Cities get new human settlement powers
Johannesburg - Several major cities across the country were assigned new powers for human settlements development on Friday, the human settlements department said.
"This status has been granted to Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Metro and Cape Town, as well as to the Frances Baard and Pixley ka Seme district municipalities in the Northern Cape," Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said in a statement.
Discussions were underway with eThekwini, in KwaZulu-Natal.
Sexwale said the move was likely to result in more integrated planning of new housing projects and improved service delivery.
He awarded cities what was known as level two accreditation status at a quarterly ministerial meeting with provincial human settlement MECs in Pretoria.
The meeting was also attended by the chairperson of the SA Local Government Association (Salga), Amos Masondo.
"Level two accreditation status gives municipalities the responsibility to approve and manage housing construction programmes and ensure and technical quality assurance," said Sexwale.
He said in a statement that, in the past, the authority for this rested primarily with provincial governments.
"The municipal accreditation process is a critical tool in devolving the housing function to the local sphere, it enables municipalities to co-ordinate their housing decisions with other decisions that relate to the broader sustainability of human settlements."
He said the department hoped the accreditation process would lead to accelerated delivery and improved expenditure patterns, which would help put an end to under-expenditure.
Sexwale also announced the introduction of a new metropolitan funding framework, developed in partnership with National Treasury, known as the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG).
"The USDG will bring about better human settlements development planning between national, provincial and local spheres of government.
"More specifically, it compels improved co-ordination of planning, funding and implementation of human settlements at the provincial and local spheres of government," he said.
Metropolitan municipalities would receive this grant directly from the national department to address infrastructure needs.
"It is the policy intention of national and provincial human settlements departments to continue to expand the role of municipalities, particularly the metros, in the management and development of sustainable and integrated human settlements," Sexwale said.