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Human settlements minister says South Africa is about to become the biggest construction site in Africa and most probably in the developing world

July 17, 2014

THE Department of Human Settlements plans to facilitate the construction of 1.5-million homes and informal housing upgrades over the next five years, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said.

But to achieve this, more financial resources would be required, the minister said at a media briefing ahead of her budget vote speech during an extended committee of the National Assembly.

A delivery budget of R29bn was allocated to the department this year, and it will rise to R32bn and R34bn over the next two years. In addition, the government will be trying to encourage greater private sector financing in housing projects. This will be necessary to address the backlog of about 2.3-million housing units and the 2,200 informal settlements mushrooming around the country.

Ms Sisulu said a decision had been taken to only construct “mega” projects involving a minimum of 10,000 units, both to achieve economies of scale and to fast-track delivery. Fifty national priority mega projects would be identified throughout the country for integrated and sustainable developments which would include economic and social amenities.

In terms of the department’s master plan, 30% of these houses would be houses for the indigent, 20% gap houses for those earning between R1,500 to R10,000 a month, 20% for rental accommodation, 10% would be social housing and 20% would be serviced sites in informal settlements.

“We believe the building of houses must be a catalyst for skills development and job creation. South Africa is about to become the biggest construction site in Africa and most probably in the developing world. We will build close to 270,000 houses annually as a sector.

“After reviewing housing delivery from 2005 to 2009 and 2009 to 2014 we have come to the conclusion that we need to change our approach. We need to move from small projects of 200 houses to mega projects of integrated housing mix to cater for different incomes and needs.”

In her speech, the minister stressed the need for comprehensive, accurate housing lists, noting with concern the number of people who sold the houses they received and then put their names again on the lists. Also of concern were the number of 18 year olds who expected the state to provide them with a house.

A national database will be developed to ensure proper record keeping and to clear out fraud.

Between August and December this year 1,956 houses would be built in each province by women for women to celebrate Women’s Month in August.

Another objective for the next 100 days will be for the Estate Agency Affairs Board to prioritise the issue of title deeds for pre- and post-1994 housing stock. A dedicated unit will be established to fast-track this process so owners can realise their “dead assets”.

The N2 Gateway Project in Cape Town will be taken over as a national project owned by all provinces — with the agreement of the Western Cape government — in order to overcome bottlenecks and to expedite delivery.

Ms Sisulu said this was a pilot project which would provide insights into how these projects should be undertaken. The Western Cape government will be responsible for allocating houses.

Another priority for the next five years will be to revitalise mining towns.

Ms Sisulu said the banking sector had been reluctant to enter this market for fear of these towns becoming ghost towns after the closure of the mines. The towns would have to be made economically viable.

The Housing Development Agency will become a fully fledged property development agency mandated to acquire and prepare land, and act as project managers for municipalities.

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