The President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) held a special meeting today (18 May 2010) to address the challenge of developing sustainable human settlements.
The PCC is a statutory body chaired by the President that brings together representatives from all three spheres of government. It is a consultative forum for the President to raise matters of national interest with provincial governments and organised local government, and to consult provincial governments and organised local government on the implementation of national policy and legislation.
It aims to coordinate the provision of services across spheres, and to detect and correct failures in service delivery.
This special meeting was attended by President Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and the Ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Human Settlements, Finance, Public Works, Economic Development, Public Service and Administration, Land Affairs and Rural Development, and the two Ministers in the Presidency. It was also attended by the Premiers of all nine provinces, the MECs responsible for housing and human settlements, and representatives of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
President Zuma convened the special PCC meeting because the provision of housing within sustainable, integrated settlements is a critical pillar of the country’s growth and development strategy.
It is estimated that the current housing backlog is 2.1 million housing units, affecting 12 million people. There are approximately 2,700 informal settlements in the country.
“Through a progressive human settlements programme, we will be able to reverse the legacy of the Group Areas Act, the Influx Control Act and a host of other apartheid legislation which dehumanised our people,” President Zuma said.
The objective of establishing sustainable human settlements and an improved quality of household life is one of the twelve outcomes identified by government.
Key outputs, by which progress will be measured, include the upgrading of 400,000 accommodation units within informal settlements, and improving access to basic services like water, electricity and sanitation.
They also include the provision of 600,000 accommodation units for people within the ‘gap market’, those who do not qualify for a housing subsidy but do not earn enough to qualify for a bond.
Government is also working to mobilise well-located public land for low income and affordable housing.
Each province had an opportunity to outline the challenges they encounter in the provision of houses and residential infrastructures, and the work they are doing to address these.
Most provinces agreed that housing delivery was being held up by inconsistent and cumbersome legislation, regulations and by-laws. They agreed on the need to align legislation and clarify the powers and responsibilities of the respective spheres.
The PCC agreed to a review of legislation impeding delivery , which would be driven by an intergovernmental technical team comprising representatives from the relevant sector departments, provinces and SALGA.
The meeting agreed on the need to address the housing funding model. A number of possible funding options were raised for consideration, which would more effectively mobilise both public and private finance.
The meeting looked at mechanisms to improve access to suitable land close to economic opportunities and civic facilities. This would include the strategic release of state land identified for human settlements.
The meeting agreed that the relevant departments would further discuss the proposals, working together with provincial governments and local government representatives, and would report back to the next PCC meeting.
“We said the concept of human settlements is not just about building houses. We have to change apartheid spatial patterns and ensure that low income households in rural or urban areas have easy access to economic centres. They must also have access to social amenities and key services such as water, electricity, recreational facilities, schools, clinics and a host of others,” President Zuma said.
“We need to change gear and do things differently. In particular, we need to look at what we can do to deal with the housing backlog.”
18 May 2010