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


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.