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Housing, basic services still a problem in Tshwane

As the City of Tshwane gears up for the local elections on August 3, many of its residents still live in informal settlements.

With thousands of people coming from other provinces or countries in search of jobs, the Tshwane Metro is doing its best to find liveable accommodation for them.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) however alleges the city is not giving stand owners their title deeds and Lawyers for Human Rights are of the opinion the city is not practicing what it preaches when it comes to housing destitute people.

World wide cities are beacons of hope for the destitute and South Africa’s capital city is no exception.

Tens of thousands of people stream to the Tshwane Metro and more specifically the heart of the capital, Pretoria.

The subsequent results are informal settlements and land invasions.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for housing in the city, Joshua Ngonyama, says the city is making good strides in accommodating the influx as well as the residents.

“In 24 months we formalize 65 townships and we proclaimed 13 townships and in the new budget we formalize and additional 32 townships and we impacted on the lives of 65 000 families. Who now can say they have a home a service stand are building houses for them.”

He says, however, some of the economic destitute people flocking to the city don’t want to wait for the housing process to run its course.

“If a person comes over the province they must wait their turn what normally happens a person comes over to the province and then after a few weeks they toyi-toyi and say they’ve been waiting so long. Everybody must wait their turn.”

Ngonyama says a political decision to incorporate high density social housing in all parts of the city, including recently so-called white areas, has been taken and will happen. He however says they will not tolerate land invasions.

DA mayoral candidate, Solly Msimanga, however says one of the biggest problems in the city is that the title deeds of properties are not handed over to the owners.

“People are not sure if they are the legal owners of those properties or not. Even though they have been told by the city time and time again that those are your properties, but until someone has something in black and white that says you own that property or piece of land, it’s still going to be a problem. As the DA we will speed up the hand over of title deeds because it empowers our people.”

He cited corruption as one of the reasons why the city, according to him, cannot meet the housing demand.

“First of all corruption is the biggest problem. You look at how much they’re spending in formalizing. They say they’re doing a good job and to a degree they are doing some things well. But you need to look at what cost are they doing things, and that’s the biggest challenge. If you’re going to spend eight times the real cost on a RDP house then you’re not really addressing the problem.”

Msimanga also alleges overspending by the metro is hampering the city’s obligation to provide housing and basic services to its residents.

“The issue is not that we don’t have money. The issue is that the money is not used in the correct way. I mean how do you explain loosing R1.8 billion a year. So, it means the money is there but it’s not going to where it’s supposed to be going.”

Louise de Preez for Lawyers for Human Rights, represented the residents in several informal communities in the capital city, who were moved by the metro.

She says it seems the city is not practicing what it preaches when it comes to housing destitute people.

“If there was a political will from Tshwane to really cater for people who are homeless they would not have sold 80 pieces of vacant land on auction. So their intention was rather get the money than to cater to the people who is homeless because some of the land was located very good in the city centre for low cost housing.”

She says where the metro engage communities in informal settlements, most of the communities are happy to be moved to other areas.

During electioneering by all political parties in the city, housing was mentioned as one of the burning points for voters, who says whoever rules in the metro after August 3 will have to address the issue.

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