‘Good morning I’m a 1996 RDP applicant. Not only me.
In May 15 MEC Mr Paul Mashatile came@Diepkloof Extreme Park in Zone2.
Concerning RDP houses issues
They said there are 1 000 units @Fleuhorf we we’re promised allocation.
He even said the is another project @Lehae again he said they bought a plot around Fun valley witch can accomdate 20 000 people.
He even said their priority Will be 1996 applicants. They even spoke about serviced stands.
In closing they will see us after 3months to date nothing is happening. And the other point we are back yard dwellers.
Law abiding citizens. Our government give priority to people who invade land and build shacks.
We never done that we are applicants we have proof of C Forms&Demand Data Base.
We need your assistance on this matter or may be advice. We taken from Pilar to Post I think our rights have been violated by Gauteng Human Settlement.
Its been a long road”
On November 15, the Public Service Accountability Monitor received an email from an RDP applicant in Gauteng (copied above verbatim, with the permission of the author).
This email raises the following questions:
. Does the flexibility of housing policy in South Africa genuinely reflect its responsiveness to the diverse and changing needs of the less privileged, or is it a way of evading challenges that the government is confronted with in its attempt to meet the housing needs of the majority of the population?
. Do policy developments mean anything or are they at least being understood by the people at grass root level?
. Are communication and education on policy change effectively done (if at all) in order that communities understand why government has stopped certain projects?
. What happens to the applicants on the waiting lists, who have long been looking forward to getting RDP houses, if government is shifting towards prioritising upgrading informal settlements?
. Is there an intention to totally phase out construction of individual housing units, or not?
It is evident that the department of human settlements will not be able to meet the demand for RDP houses.
Setting targets has been the department’s approach, beginning in 1994 with 1 million RDP houses to be constructed within the first five years of our democracy.
To date, more than 3 million houses have been constructed, yet demand is currently estimated at 2.3 million, hence the department chases a moving target.
Section 26 of South Africa’s progressive and transformative Constitution stipulates that everyone has the right to access adequate housing, and the state must ensure realisation of that right.
Housing policy is guided by principles of redress of inequities.
To counter the legacy of apartheid, with its deprivation to the African urban population, the new government embarked on increasing housing opportunities to low-income earners and the unemployed.
Increased urban population growth puts pressure on housing delivery. Government’s failure to meet housing demand results in service delivery protests as people vent their frustration.
They hold on to the promises government made to provide houses for all and the waiting list still matters to them.
It is not only long-term applicants who hope they will receive their houses one day, but also new applicants.
The department shifts towards upgrading of informal settlements in contrast with the post-apartheid policies that initially favoured outright eradication of them.
The Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme came in in 2004 with the Breaking New Ground policy.
Are government’s policies explicit, and is there an intention to make them so, to ordinary citizens who are still waiting for their individual units?
As the email above shows, the answer to the questions is no.
The truth is, people’s expectations are unlikely to be met and frustration and housing-related protests continue.
If government is serious in phasing out the delivery of individual housing units, there should be discussion around ending registering new RDP applicants and dealing with eradicating the RDP backlog.
In that case, government should communicate clearly to the people and stop making RDP house provision a tool to gain political leverage, while the reality shows a lack of capacity to deliver on the promise.
Clearly, RDP applicants waiting to receive their houses for too long yearn for answers from government as to why their dreams of having houses doesn’t materialise, when it is their right to access adequate housing.
Although one acknowledges what the department has achieved thus far, it is crucial that people at grass root level understand the policy shifts that the department undertakes and their implications on the potential future beneficiaries of the RDP housing programme.
Increased communication and public participation at all levels of government can achieve this.
The legislature must work directly with the department and identify priority issues that need to be communicated to the public, such as policy changes and their implications on housing delivery, and the progress of continuing housing projects.
Msindo is the human settlements researcher at the Public Service Accountability Monitor