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DA amendments to PIE Act aim to stop legislatively enabled expropriation without compensation


Emma Powell MP is the DA Shadow Minister for Human Settlements.

If decisive action is not taken to address and regulate the issue of orchestrated land invasions, this crisis will materialise as legislatively enabled expropriation without compensation. It will plunge our cities into chaos and despair.

The misinformation being peddled by Ndifuna Ukwazi regarding the DA’s private member’s amendment bill to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE) is to be expected, given the nature of the organisation (“DA amendments to PIE Act – An attempt to criminalise a lack of housing in a housing crisis”, Daily Maverick 24 October 2022).

If Ndifuna Ukwazi were genuinely interested in agitating towards effective housing delivery for all South Africans, they would focus their attention on the colossal failures of the National Department of Human Settlements. Yet, the dismal 41% achievement by the department on its integrated housing delivery targets in the past financial year has not solicited a single peep from this organisation.

Nationally, in the past financial year, only 28,351 formal Breaking New Ground houses were delivered against a target of 52,405, and R277-million in housing grants was surrendered by four of our nine provinces, with more than R315-million rolled over to other years. The only provinces to spend their full budgets were KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape.

Against a target of 55,000, only 4,223 informal settlement serviced sites were completed from the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) budget – a 7% achievement. Of these serviced sites, 1,636 were delivered in Cape Town. Cities such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and Tshwane achieved 0%.

The Western Cape outperformed any other province in the administration of the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy, with 1,720 opportunities provided. Here the Western Cape outperformed the second-highest-achieving province (KwaZulu-Natal) by 300%.

As a result of ongoing national budget cuts and increasing building costs, the national housing backlog has now widened to almost three million, while the rate of delivery has fallen from a target of about 85,898 houses to 52,400 per year.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Activists see the housing waiting list as a cruel myth designed to pacify the homeless

Against this backdrop, the issue of politically orchestrated and illegal land grabs has become a crisis for all major metropolitan municipalities.

The Covid-19 disaster regulations accelerated the crisis, with about 3,080 hectares of land worth roughly R2.5-billion lost to land invasions in Cape Town alone since the onset of the pandemic.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements spent R355.8-million to prevent the illegal invasion of development sites and completed units. 

Last year (2021/22), the Western Cape department of human settlements spent in excess of R162.2-million preventing invasions, while the City of Cape Town spent R142.8-million for the same purpose. 

In the first month of the current financial year (2022/23), the provincial department had already spent R12,306,350 on security costs.

In pointing out the decline in the rate of housing delivered in Cape Town over the past three financial years, Ndifuna Ukwazi fails to acknowledge that the millions of rands spent on securing land against ongoing invasion comes out of allocated housing and infrastructure budgets.  

More than 800 informal settlements have now been established in Cape Town which also require basic services to be funded from housing development grants.

As South Africa sinks into economic collapse, the situation has become increasingly unsustainable for cities to manage.

As a stop-gap, legislators on opposition benches in Parliament must do everything possible to maintain and uphold the rule of law until political dispensation change is achieved in 2024.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Dozens arrested in KZN after new land invasion bid at iSimangaliso World Heritage Site

While Dr Jonty Cogger is quick to point out that section 26 of the Constitution guards against unlawful eviction, he fails to acknowledge that section 25 of the same Constitution guards against the arbitrary deprivation of property. This is because property rights constitute a fundamental cornerstone of any functioning democracy.

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Contrary to the misinformation being peddled by Ndifuna Ukwazi, the intention of the DA’s private member’s amendment bill is to safeguard the rights of genuinely homeless South Africans, while strengthening remedial action available to property owners where illegal occupation occurs in bad faith.

We seek to do this through the following amendments to PIE:

  • Create punitive measures for those who incite, promote or participate in orchestrated and unlawful invasion in bad faith;
  • Compel the courts to explore the reasons for the unlawful occupation when considering eviction;
  • Provide more explicit criteria that must be satisfied during court proceedings prior to a municipality being ordered to provide alternative accommodation to illegal occupiers;
  • Allow a municipality to provide alternative accommodation, where instructed, within any area of its jurisdiction, and within its available resources and for a specific set period; and
  • Provide an explicit definition of a “home”.

Ultimately, if decisive action is not taken to address and regulate the issue of orchestrated land invasions, this crisis will materialise as legislatively enabled expropriation without compensation. It will plunge our cities into chaos and despair. The economic investment required to kick-start our economy is simply not feasible in this circumstance.

Last, in seeking solutions to address our national housing crisis, in April 2022 the DA’s Federal Council passed a comprehensive Housing Policy for implementation where we govern. The City of Cape Town is already investing heavily in the establishment of additional homeless shelters for bone fide homeless South Africans, and has just this year released an additional three land parcels for social housing in partnership with the private sector – 6,500 social housing units are now in the City’s delivery pipeline.

As a pro-poor legislator, I will continue to drive my private member’s bill with vigour and determination. DM



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