Michele du Plessis
In March 2018, Mr Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism said in his Mpumalanga Adjustment Budget Speech for 2017/18, that the Department of Human Settlements receives R100 million , which will increase the budget from R1.739 billion to R1.839 billion.
“The government is committed to providing an ideal human settlement pattern that advances social and economic inclusion in the Province. We have made great strides in improving the delivery of decent and affordable homes for many of our people, but more still needs to be done to ensure that we completely eradicate backlogs so that all our people can enjoy the comfort of living in a better place, a better Mpumalanga,” Mr Sikhumbuzo Kholwane said.
But where does this leave the current Sabie population that applied for RDP houses? According to Thaba Chweu Local Municipality Media Manager, Puleng Mapheto, their numbers show a backlog of 7500 households, with Ward 3 in Mashishing having the highest number. The total number of people on the waiting list is 4660. Housing demand in terms of the waiting list is 1357 for both Ward 6 and 7.
According to Mapheto, the Sabie Ext. 10 housing development project was due to be completed in October 2017, but to date, the houses stand empty. Mapheto said that the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality is waiting for the contractor to finish the water and sewerage system installations. “The housing backlog is mainly due to the high influx of people from the rural and farming areas. According to the IDP, the slow movement of the land reform programme is affecting the establishment of new townships in rural areas within Thaba Chweu. Also, we cannot let people move into houses that are not finished. As soon as the houses are finished, a proper handover will be scheduled and the people waiting for their houses will be able to move in.”
Problems concerning the allocation of houses are varied. In some cases, the lists of people applying for RDP houses are old and outdated. Some of the allocation processes were not open and transparent and some of the people who should have been targeted as main beneficiaries – the aged, disabled and vulnerable groups – were not readily and timeously assisted.
Currently, there is lack of consistency in the housing allocation policies as applied. There is a need to ensure that houses are allocated in an equitable and transparent manner. The Department of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga did not have a single integrated waiting list that accommodates all potential beneficiaries for affordable houses in the province. In many instances, the low-income units were demolished after they were allocated, which suggest that the person needed a site to build on rather than a house.
At times, the beneficiaries could not be traced and the houses were invaded by people not on any of the waiting lists. The current allocation processes have gaps and shortcomings that need to be addressed by the municipalities in order for the neediest and deserving to receive low-income houses.