New human settlement agenda needed

2019-06-19 06:01
Tshegofatso Leeuw Social Observer

Tshegofatso Leeuw Social Observer

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There is a need for a new human settlement agenda.

I got hold of one political party’s pamphlet prior to the general elections of 8 May.

The political party boasts about how many title deeds it has issued.

I realised how a title deed has become a bargaining tool for votes!

A 1994-’95 government housing White Paper described providing housing to the South Africa citizens as one of the greatest challenges facing future government.

It estimated that the urban housing backlog stood at about 1,6 million houses and that the backlog was growing at a rate of 178 000 units a year.

Now calculate it: 1994, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, ‘99 . . . It means the need or demand for hou­sing has grown tremendously.

The 2011 census showed that the number of shacks and informal dwellings had increased to about 1,9 million.

The onslaught continues.

Having attended a handful of public hearings, activists’ meetings and summits on municipal land usage, I get a sense that both municipal, provincial and national human settlement policies and programmes may be out of touch with reality, and thus the issue has exploded.

Municipal land usage bylaw is so much focused on property developers, town planners and deeds registrars.

I have got nothing personal against town planners and property developers, but every day I realise that I live in a country where there is a growing divide between rich, middle class almost making it, and the poor.

People wait for over ten years to get stands and title deeds.

One property developer in Bloemfontein sells a vacant stand for approximately R360 000. It is not even that big to justify the pricing.

Also for small businesses there is a need for stands. A close friend of mine has been looking for a business rental opportunity, without much luck.

He encounters high rental prices that he will not be able to pay. I have also called various property groups.

In Iraq there is a concept called The Station. It has been established to offer physical work space for various entrepreneurs.

Well, MEC Dimakatso Mahasa and her team at the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) have done well with container parks; they are on track to emulating The Station.

For a new human settlements’ agenda to be adopted and to exist, public figures must abandon bargaining with title deeds for votes, sell affordable vacant stands and adopt the Iraq approach of providing low-cost rental opportunities to small businesses.

For a new human settlement agenda to exist, we the residents need an intellectual approach; establishing residents associations, taking municipalities to task via legal channels and stop burning tyres whenever frustrations boil over.

We need to stop accepting “free everything”. Everything for free has damaged our psyche and abilities.

We must start to learn how to be self–sufficient communities.

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