The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements has welcomed plans to address the housing challenges faced by people living in the country's mining towns. It should be noted that the Committee had invited the National Department of Human Settlements to present its plans and progress in responding to the policy directive made by President Jacod Zuma during his 2013/14 State of Nation Address.
The Committee Chairperson, Ms Nomhle Dambuza, indicated that the President's pronouncement was related to the need to provide quality housing for people residing and working in mining towns. Therefore, the Committee's obligation is to oversee the Executive's response on the implementation of the project as well as challenges encountered.
Detailing the Special Presidential Package response to the action in identified mining towns, Human Settlement's Chief Director, Ms Julie Bayat, informed the Committee that the project was a joint effort in partnership with other departments such as the Departments of Mineral Resources, Cooperative Governance and Labour as well as Human Settlements provincial departments.
Ms Bayat indicated that a budget of R1, 631,917 billion for the 2013/14 financial year had been set aside for the upgrading of 15 159 informal settlement sites as well as the erection of 9755 new units across the country's mining towns.
Ms Bayat informed the Committee that their focus to date had been in the area of Bojanala District Municipality as informed by the Marikana situation. She stated that the plan was to upgrade a total of 25, 419 households of the 115 informal settlements found in the district, totalling to a budget of R394 million.
The Committee members were however concerned that the focus was seemingly given to one province, adding that these interventions should have been simultaneously applied to other provinces such as the Northern Cape which has a booming mining potential.
Another concern of the Committee was related to the Lephalale, being part of the current project whereas the area had already been identified as a priority project in previous financial years and took time to take off the ground. Therefore such situation should be avoided.
Ms Dambuza enquired about the plans to expand the programme to other relevant provinces in order to respond holistically to the President's call. The Committee members also emphasised the need to ensure that there was efficient and effective management of the project and quality assurance was prime.
The Committee further emphasised the importance of adhering to the set implementation timeframes as agreed upon thus include the appointment of credible contractors who would be able to meet such deadline. The Committee further appreciated the commitment by the Ministerial Monitoring and Evaluation Task Team and further encouraged that their monitoring should be constant and intensified.
The Committee is contemplating undertaking a coordinated oversight (with other Committees) to these areas to oversee progress in two months' time.
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