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Opinionista

Helen Zille and the Western Cape housing statistics

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Lionel Adendorf is a PEC-member of the ANC Western Cape. He started the Better Bonnievale Initiative seven years ago.

It seems apparent that you, premier Helen Zille, are manipulating statistics, using terms like ‘housing opportunities’ and providing confusing statistics in any year, depending on whether there is an election or not.

Dear Helen Zille,

I saw on the website of the provincial government the letter from the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, in which she, on behalf of all MPs, congratulated you for among others, completing “over 200,000 housing opportunities”.

I then remembered that you, in your last State of the Province address, claimed that your administration “has delivered 212,967 housing opportunities across the Western Cape”. (Interestingly enough, this is the same number and line that appears on Page 47 of the DA’s election manifesto.)

Because this number does not say how many housing units your administration built, I then decided to go through the annual reports of the Human Settlements department.

I studied all nine since 2009/10 and after calculating each and every housing opportunity, I found that your administration only managed to build 103,756 housing units, provide 74,613 serviced sites and 4,606 “other” housing opportunities. This brought the total to 187,975, almost 25,000 “opportunities” fewer than you have claimed in your State of the Province address.

For the nine years since 2009, you have built on average 11,528 houses and provided 8,290 serviced sites — that is an average of 19,818 housing opportunities a year.

Delivering the 2017/18 budget speech for Human Settlements, MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela agreed that “we can only assist around 20,000 families a year” and later, in the same speech, that the department can only provide 18,000 housing opportunities a year.

Based on the above, I then assumed that your 212,967 would include the delivery record for 2018/19 that is not yet known by the public.

In the budget speech, delivered on 26 March 2019, Madikizela confirmed that “since 2009, almost 213,000 housing opportunities were created” and that this “translates into approximately 850,000 households’ lives having been changed for the better”. (850,000 households? Seriously? 850,000?)

I then looked at your previous state of the province addresses as well as the budget speeches delivered by Madikizela.

As recently as 2018, on the 28 March, Madikizela told the Western Cape Legislature that “since 2009 to date, my department delivered 166,693 housing opportunities”. This, Madam Premier, means that since 29 March 2018 until the day before Madikizela’s last budget speech in March 2019, 46,274 housing opportunities were created.

This is almost 25,000 opportunities more than the department is capable of delivering. Do you perhaps mind explaining this discrepancy?

While at it, can you also explain how, in his 2014 budget speech, the MEC claimed that “this administration has delivered almost 122,000 housing opportunities over 16 programmes since 2009” (in your state of the province address of that year, you put the total at a lower 119,674), but the following year, he announced that “during the last term, we’ve laid a solid foundation — providing 101,011 housing opportunities across 16 programmes within our housing code”?

What happened to the 21,000 housing opportunities? Did it disappear during that year or did he simply inflate the number because it was also during an election campaign?

The above confirms my suspicions that you inflate the number of housing opportunities created before an election and, as shown in 2014, retreat to the real numbers as a continued lie then would serve no purpose.

Let me now turn to the “catalytic projects” as announced by Madikizela in his 2016 budget speech.

The premier again spoke about catalytic projects that will yield just over 105,000 housing projects by 2022, beginning in the 2016/17 financial year and at a cost of just over R10-billion,” he said.

These projects would include the Southern Corridor, the George Municipality Catalytic Project, Saldanha Bay’s Vredenburg Urban renewal Project, the North-Eastern Corridor, the Voortrekker integration Zone, Breede Valley’s Transhex project, Drakenstein’s Vlakkeland project, De Novo and Belhar CBD.

I am very interested in progress on these catalytic projects because in 2019’s state of the province address you did not provide any update on it, but instead simply repeated what Madikizela said three years ago and with three years left, you simply stated “a total of 105,500 housing opportunities are in the pipeline for completion by 2022 as part of our catalytic projects, which are at various stages of construction, design and planning”.

Again, because it is three years after the projects were supposed to begin and because it seems as if you use housing optimally as an elections tool and inflate housing delivery depending on whether there would be an election that particular year or not, I cannot help but wonder, was this project only mentioned because it is an election year?

Now allow me to turn to “the fact that since 2009 more than 100 000 people have received title deeds across the province”.

According to the annual reports of the Department of Human Settlements department from 2014/15 until 2017/18, your administration managed to deliver only 29,097 title deeds. No data is provided in the preceding annual reports.

In your state of the province address in 2014 you announced that “between 2009 and 2014, the department issued 88,263 title deeds, which has drastically reduced the backlog we inherited from the previous administration”. Madikizela agreed a month later in his budget speech.

Two years later, in 2016, without giving an update, Madikizela simply said that the Human Settlements department “have reduced the title deed backlog from 86,350 in 2009/2010 to the current level of 55,000 and will continue to reduce the backlog until everyone has their title deed”.

But surprisingly, in his 2017 budget speech, he announced that “in total, we’ve delivered over 75,300 title deeds to beneficiaries since 2009”. This is 13,000 less than what Madikizela announced three years ago.

During last year’s budget speech, Madikizela announced that “since 2009, 91,000 people have received title deeds”.

But it becomes more bizarre, Madam Premier.

In your 2019 state of the province address, you then announced that “since 2009, 103,000 people have received title deeds across the Western Cape” and Madikizela said the same last month.

Can you also clear these irregularities up for me?

Housing is an emotive matter. Access to it and a right to it are important to those who do not have it. I can come to no other conclusion than the fact that you are manipulating statistics, using terms like “housing opportunities” and provide confusing statistics in any year depending on whether there is an election or not. In the process, you are playing the most dangerous game with desperate voters and in doing so, exploiting their desperation and hopes.

When you took office in 2009, you stated that the housing backlog in the province was 410,000. Last year, during your budget speech, you said that “at present, our backlog is hovering above 575,000 families, with a budget that only enables us to create about 18,000 housing opportunities”.

This essentially means that the shortage grows annually by around 18,000 and unless you get back to the delivery record of the ANC during 2004-2009 when 16,000 houses and 16,000 serviced sites were supplied, you would never address the housing crisis and you would keep close to 600,000 families homeless or landless. DM

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