JOBURG is one of three municipalities in Gauteng that have signed a memorandum of agreement with the provincial department of local government and housing regarding municipal housing accreditation.
This means that housing and human settlements, as well as decision-making authority around this sector, have been delegated to these metros, as envisaged in the Constitution. In essence, it transfers the building of needed housing from the provincial to the local government level. The other metros are Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, Joburg’s eastern and northern neighbours.
Portfolio head of transport Rehana Moosajee signed the document on behalf of Executive Mayor Parks Tau in Midrand on 13 June. Ekurhuleni was represented by MMC for housing Queen Duba and Tshwane by the executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
The implications of signing the agreement are that the three metros will now perform functions that previously were under the ambit of the provincial government, such as beneficiary management, subsidy budget planning and allocation, priority programme management and administration, as well as additional management and administration of housing programmes.
Speaking at the signing, the MEC of local government and housing, Humphrey Mmemezi, said: “Today is a very historic day in Gauteng, in the housing and human settlement sector, for our metros and communities. It is historic because we are gathered here to give further meaning to the aspirations and dictates of our Constitution, which continues to be our guiding light.
“As inspired by our Constitution [section 156 (4), the Housing Act and other policies], it has always been the policy of this African National Congress government to locate important decision-making authority at the most local sphere of government, closest to our people.”
The government believed that this should be the case since municipalities were at the forefront of service delivery. They communicated with and understood the needs and pains of communities.Mmemezi set 2014 as the target for the three metros to take on all these functions. At that point, they would be in charge of and accountable for housing and human settlement in their borders.
“The promotion and protection of the right of access to adequate housing of our citizens, the creation of sustainable human settlements, and the fulfilment of other socio-economic needs of our communities is a formidable task that cannot be achieved by one sphere of government alone. It requires the collective wisdom and effort of the state as a whole (such as national, provincial and local government), stakeholders and our communities themselves.”
Service delivery protests that were taking place were opportunities for learning, he explained. They should be “positively acted upon”. “What we are doing today is a step towards ensuring that our communities get better service.”
What the agreement means
Having decision-making authority over certain aspects of housing and human settlements, local government would be able to achieve interlinked objectives.
Mmemezi pointed out that this would include metros being able to co-ordinate and integrate human settlement planning and development within the tested municipal integrated development planning process. Co-ordination of local level planning and the efficient use of resources would significantly improve service delivery.
“I am confident that we will achieve the objectives … because these three metros have demonstrated the requisite capacity to perform these functions. We have together with these metros travelled a long journey of planning and capacity development to ensure that when this hour of reckoning comes, they are fully prepared.”
Signing the memorandum of agreement signified local government’s commitment to achieving an easy delegation and management system with regards to housing. “In essence, we are proving our commitment and willingness to co-operate in order to substantially deal with [the] housing backlog across the province and heightening the rate of service delivery.”
Local government was committing to ensuring the progressive realisation of citizens and their right of access to decent shelter and sustainable human settlements.
“We will embark on this process prudently and incrementally to make sure that we do not falter along the way and disrupt service delivery,” Mmemezi said. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the housing and human settlement functions are fully assigned to metros, including financial management of national housing funding allocations.”
There would be on-going reporting, monitoring and evaluation, capacity support and continuous collaboration to allow for success. In closing, Mmemezi pleaded with people to be patient. “We have made the commitment to serve them with humility and dignity and we will continue on this path.”
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