PRETORIA- The South African government is doing all it can to address the huge housing backlog across the country, which often sparks violent service delivery protests, Human Settlements Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo said on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists at the launch of the Thembelihle Village, a social housing project which is part of the Pretoria CBD regeneration, Mfeketo said in providing the accommodation, the government was also taking into cognizance the residents’ social needs.
“Surely there is a huge backlog still, because the population is growing and those who were young at some stage are getting old and funny enough at times they want housing even if they are 24 years old instead of studying. I am confident that we are really dealing with the backlog because now we are providing different options that are affordable,” she said.
“We are providing not only social housing, we are providing rental-to-buy [schemes] and to encourage students, we are providing student accommodation so that those people who are supposed to be at school are at school. They should not drop out because they do not have accommodation, and their parents having to pay a lot.”
Mfeketo said with almost 25 years into the democratic dispensation, the "current government" was confident that strides had been made in ensuring housing for citizens.
“Twenty-five years later, I am sure we have done so much but still we cannot stand here and be proud saying we have managed to do away with squatter communities by building enough houses,” said Mfeketo.
"It is something that we are deliberating on, how we can find out who stays even in the squatter communities. We know that our population is not growing as fast as the squatter communities. It’s something we are busy with.
She said the government also wants to "tighten the screws" to ensure that recipients of RDP houses do not use them for commercial purposes, like leasing them out while they go back to informal settlements.
“One day we would like to say every person from South Africa, rich or poor, will be staying in homes like this one, not in tin shacks," said Mfeketo.
The Thembelihle Village, which is now occupied, accommodates hundreds of low-income families in apartments buildings in the Pretoria CBD.
At the launch, Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga said he was impressed that the national, provincial and local government had managed to collaborate on the project, which has now "put a roof above" heads of thousands.
"You will appreciate that in a city like Tshwane, you have ladies who have to leave places like Hammanskraal at 4am to be able to be in the in the CBD by 8am," said Msimanga.
"They leave the CBD at around 5pm, only to get home at around 8 pm. We want to break that legacy that was left by apartheid system which ensured that poor people live on the peripheries. We are bringing them in, and ensuring that they live in affordable accommodation.
"This is very much affordable, and this is just but the beginning of the spatial planning and development that we are going to be taking in the CBD."
African News Agency/ANA