Minister to take housing challenges head on

Monday, May 25, 2009

Johannesburg - With a 2.2 million housing backlog still remaining, the new Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale is wasting no time in hitting the ground running.

If government's fight against poverty was to be symbolized as a spear - then the Department of Human Settlements would be at the sharp end of that spear, says Mr Sexwale, who is confident that obstacles hindering the delivery of houses to the poor can be overcome over the next five years.

"We can only do this by building a more integrated approach to service delivery in existing and future human settlements. When we talk about creating human settlements, and refer in broad terms to waging a war on poverty, then that really ought to be the case," the minister said.

The minister had met with housing MECs from all nine provinces to discuss the way forward and to identify key strategies to be used in fighting the housing backlog in the country.

He said the team was set to deliver on its plan and build human settlements in a way which was integrated, coordinated and holistic.

The MinMEC meeting concluded that the department would no longer be providing houses, but focus on creating settlements.

"We are focused on how best to settle our people, for if they remain unsettled we ourselves may not know peace. The settlements we should be creating must be centres where people can play, stay and pray. Places where people will live, learn and have pleasure," he said.

Minister Sexwale said while the previous Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had made a noticeable improvement in housing delivery, there was lot of work that still remained to be done.

"We do not underestimate the complexity of the task, nor the volume of work that is to be done. We have put our shoulders to the wheel and made our commitment clear," he said.

Mr Sexwale is expected to take the decisions that were made at the meeting to the Cabinet Lekgotla which starts on Tuesday where government will map out its programme of action for the year ahead.