President Zuma to visit Vulindlela rural housing project

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pietermaritzburg - The community of Taylors Halt in Vulindlela is abuzz with excitement this morning as they await President Jacob Zuma’s visit.

By 8am, scores of people started filling up the Taylors Halt Sports Ground, where a community engagement will be held with the President.

President Zuma and his delegation -- which includes Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and provincial government officials -- are expected in Vulindlela, outside Pietermaritzburg, to hand over houses and monitor the Vulindlela Rural Enhanced People's Housing Process (EPHP), which is one of the biggest housing schemes in the country.

The visit is part of government’s celebration of the 4.3 million houses and subsidies delivered since 1994 countrywide. This has benefitted at least 20 million people across the length and breadth of South Africa, including in the villages, farms, townships, towns and cities.

Government, led by the Department of Human Settlements, is celebrating this great milestone in all nine provinces. The first celebration was held last month in Cosmo City, Gauteng.

The Vulindlela EPHP accounts for 12 300 houses, while KwaZulu-Natal contributed about 72 5078 to the 4.3 million houses.

Although he is not a direct beneficiary of the project, Tabani Dlamini (27) told SAnews that the project is changing the face and lives of the community. Many of the homes in the area dwellings ranging from wattle and daub, tin shacks to formal block homes.

He said while the project has its challenges, it is contributing to job creation in Vulindlela.

“Our people, especially the youth, are now working in the building of the houses, which are benefiting some of our poor families. We can’t wait to see and hear what the President has in store for us today.”

The provincial Department of Human Settlements approved the project and concluded a contract in 2011 for the building of 25 000 rural housing units worth an estimated R2.1 billion.

The project was meant to be closed in 2015 but due to financial constraints, it has been extended to 2018.

The Vulindlela EPHP, according to the Department of Human Settlements, aims to deliver better human settlements outcomes based on community contribution, partnerships and leveraging of additional resources.

This is in line with government’s National Development Plan (NDP), which emphasises the need to adopt a people-centred service delivery approach.

Uplifting communities

Primarily funded by housing subsidies, the Vulindlela Rural Enhanced People's Housing Process (EPHP) has a unique structure that enables expertise and profits to remain in the community, as opposed to traditional low-cost housing projects, where typically a construction company builds the houses and leaves with the profit.

A non-profit Section 21 company, Vulendlela Development Agency -- led by Amakhosi (chiefs) -- secures resources for the project and represent the residents living in the wards covered by the project.

This gives the community full responsibility and involvement in decision making processes of the project.

The project steering committee -- which includes representatives of the Msunduzi Municipality, ward councillors, the Department of Human Settlements and the provincial government -- provides oversight for the project.

According to the Department of Human Settlements, about 13 community owned co-operatives have been established thus far. They are registered and supported jointly by the Department of Small Business Development.

The co-operatives own a quarry on site, transport operations, concrete block-making facilities, door-making and other construction related firms that are required for construction.

The Department of Human Settlements says about 2 000 full-time employment opportunities have been created through the project, which also offers skills transfer.

President Zuma and his delegation will visit the block production, door and steel fixing co-operative, where they will engage with the employees.

They will also hand over houses to beneficiaries before a community engagement. -

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