12 Jun 2013
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements and Public Works has delivered 25 940 housing units in the 2012-2013 financial year.
“We have spent our full budget and in the process delivered 25 940 housing units in the 2012-2013 financial year. In the 2013-2014 financial years our goal is to deliver 27 382 housing units,” said KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Ravigasen Ranganathan Pillay.
Pillay said KwaZulu-Natal delivered the highest number of units in the country. “Proportionally to budget we were among the best and far better than Gauteng and Western Cape.” The MEC was delivering the 2013-2014 Budget Speech before the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature in Pietermaritzburg. The total budget for 2013-2014 is R3 550 676 000.
He said in respect of houses delivered in the past 18 months, beyond routine snag lists, “we have not had any significant complaints about shoddy workmanship or general quality issues. The additional controls that we have instituted are bearing fruit. However, the price of sustainable quality will be under constant vigilance”.
He revealed that in the past five years KwaZulu-Natal has delivered 115 000 houses. Nationally the figure stood at 3.3 million houses since 1994.
Dealing with fraud, corruption
Pillay said the Human Settlements Department has been successful in its fight against fraud and corruption in the low-income housing programme.
During the past four years, he said the department joined forces with the Special Investigations Unit, the Anti-Corruption Unit, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Provincial Treasury in a collective effort to fight fraud and corruption within the Human Settlements ambit. This collaborative effort has borne the desired fruits, as the MEC revealed that 566 dockets that were registered with the SAPS to the value of R6.6 million and 449 successful prosecutions with various outcomes were achieved.
In pursuing these investigations 1 585 acknowledgements of debts totaling R18.2 million were signed with non-qualifying beneficiaries. The department recovered R10.6 million from government employees related to housing subsidy fraud. “In joint operations with a Special Task Team of the Office of the Premier, the Department prepared and successfully finalised 351 disciplinary cases against various government employees within the Province,” he said.
Arising from other completed investigations, the department has finalised disciplinary cases against eight senior officials with various sanctions, including four dismissals. The MEC said the department is continuing to pursue criminal investigations.
Eradication of informal settlements, slum conditions
The MEC said his department was committed to ending Informal Settlements through the upgrade subsidy instrument geared towards the eradication of slums. The 2011 Census reveals that there are 635 informal settlements in KwaZulu-Natal. Of these some 494 informal settlements are in eThekwini representing 149 289 households.
He said while significant progress was made in previous years, the backlog remains substantial. He mentioned that a total of 240 projects in the Informal Settlements Upgrade Programme were approved and are being implemented at various stages of the housing project cycle as follows: Packaging 54; Feasibility 9: Planning 49; Services 14 and 114 are in the construction phase.
People’s housing process
The implementation of the People’s Housing Process which provides for community/beneficiary involvement in the construction of their houses will result in the construction of 1 518 houses in 2013-14 with the budget allocation of R101 358 million.
Rural housing continues to be a key programme informed by the character of the province. “In the past four years we have built approximately 44 000 units. A further 8 481 housing units is projected for the 2013-14 financial year.” – Bhekisisa Mncube, SAnews.gov.za
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