No, the ANC has not provided 4.7m free houses since 1994

Did the ANC get its facts straight in the party’s 2019 election manifestoWe check a selection of claims. 

Claim: Since 1994, over 4.7 million free houses have been built, benefiting over 14 million people. This has meant a massive extension of home ownership, growing the productive assets of our people. 

Government often refers to “housing opportunities” when reporting on delivery.

Housing opportunities and houses built are not the same because housing opportunities include serviced sites – plots of land – without houses.

The department of human settlements provided this breakdown of housing opportunities delivered from 1994 to last year. (The figures for April to December 2018 are preliminary.)

Housing-Opportunities

Houses built include subsidised houses, rental accommodation, hostel upgrades and council houses where ownership was granted. If both a serviced stand and a house are provided, these count as one housing opportunity.

Spokesperson Xolani Xundu said the Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme “provides state subsidies to repair and/or rehabilitate, and even demolish and rebuild where necessary, government [rental] houses built before 1994 and then transfer houses into the ownership of legitimate occupants”.

Asked about the source of the number in the claim, the ANC said the “more than 4.7 million” in fact referred to housing opportunities and not houses built.

It said it would make this “clearer” in the online version of the manifesto.

Who benefited?

The manifesto claims that “more than” 14 million people benefited from the delivery of free houses.

If the number of housing opportunities provided (4.8 million) is multiplied by the average household size (3.3 according to the 2016 Community Survey), it comes to 15.8 million. However, it would not be correct to say that this number of people benefited from “free houses” because housing opportunities include serviced stands without houses.

Marie Huchzermeyer, a professor at Wits University’s School of Architecture and Planning, previously told Africa Check that an uncritical celebration of numbers should be avoided. She highlighted concerns such as the fact that “so many of these houses have been placed in very poor urban environments”, as well as the service-delivery burden placed on municipalities.

Verdict: Incorrect

The claim that “more than 4.7 million free houses” have been built since 1994 is incorrect. A total of 3.3 million housing units were built and not all of them were free.

The ANC did provide responses to our questions about the sources of claims in its manifesto, but the party did not make use of an opportunity to comment on our findings.

  • This package is part of a journalism partnership with Africa Check, the continent’s leading fact-checking organisation. The project aims to ensure that claims made by those in charge of state resources and of delivering essential services are factually correct. In the run-up to this year’s national and provincial elections, it is increasingly important that voters are able to make informed decisions.


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