South Africa

South Africa

GroundUp: Department admits state is failing Cape Town’s informal settlements

GroundUp: Department admits state is failing Cape Town’s informal settlements

The National Department of Human Settlements admitted in Parliament this week that it has largely failed the residents of Cape Town’s informal settlements, especially when it comes to service delivery. By Suné Payne for GROUNDUP.

First published by GroundUp

The National Department of Human Settlements, as well as admitting in Parliament this week that it has largely failed the residents of Cape Town’s informal settlements, told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements that R100-million set aside for upgrading basic services in these areas had not been spent.

The main problem, according to Director-General Mbulelo Tshangana, was a breakdown in co-operation between the national and provincial human settlements departments and the local metros and municipalities. Tshangana conceded that the three levels of government had not worked together to utilise the funding that had been made available.

Reporting to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements this week on progress made in upgrading informal settlements, Tshangana said, “I must admit we didn’t perform well.” He said Ethekwini and Cape Town had failed to meet their targets.

South Africa currently has more than 2,700 informal settlements. “We don’t see much of a reduction in informal settlements,” said Johan Wallis, the deputy director for informal settlements’ delivery framework in the department.

His report provided data from the 1996, 2001 and 2011 censuses, which showed that informal settlements increased in the Western Cape, North West and Northern Cape, while other provinces had seen a decrease in the number of informal settlements. Wallis did not offer an explanation for this but said the department is awaiting more recent data to track any changes.

He also indicated that Cabinet had requested more details on South Africa’s informal settlements more than a year ago, but nothing has been released. Committee chairperson Nocawe Mafu confirmed that no results had been made available and she did not know if the research had been done.

Mafu pointed out that no authority takes responsibility for informal settlements. When Parliament conducts oversight visits, no one from provincial human settlement departments accompanies the committee. “Nobody owns up to these challenges at these programmes,” Mafu said.

Speaking to GroundUp, she confirmed that in some areas grant allocations to metros had not been fully or partially utilised, and there were disputes between national, provincial and municipal/metro structures.

Wallis said there was little evidence of the National Upgrading Support Programmes in Annual Provincial Business Plans and municipal Built Environment Performance Plans. National Upgrading Support Programmes were designed to support the National Department of Human Settlement to upgrade informal settlements in the country.

The Department’s National Upgrading Support Programmes programme, according to Wallis, had 350 feasibility studies under way in 2017/2018. He said it had completed 1,200 assessments and had more than 850 upgrading plans for 92 municipalities. DM

Photo: A mother walks her daughter to school through Masiphumelele informal settlement in the aftermath of a storm in Cape Town, South Africa, 08 June 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

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