Cities to play bigger role in housing development

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretoria - Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has assigned new powers to several cities and district municipalities for the building of human settlements.

During his meeting with Human Settlements MECs in Pretoria on Friday, the minister handed over accreditation certificates to the cities and district municipalities.

The cities were awarded level 2 accreditation status, which gives municipalities the responsibility to approve and manage housing construction programmes and ensure technical quality assurance. In the past, the authority for this rested primarily with provincial governments.

The City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Metro, Cape Town, as well as the Frances Baard and Pixley ka Seme district municipalities in the Northern Cape were awarded the status. Discussions are also underway with the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

Sexwale told the city's mayors that with the accreditation came significant responsibilities.

"Ensure that this power is going not to perpetuate the shoddy workmanship that has been associated with housing in the past," he said.

He appealed to them to pay special attention to contractors, suppliers and those who are given tenders to develop human settlements to ensure that the money allocated was being used appropriately.

Sexwale said it was critical that people did not view the accreditation as an exercise in futility.

"They must feel that there is change and that this accreditation means there are leaders who are watching taxpayers' funds very closely and very hawkishly."

He urged that mayors to move away from RDP houses. 

"No one wants to live in that type of house. Don't build houses that you yourself will not feel dignity living in for the rest of your life," Sexwale said.

He noted that with the new powers given to the cities, opportunities would arise for the implementation of innovative planning purposes.

"We see the accreditation process leading to accelerated delivery and improved expenditure patterns, which will help put an end to under-expenditure."

Sexwale also announced the introduction of a new metropolitan funding framework - the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) - which has been developed in partnership with National Treasury. 

The USDG is expected to bring about better human settlements development planning between national, provincial and local spheres of government.

"More specifically, it compels improved coordination of planning, funding and implementation of human settlements at the provincial and local spheres of government," he said.

Metropolitan municipalities will directly receive this grant from the national department to address infrastructure needs. - BuaNews