: 20 April 2010
Kennedy Settlement and Mpisane Controversy
The Hon. MEC delivers her budget
speech against the background of a few controversies around
housing-related matters. I wish to highlight two of such issues.
KENNEDY ROAD SETTLEMENT
One is the question of the Kennedy Road Settlement
Communities residing in this settlement have for
some time now been involved in a struggle for recognition and, they
had had some confrontations with the police. At issue, in my view is
the feeling of neglect by the eThekwini Municipality which seems not
to have any plan to attend to their plight.
It is known that on the 22nd March this year they
even staged a march on these very issues, including the release of
those among them who had been detained.
We would like to hear from the MEC if there are
any serious plans to engage these residents of eThekwini towards
resolving their problems.
ZIKHULISE'S UMLAZI HOUSING
The second, and probably the most controversial
concerns the company known as Zikhulise Cleaning, Transport and
Maintenance that was awarded a R300m tender by the eThekwini
Municipality to build houses at uMlazi.
I am not going to waste the time of this House by
detailing the outcry that erupted after this debacle/ devastation/
catastrophe. I will just focus on two aspects of this issue:
Firstly, in the Sunday Tribune dated 18 April
2010, the owner of this company, Mrs. Shawn Mpisane is reported
lambasting the Hon. MEC for releasing a report by the National Home
Builders Registration Council to the effect that about 30% of the
houses built by this company were not of good quality. In her
defence she passes the buck to the eThekwini Municipality. I take it
that the NHBRC as a professional body could not just fabricate a
story just to besmirch the name of Zikhulise.
It has emerged also Hon. Speaker that when the
eThekwini Municipality awarded a contract to this company, it was
not registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council.
For the record let me state that the NHBRC is not just a voluntary
structure which came about as a result of an initiative by the
contractors. Rather it is a statutory body established in terms of
the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act, 1998 (Act No. 95 of
1998). And it was established mainly to protect the interest of
housing consumers, and to regulate the home building industry. I
just cannot understand how a government organ, the eThekwini
Municipality, could grant a tender to a company that did not satisfy
at least one legal condition. This is tantamount to entrusting your
vehicle to a bush-mechanic just because you happen to know them.
How does a municipality throw the tax-payers money
into a company operating in the bush? Because if you are not
registered with a statutory body you are as good as bush-mechanic.
Secondly, even if the company was registered, does it make moral
sense to give one company a R300m tender when the objectives of
black economic empowerment are to uplift as many people as possible
- that is, it must be broad-based? Why do we enable one person or
family to purchase a Ferrari when we could enable about ten families
to buy BMW's? To us this is politically unethical.
These are the reasons that led some in the
community to argue that this was done because Mrs. Mpisane is the
daughter of the ANC activist, the late Mrs. Florence Mkhize. What
tends to lend some credence to these assertions is the fact that the
former MEC for Community Safety, who is now General Bheki Cele, has
Mr. Mpisane, among the team of those he has selected to negotiate
marital processes for him with his in-laws, the Ngcobo family. Mind
you, Cele is a former ANC Chairperson in the eThekwini Region. And
indeed Cele was among those who danced the night away at the
much-publicized expensive bash organized by the Mpisane's at the beginning of this year.
Hon. Speaker, the same report compiled by the
NHRBC, also fingered the Municipality for having neglected
their duties with regards to the same project. Hon. Speaker, I would
like to hear the MEC's response to these issues as well as what she
intends doing to restore morality and political probity in that
Municipality which seems driven by party-political interests. The
MEC's response is even more critical because the eThekwini
Municipality has been reported to defend themselves by saying that
they inherited this project from the Provincial Government. Now we
would like to know if it was this government that appointed Zikhulise and gave eThekwini an already sewn jacket for them just to
Hon. Speaker, speaking at the Human Settlements
Summit held at the Farmers Hall in Newcastle on the 27th August
2009, the MEC stated:
"Firstly, we cannot allow housing subsidies to be
consumed in repairs and "rectification." This is fruitless
expenditure as had the houses been built according to acceptable
standards the need for rectification and repairs would not have
"The Department of Human Settlements has reached
an agreement with the National Home Builders Registration Council.
The aim of this agreement is to ensure that all Housing development
projects rolled out by the department are enrolled with the NHBRC to
ensure quality products and to ensure that government is able to
hold service providers in the built environment liable for any
quality related problems.
"Secondly, providing houses of inferior quality
indicates a disregard and disrespect for the very people that this
Department is supposed to serve and assist. We must work closely
with the planning and monitoring units in the Office of the Premier.
In our department, we should have our own monitoring unit to assess
the quality and quantity of new homes in addition to the National
Home Builders' Registration Council. We cannot allow the current
parlous situation of shoddy, sub-standard housing provision to
These were noble sentiments Hon. Speaker. However,
they are contradicted by the spectacle of the Mpisane debacle.
I wish also to know how far the MEC has gone in as
far as implementing what she stated in Newcastle, especially working
closely with the monitoring units in the Premier's Office and
establishing their own monitoring unit in the Department.
ASSISTANCE FOR MIDDLE INCOME-EARNERS
In the same address, the MEC spoke of protocols
signed with ABSA and FNB aimed at addressing the plight of the
middle-income group earning between R3500-7500 who are generally
turned away by banks when they attempt to obtain housing finance.
How far is the MEC with that program; has it begun
to bear fruit?
The MEC went on to talk of "provision of rural
housing" remaining "a key housing intervention of her Department"
and about coming up with "new initiatives are to accelerate the
development of quality rural human settlements."
She went on to state:
"The national Department of Human Settlements is
currently considering the introduction of a voucher system to be
used in the construction of rural housing. This system which draws
from the owner-builder concept will be piloted shortly."
Hon. Speaker, where are we with this program,
especially the voucher system?
Hostels' Rental Boycotts
We are aware that some hostel residents have taken
a conscious stand against paying rent and paying for other services.
Hon. Speaker this is an unfortunate situation
because the boycotting of rent-payments hinder government from carrying
out their responsibilities, which in turn worsens the already
untenable situation most hostels find themselves in.
As a party committed to finding solutions and
basing its positions on facts, IFP's eThekwini leadership conducted
a fact-finding mission to a few hostels in eThekwini to establish
for themselves if indeed the complaints raised by the hostel
dwellers in their marches were genuine. Unfortunately, their findings proved the accuracy
of those complaints. They discovered that the situation in almost all
hostels was not conducive to human occupation.
This finding strengthened our resolution to urge
the Provincial Department to intervene with a view of making the
eThekwini Municipality realize how urgent it is to address the
complaints of hostel residents.
While we do not condone rent-boycotts, we however
understand and sympathize with those who found themselves in these
very unhealthy circumstances. One tends to understand the position
they have taken because it is demoralizing to keep on paying when
there are no tangible returns for your payments.
We appeal to the MEC therefore to exercise some
leadership and prevail upon the eThekwini Municipality to move
beyond recognizing the problems in the hostels, towards doing
something about these conditions.
As all of us here have electoral mandate to serve
our people but over and above we on the opposition bench have an
obligation to channel the MEC when she moves out of her way. MEC,
your paramount duty is to build houses for all KZN people
irrespective of what municipality they reside in. The houses should be of good quality and be
finished by the required time and be handed over to the relevant
It is worrying, MEC, to find some municipalities
using housing as a campaigning machinery especially as we approach
the local government elections. Some officials promote candidates of
their choice to deliver houses by, by-passing ward councillors if
they happen to be not of their camps to garner votes.
The houses that are built, Hon. MEC, do not cater
for most rural people due to the approach of one size fits all. Even
if a family has got 12 members it will be given one similar to a family
Hon. MEC it is a known fact that some other
municipalities do not have capacity as far as building of houses is
concerned. After your appointment as MEC for Human Settlement what
assistance will you provide to those poor municipalities in order to
get value for money on those projects?
In this house, Hon. MEC for Cooperative Governance
and Traditional Affairs stated that some municipalities got
disclaimers in their last financial year. One amongst other issues
that led to that was the issuing of tenders by municipalities in
housing construction. When will you start an initiative of helping
those municipalities by taking your share into consideration by
capacitating them for them to come out of that dilemma?
When our municipalities are failing to deliver we
are all losers irrespective of whatever sphere of government you
serve and when they manage we all get credit.