Better building a priority: iLIVE
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela presented a report to parliament last week highlighting the challenges around the government's provision of housing and creating sustainable human settlements in South Africa.
The Department of Human Settlements welcomes this report. The report mainly deals with poorly built houses. It also cites shoddy done work by contractors who preferred short-cuts instead of building durable homes that are safe, conducive for people to live in and worth the money government had paid.
The government has long identified these problems and has been working tirelessly to rectify them. In 2009, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale initiated a rigorous process to root out corrupt contractors and discipline officials who fail to act when contractors cheat government by building shoddy houses at the expense of the taxpayer.
Sexwale pointed out in 2009 that the problem was so serious that in some provinces, like Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, more than 3000 houses had to be rebuilt.
"In response to the situation, we need to take a rigorous look at housing delivery, from top to bottom. We need to focus on issues we know are specific impediments, such as fraud, delays, corruption, absentee contractors, ghost houses, shoddy workmanship and corruption around waiting lists," Sexwale said.
These are the same problems highlighted by the public protector.
However, so much has been done since 2009 as part of government efforts to fix the problems. The minister instituted the National Housing Audit, headed by the Special Investigating Unit, to identify the culprits.
A part of rooting out corruption in allocating government houses, hundreds of officials have been charged for owning government houses when they did not qualify for the benefit. As per the minister's directive, people found guilty of transgressions are facing criminal and civil prosecutions. A total of 1 002 officials have been convicted and R17.9-million recovered
Contractors responsible for shoddy workmanship are currently being prosecuted and public monies recovered.
A housing rectification programme to deal with defective houses built from 2002 has been initiated and investigations are being considered to investigate contracts worth R20-billion.
The government's primary goal is to ensure that all human settlements created in this dispensation assist in making South Africa a better and united country where citizens are proud of the places in which they live and work. Intervention includes improving the size and quality of houses, proper planning of houses and ensuring that all new and old settlements have comprehensive and durable infrastructure and people have access to all essential facilities. The rectification work is expected to continue for a considerable amount of time due to the prevalence of problems.