Still no homes for flood victims

Flood victims and beneficiaries of the disaster fund in Mpumalanga are up in arms against the provincial government over the poor quality of houses built to replace the 100 or more destroyed last March.

Disgruntled residents in greater Hazyview claim that disaster housing was allocated to either relatives or friends of African National Congress councillors. “This house might fall on me any time and the ANC I voted into power gave funds to businessmen who run the show here,” said a Hazy-view flood victim.

The National Command Centre granted the Mpumalanga Department of Housing R91-million for emergency flood relief. About R30-million was allocated for the construction of 4 032 houses in the province. Fifty-eight houses were built to replace the 101 mud houses that were destroyed by the floods in greater Hazyview alone. Most of the 5m x 3m one-roomed, unplastered houses built for flood victims have collapsed.

Local builders said Moses Mabuza, a businessman and friend of the MEC for housing who supplied them with building material, gave them cheap, poor-quality products. The builders said when they complained they were not given supporting trusses to keep the roofs intact, they were told to either build the houses with what they were given or leave. Their complaints that shortages of cement would mean the houses would crack were also ignored.

The housing project is reported to have been plagued by nepotism and mismanagement. The department appointed Siyathuthukisana Consortium and MA Madisha & Associates to manage the implementation of the project at R350 an hour last June. It is alleged that the engineering consultancy firm got the contract on the basis of a personal relationship between the firm’s director, LJ Madisha, and Lucky Monareng, a department official.

“I cannot release any information about the project because there are government procedures to follow when doing that. Since I am employed by the government to manage the project, I regard myself as an extension of the government. Monareng would be the relevant person to comment on our behalf,” said Madisha.

However, when approached for comment, Monareng would not discuss the matter. Residents claim the mismanagement of disaster relief funds and other projects would continue as long as the provincial government and certain ANC officials continue to court business people in the area.
MEC for Housing David Mabuza disputed the allegations as unfounded and said the state of the newly built houses is being looked at by departmental officials.

According to the department, project managers were paying builders a standard fee. Contracted builders were paid a minimum of R700 a house and independent builders got R900 a house. However, builders said their payments ranged from R700 to R500 a house; and project managers refused to issue receipts, paying them with cash.

In Jerusalem, one of the Hazyview villages, community members complained to the local ANC branch about the chair of the Disaster Relief Committee who sold houses built for flood victims for R500 to people who were not entitled to them.

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