Minister Madikizela's Closing Address at the International Housing and Construction Conference | Western Cape Government


Minister Madikizela's Closing Address at the International Housing and Construction Conference

13 September 2011

Western Cape Human Settlements Minister, Bonginkosi Madikizela, presented the closing address at the International Housing and Construction Conference at the Cape Sun, Cape Town.

The conference attracted over 300 delegates from 180 organisations and more than 12 countries, including government, business, industry and academia, and the theme was "Social Housing: The Way Forward".

This was the Minister's speech:

The South African government has delivered approximately 3 million housing units in South Africa since 1994, yet there is a 650 000 housing units shortage in the affordable market that grows by approximately 42 000 units per year. Ninety percent of the population earns under R9 000 a month, and they usually afford to buy homes without state subsidies. Over 1.3 million households who do not qualify for a housing subsidy live in inadequate, overcrowded and/or informal housing because they are unable to afford current house prices, and it is these people who need social housing solutions. The significant growth in shack rentals, migration patterns and influx of persons closer to economic nodes, as well as the scarcity of well-located land and funding constraints, alerts us that a change in direction is required to meet the demand for social housing. The Provincial Government of the Western Cape Human Settlements Department has a strategic objective to provide accelerated housing delivery for all our citizens, and that includes the social housing market.

We are very aware of the problems. We are very aware of the realities of the South African situation. What is needed is not more problem statements and not more research, but ways to implement practical solutions to meet the needs and solve the problems. This requires political will, and the will is there in the Western Cape.

In the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, we are very serious about social housing solutions. In the last year, we have created the Affordable Housing Directorate to provide working social housing solutions, both for rental and affordable purchase. We have also partnered in some exciting projects that are delivering on the ground. The two social housing projects which the Department of Human Settlements has successfully partnered in developing are Steenberg and Drommedaris. These projects have been developed in conjunction with Province, Social Housing Institutions like Communicare and SOHCO, National Department of Human Settlements, DIGH and National Housing Finance Corporation (funders).

These successful projects targeted beneficiaries with an income band of R1 500 to R7 500. The Steenberg project has delivered 450 units, and the Drommedaris project 219 units. Both developments have addressed the core principles of access to public transport, economic opportunities and social cohesion. The challenge is ensuring that the affordability levels of the tenants is constant, as these social housing units are purely rental. As Premier Zille put it, we must use working models, for example where the state finances 40% of a project, private and rental the rest. These working models must be explored and rolled out.

Other exciting initiatives have been the Western Cape Human Settlements Academics Forum, which brings academics and human settlements implementers together to create relationships and develop a platform through which capacity solutions can be created, including the development of educational programs to produce human settlements professionals suitable for the South African situation. Going forward, an Affordable Housing Workgroup has been initiated, and the inaugural meeting date will be announced shortly.

What we need are systemic, integrated solutions, and these solutions, must be driven by critical thinking and must be in the spirit of benevolence and contribution. This spirit will enable us to enter into constructive creative policy and solutions that serve all South Africans.

These systemic solutions need to include the engineering, materials and construction approaches. They need to include policy education and implementation. They need to include the systems thinking approach, and the interaction of housing with models of climate change, economic development, sustainability, and integration. As we move forward, energy management will become increasingly important due to the demands of climate change and the shortage of electricity in South Africa. This systems thinking approach is very important, as there is a tendency in South Africa to produce welfare solutions that do not meet economic and environmental sustainability criteria, yet this is exactly what we need to have long term functionality. We need communities that can pay for services and rates so municipalities can continue to function.

Premier Zille has stated that public policy gradually needs to shift people from a culture of dependency, to one of partnership and contribution. We are saddled with a culture of non-payment in South Africa, yet we need communities and individuals to partner and contribute. Our current policies have entrenched a culture of dependency, which is why many people don't want to pay for housing. The big question is how to inculcate a willingness within communities to add value, even if it's something small.

The right of tenants also brings responsibilities, and these tenant responsibilities, and the enforcement of them, must be a part of any social housing programme. The days of top down planning are over, and today we co-create housing solutions with communities. Our PHP projects and stakeholder relations teams are working, functional examples of this, and we can learn from them as we develop social housing programmes that include the voice of the communities.

It's in the spirit of partnership and contribution among all who have attended this conference, between government and business and industry, between the communities and the providers, that we can open doorways and create opportunities and solutions to meet the challenges of social housing.

Media Enquiries: 

Bruce Oom
Spokesman for Minister Madikizela
Tel: 021 483 6622
Cell: 072 465 5177
Fax: 021 483 3888