/ 15 July 2014

SA’s ‘sad story of housing’ – Lindiwe Sisulu

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Former Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Photo: Supplied

There has been a drastic drop in the delivery of houses in the country, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told MPs on Tuesday.

Delivering her budget vote in Parliament, Sisulu said housing delivery had fallen by an average of 25% over the past five years.

“We have also been informed that the delivery of houses has dropped drastically across all provinces, some reaching lows of a 30% drop in delivery,” Sisulu said.

“This, we have been informed, is due to a number of what my officials call ‘blockages in the pipeline’, whatever that means.”

The country’s housing backlog stood at 2.3-million and was growing owing to rapid urbanisation.

“We are ill-equipped to deal with this rate of urbanisation,” said Sisulu.

“We have huge shortages of land for housing, which is a primary need for our purpose. We particularly require well-located land close to work opportunities.”

Unsuitable land
The problem was made worse by the fact that some of the land in cities was not suitable for housing. Sisulu singled out Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, where a high percentage of the land was dolomitic.

But the minister did commit to the government building 1.5-million homes during its term in a bid to make up the deficit created over the past five years.

Sisulu lamented the fact that the removal of informal settlement dwellers had continued unabated despite a call for a moratorium on evictions during winter.

“In the last two months since I have been appointed as minister, we have seen thousands of people evicted from their makeshift homes across the country, leading me to request a moratorium against evictions in such inclement weather,” Sisulu said.

“In some cases this request fell on deaf ears and the weather patterns have continued to create the most untold misery on these people.”

‘Gloomy picture’
She said this was part of the country’s “sad story of housing”.

“Despite the fact that we have provided 3.7-million housing opportunities over the past 20 years, we are still facing a gloomy picture.”

Last month, Sisulu was forced to come to the rescue of hundreds of families evicted from land owned by the South African National Roads Agency in Lwandle, Strand.

After the department’s intervention, it was decided that residents would be resettled on the land pending the completion of a City of Cape Town housing project in nearby Macassar, where permanent housing would be provided.

A ministerial inquiry into the evictions is under way in Cape Town. – Sapa