STATEMENT ON GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS IN ETHEKWINI
The Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, notes with great concern the unwarranted misinformation peddled by the eThekwini Municipality Deputy Mayor Cllr Philani Mavundla regarding the roll-out of interventions to assist communities displaced by the recent floods and currently sheltered at mass care centres.
“It is crucial to point out publicly that on the 20th April 2022, a meeting was convened by myself to discuss relief interventions – especially the construction of temporary residential units, permanent houses and the rollout of human settlements in eThekwini in general,” said Minister Kubayi.
This meeting was attended by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works Jomo Sibiya, Deputy Mayor Cllr Philani Mavundla, Speaker of eThekwini Thabani Nyawose, Head of Department of Human Settlements Mdu Zungu, Acting City Manager of eThekwini Musa Mbele and the Chief Financial Officer Sandile Mnguni. The delegation also included the Deputy City Manager - Human Settlements, Engineering and Transport Authority at eThekwini Municipality, Beryl Mphakathi and other senior officials representing three spheres of government.
All political leaders agreed that the leadership responsible for administration must ensure speed, efficiency and adherence to good governance practices. The Deputy Mayor was informed that in order to ensure immediate response, funding had been reprioritised in line with Section 19 (6) of Division of Revenue Act, 2022. This allowed that the human settlements grants be reprioritised to alleviate the impact of the disaster. To put this into effect, a revised cashflow was submitted to National Treasury on 14 April 2022 and positive response was received.
In the same meeting, eThekwini Municipality leadership was advised to ensure the reprioritization of their budget and also to ensure that the necessary application was submitted to access funding.
In addition, it should also be pointed out that this week another urgent meeting was convened by Minister Kubayi attended by the MEC for Human Settlements Mr Jomo Sibiya, the Mayor of eThekwini Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, Cllr Mavunda as well as senior government officials representing all spheres of government.
The meeting was necessitated by concerns raised during a protest this week by communities severely affected by the recent floods and the need to rapidly deliver on commitments made to relocate those communities who are still temporarily accommodated in mass care centres. These matters were also discussed in a War Room tasked with coordinating necessary interventions including relocation of affected families. A report was presented in the meeting, detailing progress on the relocation and the construction of Temporary Residential Units (TRUs). About 146 TRUs have been completed to date with others on different stages of construction.
The Minister expressed serious dissatisfaction with the slow progress made so far and instructed the team to go back to the drawing board and come up with a revised and implementable plan to fast-track the work and yield tangible results on the ground.
“The pace at which we are moving is not satisfactory. In an emergency situation like a disaster, it is even more urgent to get the necessary services to the effected families without delay. I have therefore instructed the team to urgently work on a revised and solid plan to ramp up the pace to respond to the plight of the effected people on the ground.
“The team as a collective has submitted this plan and it is being processed to provide feedback,” said Minister Kubayi.
“It is therefore also most disheartening that instead of working cohesively as the three spheres of government, Cllr Mavundla, who has been part of meetings I have convened, publicly points fingers, suggesting there are currently no funds immediately available to assist frustrated families in need,” added the Minister.
In relation to the reprioritization of funding, the Provincial Department of Human Settlements has reprioritized R515.976 million from the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) (R367.013 million) and R148.963 million from the Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grant (ISUPG).
The Provincial Department of Human Settlements has been able to appoint 8 contractors, from its panel, to construct much needed TRUs to accommodate affected families in eThekwini Municipality, ILembe, Ugu and uMzinyathi Districts. A social facilitator has been attached to each mass care centre to identify affected families who have their own sites available to construct houses. In addition, the department is issuing orders for building material vouchers for residents who are rebuilding their own homes
It should be emphasized that based on the disaster management cycle (mitigation, preparedness, initial response, recovery, and rehabilitation), the funding framework responds accordingly, by making funds available for immediate relief, followed by funds for recovery. Funding for immediate response for KwaZulu-Natal, following recent floods, includes own budget reprioritisation, immediate disaster response grants, and the reprioritisation of existing conditional grants.
With regards to progress on land assembly, 38 land parcels were identified from the National Department of Public Works & Infrastructure, the KZN Department of Public Works and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, totalling 78 hectares. Furthermore, a team of officials is conducting assessments on the 38 recommended properties. These sites are being released by the Department of Public Works through Power of Attorney. Of the 64 mass care centres which have been used to temporarily house affected families, 38 have been linked with possible land parcels. All in all, about 3 385 people who were affected by the floods will be accommodated through the identified land parcels.
In the Tuesday night meeting, the Minister also received a progress report on the purchase of land owned by Tongaat Hullet in La Mercy to build houses for the displaced communities. In order to speed up the process of the construction of the TRUs and homes in acquired land parcels, the meeting agreed that the Provincial Department of Human Settlements must be involved in the planning and provision of bulk infrastructure, such as water and electricity. The National Department will continue to provide support with all its agencies.
“We acknowledge the frustration expressed by communities and assure them that all of us are committed to improve performance in addressing the plight of affected households,” said Minister Kubayi.
Significantly, physical verification of 199 serviced sites within eThekwini Metro has been completed and 65 sites were found to be suitable for the development of a permanent housing solution. Necessary assessments are also to be conducted on privately-owned land with a potential total yield of 1 172 houses.
Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota (Ministry Spokesperson) on email@example.com or 0647548426 and Ndabezinhle Sibiya (KZN MEC Spokesperson) 082 3754742.