Enough with empty housing promises Mr Premier

Madam Speaker, in my 14 and a half years in this Legislature, not much has changed with regard to both Housing and Local Government.  From Nomvula Mokonyane to Lebogang Maile, MECs have continued to treat the departments like their own personal fiefdom where they can do whatever they want, without regard for legal processes and good governance practices.

Across the years, the Premiers of the Province have turned a blind eye to their shenanigans and continued to promise “pie in the sky” solutions to the daily problems faced by the poorest residents of Gauteng.

Premier Makhura’s latest “pie in the sky” is not new, he talks about the various renewal projects across the province.  He makes new promises that these disastrous projects that have sucked millions of Rands into a money pit with no return, will be completed. Regarding the Alexandra Renewal Project, how can we believe him when nothing has changed, nothing is evident on the ground and nothing has been done regarding the dispute over the court interdict?  Further to that promises made last year to the residents of Alexandra during the Alex shut down, have not been realised. 

Premier Makhura has also promised the delivery of ten thousand serviced stands between April and June this year.  I vacillate between relief that the ANC have finally decided to implement a plan that the DA has been proposing in this Province since 2005 and disbelief that these stands will be delivered on time, on budget and result in the immediate handover of title deeds to the beneficiaries of the programme. I find it problematic that the Premier refuses to tell us where these stands will be because the land will be invaded.  How does he expect members of the legislature to fulfil their legislative mandate of oversight if they don’t even know where these stands are situated? The right thing to do would be protect the land and arrest invaders. Stop allowing thugs to take charge.

Unfinished developments, rogue contractors, poor monitoring and evaluation.  The list goes on.  So, do what the DA would do.  Be practical and rather than choosing ANC comrades, make the right choice to choose the best, most experienced contractors to do the job and incentivise them to produce a quality finished product on time and on or under budget.  Only by doing this will Gauteng be able to deliver what was promised.

The Premier proudly stated he was doing more to support local government to fulfil their constitutional obligations, but that is about all he said about local government.  No mention of failing municipalities like the West Rand District and Emfuleni, no mention of VBS and why nothing has happened to the perpetrators of this financial scandal where money was stolen from the community of Gauteng?  In order to build trust one has to admit to mistakes, take action against wrongdoing, have properly costed plans to fix and mitigate the problems, and then deliver a quality product by implementing those plans on time and on budget with intense monitoring and evaluation taking place throughout.  If you don’t do this, you have Medupi and Kusile all over again.

I am extremely disappointed that there was no mention of disaster management by the premier.  We have no up-to-date comprehensive provincial risk profile that identifies and prioritises hazards enabling the development of reaction, response and mitigation plans.  There is no way you can promote sustainable development without this.  Provincial Disaster Management needs funding, they need to be fully staffed and capacitated to do their job.  The threat posed by the coronavirus is real, but we hear nothing from our provincial government. It is a disaster in the making and I do not believe we are prepared.

The Premier had a lot to say about breaking the back of patriarchy.  Mr Premier, don’t you understand that gender-based quotas show your patriarchal tendencies.  Most women I know want to succeed based on their merit and not their gender.  Women are as competent as men and until men accept that fact, patronising women with gender quotas will not create a change to the patriarchal mindset we, as women, experience every day.

Mr Premier, good governance is key.  It means real transparency, meaningful accountability, absolute efficiency, inclusivity and truthful communication.  We need to be feeding our community with realistic, practical solutions that are guaranteed to make the life of each individual better. Don’t take the community of Gauteng for fools, stop feeding them “Pie in the Sky.”

Department of Human Settlements consistently fails to deliver houses to Gauteng residents

Madam Speaker, title deeds and property ownership bring economic bargaining power that is otherwise unavailable to poor South Africans.  It is a critical tool to building an inclusive society in which all can participate. Title deeds bring dignity, hope and opportunity to those who have none.

The Department of Human Settlements however brings no hope. Of the 45 253 title deeds that should have been handed over, only 12 144 made their way to the beneficiaries.  Mrs. Sara Mbede from extension 31 in Etwatwa, Daveyton has a title deed but someone else is living in her house. Mrs Ottilia Moyo has a title deed for a house in the Far East Bank of Alexandra.  She and her family have been chased out by a gang of thugs who do this to numerous legal title holders.  How does this happen?  It is symptomatic of a fundamental lack of monitoring and oversight taking place in a department that takes no responsibility for the outcomes and by a government that does not uphold the rule of law.

Contractors disappear without completing work, projects run over-schedule and over-budget like the Garunkuwa Unit 10 development where houses that were built by a dodgy contractor now have to be demolished and rebuilt or developments such as Evaton North/Kanana and Tshepiso North Ext 3 in Vereeniging that were abandoned by the contractors.  This would not have happened if somebody in the department had done due diligence.

To be able to hand over title deeds one needs to actually build houses and service land.  The housing development programme only reached target on one project out of 20, a hit rate of 5%.  Every excuse in the book is used to justify this shoddy performance.  Late payment of contractors, lapse of signed contracts, land invasions, contractors who have a lack of capacity and the list goes on. None of this would be a problem if the department took responsibility for ensuring the safeguarding of land to be developed, paid people within 30 days, took action against land invaders and rather appointed contractors on merit than on gender, age or disability criteria.

At some point a decision will have to be made to rather use contractors who have a track record of delivering on time and on budget.  The department cannot continue to give contracts to small contractors who have little experience and no cash flow.  If they do, they will continue to fail in their mandate.

The Auditor General issued a disclaimer as they were unable to find audit evidence for capital work in progress.  This is a big flashing red light and shows again there is no monitoring and evaluation of projects.

There are quite evidently no financial controls in place.  The Sethokga Community residential units in Tembisa were initiated in 2011/12 with a projected budget of R 86 million.  To date R 150 million has been spent on the project and it is still not complete. There is now a stand-off between the department and the residents of Sethokga hostel who were supposed to benefit from the development. 

Residents of George Goch hostel and Kersiesdorp in Johannesburg continue to live in an unhealthy, polluted environment due to a lack of ongoing maintenance by the department.  It is inhuman to expect anybody to live in these circumstances.  If one can’t procure a company to do ongoing maintenance, upskill residents of the hostels and developments to enable them to carry out maintenance where necessary.  Think creatively, find new solutions where current ones are not working.  Stop doing the same old thing day in and day out and expecting a different result. 

The annual report paints a very depressing and worrying picture of a chaotic department that has nobody in control and nobody prepared to be responsible and accountable for its consistent failure to deliver.  At this point I am not sure whether the department can be saved. 

There seems to be a decided lack of will on the part of the department to conclude disciplinaries against those who are accused of incurring irregular expenditure, of financial misconduct and fraud.  Somebody needs to start making some hard choices if the department is to come right. 

In the DA, we believe people are the best judge of what is best for them – they don’t need to wait forever for a government bureaucrat to deliver a one size fits all product and steal money along the way.  

As the ANC, you have nothing to be proud of as far as housing delivery is concerned.  You made unrealistic promises to poor South Africans and have consistently failed them. 

Gauteng Provincial Government fails to provide dignified houses for hostel residents

Gauteng hostel residents across the province continue to live in appalling conditions; their pleas for dignified houses have been ignored by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).

Millions have been spent on maintaining the hostels but there is nothing to show for the money spent as some of the building structures are old and dilapidated and can no longer be maintained.

According to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements’ annual report for 2018/19 financial year, the department conducted maintenance on the six hostels it owns which are located in the Johannesburg CBD, namely; George Goch, Denver, Jeppe, LTA, MBA and Murray & Roberts hostels. The scope of the maintenance work includes the following; daily general cleaning, removal of refuse, plumbing and electrical maintenance.

However, according to the Auditor General’s (AG) report they were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support the department’s claim that it has actually achieved its target of maintaining the above six hostels.

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This can be seen from the attached photos, the conditions in these hostels are appalling and not fit for human habitation.

These hostels are dirty, there is no regular refuse removal, and there are piles of waste throughout the hostels. There are also water leakages and sewer blockages.

Gauteng hostel residents are exposed to inhumane unsanitary and appalling living conditions.

I believe what the AG report is saying and its high time that the GPG eradicates the hostels altogether as they represent apartheid spatial planning. Hostels should be converted into family units so that the hostel residents can be offered dignified housing and access to basic services.

I will continue to put pressure on the GPG to deliver proper services and housing to hostel residents.

Gauteng COGTA consistently underspends on its annual budget while municipalities suffer

The Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has once again underspent on its budget. This was revealed in the department’s annual report for the 2018/19 financial year.

According to the report, the department underspent across all its four major programmes, yet they are unable to provide necessary support to our embattled local and districts municipalities.

The department underspent R19 million in Programme One: Administration. In Programme Two: Local Governance, they underspent by R7,3 million and R3,3 million on Programme Three: Development Planning. The department also underspent R1,7 million on Programme Four: Traditional Institutional Management.

The reasons given for the department’s under expenditure are projects not completed, failure to finalise procurements timeously, and funding withheld by the department due to the non-submission of financial records. All of these relate to project and financial management, of which it seems the department is incapable and inefficient.

This under expenditure by the department is also highlighted in the report by the Auditor General South Africa and requires urgent intervention by the Gauteng COGTA MEC, Lebogang Maile, and the department’s top management.

This clearly indicates a lack of planning and management skills in the department as this same issue was also noted in the 2017/18 annual report.

This department is failing to spend money to support our local and district municipalities which are plagued by enormous challenges ranging from failing to settle its water and electricity debt, failing to deliver basic services and some are bankrupt and unable to pay employees’ salaries.

I will be tabling questions to MEC Maile in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain what measures the department is putting in place to ensure that their allocated budget is spent.

Gauteng Department of Human Settlements consistently fails to reach its housing targets

The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements has once again failed to reach its own set target for the First Quarter of the 2019/20 financial year.

According to the 2019/20 department’s First Quarter Performance Report they underperformed across all their targets.

The table below indicates the department’s programmes, first quarter planned targets and the outcomes:

Department Programme 1st Quarter planned target Outcomes
Approved beneficiaries allocated to available housing units 1906 405
Approved beneficiaries allocated to available serviced sites 2427 0
Land parcels acquired for development of human settlements 1 0
Sites serviced for the Integrated Residential Development Programme (IRDP) phase one which includes planning and services for informal settlements 200 0
Sites serviced for theIRDP phase two which includes; top structure construction: informal settlements 2227 343
Houses completed forthe Integrated Residential Development Programme phase two 1906 1706
Upgrading of Community Residential Units 41 0

This clearly indicates that this department is not capable of delivering on its mandate.

The reasons given for the department’s underperformance are late payments of the contractors, poor performance by the contractors and delays in the appointment of contractors. All of these relate to project management, of which it seems the department is incapable.

It is completely unacceptable for the department to consistently underperform yet no one is held accountable.

This department is clearly not serious about delivering on its core mandate of providing houses to the people of this province. We challenge the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile, to walk the talk instead embarking on PR exercises.

Ekurhuleni spends over R3300 per month for a single chemical toilet

I am disappointed to learn that the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is spending over R3300 per month on a single chemical toilet.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and COGTA, Lebogang Maile in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Maile, the Ekurhuleni Municipality awarded the chemical ‘tender toilets’ to 16 contractors who are charging the municipality anything from R 1050 to R 3362 per month for each toilet.

This is not an effective way of spending public funds. The City should have considered those contractors that were charging less in order to save costs and provide more toilets.

If Ekurhuleni had awarded tenders to those contractors who charged a reasonable price, it could have provided enough chemical toilets for all its residents.

Furthermore, the contractual obligation of all contractors has decreased between the 2015 and current financial years.  Initially toilets were to be emptied twice a week, now they are only emptied once a week unless they are overflowing.  This increases the risk of health hazards in the informal settlement areas, particularly in the rainy season and clearly indicates that there is no value for money spent on the Ekurhuleni chemical ‘tender toilets’.

Audits of the toilets are done inconsistently with only one area done  per year.  This indicated a lack of regular monitoring and maintenance of toilets.

We call on the City of Ekurhuleni to consider a cost-effective way of delivering chemical toilets to its residents.  There must also be a regular audit and monitoring of these chemical toilets to ensure that adequate services are rendered to our people.

Contractors paid 90% yet RDP houses incomplete in Tembisa

I am outraged to learn that the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements has paid the contractors most of the money for the building of RDP houses in Winne Mandela in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni without finishing the project.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements and COGTA MEC, Lebogang Maile, in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Maile, R4 594 370,56 was paid to Tampane Investments CC and Moshobane Cleaning Services JV from the period of 24 November 2016 to 5 February 2019 to build 29 RDP houses in Winnie Mandela in Tembisa.

The initial total budget for this tender was R5 953 357,54 which means that the contractor has received 90 percent of the tender money without completing the project.

Despite the fact that the contractor falls within the category of physically challenged contractors and had financial challenges, the Department gave them almost the entire budget for the project without monitoring their work progress.

It is completely unacceptable for the contractor to leave building sites without finishing a project and they must be blacklisted for their incompetence.

This clearly indicates that the Department will never learn from its previous unfinished projects where the contractors were paid the full amount and abandoned projects without completing them.

Furthermore, the Department has appointed another contractor to finish these RDP houses at an additional cost of R688 947,57. This is a total waste of public funds as this money could have been used to build another three RDP houses.

22 houses in Zone 1 will be completed on 30 October 2019 and 7 houses in both Zones 2 and 8 will be completed on 30 November 2019.

According to the beneficiaries of these houses who were promised that the new contractor would be on site in the middle of July, the contractor is still not on site.

We will continue to monitor the progress to ensure that these houses are completed within the stipulated timeframe.

We call on MEC Maile to adopt a holistic approach in managing the payments of the contractors to ensure that the department does not lose funds unnecessarily to contractors who are unable to complete projects.

Human Settlements 2019/20 budget: underspending=incompetent

Madam Speaker, it seems that the Department of Human Settlements is at least, consistent. Since I was last in this portfolio from 2005-2009, it has consistently been a poor performer. Not much has changed, other than the MEC’s who have all been consistently incapable of fixing the mess.

There is consistently inaccurate target setting. Delivery targets are either far too low or far too high.  They speak to a lack of understanding of the intricacies of issues affecting delivery and to a hit and miss budgeting approach. There is no way these targets can be supported by a credible budget process.

The consistent excuses made by the department range from the invasion of houses, lack of bulk infrastructure connections, interference from Business fora, supply chain management delays, non-enrolment with the NHBRC. All point to a substantial lack of control, monitoring and evaluation around the planning and implementation of developments.  In other words, it is not the fault of the department but of everybody else.

The department is quick to lay the blame at the door of municipalities for not spending their allocated grants yet are consistently incapable of responding timeously to issues raised thereby placing municipalities in an untenable position. Human Settlements requires co-operation between the province and the municipalities and targeting DA municipalities for political reasons does not serve the people of Gauteng.  It is time to be professional, not petty and ensure that housing developments are facilitated and expedited.

In 2017, the department stated there were 101 incomplete housing developments in Gauteng, in March 2018, they denied this, who knows what the current situation is.  The MEC is aware I visited Winnie Mandela in Tembisa a couple of weeks ago.  The RDP houses were started in 2016 and are not yet complete.  What happened? Where was the departmental oversight? In committee the MEC says they will be completed but money is the problem.  Perhaps if the money was properly managed in the first place and contractors appointed who were able to do the job, the beneficiaries would not be in the position they are now. Helpless and homeless in the face of incompetence.

In Katlehong at the corner of Kgotso and Mercury there are lots of toilets with solar water heaters built in the middle of the veld.  They have been there over a year.  No houses, no delineated plots and an informal settlement nearby.  What is going on? Which excuse applies?

Somebody needs to start making some hard choices if the department is to come right.  Criminal charges must be laid against business fora, the SAPS must be engaged with to ensure arrests take place and security must be provided to targeted contractors.  Officials responsible for ensuring contracts, supply chain management processes and monitoring and evaluation must be held to account through disciplinary action when things go awry.  Provincial processes must be streamlined and inter-governmental relationships with municipalities should no longer be confrontational but rather co-operative.

Urgent court orders must be obtained against illegal invaders of houses and they must be removed and replaced with legal occupants who are given title deeds.  And on that subject, no title deeds were handed over in the last year.  The excuse, unregistered townships and a lack of approved beneficiaries.  Why are they unregistered?  Which part of the process is a problem in each case?  Why no identified beneficiaries?  Is this because the housing list is as non-existent or as incomprehensible as it was in 2005?

I was interested to hear the Premier in his State of the Province address talk about “a fresh approach” being Rapid Land Release.  Rapid land release has been around since the early 2000’s and was a policy implemented by the then Department of Land Affairs together with the department of Housing.  The DA has for years been advocating the approach of rapidly delivering serviced sites and title deeds rather than building inferior top structures that take forever to materialise. This view was based on the anecdotal feedback from residents of Gauteng on numerous oversite visits to incomplete housing developments and informal settlements.

We believe people are the best judge of what is best for them – they don’t need to wait forever for a government bureaucrat to deliver a one size fits all product and steal money along the way.  

The urban renewal projects in Alexandra, Evaton, Bekkersdal, Kliptown and Winterveldt have been a continual indictment of poor performance, bureaucratic bungling and corruption.  Money is unaccounted for and in the case of Evaton, the department is unable to give us the correct figure for what has been spent thus far. Figures given by different MECs contradict each other and those from the Auditor General.

As the ANC, you have nothing to be proud of as far as housing delivery is concerned.  You made unrealistic promises to poor South Africans and have consistently failed them.  Title deeds and property ownership bring economic bargaining power that is otherwise unavailable to poor South Africans.  It is a critical tool to building an inclusive society in which all can participate.

This department is an unmitigated disaster and you owe it to the people of Gauteng who have waited and waited and waited to get homes and title deeds, to declare an emergency and fix the mess.

DA urges MEC Maile to finish incomplete RDP houses in Winne Mandela, Tembisa

Gauteng Department of Human Settlements and COGTA MEC, Lebogang Maile has to complete the unfinished RDP houses in Winne Mandela in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni as a matter of urgency.

These RDP houses were started in 2016 and have not yet been completed.

During an oversight inspection, we discovered that some of these houses have been left without roofing, plastering, windows, doors and proper floors.

The beneficiaries of these houses are now forced to erect shacks in the same yard while waiting for their houses to be completed.

According to the beneficiaries, the contractors left these houses incomplete and have continuously promised to come back to complete them. This has never happened.

The beneficiaries have since made enquiries with the Gauteng Department of Housing and were told that the houses will be completed in July, but to date no contractor has come on site.

They also claim that they are unemployed and cannot afford to complete these houses by themselves.

It is completely unacceptable for the contractors to leave sites without finishing a project.

I have asked questions in the Legislature in order to establish what happened to the original contractors, how much were they paid, how much money has been lost and when the houses will be completeda nd at what cost.

This is one of many housing projects that have been left incomplete in this province while the housing unit backlog is skyrocketing.

The failure to complete housing projects is a total waste of public funds that are meant to provide houses for our poor people.

We call upon MEC Maile to be practical in his approach to building houses for our poor people. There should be proper plans, timelines and accurate lists of the beneficiaries.

We will continue to put pressure on MEC Maile to ensure that these houses are completed timeously.

DA to report stinky and dirty Ekurhuleni R1.9 billion chemical ‘tender toilets’ to SIU

It is shameful that the chemical toilets provided to the residents of Winnie Mandela and Madelakufa Extension 2 informal settlements in Tembisa by the City of Ekurhuleni are not being regularly maintained.


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During the DA oversight inspection today, we were shocked to see the state of these chemical toilets.

The toilets are dirty and some are broken and have not yet been fixed.

The communal toilets are non-functional and there are sewer blockages with raw sewage flowing into the streets.

The residents claim that these chemical toilets are only serviced once a week instead of twice a week.

The toilets are not sufficient for all the residents in Madelakufa Extension 2 ,as there are 530 chemical toilets instead of the required thousand.

20 people are sharing one toilet which poses a health risk.

Even though these chemical toilets were meant to replace the inhumane bucket system, it is alleged that this tender has been used as a looting system to siphon money from the municipality.

According to an AmaBhungane investigation, the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has spent R1.9 billion on these chemical toilets over three financial years from 2017 to 2019.

The Ekurhuleni Mayor, Mzwandile Masina told the media yesterday , that R872 million has been spent on chemical ‘tender toilets’ and that the number of chemical toilets have increased from 9000 in 2014 to 39000 in 2019.

However, the report that Masina handed to the media during his briefing indicates a 2 billion expenditure over the past three years.

I will table questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to get a break down of expenditure and the number of toilets in each area per financial year.

I will report this chemical ‘tender toilet ‘ matter to the Special Investigate Unit (SIU) to investigate and to conduct an audit.

Should it be found that there was corruption in the procurement of these chemical ‘tender toilets’ then those implicated must face the course of the law.