Grade: Too early to say
Because minister Connie September has only been in the driving seat for less than six months, this report card is mainly an assessment of the department`s performance.
Almost two decades into democracy, there is still a backlog of 2.1‑million houses that will need R800‑billion and a “miracle”, according to advisory body the Finance and Fiscal Commission, if the shortage is to be dealt with in the next seven years. Commission head Bongani Khumalo said that, although the housing backlog is increasing, less low-cost housing is being provided by the government.
The provision of housing and sanitation in rural areas remains a huge challenge. The department aims to improve 400 000 informal settlements by March 2014, a target it admits it will probably not meet. To date, only 57% of targeted settlements have received services.
Between 2009 and the end of 2012, there were 3 258 service delivery protests. The department`s underspending on sanitation is an indication of a portfolio with poor leadership. Its own ministerial sanitation task team found that the bucket system is still in existence, and that the department failed to spend R207‑million of its operating budget in the 2012-2013 financial year.
Meanwhile, the deadline for the eradication of the country`s sanitation backlog has been postponed for the second time, by another two years, to 2016. The department is still struggling to assist those earning between R3 500 and R15 000 a month with housing.
These people are not eligible for an RDP house, but earn too little to qualify for a bond.