Women's Build gets underway

Monday, August 4, 2014

By More Matshediso

Heidelberg - The majority of newly built houses in Ratanda North will be prioritised for elderly women, women with disabilities and child-headed families.

This was announced by Human Settlements Deputy Minister, Zou Kota-Fredericks, on Monday when she launched the National Women’s Build in Ratanda North, Heidelberg.

More than 300 newly built houses, worth about R100 000, in the area will be handed over to beneficiaries this Women’s Month.

About 17 600 houses are expected to be built for women beneficiaries across the country, starting from Women's Day, 9 August. Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu last week said 1 956 houses will be built in each province during August.

The project will go a long way to realising the goals set out in the National Development Plan (NDP), of reducing inequality and boosting women's participation in the construction industry.

“I am sure that the majority of beneficiaries will be women. In terms of allocation in this project, priority has been given to the elderly women, vulnerable women (women with disabilities) and child-headed families,” said Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks.

Providing for the elderly

The deputy minister on Monday unveiled house number 1956, which is symbolic in its link to the 1956 Women’s March against apartheid pass laws.

House number 1956, which belongs to Cani Leah Tshabalala, is still under construction. Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks laid a few bricks and cement on one of its walls. She anticipated that the house should be finished by the end of August.

An emotional Tshabalala, 75, said she was eager to see the completion of the house.

“Thank you my child, thank God,” she said to Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks.

Speaking to SAnews, Tshabalala said she only has one daughter left, as eight of her children have passed away. She has never owned a house.

“This will be my first house… I have never owned one. I am very happy. I thank government for this great gift. I’m excited,” she said.

Since 2002, Tshabalala has been staying with her sister in Ratanda, together with her two grandchildren, in a house owned by her son-in-law. When her home is completed, she will move into the new house with her two orphaned grandchildren.

In her younger days, Tshabalala stayed and worked at farms in Vrede and Memel. In 1997, she moved from the farms to stay with her son-in-law's family.

Due to old age, she suffers from short breath and swollen feet. Tshabalala is a pensioner and both her grandsons, who are in Grade 4 and 9, receive social grants monthly. She also uses her old age grant to fend for her little family.

Women empowerment

Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks said one woman contractor is involved in building the houses in Ratanda.

She said her department and Lesedi Local Municipality are looking into bringing more women contractors in building houses within the municipal area.

“We do have women contractors in this municipality, but they still need approval from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) to clarify which level they fall under.

“We don’t want people who are going to build houses that are going to fall apart. As much as we want women empowerment, we want quality,” she said.

The deputy minister said her department is committed to ensuring that the 1 956 houses that are going to be built across the country will be built by women contractors.

They chose the number 1 956 as a way of celebrating the Women’s March that took place 58 years ago, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter.

Over and above this, Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks said 30% of all housing contracts that are still to come in all provinces will be given to women contractors.

“I have seen some of the houses built by women. They are of good quality.

“We don’t want to scare away men contractors. We know many [women] have been subcontractors for too long… Some of [them] ran out of money while in the middle of housing projects. We are ensuring that all emerging contractors are supported by the department,” she said.

Other houses in Ratanda were completed prior the launch and Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks is expecting 100 others to be finished by end of August.

Equity in handing over houses

The deputy minister said due diligence will be exercised in handing over houses in a fair manner.

“No queue jumping is going to take place when we hand over these houses, rest assured. We know which house belongs to whom,” she said addressing hundreds of residents gathered in a tent next to the construction site.

She said all houses will have water, electricity and toilets.

“We can’t issue houses without electricity connections and sanitation,” she said.

She advised beneficiaries to plant vegetables in their yards and take care of their homes.

“We don’t want to see these houses being turned into taverns,” she said. - SAnews.gov.za