The National and Provincial Department of Human Settlements in collaboration with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) have taken a step to capacitate councillors from different municipalities in the province. A two-day induction session with the councillors that took place in Middleburg, Steve Tshwete Local Municipality recently empowered the councillors understanding on human settlements programmes and policies. Most of the burning issues confronted was the mismanagement of beneficiary lists at municipalities and the unrelenting illegal occupation of government subsidised houses, amongst others.
Portia Peter from the Department’s National Housing Needs Register (NHNR) expressed that local government is the critical arm in the delivery of much needed services to communities in the country: “It is therefore important to empower the leadership on the ground who interact with communities that constantly registers complains about development in their areas of residence,” she said. The ability to be sensitive to issues raised by communities and provision of speedy responses depends heavily upon a capacitated leadership that can take well-informed decisions.
She further explained the purpose of the NHNR is that beneficiaries should first register their needs with the local municipality and the request is captured on what is referred to as the Housing Needs Register (NHNR). Potential beneficiaries will be sourced from the Housing Needs Register; such persons must ensure that their details are continuously updated at the Municipality whenever there are changes including their contact details. “Councillors must still ensure beneficiaries are compliant with the Human Settlements policy of Senior citizens, people living with disabilities, orphaned children and then the rest of the applicants”, concluded Ms Peter.
Some councillors raised challenges of wrongful allocations of houses to beneficiaries, sewer spillage, slow progress in issuing title deeds and general project delivery. It was further recommended that it is critically important for all working in the human settlements sector to familiarize themselves with the projects and programmes rendered the department to avoid misperceptions. The department plans to deliver 6 694 housing units, 5000 service sites, and register 15 000 title deeds which will yield 11 694 housing opportunities during the current financial year.