There is an obligation created by the Housing Act that in the development of housing, the needs of certain vulnerable, marginalised and poor persons must be promoted. The Housing White Paper prescribes a duty on the State to reflect constant awareness of special needs in housing policies and subsidy programmes.
The ACDP has for many years been pleading with government to respond adequately to those Special Housing Needs for vulnerable people. Applicable policy has been waiting over 20 years for approval. Disasters like Esidimeni occur because of the failure to deliver on this mandate and this tragedy is as much the responsibility of this department as any other.
The vulnerable, marginalised and poor people affected by delays in this regard include the mentally ill; orphans and vulnerable children; older people; people with disabilities; victims of domestic violence; terminally ill, frail and totally destitute people; those receiving substance abuse rehabilitation services; parolees and people released on probation; and also victims of serious crime and human trafficking.
The ACDP and thousands of carers of vulnerable people urgently appeal to you Minister Mfeketho, and call on government to prioritise the approval and implementation of the Special Needs Housing Programme policy, (SNHP) that is just waiting for MINMEC approval and your signature.
The ACDP calls on Parliament’s Portfolio Committees to apply the necessary pressure on departments such as Social Development, Human Settlements and Health to work with Minister Mfeketho to get this Special Housing Needs Policy over its last hurdle.
The ACDP also calls on the new Human Settlements Ombudsman, Themba Mthethwa, to get involved in cutting through the red tape and pressuring for this vital SNHP policy approval on behalf of our most vulnerable South Africans.
Stakeholders have appealed to the Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). They sent the Minister a letter to request her to expedite and sign the policy and met with the DHS Portfolio Committee in November. The Department confirmed their support for this uncontentious approval. Yet, this policy is still not on the internal and MINMEC agenda for signature.
The SNH Policy requires no additional budget right now – just your signature, honourable Minister. The ACDP assumes ring fenced allocations for this purpose will need to be discussed with Treasury in terms of future budgets once the department develops the implementation guidelines and workshops the policy with all 9 provinces.
The ACDP finds the underspending and return of funds to Treasury the most disturbing aspect of this current budget. The reasons given for poor delivery include capacity constraints and this possibly explains the increases allocated for consultants which appear to be well above inflation, which is another concern. Sadly in the face of the country’s needs and expectations, these reasons simply sound like excuses and are not acceptable.
Minister Mfeketho, you clearly have a huge task ahead of you and the ACDP wishes you every success. Today’s outlined steps and plans that your department will take to overcome these challenges are crucial as the mood of the electorate grows increasingly impatient.
This time last year, former Minister Sisulu announced the launching of the Human Settlements Development Bank through the consolidation of the existing human settlements finance institutions, as well as the establishment of the National Rapid Response Task Team that, would employ youth to help document the challenges of communities. What progress has been made in this regard and is it taking the department forward in terms of delivery?
The ACDP will support this vote in the hope that we will be able to make a significant difference with it.
SPEECH BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE: Budget 38: Human Settlements
10 May 2018