Minister Madikizela: Services First, then Houses
Media Statement by Minister of Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela
The claim by the ANC that the DA-led government is going backwards with its new policy position that in the future it will only provide serviced sites to the poor is wrong. The poor will still get houses. The provision of basic services first and then houses later is not new, and we have been publicly communicating this for many months.
The strategy is part of the National Housing Policy, and is endorsed by the National Human Settlements Department. Secondly, the National Development Plan, presented by Trevor Manual, stresses that we must spend more money upgrading informal settlements and providing basic services. We will not only provide serviced sites to the poor; as part of the Western Cape Governments Incremental Housing Delivery Strategy and Access to Basic Services Strategy, we will make sure that people wait for houses with the dignity of basic services. It is clear the ANC Provincial Secretary, Mr Songezo Mjongile, has no idea about human settlements policy, for his response is ignorant of the realities of human settlements delivery.
Let me look at his argument point by point.
"The ANC says the DA-led government in the Western Cape is going backwards with its new policy position to in future only provide serviced sites for the poor."
Nowhere did we ever say we will only provide serviced sites for the poor. Our new strategy is Incremental Housing Development, where people get basic services first and then houses later. The reality is that there are around 500 000 households waiting for houses in the Western Cape, often in settlements with no basic services. With our budget allocation from the National Treasury, we are only able to build around 15 000 houses a year, and at that rate, assuming no increase in demand, it would take 30 years to clear this backlog. Our strategy is that people should wait for their houses with access to basic services. We cannot provide houses for a few while everybody else waits without water or toilets for up to 30 years. The majority of people are living under appalling conditions and let us help them. Pravin Gordhan, in his recent budget speech, said that we must do more with less. This is what he meant; we have to use our available resources wisely to attain benefit for as many people as possible in the best way.
"The plan is out of step with the national policy plan for 2030 to move away from merely supplying sites and services. The DA is clearly not taking the matter forward in step with future national plans. The DA is also not committed to help people in abject poverty with decent houses and dignified living spaces closer to development and opportunities."
On the contrary, this is in line with the 2030 Vision, which is a multi-pronged approach placing more emphasis on upgrading the living conditions of people where they are. The National Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, has repeatedly said the end of free housing is coming. This is not a DA policy; this is a national policy to upgrade informal settlements first with the basic services through the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Program, and then to provide houses later.
"Under DA control we saw people removed to inferior areas further from businesses and amenities. This is not how a caring developmental government treats the poor."
This statement is rubbish. Despite the courts ruling for the people of Joe Slovo to be moved away to Delft, the new DA administration fought for them to remain where they are so that the community could stay intact. The DA administration ensured that people received a development close to business opportunities and amenities.
"The ANC stands for the restoration of people's dignity and upliftment for people in dire circumstances. The ANC says the DA's plan is to allow people suffer even more as they will not get a roof over their heads and be left without any hope of further assistance for social housing."
Again, this is wrong. Mr Mjongile is trying to score cheap political points. We have said repeatedly that people will get access to services and serviced sites first, and then houses later. It doesn't mean we will stop giving houses. Mr Mjongile is obviously rather stupid if he cannot understand this. I ask Mr Mjongile to propose a proper solution to the problem. With a budget to only build 15 000 houses a year, would he leave some people waiting for 30 years without water and toilets while he gave houses to a few? Again, I challenge him to a public debate on the issue. And just look at some of the ANC lead municipalities. In Oudsthoorn, run by the ANC, people in the Riemvasmaak informal settlement have on average one toilet for 90 households. Where is the restoration of dignity in not sorting this out?
Spokesman for Minister Madikizela
Cell: 072 465 5177
Tel: 021 483 6622
Fax: 021 483 3888