Gauteng housing department admits failure


Gauteng housing MEC Lebogang Maile has admitted his department was notoriously under-performing, failing to obtain clean audits and delivering on key targets. He said this on his Wednesday morning address on the department's turnaround strategy which would see the department scramble to meet its target on Gauteng's escalating housing shortage and pump millions into new and old projects aimed at upgrading informal settlements, making new houses and dishing out land to those eligible.

With the housing backlog of roughly 1 million and 'growing astronomically by the day', Maile says it was unacceptable that the department has repeatedly underspent and fails to adequately respond to Gauteng's housing delivery needs.

It is with this in mind that Maile has vowed in his turnaround plan to address underperformance and a lackadaisical attitude so that we can expedite housing delivery and address this most urgent of service delivery concerns. With the turnaround strategy, we have been methodically and systematically tackling governance, planning, financial management, organisational and delivery challenges that have made the department a consistent underperformer over the years, to the detriment of the people of Gauteng.

Top in its list of priorities is getting the department's books in order. But according to Maile, the department has undertaken to resolve issues raised by the Auditor-General (AG), addressing 90% of the issues laid out in the last audit.

But the remaining 10% could not be resolved because of information lost when the Bank of Lisbon Building, where the department was partially housed, burnt down in 2018.

Based on a provincial Treasury report that was presented to the interdepartmental, intergovernmental urban renewal technical committee, government has already spent R500 million between 2016 and March 2020 in urban renewal nodes aimed at improving housing for the poor.

The department is now planning on spending a further R135 million to this end. According to Maile R70 million will go to Bekkersdal for decongestion and reticulation, R20 million to Evaton for sewer upgrades, R20 million to Winterveld for reticulation and R25 million to Alexandra, in this financial year.

Meanwhile, the department was still in the beginning phase of their rapid land release program with service providers still in the appointment process for carrying out site clearance and pegging.

"We are busy procuring more serviced stands so that we can accelerate release of land to people and stokvels as well as cooperatives that are ready to build for themselves," said Maile.

"An amount of R351 million has been allocated for phase one of our rapid land release programme, acquiring serviced stands in various parts of the province, to be handed to qualifying beneficiaries who are able to build for themselves. A further amount of just over R290 million is being considered to purchase serviced stands in Dunnotta, Langkuil and Daggafontein, which can give us 2,300 serviced stands for rapid land release."

Simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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