The Human Settlements Sector is poised for significant progress with the introduction of an updated framework aimed at guiding municipalities in their management of national housing programs. The Revised Accreditation Framework for Municipalities to Administer National Housing Programmes (2023) is designed to build municipalities’ capacities for carrying out delegated functions while maintaining short-term delivery capabilities. At a recent meeting attended by Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete, and provincial MECs of Human Settlements (MINMEC), the framework was met with resounding support and approval.
MINMEC convenes quarterly with the Ministry and MECs from all nine provinces, and the meetings are attended by mayors, MMCs, and representatives from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
Minister Kubayi expressed enthusiasm about this development, asserting that it represents a significant stride toward establishing objective criteria for accrediting municipalities, complete with a transparent accreditation process timeline. This milestone enables municipalities to gradually develop implementation capacities, supporting the long-term objective of creating a fully enabling environment for municipalities to achieve autonomy in Human Settlements delivery.
The 2012 Accreditation Framework faced numerous implementation challenges across various provinces. As a result, the 2023 Revised Accreditation Framework introduces several changes, including a program-based incremental approach. This method accredits municipalities for implementing a program or a combination of programs relevant to their capacity and priority needs. A noteworthy modification in the Revised Framework pertains to the role of intermediate city municipalities or secondary cities, which are viewed as crucial drivers of more balanced and distributed growth throughout the nation.
MINMEC also underscored the importance of prioritizing the title deeds program through a range of interventions, such as launching weekly roadshows to distribute the 234,757 available title deeds across the country. Discussions focused on the turnaround time for municipalities to declare townships, leading to a consensus on collaborating on cross-border demarcation as it affects the title deeds roll-out program.
Prioritizing Title Deeds and Overcoming Budget Constraints
The issuance of title deeds across provinces is a top concern for the Department. Efforts to eliminate the backlog include encouraging municipalities not to stockpile title deeds in their offices but to continually strive to restore dignity and ensure people become rightful homeowners. The Department has taken measures to integrate the distribution of title deeds with housing handovers to unlock significant economic benefits.
During the Medium-Term Strategic Framework period (2019-2024), the sector has experienced mixed performance. A target of 300,000 was set, with the sector currently delivering 69.5% at 208,358 fully subsidized houses on the ground. This accomplishment is commendable given the budget reductions the Department has faced. Additionally, 172,066 serviced sites have been delivered out of a projected total of 190,437. The First Home Finance program has surpassed the 20,000 units targeted in 2019, with 22,035 units delivered thus far. These outcomes have been achieved despite the budget cuts the Department of Human Settlements has had to contend with over the years.
Despite these successes, concerns were raised about provincial spending during the current financial year. Provinces are urged to deliver in accordance with their business plans, or funds may be redirected to higher-performing provinces. The sector is currently at 32% spending with eight months left in the financial year.
Ensuring Timely Payments and Supporting Marginalized Communities
Major improvements have been made in the Human Settlements Sector to guarantee all claims are paid within 30 days. As pledged in a previous MINMEC, all provincial departments are committed to eliminating bottlenecks that may result in project delays and blocked projects in housing delivery.
With the mandatory allocation of 40% earmarked for first-quarter performance, provincial departments are enhancing efforts to ensure budgets and contracts are available for businesses and companies owned by women, youth, and people with disabilities.
The most recent MINMEC meeting in the Bojanala Platinum District was preceded by a visit to hand over keys to beneficiaries of the Moses Kotane Community Residential Units (CRU). This affordable rental housing project in North West consists of 110 units, including bachelor and two-bedroom rental accommodations. The initiative supports the upgrading of government-owned communal rental accommodations, providing secure, stable rental tenure for lower-income earners.