An end to free government housing?

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu wants to end to free government housing.

“Somebody has to have the courage to say this is not what we intended,” she said. Free housing was not in the Freedom Charter, which talked of there being houses, or in the constitution, which set out the right of access to adequate shelter.

Currently there are many reports of beneficiaries of free government housing selling their homes, often for next to nothing and without the right paper work.

In her budget speech this week Sisulu said it was do-able to provide 1.5 million housing opportunities over the next five years.

This included about one million brick-and-mortar free government houses, with 50 mega-projects of at least 10 000 units to get under way within 100 days.

The remainder would be made up of site and service spots, where people could build their own homes, affordable rental accommodation and the financing in the gap housing market for those earning too much to qualify for free homes and too little for commercial mortgages.

Land is at the heart of state housing provision in integrated human settlements. Sisulu is determined suitable land will be identified and acquired: “We might think of expropriating for this purpose.”

But as the Lwandle evictions in a freezing mid-winter cold spell showed, the DA-controlled Cape Town council and provincial administration, the government-owned SA National Roads Agency and the national transport and human settlements departments will be subject to a ministerial inquiry.

Sisulu is adamant the lessons from this eviction will be applied countrywide and, if necessary, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction Act will be amended to ensure every party is aware and sticks to its obligations.

“It’s not just about Lwandle,” Sisulu said.