South Africa: Committees Welcome R300 Million Rental Relief for Social Housing

The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation; and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements Select Committee have welcomed the reallocation of R300 million rental relief support to social housing institutions during the National State of Disaster.

"The reallocation will go a long way in alleviating financial pressures faced by households during this period, and will ensure the sustainability of a roof over the heads of many South Africans, especially the most vulnerable," Select Committee chairperson, China Dodovu, said.

The committees have also welcomed a further R300 million reallocation in order to provide debt relief support to borrowers in the affordable rental housing sector.

Both committees have called for the speedy finalisation of the operational framework for rental relief for households living in social and affordable housing, to enable approval by the Human Settlements Minister.

Adherence to regulation prohibiting evictions

Meanwhile, the committees have emphasised the need for the Department of Human Settlements, in collaboration with provincial governments, to ensure adherence by municipalities to the regulation that prohibits evictions during the National State of Disaster.

The committees said it has been worrying to witness countless evictions across the country, which compound the challenges already faced by many communities, especially the poor.

The committees also cautioned communities against the illegal occupation of land, with the intention to abuse this regulation.

Title Deed Restoration Grant reduction "not surprising"

While raising concerns about the reduction of the Title Deed Restoration Grant by R377.82 million, both committees said they were not surprised because of the underperformance of the grant.

The committees had earlier this year forewarned that the underperformance was worrying, while its impact is being felt by beneficiaries who remain without title deeds to their properties.

The committees said they are aware that a reduction in the number of title deeds is to be anticipated, but have called on the Department of Human Settlements to use this time to devise strategies on how it will improve performance, post COVID-19.

Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grants

Regarding the Department of Water and Sanitation, the committees have called for a speedy process in the approval of municipal business plans for Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grants, and Water Services Infrastructure Grant projects to ensure that the projects have the necessary impact in the short-term.

To ensure sustainability of water supply, the committees welcomed the assurance that part of the reallocated funds will also be used to implement source development or bulk linkage projects to replace the need for water tankering, and sustain the supply of water, post the tankering period.

R200m allocated for water tinkering

Both committees have always emphasised the undesirability of water tankering, as the practice is susceptible to manipulation and corrupt practices.

Despite this, the committees welcomed the allocation of R200 million for water tankering for the 2020/21 financial year, as an intervention to ensure water availability during the lockdown period.

"However, emphasis should be that in the medium- to long-term, tankering should be completely erased as a means of water provision. We need a sustainable method of water provision," Portfolio Committee chairperson Machwene Semenya said.

Both committees will, following the approval of revised Annual Performance Plans and Medium Term Strategic Framework of both departments, engage to assess the overall impact of the adjustments on set targets.

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