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Government needs to renovate its housing policy

09 April 2015 - 02:50 By The Times Editorial

Gauteng Premier David Makhura opened a Pandora's box this week when he said millions of RDP houses built by the government over the past 20 years were nothing but "incubators of poverty". He blamed the collapse of planning at all levels of government for the haphazard approach to housing in the past two decades.Makhura's words might be dismissed as politicking but they provide an opportunity to revisit the approach to housing that the ANC has taken since 1994.Is that approach still valid?With the arrival of democracy, black people who had been crammed into the so-called homelands moved to the cities in large numbers and this soon created a problem for the newly elected administration of Nelson Mandela.The Reconstruction and Development Programme, whereby the government built houses for millions of people, was all too soon abused.Today there is hardly a single RDP project not tainted by allegations of corruption.Makhura says RDP housing is a bad dream: "There are no trees, no proper infrastructure and no integration."His statements are a step in the right direction and imply giving people better quality housing.The government's strategy of dusting off its housing delivery programme whenever an election approaches has reached its sell-by date.We hope that it is not Makhura alone in the government who has finally seen the light.Building not for people but to inflate the "good news" numbers that can be quoted at election time has not changed the face of South Africa, other than to dot it with poorly constructed homes, too often built far from areas of economic activity.With the advent of a genuinely new housing policy many South Africans would at last be accorded a right long denied - the right to decent housing...

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