rainbow masses drafted the Freedom Charter in Kliptown, they weren't in some shebeen under the influence of opium. When the Likes of Tambo and Tata Sisulu declared that ‘there shall be houses, security and comfort’, they didn’t leave out an age-restriction clause by some mistake. This was done with sheer sobriety understanding the socio-economics of this country.  They understood that challenges the old were confronted were the same the youth were faced with. The struggle in general was not age specific. In fact, the youth were affected the most.

I must admit, I was not only taken aback by your utterances, being appalled is an understatement. I was disappointed beyond words, not exactly by your testament but by the fact that these painful words were spewed by you mama. I could simply not believe that such immeasurable and inexplicable ignorance coupled with arrogance is coming from you, you mama,a liberation fighter who had a first-hand experience of apartheid. 

You, who understands what, being black, desperate, oppressed and destitute means. Could this selective amnesia be so culminated that you can forget where you left us before you ascended ranks of government? Could you be so well-cushioned in your expensive suburban house that you've forgotten that our young people are still (like in the past) squashed in shacks with hopes of one day occupying 50 square meter RDPs?

Have you forgotten that Langa, Dieplsloot and other informal settlements aren’t old age homes but places were young people are squeezed in perpetual suffering hoping for a better tomorrow?

Lest you forget mama, a 39 year old South African was born in 1975. Lest you forget 11 million children getting child grants aren't getting them as freebies or gifts but because their parents are unemployed and cannot afford basic needs. Parents of these children happen to be these under 40s you are referring to. 8 million young people (under 40s you are referring to) are unemployed, not because they are lazy but because some could not finish school, some could afford to go to varsities and some cannot (even after studying) find jobs, all because of the socio-economic conditions of this country , all as a result of apartheid.

To then turn a blind eye of our plight with such confidence is worrying. The apparent conscience sclerosis you have is very concerning. 

Your statement is not only glaringly preposterous but seeks to inform us (as young people) that you are not there in our interest, which is self-defeating since we form more that 70% of the population in this country. If we can’t afford education or get jobs, how are we supposed to afford shelter? RDPs aren’t for the old aged but for the disadvantaged and indigents, a category we happen to be part of.

Mama, it is in your own interest to retract what you said and apologise to us young people.

- Opinion24

The twin scourge of promise and legacy

Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu thinks that if you’re under 40 years of age, you’re not affected by apartheid’s consequences. Don’t be lazy, then, and expect a free house. Housing from the state is strictly intended to “right the wrongs of the past”, and therefore under forties should be excluded.

This is a shocking argument, and although it has generated discussion, the minister deserves further engagement on the multiple ways in which her viewpoint is ahistorical, and even unconstitutional.

Minister Sisulu went on to say (addressing anyone under 40): “None of you are ever going to get a house free from me while I live.” What incredible arrogance, based on a poor understanding of history’s reach into our democracy, and a poor understanding of the government’s constitutional duties.

First, let’s engage the most compelling defence of the minister that some have offered on her clumsy behalf. Some argue that, actually, the minister has a point when you take into account the fact that the state necessarily has limited resources to provide housing, and so must prioritise older people, and only young people with special needs like those from child-headed households.

This is justified, so the argument goes, because young people are too entitled, and at any rate have a lifetime of opportunity ahead of them still, if only they used their energy to get ahead in life rather than waiting for the state to give them everything they need.

Is this defence of Sisulu fair, and convincing?

Not really, for the simple reason that the various ANC governments of the past 20 years are mostly responsible for any culture of entitlement that South Africans have become addicted to. So the state doesn’t have the moral authority to lecture any lazy or demotivated or entitled citizens. Instead, the state should take the biggest slice of the blame for engendering this culture of expectation.

This, of course, doesn’t mean it is false to say many under forties are wrongly waiting for the government to do everything for them. But who makes that argument matters. If you are responsible, in large part, for my entitlement attitude, then it’s not clear to me that you should be the first to tell me, in the name of newly discovered tough love, that I should now pull myself together.

This message would be far less controversial, divisive and worthy of scorn had the minister – or even better the president – delivered a major speech first in which they apologised for the state consistently raising false expectations among citizens over the past 20 years that they would deliver a better life for all.

The very use of phrases like “service delivery” and the size of our welfare budget engendered a culture of expectation. A confession that it was wrong, unrealistic and not sustainable would be a good start from the state.

If the state were to take responsibility for this culture, and took citizens into its confidence about what, realistically, it can do to help citizens, and what it can’t do, then the tough-love message would resonate with many more than was the case when Sisulu shouted from the rooftops recently.

However, even if the minister did have the moral authority to tell young people where to get off, the tough-love viewpoint isn’t entirely convincing. It is premised on the false belief that the past does not affect someone under the age of 40. That is ahistorical and based on patently false beliefs about the nature of apartheid

It is a viewpoint I’d expect from AfriForum, determined to pretend that in 1994 we all started on an equal footing and with a blank slate.

That is not historical reality. Apartheid didn’t just affect my grandparents and my parents. It has affected me too, and materially so, although I am only 35, as a result of being born into a family that was affected by the evil of apartheid.

If, in 1979, I was born into a white family, for example, the statistical and empirical truth is that I would have a much better chance of being a professional, educated and employed 35-year-old in 2014 than if I had been born in a shack.

That is because the intergenerational consequences of poverty, and state-sponsored anti-black racism, have far-reaching structural consequences that cannot be wiped out in one or two generations. Some of us born in 1979 did, of course, escape our cycle of poverty in poor black townships. But we were lucky, beating the odds, and know the face of structural poverty when we go home. It still exists.

Sisulu ought to know better, and yes particularly so as a black South African coming from a family that was deeply steeped in the fight against the structural impact of apartheid.

Perhaps what her comments highlight are two uncomfortable truths about democratic South Africa: politicians who have always been, or have become, privileged (regardless of skin colour) suffer from convenient amnesia about the structural nature of apartheid and exclusion; second, if the state runs out of excuses for poor delivery, it could try to shift the conversation away from its track record towards citizen attitudes. Yet, if we are honest, very few South Africans under 40 would demand houses from the state if they had been given adequate opportunities from the state to excel and become self-sufficient.

So unless the state wants to also argue it never had a political and constitutional duty to progressively realise the rights of citizens to education, healthcare and housing, then it must be embarrassed that many citizens who are under 40 actually don’t desire to be dependent on the state. They simply don’t have opportunities to become educated, and many who are don’t have opportunities to find work as a result of the low economic growth we’re experiencing, and barriers to becoming entrepreneurs such as a risk-averse banking sector not about to give a loan to asset-less Eusebius.

How can Sisulu be so oblivious to her government’s role over the past 20 years in not generating enough opportunities for young people to escape the consequences of the past? It is baffling. But maybe not, if you take into account that acknowledging this narrative is the equivalent of admitting that you’ve been less awesome in the driving seat of state power than you often proclaim.

Sadly for the minister, while she can choose to be politically arrogant, she cannot ignore the constitution. The constitution doesn’t say every citizen must get a house. But it does say the state has a duty, within its available resources, to realise the right to housing, progressively. As with Aids drugs, it would have to show that the state has rational grounds for not providing housing, within its budgetary constraints, for all citizens that need it, and not just over forties.

The constitution doesn’t distinguish between under forties and over forties. I would love to see the minister try to convert that viewpoint into a successful constitutional argument for discriminating against citizens younger than 40.

Must we stop being reliant on the state as young South Africans? Absolutely. But then the state, in turn, must stop making empty promises that worsen a sense of entitlement among young people.

Better still, jack up the education system, reduce barriers to entrepreneurship and make the economic climate exciting enough for local business to invest more in the local economy, while also attracting further foreign investment. I bet my left kidney that fewer under forties would demand housing if the state performed better than it currently does.

* Eusebius McKaiser is the best-selling author of A Bantu In My Bathroom and Could I Vote DA? A Voter’s Dilemma. He is currently working on his third book, Searching For Sello Duiker.

** The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Independent Media.

- The Star

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Minister Sisulu, politicking doesn't improve living conditions

Note to Editors: This is an extract of a speech delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements, Makashule Gana MP, during a sitting of the National Assembly in Parliament today. 

Honourable Speaker,

Honourable Members,

Now more than ever, we need a constructive debate on how to make our cities welcoming for all people moving there. We cannot deny that urbanisation is placing enormous pressure on our local governments. We must work together to make our cities work for everyone. 

Honourable Speaker, 

The City of Cape Town tried to engage with Sanral as early as 2010 to install services to the shacks on their land, resulting in several warnings from the City about the untenable living conditions. Sanral's inaction formed part of its plans to bring e-tolls to the Western Cape.

After the evictions took place the City of Cape Town made available community facilities to assist those affected by Sanral's legal action. 

The matter is currently handled by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) which coordinated the move of the residents back to Lwandle and assisted in the set-up of temporary structures. The City of Cape Town has provided all the material.

The City is prohibited by law from providing services on land owned by another sphere of government or private land owner. The City is awaiting permission from SANRAL to provide toilets. Eskom wants to install electricity but they too are waiting on SANRAL to approve.

But let us be clear, this is not a Cape Town issue, this is a nationwide issue, affecting many municipalities, especially metropolitan municipalities. 

Honourable Speaker, 

I am happy to hear that the Minister agrees with the DA that any illegal occupation of land should be discouraged. 

I am sure that she is also in agreement that we cannot incentivise illegal land invasion by providing alternative accommodation to the detriment of others who have been waiting on housing lists for almost 20 years. 

Perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of this whole situation is that fact that Ses'Khona - the network includes several ANC councillors and aspirant councillors - scored R330 000 from Lwandle plot-selling. Evidence suggests that a total of 660 sites were pegged out on SANRAL land for shacks to be built at a minimum price of R500 each. 

Taking advantage of vulnerable people is deplorable and should be condemned. I would call on the Minister to condemn Ses'Khona for these illegal activities. 

Honourable Speaker, 

Instead of confining the investigation to one DA-run province, the Minister should have launched a nationwide investigation into evictions, which occur all too often.

The Minister's spokesperson tried to justify to journalists why the Department did not investigate other evictions in the country: "When a Mayor and a Premier, on a cold winter day, abandon its citizens, the national department must intervene. In other provinces the mayors and premiers never abandon their people." 

This is an insult to South Africans.

The true story is that on a very cold winter's day in June this year more than 200 Zandspruit residents in Johannesburg were forcefully removed and on day two SAPS fired rubber bullets at protesting residents.

In the same month in the eThekwini Municipality, 100 shacks in Cato Crest's Marikana Land Occupation and Lamontville's Madlala Village were destroyed and left about 300 people homeless. 

What about the Uitenhage Demolitions in the Eastern Cape, Mogale City, Alexandra and Belgravia evictions in Gauteng and the Umzimkulu municipality demolitions in Kwa-Zulu Natal?

There is much work to be done to deliver adequate land and housing to our people. The Report tabled today should be scrutinised by the committee to see how we can move forward on the issue of evictions. 

In the meantime I would encourage the Minister to work harder to solve the underperformance of provincial departments and municipalities - including actually spending the Rural Infrastructure Grant Funding, upgrading informal settlements and providing recreational facilities in informal settlements so people can build communities. 

Honourable Speaker, 

Section 26 of the Bill of Rights states that "Everyone has the right to adequate housing" and further that the State must make the necessary arrangements to provide for citizens who cannot provide adequate housing for themselves.

Instead of focusing on preventing illegal evictions, land must be made available closer to urban centres - especially land owned by state entities that is sitting idle - for the development of human settlements. 

Minister let us not forget that Human Settlements plays an important role in redressing some of the imbalances of apartheid spatial development, and providing dignity and land ownership to many South African citizens must be a task we all take up without playing petting politics. 

Let's make our cities welcoming to all people.

- Ndza khensa. DA

- Politicsweb

Friday, October 24, 2014

Poverty in Western Cape growing

Cape Town - Local government MEC Anton Bredell has stressed that the biggest challenge facing municipalities in the province was the fact that “poverty is catching up” with them.

Tabling his department’s annual report before the provincial government’s standing committee for local government on Wednesday, Bredell said his department has received a clean audit opinion from the auditor-general.

“Our financial management is under control,” Bredell said.

Over the past year, the department has provided support and capacity building programmes to all 30 municipalities in the province, with the aim of delivering the best necessary services to communities.

Bredell said this year the department had exceeded almost all of its performance targets.

Responding to questions from ANC MPL Richard Dyantyi, about the impact of service delivery protests on the department and its oversight role in the province’s municipalities, Bredell highlighted the fact that the province had had a 37 percent population growth over the last 14 years.

Dyantyi said for the year 2013/2014 there were 644 protests in the province, and he wanted Bredell’s take on the issue.

Bredell pointed out that there were different reasons for the protest action, saying that not all were service related.

The EFF’s Nazier Paulsen wanted to know what the department was doing to resolve the problem in municipalities like Oudtshoorn where politicians and not officials were causing problems.

Bredell said that in Oudtshoorn it was not just the politicians but also the officials who were causing problems.

“Sometimes unfortunately you will need to follow the legal route,” Bredell said.

A stable political environment and a good administration were needed to get a town’s council in a proper running state.

“I am not the boss of politicians, we work with councils. I am the MEC for local government in the province, I’m not the MEC for the DA members in a council,” he said.

Using stats from the municipal IQ survey, Bredell said seven of the top 10 best performing municipalities in the country were in the Western Cape.

“Twenty-nine out of the 30 municipalities in the province also managed to attain unqualified audits in their latest financial year, with 11 of the 29 getting a further accolade, that of getting clean audits in the year under review,” he added.

Another highlight was that the province spent more than 98 percent of its Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) expenditure. But Bredell stressed that despite the progress, much still needed to be done to improve the living conditions of many communities.

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

DA Calls On Minister Sisulu to Come Clean On Tongaat Mall Funding

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Nocawe Mafu, requesting that she summon the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to Parliament to account for the department's involvement in partially funding the Tongaat Mall in Durban.

Reports revealed yesterday that Minister Sisulu confirmed that her department had been involved in the funding of this mall and thus we implore the Minister to come clean on the extent of her department's involvement.

Minister Sisulu said: "The tragedy about that building is that it was partly funded by myself [... ] Part of the funding did come from human settlements."

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to ascertain how funds from the Department of Human Settlements were channelled and approved by the Minister to fund the construction of the mall.

Housing money should not be spent on building malls.

After the investigation is complete, the full might of the law must be enforced to hold those accountable for abusing tax payer's money.

Sadly, two people were killed and 29 workers were injured in the collapse of the mall on 19 November last year.

We cannot stand by and watch money that is meant to assist the poor to be used on building malls.

Taking money meant to build houses for the poor to build malls is criminal and as such all involved must face the full might of the law. It does not matter if they are developers, politicians or Human Settlements officials

Makashule Gana

Deputy Federal Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance | Shadow Minister of Human Settlements

- allAfrica