Saturday, June 30, 2007

Icy weather hits poor hardest

The vulnerable and poor, including young children, the elderly and those with HIV and Aids, will have been hit hardest by the icy conditions gripping the country, health workers and officials say.

City of Cape Town health director Dr Ivan Toms said the cold and winter illnesses led to a greater number of people visiting community health centres, clinics and hospitals.

The spread of tuberculosis in winter was “of particular concern” as the TB bacteria survived longer in damp conditions.

The elderly and HIV-positive were at risk from influenza, which could lead to pneumonia and be fatal. Children were also at risk of contracting gastroenteritis and skin infections from playing in pools of dirty water.

Treatment Action Campaign spokesperson Denis Matwa said a large percentage of HIV-positive people were at risk of developing pneumonia as they did not have proper shelter.

The shortage of staff at community clinics compounded the hazards of cold weather for people living with HIV, he said.

Tuberculosis Care Association programme manager Etricia Lakey said poor living conditions could increase the chances of TB spreading as cold weather kept people huddled together indoors.

As they had weakened immune systems, babies and the elderly who had TB were at risk of aggravating their conditions, she said.

Dr Beverly Draper, from the UCT Children’s Institute, said cold weather placed children under five years of age at greater risk of contracting respiratory infections.

Children would contract flu, which in many cases would turn into bronchitis.

“The load of patients needing treatment in winter is always higher and it is the busiest time for doctors,” Draper said.

Toms said there was no available statistical analysis of deaths according to the seasons.

He said city disaster management had an effective and rapid response to flooding, with people whose homes were flooded being accommodated in community halls and being given meals. They were also given starter packs for rebuilding homes if necessary.

A possible intervention being considered for next winter was to offer flu vaccinations to the elderly, to clinic staff and to those whose immune systems were compromised. - Cape Argus

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Flood ravaged shack dwellers call for relief

Residents of flood ravaged informal settlements from across the Cape Flats have called on the City of Cape Town and the provincial government to speed up the roll out of houses.

The bad weather again left hundreds homeless. Some are rebuilding but others simply have no hope amid winter in the Cape of Storms. Every year, those living in squalid conditions are forced to come up with innovative ways of staying dry and at least keep a roof over their heads.

Thembinkosi Vika, a resident, says every year this is what they have to go through - they bring sand to soak up the water and are living in these conditions. “We are asking the authorities to please help us,” said Vika. Once again, Philippi and Gugulethu were the hardest hit. Shacks were flattened by strong winds earlier in the week and then the downpours came.

Johan Minnie, of the Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa, says they have partners in disaster relief, including five non-governmental organisations, and the department of social services.

While the rain was causing havoc in Cape Town, it was badly needed hundreds of kilometres away in the southern Cape. From Gourits to Knysna, 19 veld fires blazed throughout the night, razing more than 500 hectares of timber plantations. The strong winds also blew the roofs off several houses and a school in Mossel Bay. - SABC

It’s scientific - there you have it! Spin under control!

“Overall, this is good news for Cape Town. The survey also found that 82% of poor, unemployed people are in favour of the stadium. This disproves critics’ claims that they speak for the poor who would not want it,” he said.

“These are exciting and gratifying scientific results, and it shows a growing excitement in Cape Town,” said the city’s director of service-delivery integration, Mike Marsden.

Housing is political Soccer - a game to the incumbents

Mayor Zille said she had also started a process to declare a formal intergovernmental dispute with the province over the reluctance of provincial housing MEC Richard Dyantyi to grant the city the first-phase approval for becoming a national housing agent.

She said the city had applied in November last year for housing accreditation, in terms of the Housing Act, which would give it direct access to national subsidies for the provision of housing opportunities without going through the province.

The national department of housing has already made R1,2m available to the city to establish capacity as an accredited housing agent, but Dyantyi had still not granted authorisation for phase one of the accreditation required.

Zille said the council had submitted a business plan to Dyantyi, which was re-submitted after he had asked for changes to be made.

“Months have passed, and nothing has happened, despite repeated requests,” she said.

She said she was now going through the process of declaring a dispute in terms of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act.

“I hope that we are able to resolve this matter before it proceeds to the courts,” Zille said.

Business Day - News Worth Knowing

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fire & Ice Misery

A savage cold front swept in from the Atlantic on Tuesday, bringing heavy rains, flooding, snow and ice, and causing runaway fires, fanned by gale-force winds.

Hundreds were left homeless on the Cape Flats by flooding, while firefighters battled to contain raging fires along the Garden Route, blasted by powerful, dry winds…

Estimates by disaster managers on Tuesday were that more than 1,000 people needed emergency help after their homes were flooded or damaged by wind…

Cape Town’s disaster management spokesperson, Johan Minnie, said the areas worst hit by flooding were Gugulethu, Browns Farm, Khayelitsha and Phola Park in Philippi.

In the Lotus informal settlement in Gugulethu, the storm had left more than 500 people homeless after it had ripped a number of shacks apart…

On the West Coast, houses were damaged by high winds.

Msimelo Mabula, director of community services for the West Coast District Municipality, said Saldanha Bay was worst affected by “terrible overnight storms and gale- force winds” and 20 shelters were damaged.

“Strong winds lifted off the roofs and destroyed some walls,” he said.

Mabula said displaced residents would be housed temporarily in Wendy houses being built in Paternoster by disaster management volunteers.

In Lingalethu, five homes were damaged and residents had been given plastic sheeting to waterproof their shelters.

Strong winds uprooted several trees. There were several short power failures, thought to have been caused by the storm, at Elands Bay, Clanwilliam and Citrusdal.

Mabula said the municipality had a supply of blankets and food parcels in case more people were affected.

“At the moment we’ve got enough for 300 more people. As soon as we heard a cold front was approaching we ensured there was extra,” he said.

The SA Weather Service said the cold front would end on Wednesday but another, weaker, front would hit on Friday and bring more rain. - Cape Times

Govt: SA cities not ready for migration patterns

In Cape town migration patterns include eastern cape rural to western cape urban, including the African migration south.

About 60% of the country’s population reside in urban areas, according to the State of the World Population report for 2007.

The report was released by the United Nations Population Fund in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The chief operating officer of the Social Development Department, Zane Dangor, said the increased rural-to-urban migration attested to the poverty in rural areas.

“It is a fact that poor people will move to areas that offer greater opportunities,” he said, adding that migration was having an impact on sustainable development in the cities.

According to the 2001 census, more than a fifth of people in major metropolitan areas were new migrants.

“There is a problem in that our cities, in terms of infrastructure and planning, are not ready for such levels of migration.” he said.

He added that cities were not robust enough and geared up for the current migration patterns.

The government should make rural areas more attractive as places where people could live decent lives.

Worldwide, urban populations of Africa and Asia were growing by one million people a week and would have doubled by 2030 to include an additional 1,7-billion people, the report said.

United Nations Population Fund executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said: “We must abandon a mindset that resists urbanisation and act now to begin a concerted global effort to help cities unleash their potential to spur economic growth and solve social problems.”— Sapa

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dozens displaced as rain, wind batter W Cape

Dozens of residents in informal settlements were displaced as heavy rain and strong winds battered Cape Town, the Southern Cape and Garden Route towns on Monday.

Gale-force winds also played a big part in fanning the flames of several fires that were burning out of control on Monday. Disaster Management spokesperson Johan Minnie said 20 people were left homeless in Lwandle, Strand, after their shacks were ripped apart by the wind.

Fourteen Du Noon, Milnerton, residents had their homes flooded… Cape Times

‘Our government has forgotten us’

Sara Mampane has been waiting for the African National Congress (ANC) to fulfil its promise of a new home — what she calls a “proper house”, where the only corrugated iron is on the roof and the walls are made of brick — since the party came to power with the collapse of apartheid 13 years ago.

The 43-year-old mother of three watched from her rickety two-room shack with no electricity in a squatter camp on the edge of Mamelodi township as others moved to one of the new box houses built by the government.

She was content to wait her turn and be grateful for what did arrive, principally access to clean water and a health clinic for her children. But her patience snapped last month when men in red boiler suits came to demolish her home.

The feared “red ants” descended on the camp to remove the thousands of illegally built corrugated iron shacks that have spread out from the edge of the township in recent years. The residents were so incensed that they stoned one of the men to death and injured others, and set fire to four trucks.

“They promised me a house but they say wait, wait, wait,” said Mampane. “So I am waiting. But it is not right to come and knock down the house I have before they build me a new one. This is what we expected from apartheid, not from our own government. I think they have forgotten us.” … M&G

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bid to deliver homes urgently has failed

The government’s bid to deliver urgently homes and provide people with shelter in the Western Cape had failed because “the rules and frameworks of the past” were not changed, Local Government and Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi said at the launch of the Isidima housing strategy.

The strategy, launched on Thursday, aims to take a fresh approach at providing adequate housing in the province.

Isidima means dignity.

“We can see what apartheid has left us with,” Dyantyi said. “We are grappling with those (housing) issues on a daily basis.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is how we responded. It is a fact that, in our hurry to deliver and ensure that people have shelter, we didn’t change the framework of the past.

“That’s our legacy 13 years after democracy. We’ve failed from bringing people in from the peripheries of our city and in 13 years we were not decisive in engaging with these issues.

“All we did was replace shacks with bricks.”

Dyantyi said the N2 gateway
was a valuable lesson for Western Cape housing authorities.

‘Isidima is part of Dyantyi’s bigger Sustainable Human Settlement Strategy’

“When we built the N2 we were using old tools and not implementing a new vision.”

“This project is one of our key lessons and it was an important beginning and an opportunity for us to improve.”

Isidima is part of Dyantyi’s bigger Sustainable Human Settlement Strategy and works on the premise of “Breaking New Ground”, which seeks to resolve the province’s housing problems as a whole over time.

Dyantyi said the Western Cape’s challenge was to find a solution that avoided the RDP housing projects on the periphery of the city and the serviced site projects, also on the urban periphery.

Through the Isidima strategy municipalities, community-based organisations and the private sector would forge the implementation of the new vision to provide housing.

According to a document on the present housing situation in the province, only 14 000 RDP-type housing units would be built each year if the status quo remains.

Dyantyi said Isidima would take place within the national housing policy, but would be specific to the needs of the Western Cape.

“The shift will be from a focus on projects for the poor to the housing system as a whole,” he said.

Dyantyi said the former policy framework replicated the apartheid spatial pattern because the cost of land needed to be covered by a subsidy, which meant that the poor would get housing where land was cheapest. - Cape Argus

Google Notebook…

Khayelitsha’s choking air

The City of Cape Town is to start measuring the air pollution in Khayelitsha where concentrations of particulate matter often exceed safety guidelines.

Poor air quality in the area is thought to contribute to respiratory conditions such as asthma and to increase hospital admissions related to breathing problems.

On average the air monitoring readings for Khayelitsha are 25 percent higher than Goodwood and 70 and percent higher than central Cape Town… - Cape Argus

WHO - Indoor air pollution and health

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Eastern Cape fires kill six, 14 hurt

Five people have died and 14 have been hurt after a fire gutted a hut at Theko Springs in Centane in the Eastern Cape. The blaze occurred early this morning. The deceased include a three year-old boy.

They were part of a rite of passage for girls, known as intonjane, at the village. Jackson Manatha, a police spokesperson, says: “It is said that the father heard screams from hut and when they came out to see what was wrong, they tried to remove some people inside. Unfortunately a total of five people died including a 66 year-old woman who was guardian of two girls, her 3 year-old grandson”.

In a separate incident, an elderly woman has died after a veld fire spread uncontrollably at Lambasi village in Lusikisiki in the Transkei.

A large area of grazing land has been reduced to a black patch. When the fire was noticed, villagers came out in large numbers to douse it before it could reach their homesteads. It appears the 70 year-old woman was caught in the flames and smoke. She died on the scene. - SABC

Friday, June 22, 2007

2010 won’t erase suffering of the masses

South Africa will not be rid of the crime wave after the 2010 World Cup.

Well, for starters, it is not Fifa’s responsibility to eradicate crime in host countries.

World football’s flagship competition has been the catalyst for much infrastructural development, but never before has it been documented that, as a direct result of the month-long event, everyone in the host country lived happily ever after in a crime-free environment.

That’s a pipedream - and the sooner we face that reality the better. Fifa president Sepp Blatter had a full go at international detractors during his whistle-stop visit to the Mother City earlier this week, but little could he have known that the Cape would burn later the same evening courtesy of the latest war between frustrated communities and drug dealers.

Blatter could also not have known that, at about the same time, a helpless little disabled girl would be gang-raped or that another young girl would stab a woman to death or that somewhere on the Flats people were having their houses burgled, some victims being more fortunate than those who lost their lives in the process just last week.

We have a major problem, and World Cup 2010 will not bring the desired relief.

Yes, the 2010 show will deliver a couple of widened roads, bigger airports, better transport systems for some, hordes of tourists and upgraded (football) venues, and so on and so on.

But why must we wait for this wonderful sporting showpiece to be staged here before the authorities inject the missing urgency?

In this country, respect for life had, in fact, diminished a long time ago. In the dark days of apartheid, I lost a younger brother through senseless violence, his charred remains stuck in the front seat of his panel van after thugs had thrown a petrol bomb through the front window.

People blamed the system, saying a loss of dignity and human rights and poverty had led to his death and other tragedies of the time.

Years later, though, we all still live in fear; yes, even the previously advantaged whites who back then could not have imagined nor bothered about a day in the life of a township dweller.

Blatter said we must ignore “those jealous critics who rubbish South Africa’s ability to host a safe World Cup”, and so we should, because it’s not football’s job to ensure that the Promised Land materialise for the citizens of this country.

However, I take huge exception to the nonchalant manner in which the topic of crime is dealt with at press gatherings such as Tuesday’s on the site of the new Green Point Stadium.

Claiming that crime was rife all over the world anyway is tantamount to ignoring the plight of the local people and is no way of dealing with the scourge on our shores. It was a rather short-sighted view which does nothing to ease the pain and suffering of the masses.

Ultimately, though, the government and the police have to heed the desperate cries. They owe it to the people to find the solutions because it’s downright dangerous out there. And calling on the poor communities to do more is simply passing the buck, and this week proved exactly the dangers attached to empowering ordinary people who have spent most of their lives in fear.

Try solving the crime problem in your area after a tough day at work - with a family to feed and keep safe - or, even worse, a day spent begging for work or for food. Is that not exactly why, as a civilized society, we have law enforcers?

I have been privy to the wonderful atmosphere of the previous two World Cups and there’s absolutely no comparison. But then how much joy would 2010 bring to the then victims of especially violent crimes?

Would hosting the planet’s multi-millionaire star footballers mean a damn thing should life remain so cheap?

- Cape Times
InternAfrica needs not point out the obvious again - as to how many houses could be built for the same cost. How much dignity could be delivered instead of a single use stadium…

State might regulate land ownership

Landowners may in future be forced to declare their property with the minister of land affairs as the government tries to step up the pace of land redistribution, MPs were told on Wednesday.

“Everybody should declare, even Lulu Xingwana should declare, to the minister of land affairs that I have so many houses and how many farms do I have and what am I doing with those farms and who my co-owners are,” Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana told the National Assembly in isiXhosa.

The government was also looking at new ways of regulating land ownership by trusts and companies to ensure that people did not “hide” behind them.

‘What is clear to us is the need to regulate the access of land by foreigners’

She said her department was also still awaiting the finalisation of a report on land ownership by foreigners in South Africa.

She said it was believed that about three percent of land in the country was owned by foreigners and that once the report was completed it would be taken to cabinet for a decision and what steps to take.

“What is clear to us is the need to regulate the access of land by foreigners,” she told MPs.

Xingwana has repeatedly stated that if people were to be taken out of the poverty trap the pace of land reform had to be accelerated.

During her budget vote in May Xingwana said the challenge still facing the government was to ensure that the land reform targets they had set, especially the transfer of 30 percent land by 2014 and land restitution by 2008, were met.

Xingwana said on Wednesday that it was wrong to believe that the state-owned vast tracts of land that could be given over to landless groups. She said the fact of the matter was that only approximately five percent of the land was owned by the State, which was not enough to meet the needs and requirements “of the majority of the population of South Africa”.

“We have to take some of the land that belongs to the privileged groups,” she said paying special attention to those who had benefited from “dispossessions” since 1652.

“Our people have been waiting for decades, if not centuries, for their land to come back and we are pleading for people to support the movement in their efforts to ensure a fair and just redistribution of land in South Africa,” she added to applause. - Cape Argus

XDR-TB cases shoot up

The number of people with extreme-drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has more than quadrupled in the Western Cape in the past three months, provincial health department figures show.

Also, the Brooklyn Chest TB Hospital has no room for more patients. It has 22 beds in the isolation wards to treat XDR-TB cases.

This comes as the City of Cape Town has drawn up contingency plans in the event of an XDR-TB outbreak.

It has killed 290 patients nationwide
Since World TB Day in March, 45 XDR-TB cases have been notified in the province. Eight people have died, according to department figures. In March, there were 10 known XDR-TB cases in the province.

XDR-TB, which withstands first-and second-line antibiotic treatment, is almost impossible to treat. It has killed 290 patients nationwide.

Department spokesperson Faiza Steyn said most patients with XDR-TB were admitted as quickly as possible to Brooklyn.

“At times, patients do have to wait for a bed at Brooklyn Chest Hospital,” Steyn said.

Some patients were treated in side wards at the hospital, while the rest were in isolation at prisons in the province, she said.

Treatment was provided for everyone who needed it.

City health director Ivan Toms said the department and clinics had implemented steps to reduce the health risk of TB and XDR-TB.

“These include clinic designs to separate waiting areas for TB clients, ensuring good airflow in TB areas, providing masks to coughing TB patients, and respirators for all staff in the TB area,” he said.

“Apart from City Health’s excellent progress in reducing the defaulter rate and increasing the cure rate, we have implemented steps to reduce the health risk of TB as well as XDR-TB,” said Toms.

He said in the last quarter, Cape Town achieved its best cure rate of 79 percent for TB.

XDR-TB statistics for SA show that there are 437 cases, with 290 patients having died. Most were in KwaZulu-Natal, where the outbreak started.

According to Karin Weyer, director of the TB Research Unit at the Medical Research Council, XDR-TB pointed to the failure of TB control. “We have to cure TB first time round and step up drug resistance surveillance now that XDR-TB has emerged.” - Cape Times

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Renaming debacle reaches the Cape

InternAfrica - wonder’s what it is like to live in a suburb of streets with no names… for years on end… how do you comply with FICA or participate in the economic society if you can’t even be sent a bill?

How long does the ‘memorialisation’ period last - till all named streets are renamed? Then only will they get to the un-named streets, erm why spend money on RE-naming. Why not Name for the same if not lesser price. In fact it would add value to those cityzens lives.

It (the panel) agreed that all the “NY” - an abbreviation for “native yard” - streets in Gugulethu should be changed, but said this should be done after a “memorialisation” process and community consultation.

The same process should be followed with streets in District Six. - IOL

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Property intervention on the cards

The government is mulling over intervening in the property market in an attempt to bring property costs down while also delivering on SA’s housing need. Here’s what the ANC may be planning.

Bruce Whitfield:
I always get a bit nervous when government talks about interfering into the supply and demand side of the economy and many of us are very pleased at the increasing value of our homes but it is not good news if you are a first-time buyer, somebody trying to get onto the property ladder.

The ANC’s policy conference starts next week and already its members have been telling the party’s top officials that they want the issue of property valuation to be discussed and also building costs and some kind of intervention in the housing market.

Now the Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza has been talking about this issue today wearing her ANC National Executive Committee hat and she says it is obviously a complicated situation but what might be worrying though is the spectre of government intervention in the property market. This is what she had to say.

Thoko Didiza:
What I would say emerges in the discussion as they have been undertaken in the province also looks at the construction industry as a whole as to where the pressures (are) that actually increases costs. Issues of suppliers in terms of material supply, do you want to make an intervention there, what are the issues with regard to certain supplies such as you know the mining of cement is that where you may need to do an intervention? Where do these costs emanate from?

Is it a question of land in terms of your real estate in particular that has gone higher and that is why you have had even some of the proposals which relate to special purpose vehicles where maybe the state must be creative and look at acquisition of land which they need in their portfolio for housing delivery in those areas where they are.

You would recall that at some stage Minister Sisulu even made some passionate appeal to municipalities not to dispose land without looking at the housing delivery needs. So if you were to say is there a straight answer at the moment in terms of creative ways of curbing the land prices I would say no.

Bruce Whitfield:
Certainly worrying that government is even considering intervening in the first place, that is certainly my perspective on it but Thoko Didiza the Public Works Minister speaking today ahead of next week’s ANC Policy Conference. World at Six

Huge levels of methane emitted in city - Politicians questioned

Ageing equipment at the Athlone, Cape Town sewerage works is allowing enormous quantities of methane to escape into the atmosphere, where its global warming effect is about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The amount of methane emitted every day from Athlone is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide a middle-income family of four would emit from electricity use over eight years.

Or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from one car travelling around the circumference of the Earth - twice.

And because of budget constraints, it appears that this climate-changing methane will continue to pour into the air for the next three years - in a city which has a climate change strategy in place.

The amount of methane generated daily is equivalent in global warming effect to about 30 tons of carbon dioxide.

Energy expert Alastair Gets said on Monday it was “very serious” to have this amount of methane going into the air.

“The best solution would be to capture the methane and use it to power a generator, which could contribute a large amount of that plant’s electricity demand.

“At a very minimum, it should be flared (burned),” he said.

Mark Borchers of Sustainable Energy Africa, said: “As a city with an energy and climate change strategy, I’m pretty sure they would want to do something about it right now,” adding that he would try to facilitate a solution.

Ossie Asmal, director of the city’s environmental planning, said he was aware of the problem and was encouraging all departments to reduce their carbon footprint.

Kevin Samson, manager of the city’s wastewater department, said the anaerobic digesters at Athlone had been built in the 1950s and had reached “the end of their economical life”.

The poor condition of the digesters’ roofs meant it was no longer possible to capture the methane gas produced.

Any attempt to effect temporary repairs would be a waste, Samson said.

The recent allocation of funds would be spent on addressing the handling of sludge.

Samson said that over the next three years the digesters would be replaced with different equipment which would do away with the need for the outdated system. - Cape Times

Monday, June 18, 2007

Moving is a bridge too far for N7 squatters

Residents of a small informal settlement under a bridge on the N7 near Goodwood are refusing to move after an attempt to evict them.

The squatters said the sheriff and the police had arrived early on Friday morning to evict them from their homes. They said their homes had been broken down and their personal items removed in trucks.

Ten of the 26 families living in the settlement chose to move to Happy Valley near Blackheath on Friday.

‘The streets are clean in Goodwood’
But the 16 remaining families are waiting for their opportunity on Thursday to tell the Goodwood magistrate’s court why a temporary interdict obtained by the City of Cape Town to evict them should not be made final… Cape Argus

How much would you pay for your dream home?

The hottest properties in Cape Town, on the Atlantic seaboard, are fetching staggering prices in spite of forecasts that the housing boom has run out of steam.

A Bantry Bay flat was sold recently for a record R78,370 a square metre the day it came on the market. The full asking price of R25-million was paid by a South African for the 319m2 flat in The Bantry.

A bigger flat of 610m2 in the same block was bought by a Briton for R38,250,000… - Cape Times

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Inconvenient G8 truth about the carbon offset industry

…The British government itself has been caught out over emissions from its presidency of the G8 in 2005. The then environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that all carbon emissions from all meetings and travel linked with the one-year presidency would be neutralised.

Delegates to the Gleneagles summit in July 2005 were given certificates declaring that all their carbon emissions were being offset. But it hasn’t happened.

The plan was to spend £150,000 in Kuyasa, a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa, refitting shack-like homes with insulated roofs instead of corrugated iron, and providing solar panels for electricity and long-life bulbs for light. But the project, which would cut carbon emissions as well as helping needy people, has run into bureaucratic, financial and practical problems. The environment department, Defra, says it is keeping it under review. The project’s leader, Shirene Rosenberg, says she is still fighting to keep it alive with no start date on the horizon…

Guardian Unlimited - Unraveling NEWS

InternAfrica would like to point out that at the current exchange rate of 14.04 the carbon offset would have been able to BUILD Kuyasa for R2,106,000 or 140 isothermic carbon-compliant cannabrick homes. ie. a whole suburb.

Robbed of her dream by fraud and corruption

Josephine Dlomo, 79, lives in a wood and iron shack covered with plastic sheeting that is so full of holes that the icy winter cold seeps in.

The floor is bare red sand and the shack is filled with smoke from the fire that she burns constantly in order to cook and to keep warm.

The mother of five is a resident in Inanda, one of four squatter settlements situated between the beautiful homes of the upper middle class areas of Northriding and Bridgeview, north of Johannesburg. Her children also live in shacks in the area.

But Dlomo has never given up hope that she will get a home of her own. It is a dream she shares with millions of other poor South Africans who - 13 years into the new democracy - still live in appalling conditions in informal settlements all over the country.

‘The mother of five is a resident in Inanda’

Dlomo has been on the housing waiting list for years, but in 2003 she thought that her dream was finally going to come true after housing officials arrived at her home, took down her personal details and wrote a number on the door of her shack.

They did the same with her neighbours, who also expected to be moved into proper homes.

But four years later Dlomo is still living in a shack, even though some of her neighbours have moved into new homes in the nearby Cosmo City development, amid allegations that they had paid bribes.

Yet, while people like Dlomo wait for homes, unscrupulous developers have taken advantage of the government’s push to house South Africans, with allegations of widespread fraud involving developers claiming payment for houses never built, or cutting corners and costs and building houses of such poor quality that they fall apart within months of the new owners moving in.

Now the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has received R10-million from the Treasury to fund an investigation into housing fraud that is said to amount to at least R3-billion, perpetrated by unscrupulous housing developers and contractors since 1994.

‘In Cape Town, the N2 Gateway project is mired in controversy’

The investigation follows a proclamation by President Thabo Mbeki instructing the SIU to investigate this massive fraud, and is aimed at rooting out corruption in the national housing department.

The corruption includes government employees obtaining housing subsidies to which they weren’t entitled; houses paid for but never built; and housing officials offering houses to people willing to pay bribes, while people with a legitimate right to a house remain homeless.

One example is in Polokwane, Limpopo, where the department of housing forked out R15-million for RDP houses that were never built. And, while the people who were promised houses are still living in shacks, the developer has disappeared and no trace can be found of the missing millions.

In Cape Town, the N2 Gateway project is mired in controversy as many of the houses in the first phase of the multimillion-rand development alongside the airport freeway are cracking and subcontractors who haven’t been paid have downed tools.

Costs have escalated dramatically, and the project’s completion date has been shifted from 2005 to 2009.

Speaking in parliament last week, Democratic Alliance MP Greg Krumbock said the housing budget this year was close to the more than R9-billion the minister of housing expected would be spent in 2008 and 2009.

“So the problem is not lack of finance. The problem rather is a series of inefficient, ineffective and uneconomical practices which bedevil those good intentions,” he said.

But while the SIU probes the alleged fraud and the politicians squabble, ordinary people like Dlomo continue to live the way they do.

However, Gauteng housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyane said yesterday that the province is to get about 10 new mixed housing developments in the current financial year. They would come into being in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Mogale City and Johannesburg.

The developments would be similar to Cosmo City. In particular, a major mixed housing development was planned at Doornkop.

Mokonyane said her department would speed up plans to acquire prime land closer to urban centres for housing developments.

“We will explore various options, including expropriation,” she said. A drive to have no informal settlements in the province by 2014, would see 10 such settlements eradicated in this financial year.

Additional reporting by Sapa

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Probe into decade of housing fraud

THE Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has begun to investigate an estimated R3bn fraud perpetrated by “unscrupulous” housing developers and contractors against the state over a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004.

The sum of R3bn was identified as unaccounted for by former auditor-general Shauket Fakie, but housing director-general Itumeleng Kotsoane said the amount had been reduced somewhat.

The national treasury has allocated R10m for the SIU investigation.

President Thabo Mbeki issued a proclamation authorising the SIU investigation about three weeks ago, following which the housing department entered a service-level agreement with the SIU, Kotsoane said at a media briefing after the housing budget debate in Parliament on Friday.

He said the fraud arose because after 1994 the government did not have adequate policies to regulate and manage the disbursement of subsidy payments to provinces.

Provincial housing development boards made advance payments to developers for housing projects, who sometimes just disappeared with the money.

The investigation is a further prong to the department’s clampdown on fraud in the sector.

It has also taken action against about 53000 government employees who fraudulently obtained housing subsidies to which they were not entitled.

A 2006 report by Fakie estimated that R323m in subsidies was paid out to about 53000 non-qualifying government employees between 1995 and 2004.

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in her budget vote speech that a number of public servants had surrendered their fraudulently obtained houses.

A national anti corruption forum was being set up and a whistle-blowing policy finalised.

Sisulu applauded the fact that banks had extended low-income housing loans worth R32bn of the R42bn they had pledged. An audit had yet to be conducted to determine whether this had benefited the very low-income earners in the R1500 to R3500 a month category.

“What is significant about this is that it has gone ahead without any guarantees from government,” she said.

A new policy would give about 9000 former combatants in the liberation struggle, and ex-servicemen no longer in the South African National Defence Force, preferential access to houses.

Business Day - News Worth Knowing

Climate Change is a poverty issue

Energy in the Western Cape is set to become cleaner and greener with the introduction of ground-breaking legislation that will kick-start the renewable energy industry throughout the province.

The legislation includes a range of incentives, tariffs and tax breaks to stimulate the use of renewable energy across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. - Cape Climate Change

Floods wash through the Cape Flats

The homes of another 1 300 residents of informal settlements have been flooded, pushing to 6 000 the number seeking help.

Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said on Monday that 18 areas were severely affected by the recent rains that had pounded the city, including Nyanga, Browns Farm, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Manenberg.

The worst hit was Gugulethu, where more than 2 000 residents were struggling to waterproof their homes with plastic sheets. About 150 residents from the Lotus informal settlement in the area were put up in the community hall.

“Our main problem now is the sewerage works. Because the Berg River rose so much, some sewerage pipes have been damaged.”

Mabula said repairs were under way and that the municipality was monitoring the rainfall. No towns had been as badly affected as Moorreesburg, which flooded last week.

Some 118mm of rain had fallen in Moorreesburg overnight last Thursday. About 42mm has fallen since.

# Flooding and service interruption emergencies can be reported to the city’s technical operations centre on 0860-103-054.

# Life- or property-threatening situations can be reported to the city’s public emergency communications centre on 107 from any landline and 021-480-7700 from a cellphone. - Cape Times

Monday, June 11, 2007

‘They have right to be fed-up about housing’ - Housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu

Housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu was on Saturtday reminded how desperate people are for housing when a group in the parliamentary gallery began to toyi-toyi as she started her budget vote speech.

They were from Fedup - the Federation of the Urban Poor - and were protesting at the fact that despite pledges made last year, provinces had not yet supplied them with subsidies.

“They indeed have a right to be fed-up with us,” Sisulu said. She added that she would ask the Treasury to divert the pledges directly from the national department to Fedup.

The minister announced measures taken to improve the quality of housing, minimise delays and root out fraud and corruption in the housing sector.

“We have suffered a great deal from both unscrupulous contractors and inexperienced ones,” she acknowledged.

The state had in the past been provided with “shoddy work” and in some cases, incomplete houses by developers and contractors, and poor communities felt “the government was not exercising its powers adequately” to protect them from unscrupulous contractors, she said.

The department was considering making changes to tendering processes and the government would look into the possibility of buying “quality fully developed integrated housing projects” built by the private sector.

In addition, the National Housing Code had been revised to ensure developers and contractors sold only houses whose quality could be vouched for, Sisulu said.

Quality was the issue raised time and time again by opposition parties, from the Democratic Alliance to the African Christian Democratic Party and Minority Front.

DA MP James Masango noted that the National Home Builders Regulation Council was failing in its mandate to protect housing consumers and carry out proper inspections.

The department is also cracking down on fraud - a presidential proclamation signed about three weeks ago has given the Special Investigating Unit powers to investigate fraud in housing projects, director-general of housing Itumeleng Kotsoane said later.

In addition, the department had waded through about 30 000 of 50 000 cases where public servants had possibly acquired houses fraudulently between 1994 and 2004, Kotsoane said.

Good news, however, included the fact that banks - who used to see funding low-income housing as a risk - had not only come to the party, but were “threatening to take over the dancefloor”, Sisulu said.

The Banking Association of SA had said that an estimated R32-billion of the R42-bn pledged in loans for low-cost housing had already been expended, she announced.

But later she said work still had to be done to transform banks into humane entities that people were not scared to approach for help if they ran into difficulties with repayments. Cape Argus
Heavy rains cause widespread flooding

More than 5,000 people are getting disaster relief from the city as heavy rain and flooding continue to wreak havoc.

Monday morning’s downpour disrupted rush-hour traffic, caused a spate of accidents and blocked drains. Flooding was reported in 16 areas.

Metro Police spokesperson Nowellen Petersen said two key city routes were flooded.

‘Demanding houses instead’
But motorists on the Ottery/ Shawcamp route and Turfhall/ Chukker were able to navigate their way through.

“There were a number of accidents, luckily with no serious injuries, just a few fender benders, but we appeal to motorists to be extremely cautious on the roads because of the weather conditions,” Petersen said.

There was one accident on the N2 at Mew Way near Khayelitsha, two on the Racecourse Road junction with the M5 near Kenilworth, two on the N2 at Borcherd’s Quarry, and a truck had jack-knifed at the intersection of Beach Road and Golf Course in Strand.

Johan Minnie of Disaster Risk Management said this morning that in addition to 5 000 people they were assisting, a number of residents of Burundi in Strand were relocated overnight.

Minnie said they were making emergency shelter available.

But some of Cape Town’s poorest families, who have been battling with cold and wet conditions, have refused to accept help from the city and demanded houses instead.

Extensive flooding caused by the week-long rains and blocked drains has hit informal settlements.

About 600 people gathered at the Lucas Mbebe Educare Centre in the Lotus informal settlement in Gugulethu to collect bread, blankets, plastic sheeting, hot meals and baby packs.

Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, head of Disaster Risk Management, said Lotus was worst hit, with engineering services having to pump out excess water that had accumulated from a retention pond in the area.

Elsewhere, residents burnt tyres in the streets in protest at slow delivery of houses.

Residents in the Never Never informal settlement, behind Tambo Square in Gugulethu, had demanded homes instead of relief, said Solomons-Johannes.

Residents had also protested over housing in Khayelitsha’s CCT on Sunday, Solomons-Johannes said.

An Intersite area in Langa was severely flooded at around midnight on Sunday but the area had been cleared by Sunday morning.

Mayor Helen Zille visited several of the affected areas on Sunday.

During her tour of Lotus, she expressed concern about the drainage system.

She said the area had been cleared before the winter rain but that pollution that had accumulated in the interim, combined with the floodwater runoff, had clogged the drains.

Amanda Fodo of Lotus said she did not want the bread or the blankets: she wanted a house.

She said she had been on the council’s housing waiting list for 10 years.

She wanted her house so that next year she would not need relief.

“They want to help, but we are too many people living here,” she said.

Ward councillor in the Lotus area Mandisa Matshoba said residents were happy with the food and blankets but were, at the same time, angry over the housing issue.

“The mayor says she is going to drain the area today (Monday) so that the water can run down out of the people’s houses, but the people say they are tired of getting food and blankets and want to know when they will be moved out of the area, by next winter they want to be out,” she said.

Nomvuyo Xundu of Lotus said her prayers had been answered when relief was provided.

“God brought them here, who else is going to give me food and blankets?” she said.

Zintle Mqukuse, also of Lotus, was happy to receive the blankets and nappies.

“I’ve been struggling the whole week. I don’t have a room to sleep. The blankets they really help me and the nappies for my baby,” she said.

Nozibele Tyala, who lives in Lusaka, Nyanga, with her two sons, spent yesterday sweeping out water that had risen from beneath her shack.

She said plastic sheeting provided did not help much. “I go to work and my sons go to school, so there is no one to put sand and stones on the sides of the house to stop the water.”

Meanwhile, mopping-up and road repairs continued in the Swartland area after severe flood damage last week. - Cape Argus

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Govt might buy houses from private sector

Lindiwe Sisulu, the housing minister, says government is now looking at buying houses intended for the recipients of subsidies from the private sector. The private sector will be encouraged to sell high quality houses to the government for allocation to beneficiaries of housing subsidies, she says.

Sisulu says government’s past dependence on developers and contractors was fraught with poor workmanship and incomplete projects. She says as a result, the poor people felt that the government was not doing enough to protect them against unscrupulous contractors.

“We have suffered a great deal from both unscrupulous contractors and inexperienced ones. Coupled with the fact that government itself was negligent of its responsibilities to pay on time.

“We have decided that we need innovative interventions to ensure that the highest quality housing products are acquired by the government for allocation to the housing subsidy beneficiaries.”

She says there is a need to accelerate delivery and to harness the considerable skills and capacity the private sector has to provide. - SABC

Homeless to lay charge after woman’s death

A homeless woman has allegedly died of exposure after Metro Police and SAPS officers in Wynberg confiscated her bedding and personal belongings, according to an advocacy organisation.

The Homeless People’s Crisis Committee (HPCC) and members of the homeless community in Wynberg claim that Maria Visser died on June 2 from exposure to harsh weather conditions after the police conducted an “illegal raid” on May 17 and left her without blankets.

The raid occurred at 9pm near the Wynberg railway station, said Adrian Bezuidenhout, who also had his belongings confiscated. He said the police officers arrived in three trucks and did not show a court warrant.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” he said, standing in the rain near the Wynberg Home Affairs office, where he often slept. “‘. They just came and took everything.”

The HPCC planned to lay a formal charge of murder with the Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula, said MP Neville Hendricks (ID), the organisation’s chairperson.

“These people are extremely vulnerable,” he said. “For the city to act in the manner that it does, we must lay the blame at their door.”

Metro Police helped with the raid by removing cardboard and other materials, but the SAPS would have been responsible for getting a warrant, said Metro Police spokesperson Kevin Maxwell.

The SAPS was not available for comment.

‘They just came and took everything’

Councillor JP Smith, a member of the mayoral committee, said making a link between a police operation and a woman subsequently dying from exposure required a “stretch of the imagination”.

“We find street people dead on the street often,” he said. “To try to pin one of these deaths on law enforcement, I feel, is malicious.”

Homeless people should make an effort to secure a bed at a shelter or contact an outreach worker to prevent dying from exposure, Smith said.

If homeless people remained on the streets, Smith said, the city first warned the person that specific behaviours - such as urinating in public or obstructing a public place - were illegal, then ensured that an outreach worker was available, and finally insisted the person leave the area. Any personal possessions left behind were bagged and tagged to be returned later, he said.

Another homeless woman, Jennifer Muller, sat on a crate, wearing shoes a size too small. She said police officers had also confiscated her mattress, blankets and clothes. Pointing to the clothes she was wearing, she said: “This is all I’ve got - and the shoes are not even my size.”

The street people said their IDs had been lost in the raid. About 200 people lived on the streets in Wynberg, said Hendricks. - Cape Times

Sisulu blames council for N2 Gateway delays

Construction of the second phase of the N2 Gateway project, that will include 2,500 units in Joe Slovo, must be fast-tracked, says Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

She said the first 46 units should be completed within the next three months.

Speaking at the launch of the next phase, which had been delayed by several months, Sisulu apologised to residents for the late start of the project.

For the second time in as many days, Sisulu pointed fingers at the City of Cape Town for contributing to the delays in the national flagship housing project.

She repeated her assertion, made in replies to questions in the National Assembly, that the DA-led city council had dragged its heels in the signing of a land availability agreement for more than a year.

But Butch Steyn, DA MP and housing spokesperson, said Sisulu needed to apologise to parliament for “misleading” the house.

“It is unfortunate that the minister is playing politics with a project that could make a significant difference to poverty levels and social dislocation in Cape Town, and it is unacceptable that she should misuse parliament to find scapegoats for her own department’s failures in this regard.”

He said the delays were not because of the unsigned land availability agreement, but were a result of a dispute between the contractor and the developers about the cost of the houses being built.

‘It is unfortunate that the minister is playing politics with a project’
The contractor, however, had access to the land before the agreement was signed, Steyn said.

Community conflict in Boystown and New Rest were to blame for delays in these projects while in Joe Slovo, the community had contributed to construction delays.

Steyn said the delay in the signing of the land availability agreement was because of negotiations between the city and the province over land that would be given to the city in exchange for the N2 site.

Despite this renewed spat between the city and national government about responsibility for the project, Sisulu was confident that “the controversy is behind us”.

In an official ceremony that was markedly less flashy than the launch of the first phase last year, Sisulu said the department had been “fighting” banks to get them to contribute to the bonded housing market.

She said First National Bank had been the first bank to accept the offer.

The next struggle was to convince developers that building bonded houses near to free-breaking new ground units or rental stock would not affect property values. “This is a shift from being a township to being a suburb called Langa.” - Cape Times

SA faces housing funding crisis

South Africa needs to spend billions of dollars to ease a nationwide housing crunch, its housing minister said on Friday, highlighting a glaring legacy of decades of apartheid.

Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament during her annual budget speech that the country had made progress in easing a huge backlog in requests for housing.

But she stressed that in order to tackle the problem by 2016, the funding shortfall will rise to R253-billion ($34,80-billion).

“In view of this I believe that the housing backlog must be eradicated within the shortest possible time and our cost projections indicate a doubling of costs for every two years delayed,” Sisulu said.

South Africa is the continent’s economic powerhouse. But critics accuse the government of favouring big business over the poor, who mostly still live in grim townships not far from upmarket areas and fancy malls, symbols of the investment that has poured in since apartheid ended.

Commercial property continues to rally although the residential market has cooled after a three-year boom that took prices way out of reach of many potential buyers.

“Our commitment is to remove those previously impenetrable clouds in the form of the historical backlog and the deep-seated challenges of an intractable, somewhat insensitive state machinery,” said Sisulu.

President Thabo Mbeki has said conditions of the poor have improved. Housing authorities have moved thousands of townships families away from their tin shacks. Residents of the areas, however, say much more needs to be done.

Sisulu was hopeful, despite the huge challenges.

“We have broken through the backlog barrier and have produced more houses than there are people in our backlog, which has been dislodged from the 2,4-million mark and now stands at 2,2-million,” said Sisulu.

She said this was the first time in South Africa’s democracy that significant progress was made on the issue, with annual production of houses now at 272,000 from 250,000 a year, the benchmark figure for the most houses built in one year.

But she noted soaring construction costs fuelled by preparations to host the World Cup have impacted on housing delivery targets.

“This has had serious implications for the delivery of housing and this will exacerbate our ability to deliver the projected number of houses,” Sisulu said. - Reuters

Housing sector tightens grip against criminals

Government officials involved in corruption within the housing sector are to be investigated and prosecuted through new powers given to the Special Investigating Unit.

Lindiwe Sisulu, the housing minister, says deviant officials will be brought to book through intensive criminal prosecutions and civil recoveries. She was speaking during the debate on her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.

Sisulu says a National Anti-corruption Forum is being set up.

Housing budget approved
Meanwhile political parties in the Western Cape legislation have welcomed the R1.2 billion budget of the local government and housing department. Richard Dyantyi, the provincial minister, presented a budget with most money allocated to the building of houses in 15 identified areas which include townships and rural areas. Dyantyi says R428 million has been set aside for the identified areas.

A further R600 million will be used in the same areas in the next two years. - SABC

Friday, June 8, 2007

Heavy rains cause havoc in Western Cape

At least 17 people have been rescued in the Western Cape’s Swartland and Cederberg areas

At least 17 people have been rescued as heavy rain and floods continue in the Western Cape’s Swartland and Cederberg areas. Fifteen farm workers from Citrusdal in the Cederberg have been rescued after the Olifants River burst its banks in several places.

Police divers in a rubber-duck have rescued two people trapped on the roof of a house on the bank of the Berg River at Gouda in the Swartland. The N7 between Clanwilliam and Citrusdal has been closed to traffic due to heavy flooding. Several roads in Citrusdal have also been damaged. Flooding has also been reported in Moorreesburg, Porterville, Gouda and Citrusdal.

Several residents at Hopefield on the Cape West Coast have been evacuated from their homes due to heavy flooding. The Zout River, which runs past the town, has burst its banks. Heavy rains have lashed the West Coast, Cederbeg and Swartland regions over the past 24 hours. SABC

Houses for apartheid victims, war veterans

Apartheid victims who testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are to receive subsidised houses as part of their reparations. The benefit will also be extended to former servicemen, war veterans and freedom fighters. These details and others came to light when Lindiwe Sisulu, the housing minister, delivered her budget vote in Parliament’s national assembly today.

The announcement was good news for World War two veterans, as well as for several MK and APLA soldiers. Their salaries in the national defence force didn’t take into account their housing needs, now along with apartheid victims, they’ll get preferential treatment.

Sisulu says: “I am certain it will go a long way to alleviate a great deal of indignity to the people we owe so much to.”

Shoddy work
Shoddy workmanship on RDP houses also got a mention. Earlier this year, a probe by the National Homes Builders Registration Council revealed that more than 2,000 low cost houses across the Cape Peninsula were riddled with structural defects. Often contractors disappear with millions of the public’s money.

It is hoped the soon to be established housing development agency will turn this around. Sisulu added: “Developers and contractors will therefore as part of a revised national housing code be required to sell to the state houses that they have built whose quality they can vouch for.”

It’s emerged that civil servants who fraudulently acquired RDP houses are giving them back. Some 30,000 are being prosecuted and more could be charged as the Special Investigating Unit is handling the probe. Corruption is seen as one of the serious impediments to the government’s commitment to housing delivery. - SABC

Western Cape downpours wash away sewerage system

Citrusdal residents in the Cederberg in the Western Cape say the recent downpours have virtually washed away the town's sewerage system.

Leonard Jacobs and Sam September have been living in the town all their lives. They say they are now concerned about a possible pollution problem. They say the recent rains are the heaviest in five years. Fruit orchards on farms in the area are also flooded.

Authorities in the Western Cape will start flood damage assessments today after the heavy rains that lashed towns across the Swartland. The flood waters in most parts of the region have now subsided.

Rivers burst their banks
Municipal authorities on the West Coast are concerned about the high water levels of the Berg and Olifants Rivers. Both rivers burst their banks last night. The Clanwilliam Dam, on the Olifants River is filled to the brim, and eight sluice gates have been opened.

Heavy rains have lashed the region over the past two days. Wessel Rabbets, the municipal manager for the West Coast District Municipality, says they expect more. - SABC

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Capetonians promised housing worth R1.2 billion

The Western Cape housing department says it will spend R1.2 billion to build houses. Richard Dyantyi, the provincial housing and local government minister, says R428 million will be spent in this financial year.

Fifteen areas have been identified for the housing project. Included are Gugulethu, Nyanga, Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.

However, Dyantyi admitted that the province is facing a housing backlog of 409,000.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Housing and Local Government in the Western Cape legislature has raised concern about the lack of community integration in the greater metropolitan area.

Patrick McKenzie, the committee chairperson, supported the department’s R1.2 billion budget presented this afternoon.

McKenzie referred to the Pilot Housing Project at the N2 Gateway in Langa as an example. He said the fact that the area has only 10 people who are not black Africans, is a demonstration that something is wrong with the integration process. - SABC

FNB housing for poor hits R2bn

In a bid to provide affordable housing for the poor, First National Bank (FNB) and the government have formed a joint venture, the bank announced on Thursday.

The FNB project will contribute 3 000 bonded housing units to the cntroversial N2 Gateway Project, in Joe Slovo and Delft.

The 567 bonded homes will border the 705 rental units that have already been completed. The next phase of the project will see the construction of approximately 2,000 subsidised homes (of 40m²) to be given free to those who qualify.

FNB said that that bonded houses will cost between R150,000 and R250,000 each. FNB bonds will be available to people who earn between R3,500 and R7,500 a month. - FIN24

Construction has already begun at Joe Slovo. Construction at Delft will commence later this year.

Property developers M5 will build the houses, having partnered with FNB to build houses in other housing projects in Gauteng.

FNB’s total investment in the N2 Gateway project is in excess of R900m. The investment is the product of collaboration between FNB’s business units, Commercial Property Finance which funds developers and FNB Housing Finance which provides home loans to qualifying individuals.

FNB’s involvement in the N2 initiative brings the bank’s total investment in affordable housing in South Africa to more than R2bn and over 7 000 housing units in the last 15 months.

This amount is set to peak at about the R3bn mark soon as more affordable housing projects are currently being assessed by the bank and other key housing stakeholders like municipalities and the Department of Housing.

FNB CEO Michael Jordaan recommitted the bank to future affordable housing developments in partnership with the government.

FNB’s involvement in the N2 housing project also increases the bank’s contribution to the attainment of the R42bn target to be met by banks by December 2008.

Friday, June 1, 2007

What are the targets of Goal 7?

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

* Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.

* Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

* Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020.

No Excuse 2015

Johannesburg March 2005 Re-ratified

Africa - Wrap a shack in the Remember banner on June 1.

Dyantyi accused of delaying tactics

The R89-million sale of the Malgas property in Buitengragt Street, to Old Mutual Property Group, is one of several rental and sales deals being pushed through by the City of Cape Town.

And 16 erven in Atlantis, worth R26-million, will be sold by the city for industrial use.

But Mayor Helen Zille said key housing projects in the city, in areas such as Wallacedene, were being delayed by national and provincial government.

In her budget speech this week, Zille said Richard Dyantyi, MEC for Local Government and Housing, was taking his time to sign off the city’s application for phase one of housing accreditation.

She said the final authorisation had been pending since November.

The accreditation would allow the city to access housing subsidy funds directly from the national treasury and housing projects could be approved without provincial approval.

But Dyantyi said on Thursday that the accreditation of local government was a national pilot project and that municipalities had to pass three levels to be accredited.

The City of Cape Town was only at the first level and there were no guarantees that it would get to the third level. He said the lack of capacity in the city’s housing department could count against it.

“Her assertions about delays are not true,” he said.

Zille said the city was also waiting for clarity on the amount for national housing subsidies.

“We cannot be dictated to and forced to implement an unsustainable policy.”

Dyantyi said the mayor had been informed of the change and accused her of making headlines out of nothing. - Cape Times