Statement Issued by: Development Action Group
Minister Sisulu’s delivery of the budget speech shed some interesting light into the direction of the housing programme. It is important for citizens to understand the implications of the approach outlined by the Minister. For the last 35 years, DAG has worked along with community based and civic organisations in advocating for the realisation of housing and land rights. The Minister shared three refocus areas:
- Upgrading of Informal settlements
- Integrated Residential Development Programme
- Significant increase in affordable rental housing
In principle, while DAG agrees with the focus areas highlighted by the Minister, we reiterate the acceleration of delivery across all housing programmes. Below we outline some of our concerns:
- Generally, the Minister has outlined the success of the housing programmes over the last 27 years. However, we note with concern that the Minister did not acknowledge the role of the housing programmes in reinforcing the apartheid spatial pattern in our cities. The approach of housing projects on periphery of the city has only magnified the spatial imbalance where the poorer households continue to live with inadequate services, whilst wealthy continue to live in well located areas.
- We are also disappointed that the Minister only spoke about the housing asset as the pathway out of poverty, but less so about the construction sector that enables it. Historically, most of the housing projects have been driven by large developers and construction companies, with smaller SMME’s and emerging contractors acting as labour brokers. In order to realise the long-term impact of housing, the transformation of the construction sector and the economic empowerment of emerging contractors must be central to the approach. For years, DAG has been advocating that a 30% allocation for emerging contractors is not sufficient. Rather, the National Department needs to establish clear thresholds of business developments (such as CIDB growth) for emerging contractors so that the impact can measured in real terms.
- We welcome the generous allocation for informal settlement upgrading over the coming years. Whilst the resources are much needed and welcome, it is critical that the National Department support municipalities to accelerate delivery and focus on the intent of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP).
- A key focus is needed to improve the overall quality of neighbourhoods, in which many of these informal settlements are located. Currently it can take up to eleven years to upgrade