Adjustment Budget Vote 8
Speech by Minister Tertuis Simmers
31 July 2020
Venue: Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP)
Honourable Cabinet Members
Honourable Members and
Upon reflection of what we’re currently experiencing as a country, the words of Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu are still so true. He said: "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Our people across the country are yearning for this light, as at this stage it seems there isn’t any to see, except of course, in the Western Cape.
This is so, as the Western Cape Government, has firmly placed the lives of its people first, by ensuring budgets are adjusted to combat the coronavirus.
The reality is that this pandemic continues to place immense pressure on all areas of society, both public and private.
Speaker, R 33 million has been realigned as part of the provincial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a provincial government, we work together for the good of our people, as very early we realised if we’re not going to take the lead in combatting this virus, we could be caught on the back foot, particularly since we’re not receiving sufficient support from where it is expected.
It is further regrettable that we have a national government that is persisting with their failed economic policy. Due to the national government’s inability to grow the economy and eradicate corruption and looting, programme 3, which is housing development, sees a reduction of more than R 246 million. This consists of a reduction of R 202 265 000 in our Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) along with a reduction of R 44 435 000 in our Title Deeds Restoration Grant (TDRG). The net impact of the HSDG reduction will be 6,200 fewer housing opportunities in our province, which equates to nearly one third of the envisaged opportunities that will be lost for this financial year.
Speaker, the Western Cape has a Housing Demand Database waiting list of just under 600 thousand, and this reduction further affects our ability to assist those that’s been on the list for many years. Daar is beslis ‘n groot behuisings behoefte in die Wes-Kaap.
We will however not let these challenges stand in our way of delivering to our qualifying and deserving beneficiaries.
We remain committed to getting the Dunoon, Greater Kosovo and Ithemba Rapid Informal Settlement Support and Upgrade Programme off the ground. The required engagement and statutory processes are currently underway, thou H.D.A are still waiting for the power of attorney for the Ithemba site from the National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure.
Speaker, we have identified innovation as one of our strategic priorities to enable accelerated delivery of services. These innovative measures are inclusive of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as Sustainable Building Technology (SBT) to ensure we’re still able to deliver to our people.
Earlier this year we launched our APP, which gives our citizens easy access to information on government housing assistance, while also allowing them to register for the first time or update their details on the database. This also ensures that citizens do not have to visit any of the housing offices to register or update their details. Since its launch in March this year this is new and something that’s never been attempted before, we’re pleased that people are starting to realise the benefits of doing things online.
Utilising Sustainable Building Technology has various benefits, as it ensures units are built at a cheaper rate, the cost of electricity will be less, and it holds long term benefits for the environment. Further to this and during my engagement with the banking sector, they indicated their appetite for the implementation of this technology and a willingness to support these types of initiatives.
We have already engaged a host of municipalities about adopting new technology and they too, are open to doing so, as they’re aware that traditional methods are unsustainable and will not allow us to assist our people in the manner that we need to do.
This new technology will also be used in the Dunoon, Greater Kosovo, Ithemba and at our Silvertown development in Khayelitsha.
Speaker, as a further step to integrate the utilisation of technology, we have over the last few municipal and project visits, handovers and meetings conducted live Facebook broadcasts, which assisted us to adhere to all covid regulations, particularly social distancing. This has also ensured increased transparency, as the public at large had an immediate view of how we engage another sphere of government and what exactly our processes are in the human settlements sector.
Speaker, omdat ons deursigtig is, verseker ons, dat inwoners deel van ons reis is, maar omdat ons tegnologie op hierdie wyse gebruik sien mense regoor die land en wêreld hoe ons in die Wes-Kaap te werke gaan.
I am also pleased to inform this House that this new norm will continue. I am particularly looking forward to hosting a virtual public meeting with the residents of the greater Retreat area to inform them about the progress of their planned project, particularly since they’ve not had a large development in that area for a while now.
Speaker, we are deeply concerned about all the illegal land grabs and invasions that are plaguing a number of areas across the province and more so the Cape Metro. What is further disturbing is the criminal element and blatant disregard for the law during this process. In addition to this, we’ve seen elected political leaders who are not only part of these protests, but actually leading them. You would expect these leaders to be champions of our country’s law and discourage residents from protesting in this manner. This clearly tells us that there’s an agenda and attempt to create anarchy.
Speaker, to those elected political leaders who are at the forefront of these protests, they should know that the Western Cape Government will stop at nothing to ensure that they are held accountable, as through their action and encouragement, they are complicit in breaking the law. It is these political leaders that should be charged, convicted and harshly sentenced for their reckless and irresponsible behaviour.
Along with this, they’re also attempting to assist those who are seeking to jump the housing queue. This means, they are delaying and denying law abiding citizens who have been on housing waiting list for many years, the opportunity to move into improved living conditions.
Let me make this very clear. This government will not assist you over law abiding citizens.
To our residents I’d like to say, do not be misled or manipulated by these individuals or groups, as they do not have your best interest at heart, instead this is all done for their own gain. Just as we’ve engaged a host of communities, we will continue to do so. We will also continue to prioritise the elderly, persons with disabilities, those longest on the housing waiting list and this should be 15 years and longer as well as our backyard dwellers. Critical to note that we are the first province to formally prioritise our backyard dwellers.
Our upgrade of informal settlements programme will also still continue. The most recent demonstration of this, are residents from the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa and Kanana informal settlement in Gugulethu, moving into better living conditions, as part of our re-blocking or de-densification programme.
Speaker, we are fully aware that the provision of housing opportunities remains a pertinent issue.
We have, therefore, adopted a radical approach in the acceleration of housing opportunities, and this is quite evident in the more than 300 people that since the end of May have moved into Forest Village in Eersteriver. These beneficiaries are from the neighbouring areas, while others are from the N2 Gateway. 50 Residents have also moved into our Boys Town development.
Further to this, and as additional examples, we’ve also handed houses over to former farmworkers, the elderly, backyard dwellers and beneficiaries who have been on the waiting list for 15 years and longer in Bredasdorp, McGregor, Grabouw, Hawston, Plettenberg Bay and Ceres.
Residents in Delft, George, Buffelsjagsrivier, Wilderness and Slangrivier, through the handover of Title Deeds also became fully fledged homeowners for the first time in their lives.
We are improving the lives of our people - we are restoring their dignity - we are working for our people – our people are our most important priority.
Speaker, hierdie is beslis ongekende tye en daar is ongetwyfeld ‘n behoefte vir ons almal om as verskillende regeringsfere en politieke partye saam te werk, sou ons hierdie uitdagings wat ons tans in die gesig staar, effektiewelik oorkom.
As leaders we should be part of the solution and not the problem, as this will demonstrate to the public at large that the political leaders are working for us. Let’s work as one, as we are stronger and better together.