Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MEC checks on progress in housing poor

WESTERN Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela visited construction sites yesterday where the province’s new high-density housing projects are being built.

Madikizela took a tour of three sites along the N2 with department officials.

The tour kicked off at the Joe Slovo phase three A construction site, where high density “breaking new ground” housing is being built.

The houses are free to people who earn less than R3,500 a month.

About 2,639 units will be completed this year – the 42m2 two-bedroom units are attached to one another in a double-storey townhouse style with solar geysers.

Project managers said about 1,000 units would be handed over to beneficiaries in the next few weeks.

Later the tour moved to Boystown in Crossroads where protests had halted construction three times since 2002.

The construction company there has now hired people from the surrounding community, said site agent Heinrich Fourie.

The Boystown area will have 1,392 one-storey two-bedroom houses and another 157 houses to be built in the Newrest “triangle” site closer to the N2. These are expected to be completed by March 2014.

Madikizela said he was “glad to see progress”.

The last stop was the new phase five Delft temporary relocation area, which has about 1,100 units made of insulated aluminium and polystyrene. There are enclosed and covered communal toilets and showers.

The City of Cape Town said the housing waiting list was behind by 10 to 20 years because 500,000 people needed houses while the province could deliver only 35,000 houses a year.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

N2 Gateway Project resumes

The Western Cape Human Settlements Department on Monday said the construction of the N2 Gateway Project is back on track, despite initial delays.

Construction of 1,390 homes in Crossroads is going ahead after residents chased contractors away on three separate occasions.

Aggrieved locals apparently felt excluded from the project, which started in July 2010.

Before Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela could leave Crossroads on Monday, residents stopped him to discuss the Boys Town Housing Project.

The MEC said they have done their best to address all concerns raised.

He said construction was already eight months behind schedule, which was costing the provincial government more money.

Madikizela recently admitted that some 500,000 people are waiting for decent housing in the Western Cape.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Human Settlements 'non-existent' IT contract exposed

Internal auditors have blown the whistle on a R72.6-million IT contract negotiated by the department of human settlements, claiming that the deal ignored mandatory tender procedures. 

They also raised a red flag over a perceived conflict of interests -- the department's top IT official was previously employed by the favoured contractor, the SAS Institute.

The leaking of the internal audit report to the Mail & Guardian appears to have triggered a witch-hunt in the department. 

Complaining that the leak "undermines the systems and processes we have put in place to ensure a clean and effective administration", director general Thabane Zulu said the motive behind it might have been self-interest and warned of "steps to correct such matters consistent with available remedies". 

A source in the department said the leak had caused "big trouble".

The department has repeatedly denied that a contract existed, despite signed agreements by the department, SAS and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), which acted as the procurement agent. 

Business intelligence solution
Zulu signed a licence agreement with SAS on September 29 last year and signed a contract with Sita for the supply of SAS software and support for a "business intelligence solution" on October 14.

Zulu said the matters raised in the report, distributed to five senior departmental directors on December 20, were still being addressed. 

But the audit report suggests that the contract was a fait accompli when the director of internal audit, Thapelo Mashabane, raised the alarm.

Central to the deal is Sita, which appointed the SAS Institute -- a service provider on its database -- to provide a business solution for the department's housing subsidy system.

In the report the department defends itself against charges of breaching treasury regulation by failing to put the contract out to tender. 

Daniel Mashao, head of Sita's critical systems and solutions, told the auditors that the process was permitted in terms of regulations that allowed one state entity to piggyback on a competitive tender run by another. 

But the audit report says the IT agency "could not provide valid evidence" that a competitive bidding process was followed in selecting SAS.

Sita chief executive Blake Mosley-Lefatola, asked whether Sita had invited competitive bids, had not responded by the time of going to print.

The report makes it clear that, in terms of regulations, the treasury has to approve all contracts valued at R10-million and more, which was not done. This and other breaches led the auditors to warn that the department could face legal action and receive a qualified audit from the auditor general.

The report also says that departmental IT chief Mandla Xaba was previously employed by the SAS Institute as its Sita accounts manager. Xaba's jurisdiction at SAS included the office of the KwaZulu-Natal premier, Zweli Mkhize.

The report says Sita initially proposed an open-source solution to the department, but had been told that human settlements wanted to emulate a "business solution" already in use in Mkhize's office.

Xaba told the auditors that he had declared his employment history when he joined the department on June 1 last year. Sita communications head Anthea Summers also said there was no contract between the department, Sita and SAS.

But according to documents attached to the audit report, binding agreements were signed and there was written communication between the parties showing that the deal was nearing its final stages, even though the contract might not have been finalised.

Signed and sealed
On September 29 last year, Zulu and SAS managing director Maphumuzana Nxumalo signed a five-page master licence agreement that, it clearly states, is binding on the department. 

Three weeks later, on October 14, Zulu approved a 17-page proposal with Mashao and Rodney de Koch, Sita's operations centre chief.

Written by Mashao, the proposal outlines the services the IT agency will offer the department, stating that SAS software will be used and the "Sita project management proposal will follow as soon as the project team from both Sita and SAS has agreed on the deliverables and expectations".

A letter from Mosley-Lefatola to Zulu, dated September 9 last year, shows that in August the agency had "received information" that the required system be similar to the one used in Mkhize's office.

In their report, the department's auditors also express the fear that the system may not meet the department's needs.

Mosley-Lefatola's letter purports to set out a competitive process proposed by Sita, but it was signed only on November 23, long after Zulu had already approved the use of SAS.

Neither the treasury nor the SAS Institute responded to questions sent to them. 

- M&G

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cape fires leave 70 homeless

About 70 people were left homeless following four separate fires in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The first fire, in Khayelitsha's RR section around 7.30am destroyed eight shacks and displaced 27 people, disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said in a statement.

The second fire destroyed a house in Delft which left seven people homeless.

Around 10am four shacks burnt down at the Happy Valley informal settlement. Ninteen people, including six children, were affected.

The fourth fire at Mandela Park in Hout Bay engulfed seven shacks, with 17 people left homeless.

“The city’s disaster response teams assisted the victims with food parcels, clothing, blankets and building material.”

No one was injured and the causes of the fires were being investigated. - Sapa

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sustainable Hemp House

South Africa: Communities Urged to Build Own Homes

East London — Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale says people should start building their own homes and stop relying on government alone to provide RDP houses.

Sexwale was addressing a group of dissatisfied residents from the Southernwood Square Social Housing Project in East London on Tuesday.

"I'm often frowned upon when I say this, but free housing can't and won't go on forever in this country. I urge people to capacitate themselves in order to build their own houses," said Sexwale.

The residents ambushed Sexwale with their concerns at the project's official launch, which was also attended by the provincial Economic Development MEC Mcebisi Jonas, government officials and the contractors.

One of those unhappy with conditions at the project was Andre Bosman, who said the project was plagued by a number of problems, including poor infrastructure, leaking toilets and broken passage lights.

He said poor security at the project had resulted in a number of incidents of theft, public drinking and vandalism.

"We are glad that the minister is here so we can communicate with him about the problems plaguing this residence since it opened. We pay a lot of money and yet we have to put up with poor service," said Bosman, who has been living in the projects for a year.

Sexwale urged the residents to be patient with the developers, citing snagging problems as the reason for most of the complaints.

"In construction, we have something called snagging. These are problems that arise during and after the completion of construction projects that must be attended to after the company in charge of building and maintenance has identified the problems. So we ask you to be patient because these problems will be addressed," said Sexwale.

He congratulated Buffalo City Metro Municipality for its efforts to accelerate social housing projects, which has seen the metro score the highest when it comes to the construction and provision of social housing.

Sexwale said the nine-storey building, which caters for households earning between R2 500 and R7 500 per month, pushed boundaries in terms of design and structural engineering.

"The project consists of 249 units, 57 bachelor flats, 78 one bedroom flats and 114 two bedrooms flats. Through its construction, 140 jobs were created, 90 of which were for the local community," he added.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Province Explains the Nuwe Begin Housing Project to Angry Locals

Angry residents of Khayelitsha's TR informal settlement met with Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela on Tuesday evening to hear who qualified for houses in the Nuwe Begin Housing Project in Mew Way, Khayelitsha.

Madikizela headed the three-hour meeting at the Andile Msizi hall in Site B where he dealt with some confusion apparently created by the ward councilor who had previously told residents that the 1 200-unit housing project was for those who lived in low-lying areas prone to flooding.

However, Madikizela told the approximately 500 gathered residents that only those who qualified for RDP houses would benefit from the new development.

He said beneficiaries would be drawn from both people living on the wetland, and also from surrounding areas. He said the manner of selection would be fair and transparent, with priority given to those who had been on the waiting list the longest and were most deserving.

Of the 1 200 units, 900 would be set aside for residents of TR Section and 300 for Mfuleni's ward 17 and 107.

TR Section resident Zet Mcongwane said, "This is new to us. We were told that the project is for us, those who live in wetland. We have been waiting for houses for so long, now you are telling us only people who qualified will get houses."

When Madikizela confirmed this, residents expressed their anger, shouting "we fought for that land", referring to the two months of protests that occurred in October and November 2010 to highlight the need for service delivery and housing in the area.

The protestors at the time had set alight private property including a government car carrying matric exam answers, private cars, buses and trucks. The streets in and around the TR Section Bongani informal were strewn with rubbish, rocks and burnt debris.

Those present who had protested in 2010 accused the Minister of trying to divide them. But other residents seemed satisfied with Madikizela's statements.

TR Section resident Nomthunzi Jam Jam said ward councillor Luvuyo Hebe had confused residents.

"What the minister said is very clear, I'm happy with the explanation. We all live in wetland but the worst areas are those who live at the back. Nothing has changed, some residents are just confused because of the ward councillor and they scared to ask questions. The previous ward councillor said not everyone is going to Nuwe Begin. I don't understand the fuss because the 900 people that we agreed on will leave, then Madikizela will deal with the remaining people." said Jam Jam

Madikizela confirmed that the first lot of residents will be moved into their houses in April.

"We will have another meeting for the remaining people and look for another alternative solution." He said.

Are Sexwale & Ramaphosa really white land owners? - Pieter Mulder

FF+ leader says Zuma's figures on land ownership are questionable, as is his history

Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader and deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Reply to President Zuma's State of the Nation Address of 9 February 2012, February 15 2012

Mr. Speaker, honourable President,

What do the people of South Africa need at present? They need hope for the future. On my desk I have the slogan: "The poorest of all persons is not the person without a cent but the person without a dream."

The president and the speakers in this debate each spoke about of his/her dreams for the future. If only a quarter of those plans came to fruition, there is hope for the future.

Sir, make no small plans, because they have no magic to stir people's blood.

In the president's address there are big plans and big dreams for 2030.

The Freedom Front Plus welcomes the infrastructure announcements. This is a sign of long term planning and thus gives some hope for the future.

What is the most dangerous thing a government can do? It is to create expectations with citizens which cannot be realised. This is a recipe for revolutions.

Real leadership and statesmanship is that rare combination of the idealistic with the severely practical.

Why did the world cup projects succeed? Because there were deadlines. Because unnecessary red-tape was avoided. Because the best people for the projects were used. Because black empowerment rules and labour rules were applied flexibly.

Is the government prepared to do this? Or are we going to get stuck in the current climate of corruption, self-enrichment, inflexible labour laws, ineffectiveness and populist debates about nationalisation?

I mention two examples:

Mining and agriculture have the potential to create thousands of employment opportunities. Why did specifically these two performed poorly recently. Is it per chance that the calls for nationalisation from amongst the ANC are directed at specifically mines and agricultural land?

It is estimated that South Africa has mineral riches of $2,5 trillion. That is the mineral wealth of Australia and Russia combined. Yet South Africa's mining sector is in decline. South Africa's mining sector shrunk at a rate of 1% a year while mining sectors in other countries grew by 5% a year on average. The nationalisation debate definitely plays a role in this.

The past week's comments of the president against the nationalisation of mines brought more certainty. If the ANC's policy conference takes the correct decision in June, I predict good growth in the mining sector.

But in the same week the president repeated the statement that the "willing buyer-willing seller option has not been the best way to address the land restitution question." In plain language it means that the government believes in the nationalisation of agricultural land. Where there is now more certainty in the mining sector, there is less certainty in the agricultural sector today.

Anybody who has anything to do with the redistribution of land will prove that the problem does not lie with the willing buyer-willing seller principle. The problem is the disastrous way in which land redistribution has been implemented in the past 18 years. On my desk there are numerous letters of white commercial farmers who had offered their land to the department of Rural Development and Land Reform but have not received any response. Numerous letters from commercial farmers who had concluded purchasing contracts with the department and after three years go bankrupt because the department does not pay out their money.

The president quotes in his address the Department of Rural Development's figures on land reform. According to that, white people possessed 87% of the land and the government had reached only 8% of its 30% target. I seriously differ from these figures. As do I seriously differ with the statement that white people had stolen their land.

Land is a very emotional issue which have led to numerous wars. The president asks for a national dialogue about this issue. Such a discussion cannot be undertaken with propaganda facts, twisted history and emotional slogans. Next week this book, "Omstrede Land" (Disputed Land) will be released by prof. Louis Changuion (and Bertus Steenkamp). It deals with the land issue dating from 1600 until the present times. There are plans to also release it in English.

The ANC readily speaks of "Black people in general and Africans in particular." Sir, Africans in particular never in the past lived in the whole of South Africa. The Bantoe- speaking people moved from the equator down while the white people moved from the Cape up to meet each other at the Kei River. There is sufficient proof that there were no Bantoe-speaking people in the Western Cape and North-western Cape. These parts form 40% of South Africa's land surface.

There are also differences of opinion about the influence of the Difaqane on land ownership. Read the diaries of the Voortrekkers about what they found when they moved into the interior.

How does the department calculate the 8%? There isn't a completed land audit against which we could correlate these facts.

What does the ANC mean by 30% land in the hands of black people? Does it include state land and urban land? It is accepted that the state owns about 25% of the total land surface. State land certainly does not count as white land? Twenty five per cent state lands should then be added to the 8%. What about the Ingonyama trust land of more than 2,8 million ha of the Zoeloe king? Where is this and all the other communal land added? Mr. Ramaphosa and Minister Tokyo Sexwale recently bought a number of farms from white farmers. My source in Vryburg says that a company of minister Sexwale recently bought 30 farms in that area. This also has to be added to the 8%? In the Karoo and Kalahari huge farms are available. Why does the department not buy some of that land to reach their 30% quicker? These semi-desert lands are however added to the 87% propaganda percentage as white land.

The Development Bank calculated in 2001 that 44% of the land belongs to whites, 20% to blacks, 9% to brown people and 1% to Asians.

The way in which the department had calculated the 30% and 8% figures creates the impression that they are setting themselves up to fail.

I said land is an emotional issue. Propaganda figures and emotional slogans will not bring us to answers. Realistic debates with real figures however will.

The size of arable land under production dropped by 30% from 1994 up to 2009. Failed land reform, where 9 out of 10 farms are not successful, played an important role in this. Farmers now have to produce more food on less land for South Africa's population of 50 million.

I agree when minister Nkwinti says it does not help to merely chase after hectares. If that land does not produce food, we will have famine very shortly and then people will be running in the streets as they recently did in Mozambique when bread prices increased due to shortages.

In 2000 Zimbabwean farmers produced 2 million tonnes of maize. Last year, following land reforms they produced only 900 thousand tonnes. In 2000 Zimbabwe had 250 thousand tonnes of grain, last year they only had 10 thousand tonnes. It is not the result of drought. In the same time Zambia grew to where it has started exporting maize.

I want to repeat a quote which I used in the Cabinet Lekgotla. Mondli Makhanya wrote in the Sunday Times: (28/2/2010)

"...we are wasting valuable time and energy trying to restore people to their peasant ways.

Ordinary South Africans either do not want land or just do not have the capacity to work it. They want to go to cities and work in the modern economy... Large-scale, highly mechanised commercial farming is now the way of the world. You cannot turn the clock back four decades. That is just the reality. Furthermore, the young people would, as has happened elsewhere, have simply upped and headed for the towns and cities. Yet we continue to nurse the notion that we can reverse the inevitable march to an urban future. We keep wanting to fight the logic of large scale commercial farming... The money and energy that is spent on getting peasants back into subsistence (farming) would be better used to create a strong class of black commercial farmers who actually do farm for commercial rather than sentimental reasons."

I dream of white and black commercial farmers who do not have to go to Africa for opportunities. The children who were born in 1994 are 18 years old this year and can vote. They only know an ANC government. There is no reason why such a child should not be able to buy a farm or obtain a bursary, just because he/she is white. Yet this is still happening.

Sir, I want to give notice here today already that the FF Plus will be asking for a special language debate about the permanent onslaught against Afrikaans and the deterioration of all the indigenous languages in South Africa.

In politics one finds small people and great people. Small people are opportunistic and talk and gossip about other people. Great people talk and dream about ideas and the future. When we look back in 2030 to this debate, we will be able to determine who was busy with opportunistic small politicking and who was busy with realistic future plans in the interest of all. These are the dreams of the FF Plus and what we are busy with.

Issued by the Freedom Front Plus, February 15 2012 - Politicsweb

Farcical hearings mock democracy

If Tuesday’s  shambolic proceedings  at  Mamelodi and Sharpeville are allowed to pass as “public participation” on the Protection of State Information Bill, our democracy is in trouble.

Public participation is a constitutional requirement before such legislation is passed.

The ANC is making a mockery of the process  by skewing events to suit a deliberate political agenda.

In Sharpeville, Nosipho Ntwanambi, ANC whip in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), used her chairmanship to silence and ridicule opponents of the bill, while showing every indulgence towards critics of  the print media, regardless of whether  their points had any relevance to the bill.

It is clear from this and other interactions that an instruction has gone out to ANC functionaries: support the info bill and don’t entertain any arguments about a public interest clause, which is the main request of the bill’s opponents.

What we are  asking is for public interest to be used as a legitimate defence when contested information is received, published or passed on in other ways.

It’s not an unreasonable request. There could scarcely be a higher calling than public interest.

Yet, as the bill stands,  people could be imprisoned simply for having  such information.

Instead of allowing legitimate arguments along these lines, the NCOP travelling roadshow is letting people vent other forms  of grievance against the media which have no direct bearing on the bill.

Regrettably none of this is surprising.

Such irrational behaviour is not uncommon amid the heckling and jeering that passes for debate in  Parliament.

Now it’s transposed into public forums, where folk vent service-delivery complaints.

The bill already threatens our democracy. Farcical hearings add to the dangers.

Fire razes Cape Town shacks

A fire that swept through Nyanga in Cape Town has left 45 people without homes, the city said on Wednesday.
The fire started around 11.30pm on Tuesday at the Hlazo informal settlement, disaster risk management centre spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said.
Thirteen shacks were destroyed. No casualties were reported.
He said the cause of the fire was unknown.
Food parcels, clothing, blankets and building material had been provided to fire victims. - Sapa

New Social Housing for East London

Social housing projects are an integral part of the government's quest to enhance racial integration in South Africa, Eastern Cape Economic Development MEC Mcebisi Jonas said at the official launch of the multi-million rand Southernwood social housing project in East London on Tuesday.

The project includes a nine-storey building in the heart of the city's central business district and close to all socio-economic amenities. It consists of 249 units in total, made up of 57 bachelor flats, 78 one-bedroom and 114 two-bedroom flats.

People who fall in the GAP market

The project caters for households earning between R2 500 to R7 500 per month.

"Social housing projects are one of the very few vehicles we have of ensuring social stability through racial and social integration," Jonas said. "These projects are fundamental because they are situated in the city centres and cater for people from all walks of life."

He added that such projects were important in dealing with the ever-growing number of people flocking to South Africa's urban areas to look for work and to study.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said the provision of medium- to high-density housing projects was one of the main solutions in dealing with the management of spatial integration in South Africa's urban areas.

"For us to make a difference in the lives of people who fall within the GAP market [those who earn too much to qualify for state subsidies but too little to apply for banks home loans], we need to have more of these projects," Sexwale said.

The project is spearheaded by the Department of Human Settlements, is managed by one of its housing entities, the Social Housing Regulatory Authority, and partly funded by the National Housing Finance Corporation.

'We want to deracialise our cities'

Sexwale said one of the ultimate goal of social housing projects was to create non-racial cities and towns across the country.

"We want to 'deracialise' our cities and towns so we can see all races in this country co-existing harmoniously," Sexwale said. "Integration mustn't be limited only to rugby games and other big sporting events, but it must be a way of life."

Residential executive committee member Lungisa Nazo, who has been a tenant at the project for two years, said: "We co-exist well with all other races, which is why I love living here. Even when we were drawing up our grievances to hand over to the minister's team, people from all races participated for the ultimate benefit of the tenants."

Social Housing Regulatory Authority chairperson Zora Ebrahim said she hoped the project would be the start of the "cleansing of Southernwood and the inner city", which has suffered from overpopulation and infrastructural dilapidation in recent years.

"We hope this project will create a trend that will see urban decay being dealt with both by residents and the municipality," Ebrahim said. "We hope it will ultimately lead to social cohesion amongst the community within which people can learn, play and pray."

Sexwale used the occasion to take a swipe at people involved in the hiring out of state-subsidised houses.

"People must stop doing this because it is taking away opportunities for those who genuinely deserve houses. Moving forward, we must reclaim the land which is currently being occupied illegally through shack renting."

Sexwale assured those present that the department would not "just provide the money any more", but would "follow the money" and see how it was spent, as it was the government's duty to account for taxpayers' money.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Housing MEC held hostage

POLICE had to be called when residents of Khayelitsha refused to allow the Western Cape human settlements MEC to leave a meeting after a row broke out concerning the allocation of new RDP houses.

This after MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela had allegedly failed to answer some questions regarding the allocation of houses in Mfuleni section.

Madikizela was escorted out of the meeting unharmed.

The meeting was attended by about 300 people, including ANC ward councillor Luvuyo Hebe.

About 900 residents of TR section, an informal settlement in Khayelitsha, and another 300 people from Mfuleni are set to benefit from a new housing project in Mfuleni, near Cape Town.

Addressing the meeting on Monday night, Madikizela said: "We have decided that people who will benefit from the project are those whose houses in TR section were flooded by the heavy rains.

"We will also give houses to people who have been staying in the area (TR section) for many years."

When Madikizela said he did not know what would happen to non-beneficiaries, the residents protested, claiming he was dividing the community.

They also accused him of instigating violence in their area.

Madikizela also said: "In order to be provided with a house, you must meet certain requirements. People tend to call their relatives or friends to occupy their old houses once they get new ones.

"We will make sure that this does not happen."

Madikizela also warned the project's beneficiaries not to sell their houses and return to informal settlements.

"We will take action against such people," he warned.

Residents wanted to know why some people were getting houses while others had been denied the opportunity.

Resident Ntombikayise Gomba said: "All residents in the area want to benefit from the project. I am not sure if I will get a house." - Sowetan

Plan to curb grant fraud

GOVERNMENT is to require more than 15 million social grant recipients to re-register for their benefits as part of a drive to eliminate fraud and corruption in the system.

The plan was announced in Parliament yesterday by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini during a briefing to outline the priorities of the cabinet's social protection and community development cluster.
This follows President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address last week.
Dlamini said the re-registration process, which is to start in April, was aimed at ensuring that government paid social grants to the "correct recipients" following repeated revelations that there were people who received grants fraudulently.
"We want to ensure that we pay the correct recipients.
"That is why we are going to re-register everyone, even children and older persons. We are going to visit them at their homes.
"We also want to deal with what has been said, that we sometimes pay the wrong people," said Dlamini.
There are currently 15,3-million people on the state's R100-billion social grants system, which includes 10,3-million children who receive support.
There have been allegations that the system was fraught with corruption.
Last year alone the Special Investigating Unit arrested at least 15 employees of the SA Social Security Agency on charges related to social grant fraud and corruption.
Dlamini, however, said while the re-registration process was intended to weed out fraudulent beneficiaries, it would also bring in more beneficiaries into the social welfare system as there were more than two million people who do not access benefits for a variety of reasons.
Speaking at the same briefing Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Zou Kota-Frederiks said the R1billion Mortgage Default Insurance (MDI) announced by Zuma last week, was targeted at civil servants such as police, teachers, nurses and other professionals outside the public service who earned between R3501 and R15000 per month.
The MDI, managed by the National Housing Finance Corporation, is guaranteed to encourage banks and other players in the housing sector to grant mortgage loans to those who might otherwise not qualify for such loans.
It fills the gap between those who qualify for RDP houses but do not earn enough to qualify for a housing loan from a bank, commonly referred to as the "missing middle."
In terms of the MDI, people falling within that income bracket would be eligible to apply for a subsidy of R83000 to help them secure housing bonds of up to R300000 from accredited banks.
"The billion rand won't be enough to do the work that we envisage ... that is why we are saying that housing delivery cannot be the responsibility of government alone," said Kota-Frederiks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Candle may have caused deadly fire

The Cape Town police's forensic unit believes a knocked over candle may have caused a deadly shack fire at Valhalla Park informal settlement in the Western Cape.

The blaze destroyed nearly a dozen shacks, leaving more than 40 people homeless.

Officials also recovered the body of a toddler, who was reported missing on Monday evening.  

Sniffer dogs spent hours searching for little Christiano van Wyk, before the body of the 18-month-old was found on the scene.

Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said the toddler's mother was taken in for questioning. 

“According to the 34-year-old mother, she left the baby boy with a friend while she went out in search of food for her two other children. She was then alerted that there was a fire. Upon arrival, she discovered that her baby had been burnt inside the shack.” - Eyewitness News

Housing MEC’s subsidy warning

Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela says the national government should not raise “unrealistic expectations” among the public with the announcement of a R1 billion fund to help people secure home loans.

“I doubt that the programme will begin in April, because to implement (it) we need to be ready with the policy and administrative structures… and, as of yet, have received no clarity or guidance,” he said.

During the State of the Nation address last week, President Jacob Zuma announced a R1bn gap housing guarantee fund for those who cannot access RDP housing or home loans from banks, but earn between R3 501 and R15 000 a month.

Those earning R3 501 would qualify for the full subsidy of R83 000, while those earning R15 000 would receive a R4 000 subsidy.

The housing fund will be managed and implemented by the National Housing Fund Corporation.

“My view is that through stabilising the property market and transferring assets into the hands of more people who can pay for and maintain these assets, and lowering the costs of their mortgages, we will avoid a financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the middle-income property market, as was recently seen in the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US,” he said.

On Monday, Madikizela said he would like to see a much greater amount made available for the fund, “so that the hundreds of thousands of earners in this category in our province can be assisted and people can be quickly empowered with asset ownership”.

“The subsidy to help people earning between R3 501 and R15 000 a month will not benefit everyone, but only a limited few, and on a first come, first serve basis. I welcome the government’s initiative to provide a housing subsidy of up to R83 000.

“However, the subsidy will need to be drawn from the Western Cape government’s budget allocation, and we will not be given any extra funding for this. As such, the amount of subsidies we will be able to offer will be limited.

“I would welcome an increase in the Western Cape human settlements budget in order to better serve the gap market,” he said.

He said the statement of R83 000 for everyone must be clarified because those earning R3 501 a month would qualify for the full subsidy of R83 000, which would be decreased on a sliding scale as the income of the applicant increased, which might result in those earning R15 000 receiving only around R4 000.

On Monday night, Madikizela held a public meeting at the Andile Msizi Hall in Khayelitsha to explain how housing allocations will take place for the Nuwe Begin Housing Project in Mfuleni.

About 900 RDP houses will be allocated to residents of Khayelitsha’s TR Section out of a total of 1 900 houses.

The beneficiaries will be drawn from people living on the wetland and also those from surrounding areas, based on the City of Cape Town’s housing list.

The rest of the housing will include 700 gap houses, and another 300 RDP houses will be allocated to people in Mfuleni.

He said the selection would prioritise those who had been waiting the longest – the elderly and the most deserving.

Child missing after fire

A two-year-old boy is missing after a fire swept through an informal settlement in Valhalla Park, Cape Town, the city said on Tuesday.
The area was being searched to establish if the child died in the fire on Monday, disaster risk management centre spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said.
Forty-four people were displaced in the blaze and an emergency shelter had been set up for them. It was not clear what caused the fire. – Sapa

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fires leave 192 homeless in Cape Town

Several fires left 120 people homeless in Cape Town this weekend, the city's disaster risk management centre said on Sunday.

Eighty-eight people were left homeless following shack fires on Friday night and Saturday morning in Ocean View and the Philippi informal settlements of Brown's Farm and Sweet Homes Informal Settlements, said disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes.

Three more fires at Lwandle, Wallacedene, and Strand, left 102 people homeless and destroyed 32 shacks, he said.

On Saturday night, a fire at the Lwandle informal settlement near Strand, destroyed 11 shacks and left 26 people displaced.

Later that night, a fire destroyed a backyard shack in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, displacing four people.

A fire on Sunday morning, in Mpumlani village informal settlement near Strand, destroyed 20 shacks, affecting 72 people.

In total, the fires destroyed 120 shacks and left 120 people homeless.

No one was injured.

Disaster response teams from the city would provide food parcels, clothing, blankets and building material to people affected by the fires, said Solomons-Johannes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

CTown fires leave residents homeless

Nearly 90 people have been left homeless after three fires in the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town said on Saturday.

The city's head of disaster operation, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said the first fire was at Brown's Farm informal settlement in Phillipi on Friday night, where one shack burnt down.

The second fire destroyed two backyard dwellings in Ocean View on Friday. Six adults and nine children were left homeless.

The last fire, at the Sweet Homes informal settlement in Phillipi on Saturday, destroyed 15 shacks and left 70 people homeless.

Solomons-Johannes said the city's disaster response teams were on hand to assist the victims with food parcels, clothing, blankets and building material.

The causes of the fires were still being investigated, he said.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Speak up before you are gagged

All concerned citizens should take part in the second and final phase of public participation hearings on the Protection of State Information or "secrecy" Bill. It is your last chance to make your voice heard.

Obfuscation, ideological deflection, secrets and all power to the spooks -- that is what the Bill means in democratic South Africa. The basic democratic principle being ignored is that the public's right to know outweighs the possible danger the disclosure of information could pose to national security.

We are slap bang in the middle of the National Council of Provinces public consultation process and must bear in mind that the enactment of the secrecy Bill without an acknowledgement of this basic democratic principle will signify a break from the values of openness, transparency and accountability as well as the culture of justification before exercising power, all of which are entrenched in the Constitution.

The Bill has to be passed by the council before it can proceed to the president for his signature and then be gazetted. There is some hope that public participation hearings present an opportunity for amendments to be made to align the Bill with the progressive values of the Constitution.

The chairperson of the council committee, Raseriti Tau, said at the end of last year it would not rubber-stamp the National Assembly's decision. He intimated that the outcomes were wide open.

The public participation hearings have delivered some surprises. For the ANC it must have been disappointing that its officials promoting the Bill got a severe roasting two weeks ago in Cape Town's Gugulethu and Thembalethu townships.

Members of the public grilled the officials and stated their feelings in no uncertain terms: the Bill was a cover for the failure of service delivery and a transparent attempt to hide activities such as corruption.

New tactics
Forewarned by this attack, the ANC in the Eastern Cape bused in supporters last week and Tau tried a new tactic. He turned off the microphone every time anyone said "secrecy Bill". He also apparently told people not to mention service delivery but to the stick to the issue.

Reports from attendees at the Eastern Cape hearings said many people questioned why the government was prioritising the Bill at this time.

Given this mixed bag, something astonishing then transpired. Parliament issued a statement saying "2 February 2012: Bill gets resounding approval". A careful reading of the statement does not explain why the hearings so far were considered to be a "resounding" success. The statement says only that "the hall" was packed to capacity and more chairs had to be brought in.

Hearings in Mangaung this week were marred by booing and arguments. The meeting's chair reportedly told attendees not to bring "political party concerns" in to public hearings on the Bill.

The Right2Know campaign has made other findings. Many people do not know the implications of the Bill, but when they do they state unequivocally that they want less secrecy in society, not more. They want a free flow of information so that they can make informed decisions about their lives.

In summary, here are some of the serious problems with the Bill: it goes far beyond what is reasonable to protect national security; it shields the intelligence agencies from scrutiny; it hands over more power to intelligence and security clusters; the state security minister can decide whether any organ of the state should be protected from the public and the media; and whistle-blowers and journalists could become "enemies of the state" and face jail time. Their sentences would be severe -- not just a few days or weeks but many years. It is a terrible shoot-the-messenger phenomenon.

Some advice
Some advice for promoters of the secrecy Bill: secrets have a way of creeping out. Tackle service delivery, poverty and unemployment and deal decisively with crooks defrauding the state. Stop tenderpreneurs and we will not have financial disasters such as that in Limpopo. Do not waste precious time and money on creating a veil of secrecy.

Supporters of the principles in the Constitution do not want the Bill -- certainly not in its current form. It allows obfuscation, deflection and hiding from real issues such as service delivery. It will impede investigations into corruption and fraud and, of course, stem the free flow of information.

Finally, some advice to the citizenry: attend the hearings and make your voices heard, or make a written submission to Parliament. Do not be pathetic afterwards and say:

"I didn’t know."

* Glenda Daniels serves on the Right2Know national working group. She writes here in her personal capacity.  - M&G

Schedule of public hearings

Gauteng: February 14

Group 1: Tshwane metropolitan municipality, Mamelodi
Venue: Vista College

Group 2: Sedibeng district municipality, Sharpeville
Venue: Community hall

KwaZulu-Natal: February 16

Group 1: Zululand district municipality, Vryheid, uMondlo township
Venue: To be confirmed

Group 2: Ugu district municipality: Harding
Venue: To be confirmed

Group 3: eThekwini metropolitan municipality, Umlazi township
Venue: To be confirmed

North West: February 21 

Group 1: Bojanala district municipality
Venue: To be confirmed

Group 2: Dr Kenneth Kaunda district municipality
Venue: To be confirmed

Mpumalanga: February 23

Group 1: Ehlanzeni district municipality, Bushbuckridge
Venue: Mapulaneng College

Group 2: Gert Sibande district municipality: Secunda
Venue: Lillian Ngoyi community centre

Limpopo: February 28

Group 1: Mopane district municipality: Mamaila
Venue: To be confirmed

Group 2: Waterberg district municipality: Mokopane
Venue: To be confirmed

Group 3: Capricorn district municipality: Mafefe
Venue: To be confirmed

Northern Cape: March 1

Group 1: Francis Baard district municipality: Galeshewe
Venue: Community hall

Group 2: John Taolo Gaetsewei district municipality: Moshaweng
Venue: Multipurpose centre

Western Cape: March 13 and 14

Venue: Parliament, Cape Town

Written submissions can be sent to the committee secretary, G Dixon, at until 12pm on February 17.

Zuma’s house subsidy gift

Thousands of Capetonians could soon afford housing in greater Cape Town, following a key announcement by President Jacob Zuma.

The affordable housing is aimed at people who earn too much to qualify for RDP housing but not enough to persuade banks to grant home loans.

In his 2010 State of the Nation Address, Zuma announced that the government was planning to set up a R1 billion fund to “incentivise the private banking and housing sector” to put roofs over more heads by promoting access to loans.

In his speech on Thursday, Zuma illustrated the plight of many by using the example of Mzukisi Mali, a public servant from the Fingo area in Grahamstown, who had written to Zuma, saying: “In 1994 my income was too high to get an RDP and too low to get a bond, this continued until to date. When I apply for an RDP I am told that I do not qualify and cannot get a bond because I am risky to the banks...”

Zuma announced: “Fortunately we have gone some way to address the problem facing Mr Mali and many others. We are pleased to report that this fund will start its operations in April, managed by the National Housing Finance Corporation.”

He said that from April, “people earning between R3 500 and R15 000 will be able to obtain a subsidy of up to R83 000 from provinces, to enable them to obtain housing finance from an accredited bank”.

Leading property company owner Bill Rawson said the subsidy was “great news”.

“There is a huge chunk of people who want ownership, who want to get into the housing market, and who are looking for ways to afford to do so.”

He said the R83 000 loans would essentially serve as deposits buyers could put down on properties, to help persuade banks to fund the balance through loans.

Rawson said the Parklands-Sunningdale suburb on the West Coast had shown just how big this market was in greater Cape Town. Houses there that were now selling for far more than R500 000 had been introduced as affordable housing in the 1990s and had met a huge gap in the property market at the time.

Speaking for the City of Cape Town, mayoral committee member for human settlements Ernest Sonnenberg welcomed the initiative.

“The city is a major supporter of the GAP housing initiative as part of our suite of housing delivery options.

“The city already has agreements in place with Standard Bank and Nedbank in particular, where the city has made well-located land available specifically for the GAP housing market.

“While it is difficult to quantify the number of Capetonians who will benefit from this fund, we know that it will help many of the city’s nurses, teachers and policemen, who are unable to access housing finance in the private bond market,” said Sonnenberg.

A report would be submitted to the council soon to extend the possible GAP market beneficiaries from those earning R10 000 a month to those earning R15 000 to align the GAP policy with the new fund, he said.

MSP Developments, part of the Mevelaphanda Holdings group and widely regarded as the largest developer of affordable housing in greater Cape Town, is working on on more than 9 000 houses in three large developments – in Blue Downs, between Kraaifontein and Durbanville, and between Somerset West and Firgrove.

Commercial director Philip van der Berg said: “We’re essentially building whole new towns, and this subsidy could offer great incentive for more such developments...

“The problem is that you will sometimes sell the same unit three times over because of the difficulty many people have with getting home loans. And of this, the biggest constraint has been in securing a deposit, with banks still being reluctant to grant 100 percent bonds in line with the National Credit Act.”

But Rawson warned that there were several potential obstacles to the roll-out of more suburbs like these.

First, buyers would still have to prove exemplary payment profiles – that they had managed their debt responsibly in the past – because this was the key factor banks used to decide whether to grant loans.

Second, even if there was a proven market for houses priced up to about R500 000, aided by the new subsidies, property developers would still battle to access finance to fund such new developments.

Third, banks still categorised many poorer Cape Town suburbs as “red line” areas, where they remained extremely reluctant to grant housing bonds.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

High court bid to halt N2 Gateway tenders

A development consortium has obtained a Western Cape High Court order to halt tenders for the construction of homes at two N2 Gateway project precincts.

Ibuyile Development Consortium alleges that the rights that are the subject of the tenders were awarded to it in 2005.

The high court interdicted the government from awarding the tenders until February 22, when it will formally hear the application, lodged by Ibuyile and Sea Kay Property Development - the company appointed to construct homes in two of the project's precincts.

The government has until tomorrow to file its opposing papers.

The N2 Gateway Project was initiated in 2004 by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government and the national government to alleviate the housing shortage.

In an affidavit before the court, Sea Kay director Pieter van der Schyf said the city awarded a tender to Ibuyile in May 2005 for construction work at Delft Symphony precincts 1 to 6.

He said Ibuyile had put "considerable effort" into the project and had, to date, completed and handed over more than 3 200 homes.

However, he said that the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements gave notice in December of two tenders to build homes and amend services in precincts 3 and 5 of the project.

If the government was allowed to award the tender, the rights previously awarded to Ibuyile would be rendered of no value and the construction of homes stood to be jeopardised, he said.

Ibuyile intends to institute court proceedings relating to the tender issue, but approached the high court to interdict the award of the tender pending the outcome of those proceedings.

Explaining the background to precincts 3 and 5, Van der Schyf said the precincts were treated differently in 2006 when First Rand Bank (FRB) became involved.

Van der Schyf explained that the national Department of Housing entered into a memorandum of understanding with FRB in terms of which FRB undertook to participate in and support governmental plans for sustainable integrated housing development and settlements.

Precincts 3 and 5 were identified to fill the gap market - for beneficiaries too poor to afford houses of their own and not poor enough to qualify for subsidised housing. FRB was to finance the construction and become a bond holder.

A joint venture agreement was entered into between BVI, Ibuyile, Sea Kay and M5 Housing.

All rights and obligations of the joint venture were transferred to BVI in October 2008.

Ibuyile transferred its rights in respect of precincts 3 and 5 to the joint venture for R31.65 million.

Sea Kay was the entity appointed to construct the houses and FRB was to provide funding.

Construction of the first batch of houses started in March 2008.

However, FRB was unable to pass development bonds over provincial land and eventually brought an application to liquidate BVI.

After a provisional liquidation order was granted, the appointed liquidators instituted an action in Gauteng in which they claimed repayment of the R31m in consideration for alienation of the rights.

The liquidators' case, according to Van der Schyf, was that BVI did not receive the rights.

He said that, if the liquidators were correct, the rights remained vested in Ibuyile.

"The right of the provincial authorities to award a tender for the construction of homes in precincts 3 and 5 was alienated by the award of the tender to Ibuyile in 2005. The provincial authorities accordingly cannot award the tender," Van der Schyf said.

Van der Schyf added that, even if the liquidators were not correct, Sea Kay enjoyed an interest in the rights through its participation in the joint venture, and an interdict would still be necessary in order to protect its interests.

He said that beneficiaries would be affected if a new appointment was made.

Fifa media, Antartic, but no toilet report - Shit!

It's no wonder the 'stinking job' has not been completed as promised by the Minister of Human Settlements, this month has been a month of sidelines; 'my people' will have to continue to shit in buckets...

Tokyo you are a joke at the expense of those who live and don't live in matchbox houses!

Thanx for the white elephants!!

Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo !!!

The SA Football Association (SAFA) lauded the appointment of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale to FIFA's Media Committee on Tuesday, saying the move epitomised and acknowledged the vital role he has played in promoting the world's favourite sport.

The Minister was, until recently, a member of the FIFA Fair Play Committee, which among other things fought against racism and discrimination in football. It was in this role that Sexwale played a critical role in the campaign to show racism the “red card”.

He is also a former a member of the FIFA Development Committee.

“This is yet another vote of confidence for the role South Africans are playing in promoting the world's number one sport. It is due recognition for the role the Minister has played in the past, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the effort he continues to put into the Beautiful Game.

“He has made South Africa proud and we are really happy for him,” said SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, where he is doing duty as a member of CAF's AFCON organising committee.

Sexwale left a lasting legacy as a champion of anti-racism in the sport when he spoke up for FIFA president Sepp Blatter who was criticised for saying “there was no racism in the field of play”.

South Africa expected Sexwale to play an equally important role in his new role working with the media, added Nematandani. - Sapa

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hemp building at Science Museum in Wroughton

A storage facility made of hemp is being erected at the Science Museum at Wroughton in Wiltshire.

The former airfield near Swindon is the large objects storage facility for the London Science Museum, housing more than 500,000 objects in 11 hangars.

As part of an £800,000 project, the hemp building is being installed inside one of the hangars to reduce humidity.

Matt Moore, from the museum, said: "Essentially it will be deep storage - preserving objects for evermore."

He said: "The environment in the hangars for the majority of objects is pretty good, pretty constant, but some items with wood and leather would do better with not quite so much humidity to preserve them for even longer.

"So we've gone back to basics and have decided to use hemp to stabilise the environment."

Rolling Stones airliner
Lime Technology is supplying the pre-fabricated hemp building.

Ian Pritchett, the company's technical director, said: "We build lots of hemp buildings but this is a building within a building which is far more challenging.

"The hangar is fairly enormous - about an acre of space."

Construction began in January and is due to be completed by the end of April.

"It's a bit like that child's tile game," said Mr Moore.

"As we refurbish a hangar, we can get more stuff into it and so we're moving objects when there's a space free to move them.

"We originally wanted to do all the hangars at once but we've got a more moderate approach now."

The museum houses giant exhibits, including a bus that was used to transport railway workers around Swindon and an airliner which was used for a Rolling Stones tour.


Same News Source 9 years ago - and viola a country with less raw materials and less demand for jobs and housing have accomplished more than our own. Thanx for nothing - ARC - Human Settlements etc.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sixty people homeless after fire

A fire near Steenberg in Cape Town left 60 people homeless on Wednesday, a City of Cape Town spokesperson said.
The fire razed shacks in the Overcome Height informal settlement at about 3.30pm, said Wilfred Solomons-Johannes of the city's Disaster Risk Management Centre.
“No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is unknown,” he said. - Sapa