The growth of informal settlements compounded the problem of meeting the demand for housing, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has said.
He said informal settlements were essentially shanty towns and slums.
This resulted in undesirable urbanisation driven less by economic growth and more by rural-urban migration of the poor and jobless.
This meant South Africa was confronted with a crisis similar to an internal refugee situation, as there was a continuous flow of poor and jobless migrants into the cities.
“The number of informal settlements is growing uncontrollably. Likewise, the populations inside these ghettos is increasing rapidly,” Sexwale said in Port Elizabeth.
“This imposes increased service delivery pressure upon resources like electricity, water, sanitation, health services and housing, all of which were never budgeted for by the perceived affluent municipalities.”
Sexwale was speaking at the establishment of the chair for education in human settlements development management at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
He said growing discontent in informal settlements manifested itself in xenophobic incidents and service delivery protests, which were turning increasingly violent.
The solution was a comprehensive approach, represented by the national development plan (NDP) and underpinned by the presidential infrastructure coordinating commission’s strategy on infrastructure.
“The NDP further highlights the need to professionalise the public service, including the creation of capacity and competency, particularly at local government level,” he said.
According to him, the developmental approach advocated in the NDP hinged upon an economy that was performing optimally as opposed to the current low economic growth rate and high unemployment, particularly among young people.