SA Government relies on partnerships to deliver housing

Pretoria - Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says her department will work even harder to maintain solid relationships with the building industry in order to put roofs over the heads of millions of South Africans.

Speaking on the first day of the National Human Settlements Indaba and Exhibition in Johannesburg on Thursday, the Minister said through partnerships with the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders, they have been able to take meaningful steps towards realising the goal of delivering 1.5 million housing opportunities by 2019.

"We are here today to recommit ourselves and mobilise even greater participation; not because it makes business sense to do so but because we are driven by our patriotic responsibility and because we are all aware that the restoration of the dignity of our people begins with shelter," said the Minister.

Delegates present at the Indaba included representatives from the banking sector, Chamber of Mines, Slum Dwellers International and UN Habitat, among others.

Minister Sisulu said through these partnerships, they have been able to deliver 1.2 million housing units in five years.

The Minister said her department has committed itself to help upcoming contractors.

"We commit to the struggling contractor, we will help you access funding. We will be restructuring our Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to make them more responsive and to help them access the necessary finance so that you may be assisted," said Minister Sisulu.

A dedicated unit will be set up in the department to ensure that contractors are paid on time. An ombudsman office will also be established to give contractors easy recourse to redress should they require that.

The Minister said they will create a platform for contractors to interact with other stakeholders like Water and Sanitation, Eskom, the roads agencies, the education and sport and recreation sectors, the Estate Agency Affairs Board, municipalities and communities.

"These fora will be convened by the MECs of the provinces and we expect no less than four a year," said Minister Sisulu.

The Minister Sisulu said over the next five years, the focus will be on "mega" projects, which have the ability to house millions of people, while creating much needed jobs. She said her department will, as much as possible, help to access land for low income housing.