Minister Tertuis Simmers covers 8 000km first month in office
- Accelerating housing delivery
- Visited project sites and engaged stakeholders
- Handed over units in Forest Village, Grabouw and Caledon
- Sod turning in Barrydale and George
- Opened an internal and criminal case based on a falsified housing letter
- Initiate youth digital competition
- Identified 7 priority areas
- Initiate 50/50 housing allocation campaign
In my commitment to serve from the moment I took office, Since being appointed as the Western Cape Human Settlements Minister, I have travelled the length and breadth of the Province. In fact, during this short time, I’ve covered over 8 000km, visiting various Human Settlement project sites and engaging with a vast cross section of stakeholders during this period.
Our Human Settlements Projects across the province are making exceptional progress and the contractors and officials, both at provincial and municipal level must be commended for all their efforts.
I’ve visited various Provincial Priority and Catalytic projects across the Cape Metro, which included Belhar CBD, - Highbury Park, - Penhill, - Ithemba, -Taiwan, - Thabo Mbeki – and the Airport Precinct, where informal settlements such as Barcelona, Vukuzenzela, Europe and others will benefit. All of this, to get a first-hand account of the headway that these projects are making. Each of these project are at various stages of planning and construction and are expected to yield a combined total of 50 000 housing opportunities by 2022.
Along with these Metro projects, I also visited and engaged with residents and stakeholders in Forest Village. This is one of our primary Catalytic Projects, which has a budget allocation of R1,1 billion. Upon completion in 2020 it is expected to yield in excess of 4 520 housing opportunities, which forms part of the overall opportunities in the Metro.
Our continued aim is to enable a resilient, sustainable, quality and inclusive living environment by facilitating improvements in Western Cape settlements development and functionality.
This is not only demonstrated through my engagements with stakeholders or the site visits, but more so through the housing handovers which we’ve already conducted. In June alone, we had two handovers in the space of a week in Forest Village, where a total of 67 people received their homes. It is vital to note that more than 1 700 people exclusively from the local community will be benefiting from this project upon completion.
The locals are from Wards 16 and 17. Ward 16 consists of the Forest Village, Eersterivier, Eersterivier South, Electric City, Faure, Dreamworld, Driftsands and Mfuleni communities, while Ward 17 includes Kleinvlei, Rosedale, Forest Heights, Hillcrest Heights, Tuscany Glen, Malibu Village and The Conifers.
I’ve also been to the following Municipal areas: Swartland, Saldanha Bay, Breede Valley, Drakenstein, George, Knysna, Bitou, Theewaterskloof, Cape Aghulas and Swellendam.
This past Saturday in George, we had a sod turning event, where more than 600 people will benefit from the Metro Grounds Housing Project. Just over a week ago, we also had a sod turning in Barrydale, where 87 people will benefit from their project.
Throughout my visits, I’ve mentioned that I will return to areas to further engage the various stakeholders. This is currently underway and just yesterday, I met with the community leadership of Qolweni and New Horizon in the Bitou Municipal area – over the next few days, I will be engaging beneficiaries from Forest Village and systematically re-engage the various structures and stakeholders.
My Department has a number of projects which are on our business plan for the financial year 2019/20 and I must indicate that I have not been to all the sites and do intend visiting them over the next few weeks.
We are the Western Cape Provincial Government, which means we cover the entire region and not just pockets or parts of the Province. To this end, the roll out of the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and the Small-Town Regeneration Programme (STRP) will continue to be a focus area of mine.
This is evident in our various Catalytic and other projects throughout the province. We have to continue improving our rural communities and I am committed to ensuring this.
I have identified 7 priority projects in the Province:
- Metro Grounds – George
- Melkhoutfontein – Hessequa
- Zoar – Kannaland
- Vredenburg – Saldanha (West Coast)
- Louis Fourie – Mossel Bay
- Dysselsdorp – Oudtshoorn
- Hawston and Schulphoek - Overstrand
In our efforts to accelerate housing delivery to the people of the Western Cape, we have strategically focused our resources to three priority areas:
- Directing more resources for the Upgrading of Informal Settlements and the provision of basic services;
- Increasing Affordable/GAP Housing, through our social housing and Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) and
- Prioritising the most deserving people in relation to the allocation of free Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses.
Let me be crystal clear as to who is being prioritised and what this criteria is. It consists of:
- The elderly,
- People with disabilities
- Single headed households
- Those who have been the longest on the waiting list
- And our backyard dwellers
This means, whenever we identify beneficiaries from the housing waiting lists, backyarders must be prioritised, as we will work on a 50/50 split within the other criteria. Backyard dwellers need to ensure that they are on the waiting lists.
I’d therefore like to encourage responsible citizenship and urge all citizens who need housing assistance from government, to register at their local housing office. Residents that are already registered should ensure that their details are up to date, particularly if contact information has changed since registration.
I’m in the process of engaging my colleague, the Provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works, Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela about releasing well located provincially owned buildings and tracts of land for human settlement developments. In due course, I will make further announcements about these engagements. I can add that thus far, it’s been fruitful as we have the same vision to ensure that Western Cape residents have access to housing opportunities.
Throughout my visits, there was a consistent concern highlighted with the legitimacy of the beneficiary list. I am engaging with Municipalities about this and how we’ll be moving forward.
In the meantime I’ve given my department an instruction to incorporate technology, as we are in the 4th industrial revolution. Over the next few days, I’ll be making an exciting announcement about a competition that we will be launching in an attempt to address the waiting list issue.
I’ve also encouraged the use of Alternative Building Technology (ABT). This is vital in sustainable development. In Mossel Bay, we currently have the Yakhindlu PHP project where only ABT’s are being used. Units are built at a cheaper rate, the cost of electricity will be less and it holds long term benefits for the environment.
Innovation and technology is going to become a focal point of this department. Concepts such as Smart Townships that is homeownership driven and inclusive of all the relevant services will be piloted across the province. We are currently finalising specific detail.
As you are aware, I have opened a criminal case against fraudsters, who are using our Western Cape Government logo and masquerading as government officials and selling houses. Another concern are reports that beneficiaries, upon acquiring their homes, tend to rent it out and in some instances, return to live in their former informal dwellings. I will not tolerate this at all and condemn this type of behavior in the strongest possible terms.
There are a few cases that are currently being investigated. We will make the relevant announcements upon the completion of these investigations.
In response to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s utterances and having enquired into this matter, I can confirm that an agreement was signed between the Western Cape Government and the HDA before the 2009 general election, which purported to alienate a number of properties belonging to the WCG to the HDA. When the agreement was discovered after the DA took control of the province in 2009 the then Premier was advised that the agreement was unlawful due to non-compliance with the provisions of the Western Cape Land Administration Act, 1998.
It is not correct to say that the land was legally transferred to the HDA. After informing the HDA that the agreement was unlawful, it never took any action to try to enforce the agreement. This was not surprising, given that a number of statutory requirements for a valid disposal of provincial land had not been met. As such, there never was any valid and binding agreement between the parties, let alone a legal transfer of land to the HDA.
Instead of seeking to play politics, Minister Sisulu would do well to encourage her colleague, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Patricia de Lille, to release the 5 tracts of well-located national owned land, which are Ysterplaat, Culemborg, Youngsfield, Wingfield and Denel for housing development.
In fact, in 2014 when she was still the Minister of Human Settlements, she’s quoted in a 2014 online IOL article, stating: “We could house several thousand black working class families on this land to live side by side with middle class people…..huge tracts of valuable land in the city are the Ysterplaat airstrip between Century City and the lower middle class suburbs of Rugby and Brooklyn, the Oude Molen land at the edge of Pinelands and Culemborg, owned by the Department of Transport.”
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.