Disaster preparedness of municipalities in the face of Coronavirus

South Africa is declared a national state of disaster. New cases of the coronavirus are being reported daily throughout the world and South Africa is no exception. The number of confirmed positive cases of people with the virus has risen since the lockdown was declared on 27 March. Covid-19 has now been confirmed a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) thereby raising alarm across the world. A pandemic by WHO standards is a disease that is spreading across the world rapidly and at the same time; it demands greater and coordinated efforts from multi-government spheres to prevent and curb its spread. South Africa has generally been accused of having a laissez-faire attitude towards the virus. While the virus was spreading at a rapid speed through China and some European countries, South Africa was not putting any noticeable plans in place in anticipation of the outbreak in its territory.

The Ministry of Health has been at the forefront of combating the virus and it continues to call on South Africans to not panic.  Before the lockdown was announced, the Eastern Cape’s premier, Oscar Mabuyane, stated that the province is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus due to the province’s ailing health infrastructure. Along with securing border posts along provincial lines, Mabuyane said the province would establish field hospitals which would employ nurses and trained health workers, secure sufficient food stocks in hospitals, distribute more water tanks and soap for people to wash their hands and provincial government would postpone events. While these measures are welcomed, we share the premier’s anxiety in the state of preparedness of the province in dealing with this pandemic.

South Africa is now on Stage 4 of the lockdown, which allows certain industries to function under strict measures, and allows for minimal movement between provinces. The intent of the lockdown was to ‘flatten the curve’ thereby buying South Africa some invaluable time to improve its health care system so that it is in a better position to respond to the coronavirus when it peaks in August or September as predicted by scientists. While we believe that South Africa has a relatively improved health care system compared to many of its African neighbouring countries, there are still many unsettling and important questions that must be asked, and they must be asked openly:

  • How prepared are primary health facilities for the Coronavirus, especially in rural areas where chronic medication is often out of stock and the capacity of health care professionals is relatively low?
  • Many municipalities across the country are struggling to provide clean and safe drinking water without the scare of the Coronavirus, has the distribution of water tanks, as we have seen in some municipalities, been sufficient in reaching remote informal settlements and rural areas? Are there plans in place to assist municipalities to prepare for the worst?
  • Are the disaster management measures municipalities have in place (and one hopes that these are designed to cope with a pandemic of the nature of Covid-19) being properly communicated to residents so as to allay fears and panic?
  • What support mechanisms are put in place to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS, TB and other pre-existing conditions in rural areas and informal settlements receive the added support they need for the prevention of the coronavirus? These are people whose immune systems are often compromised due to inadequate access to nutritious food, inadequate health care and are at risk because of these pre-existing conditions.
  • Municipalities are by law mandated to initiate public engagements on the draft budget and Integrated Development Plan (IDP), in light of the lockdown conditions; residents are urged to avoid public gatherings as far as possible. Where does this leave municipalities and their constitutional mandate to consult and to consult widely and effectively?

According to Stats SA, half of South Africa’s population lives in poverty with the Eastern Cape and Limpopo having the highest share of poor households. These households have basic necessities to prioritise and find it difficult to budget for hand sanitizers and face masks – the price of which recently sky rocketed. In many informal settlements around the country regular washing of hands is a luxury when drinking water is in scarcity. The prevailing drought conditions and the crumbling infrastructure of some municipalities means that access to water, clean and safe drinking water for some, is an absolute scarce resource.

Many municipalities argue against the provision of basic services to informal settlements because they view informal settlements as temporary, thus a waste of money. Whether you live in formal or informal housing, citizens have the constitutionally guaranteed right to access basic municipal services such as clean running water, sanitation, electrification and primary health care.

But South Africa’s reality is completely different to what is constitutionally mandated and what the numbers reflect. For instance Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality had at least 154 informal settlements in 2015 and there are also numerous villages that are densely populated where space is constrained and often there is only one tap that is shared between 50 people. This is a similar scenario to other municipalities in South Africa. Poor infrastructure in informal settlements poses serious public health problems.

Nationally, we still have a long way to go to upgrade informal settlements just with basic services; this without the coronavirus being added to the mix. Every year flash floods and fires ravage informal settlements in Khayelitsha and Mamelodi raising questions about the capacity of municipalities for disaster management. It must always be remembered that residents of informal settlements are part and parcel of the fabric of our cities and towns and it is our obligation to protect vulnerable members of society – the poor, elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Very few municipalities (if any) have disaggregated health and population data on residents in informal settlements, which makes planning for the provision of water, sanitation, and primary health care initiatives extremely difficult. This poses additional challenges for epidemiological models to predict the spread of a virus like COVID-19 in informal settlements.

The capacity to deal with the effects of the coronavirus lies with the South Africa’s National Executive, but as communicated by the National Disaster Management Centre, local municipalities also have a role to play to help with strengthening and supporting “existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place” to prevent the spread of the virus. This means that municipal plans must be aligned to national thinking. National thinking might not consider the varied needs of local communities in different municipalities.

Municipalities must therefore be proactive in thinking about the complexities of issues affecting their own areas and how the virus might affect such communities. Local municipal disaster management planning must not take place in a silo. Municipal Disaster Management Units must plan with Human Settlements, Water, Sanitation, Electrification, Primary Health Care and IDP units. These plans must speak to district, provincial and other municipalities in the region. The virus knows no border and thus requires everyone to work together.

As part of COGTA’s disaster management plans, it has been communicated that in informal settlements where people don’t have the luxury to take themselves for testing and isolation, municipalities will identify places where people will be quarantined. Municipalities will also distribute sanitizers to those who cannot afford. But this is far from enough. Local disaster planning should at least include measures to provide clean running water and sanitation services to informal settlements and villages, especially in areas where young girls often have to walk long distances to fetch water from rivers and dams. These plans should seek to protect the elderly and those people with HIV/Aids, TB and those who have compromised immune systems. Children should be protected, especially those who head households or are dependent on grandparents who might fall victim to this pandemic. In a state of disaster, municipalities should take control of empty or disused buildings and repurpose them as emergency centres and places where the homeless could self isolate.

As part of their disaster planning, municipalities must understand the implications of COGTA’s Regulations to guide municipalities on the national disaster proclamations vis-à-vis its normal municipal processes and day-to-day operations. For example, the law states that municipalities must engage with the public during the IDP and Budget Roadshows. Failing to comply with the law could result in the municipal budget not being passed which will have serious negative consequences for municipal service delivery to communities. Municipalities have been requested by COGTA to postpone their IDP Roadshows, even when they do occur at a later stage, the meetings will have smaller numbers of people. Even with smaller groups of people, municipalities need to plan for potential health risks to communities now more than ever. With gatherings of more than 100 people prohibited, what will this mean for municipalities with more than 50 wards whose full sitting constitutes more than 100 people?

As part of disaster preparedness in the face of coronavirus, municipalities should explore alternative methods for public participation without compromising a community’s abilities to fully and meaningfully participate in such municipal processes. Appropriate technology-based applications should be explored so that it compliments (and not necessarily replace) existing conventional communication methods.

After President Ramaphosa’s state of disaster announcement one can say that the government is communicating and taking the country into confidence in disaster management strategies and its preparedness for the coronavirus. However, it is critical that municipalities are disaster-ready in the face of the coronavirus and that its state of disaster readiness is properly and promptly communicated to communities as well, so as to prevent unnecessary panic. One thing that is clear, the virus is spreading and it is spreading very rapidly.

Zimasa Mpemnyama is an advocacy and communication intern at Afesis-corplan, an NGO based in East London.
Sikhander Coopoo is a programme manager at Afesis-corplan. They write in their personal capacities.



Expropriation of Land without Compensation – Constitutional Amendments

The public had until the end of January 2020 to comment on the “Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill” that makes it explicit that “where land and any improvements thereon are expropriated for the purposes of land reform, the amount of compensation payable may be nil.”

As the Constitution stands at the moment, without any amendments, it does not prevent courts deciding that compensation for expropriation could be nil (or less than market value or any other amount). The wording in the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill simply makes this explicit. The Bill calls on government to set out, in legislation, the “specific circumstances where a court may determine that the amount of compensation is nil”.

As always, the ‘devil’ is in the details. These details can be found in the Draft Expropriation Bill of 2019  that actually came out more than a year ago in December 2018, where it lists, in section 12.3, five instances where compensation could be nil. Generally it could be argued that only one of these instances is controversial.  Section 12.3.b states that one of the instances where nil compensation may be just and equitable is “where the land is held for purely speculative purposes.”  The controversy revolves around the question: who decides and how do they decide if the land is being held for purely speculative purposes?

Land speculation is where people obtain land ‘cheaply’ with the intention of holding on to the land for a period of time until they can sell it at a later date at a higher price and make a nice profit. See here for the Wikipedia definition of speculation and here for a few other people’s views on what land speculation is all about.  Most property developers, investment companies, and property owners speculate on land all the time so it is bound to be very difficult to draw the line as to when is land  held “for purely speculative purposes” and when is land speculation just one of the reasons for holding land. For example, if someone owns a piece of land on the edge of a growing city and uses it to graze cattle, can this land be expropriated at nil compensation using the argument that what the present land owner is really doing is just speculating and waiting for a developer to approach them to buy the land at a high price to use for a new shopping centre or gated community?

The other four (far less controversial) instances listed in section 12.3 where it is suggested that compensation can be nil are:  “(a) [w]here the land is occupied or used by a labour tenant, as defined in the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, 1996 (Act No. 3 of 1996); …  (c) where the land is owned by a state-owned corporation or other state-owned entity; (d) where the owner of the land has abandoned the land; (e) where the market value of the land is equivalent to, or less than, the present value of direct state investment or subsidy in the acquisition and beneficial capital improvement of the land.”

We may have missed the opportunity to comment on Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill which calls on government to develop legislation making it explicit in which instances the courts can consider compensation to be nil.  This amendment, however, is not the only place where the debate around land expropriation without compensation is to be had.   We need to familiarise ourselves far more with the contents of the Draft Land Expropriation Bill, and familiarise ourselves with the arguments for and against the various proposed instances where it is suggested compensation can be nil.

Government needs to update us on what progress is being made in finalising a new Expropriation Bill so we can have meaningful discussions around when is it just and equitable for compensation to be nil.

Contact the Department of Public Works using the following methods (found in the original more than a year-old draft Land Expropriation Bill) to find out when a new draft Expropriation Bill will come out:




Citizen-based Monitoring of Frontline Service Delivery Revised Toolkit for Freedom House South Africa

Afesis-corplan are proud to have revised the toolkit for Freedom House South Africa, titled: Citizen-based Monitoring of Frontline Service Delivery Toolkit. This toolkit was originally developed in 2017 with an aim of offering organised community groups with basic tools to use to organise, mobilise and engage – in a structured and meaningful manner- in local government with a view to improving service delivery. To view the full document click on the cover page below.

For more about Freedom House South Africa visit their website https://freedomhouse.org/country/south-africa




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Radio Interview on Municipal Budgeting

[Audio] Afesis-corplan local governance programme officer Lindokuhle Vellem spoke to Alfred Nzo FM on Sunday October 20, 2019 on issues relating to municipal budget processes.




Illegal electricity connections in Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, can we blame communities? by Qhamani Neza Tshazi

Municipal planning processes continue to limit informal settlement dwellers from accessing electricity legally, writes Programme Officer, Qhamani Tshazi.

To view the article click here.

#UpgradeInformalSettlementsNow




To vote or not to vote

Don’t vote

By Ebrahim Fakir and Ivor Sarakinsky

The primary question facing South African voters in 2019 is not who to vote for, but whether to vote at all.

The 2019 election season has begun in earnest. Parties have been vigorously campaigning, with many a pundit making the obvious but important point that voter turnout will be key to determining the outcome.

Some have even gone as far as recommending a vote for President Cyril Ramaphosa to strengthen his hand in cleaning up the ANC and the government. Others suggest that, despite Ramaphosa’s best intentions, a large majority for the ANC will see them squander power, yet again, and that strengthening the opposition may be better for more effective government.

Whatever permutation is opted for is dependent on voter turnout. We think there is more important reason why turnout and participation matters: voter participation and turnout (or lack thereof) sends a strong signal to the political class. Without being democratic nay-sayers, we suggest withholding the vote has become the weapon of last resort in voters’ arsenal against those striving for political office.

Democratic theory suggests there is an axiomatic relationship between high rates of voter participation and turnout and high levels of representation, accountability, oversight and governmental responsiveness.

So uncaring has the government become that it appealed court rulings compelling it to replace pit latrines with toilets for school children

Twenty five years of post-apartheid popular national government, in fact, proves otherwise. Ranging from the arms deal to Bosasa, with the Guptas in between, and an economic, education, health and welfare crisis, the political class has shown itself to be unresponsive and blinkered. They have circumvented accountability and transparency while subordinating citizens’ interests to that of an encumbered political establishment.

This deafness manifests through the failure to address crime, service delivery, economic growth, employment creation, and socio-economic injustices. In fact, so uncaring has the government become that it appealed court rulings compelling it to replace pit latrines with toilets for school children.

1. Appreciative of democracy

It is trite but no less true to say South Africans remain invested in democratic processes. They are also keenly appreciative of democracy as a set of social practices and as a form of government. Participation in elections is one such indicator.

Since 1994, we have witnessed what are, by international comparison, high levels (though declining) of voter participation. Since the inaugural 1994 elections attracted an 86% turnout, voter turnout as a proportion of registered voters has remained relatively high, peaking in 1999 at 89%. From then on there was a steady decline, with the 2004 voter turnout dropping to 76%, increasing slightly in 2009 to 77% and declining to 73% in 2014.

Notwithstanding relatively high turnouts, it is clear that as confidence and trust in politicians and public institutions progressively declined, so too has voter participation.

Invested as South Africans are in the democratic process, they continue to participate politically, even though they have turned out less at elections, trying every manner of means to extract accountability and oversight from government — ranging from protests (we have on average 300 a year); engaging in “lawfare”; signing and proposing petitions; attending public participation processes; making policy submissions and going to hearings, through to marching in demonstrations that sometimes turn violent.

Yet the level of governmental responsiveness remains low and atrophied. Even when the judiciary has ruled against public institutions and individual office bearers for negligence, exceeding the bounds of their authority, acting irregularly or dishonesty, no consequences have followed.

In some instances, individuals and institutions continue with their flawed bureaucratic routines without any reform in processes and procedures — a perusal of Constitutional Court judgments and the Auditor-General’s reports over the past 25 years makes for depressing reading but proves the point beyond reasonable doubt. Perversely, individuals have been rewarded with continued public office or allowed to resign while maintaining their lucrative benefits.

In other words, they are rewarded for malfeasance and benefit from impunity. No ordinary citizen would be afforded this luxury.

2. Accountability vs turnout

It is therefore clear that high voter turnouts haven’t worked for accountability. High levels of participation have failed to change the course of the government and bureaucratic leviathan. This is not restricted to the ANC. The DA in Cape Town and the Western Cape have repeatedly shown that with both an increasing majority and an increased rate of voter participation, there has been an exponential increase in internal wrangling and power struggles for positions, coupled with a non-responsive posture to citizens’ needs. The De Lille saga and the housing crisis, with a discounted price on public land to property developers who might also be DA donors, illustrates the point.

South Africans now seem to be stacking the list in terms of worst to least bad in ascending order. This is an indictment of all political parties which … are uniformly poor

The EFF remains untested in this regard, but their performance in parliament and in the councils in which they voted minority governments into power, doesn’t place them in a much better stead. Their lack of a coherent policy framework, extreme flip-flopping from issue to issue, inchoate and rhetorical demands and mimicry of colonial behaviour, crude racial stereotyping and institutional destabilisation, not to mention internal fragmentation, doesn’t bode well either.

Of course, there is the option of voting for other smaller parties, but these demonstrably show a lack of policy distinction, organisational depth, institutionalisation or any connection to a definable constituency (except for niche special interest parties such as the FF+ or the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

Voters in 2019 are therefore faced with Hobson’s choice, confronted with the prospect of selecting the least worse, rather than the best, party. This widely articulated view goes against the ordinary rationality of electoral decision-making. Usually, voters rank parties in descending order from best to worst and vote for the one that best represents their interests. South Africans now seem to be stacking the list in terms of worst to least bad in ascending order. This is an indictment of all political parties which, we have argued elsewhere, are uniformly poor.

This calculus is dangerous for democracy. The winner of an election receives a legitimate mandate from the citizenry to govern and exercise power and authority, despite the motivation of citizens. Voting thus ensures that all political parties are insulated from the varying degrees of contempt that underpins the voter’s eventual choice.

3. Winning takes all

All political parties strive for is a majority. They don’t care about the reasons behind individual voters’ choice. Once they have climbed over the first hurdle of this procedural dimension of democracy it becomes business as usual for them, and voters’ and citizens’ concerns are secondary. This has been the case in SA for some time.

In such instances, withholding the vote from a craven set of parties that have incepted a governance credibility crisis makes perfect sense. That large numbers of traditional ANC voters stayed away in the 2016 local elections, leading to the loss of metropolitan local governments, has made the Gauteng ANC nervous about the prospect of losing the 2019 provincial election.

This demonstrates that, apart from being a rational response to recidivist government, it is also a highly effective threat to get a better and more considered response from an otherwise moribund political class. A stay-away might be the most effective way to resuscitate accountability and disincentivise impunity.

There is nothing like the threat of a legitimation crisis to spur political action from otherwise complacent politicians

In instances where none of the democratic voice pressures have extracted accountability, responsiveness and meaningful service delivery, what else can citizens do but withhold the vote?

Withholding the vote on a mass scale remains the most powerful mechanism to shake the slumbering and complacent political class to its core. It is the only means available to citizens to encourage the insular political establishment to respond to it, and accept that citizens are the principals, and public servants and politicians the agents of citizens.

The 2019 election is an opportune moment in which to correct the distortion of this relationship. There is nothing like the threat of a legitimation crisis to spur political action from otherwise complacent politicians.

In proposing the rationality of a “don’t vote” position, we need to dispense with the canard that not voting dilutes other rights, especially the right to demand governmental performance and responsiveness. All rights are constitutionally guaranteed, separate and exist independently of the franchise and its exercise. Not exercising one right does not negate others. Not voting does not negate or nullify the right to expect high-quality service delivery, accountability or responsiveness from public servants and politicians.

  • Fakir is director of programmes at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute, and Sarakinsky is an associate professor at the Wits School of Governance.

Vote

By Zwanga Mukhuthu

Ebrahim Fakir and Ivor Sarakinsky (2019) in their ‘don’t vote’ article have argued why we should all consider abstaining from voting in the 8 May 2019 national and provincial elections to shake or teach the current political establishment a lesson. The two co-writers argue, so complacent and uncaring is our elected representatives they have lost touch with reality. The writers say this manifests in a high crime rate, poor service delivery, slow economic growth, unemployment, corruption, and socio-economic injustice. They also proceed to say the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters do not have what it takes to live up to the aspirations of millions of South Africans looking at what has happened in the Western Cape and the red beret’s behaviour in Parliament.

Fakir and Sarakinsky’s argument leaves the reader with the impression that simply because the ANC which has been in government for the last 25 years, has failed to address society’s problems no other party in South Africa deserves our votes and to a larger extent to govern.  The “don’t vote” argument does not go further to say exactly what would happen if we all heeded that call. I will try to the best of my ability to pick up where the two writers left off.

There will be a government in South Africa after the May 8 general elections even if we don’t vote, because the friends, relatives and supporters of contesting candidates would have casted their ballots. Using Fakir and Sarakinsky’s argument, let’s say there are 10 registered voters and out of the 10, three vote for the same party, one votes for a different party and a vote of the fifth person is spoiled while the remaining five withhold their vote – we will end up with a situation where the three are making decisions for the seven until the next elections. This is already happening in South Africa when one looks at voter turnout data. They few are deciding for the many.

For instance voter turnout for the 2014 general election was 73.48% (IEC, 2014) lower than the turnout from the 2009 general election where voter turnout was 77.30% (IEC, 2009). These percentages of counted votes published by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) are figures of registered people who voted for the political parties, and not the total number of eligible South Africans who could have registered to vote but then abstained.

Voter turnout for the 2014 general election was 73.48% lower than the turnout from the 2009 general election where voter turnout was 77.30%.

Voter turnout trends in the last 10 years [2004 to – 2014 general elections] already suggest a large number of registered voters will not vote on May 8. For example in the Eastern Cape, there were more than 2.8 million people on the voter’s roll in the 2004 provincial and national elections but only 2.3 million people actually turned out to vote on April 14, 2004. In 2009 the number of people on the voter’s roll had marginally increased to 3 million but only 2.2 million people voted on April 22, 2009. In 2014 3.2 million people were registered to vote in the Eastern Cape but only 2.2 million of those voted on May 7, 2014. These figures clearly put voter turnout at 81.1% in 2004 and 70.32% in 2014.

A political election provides citizens with the opportunity to vote and decide what happens to the future of their country. And since democracy is “rule by the people”, it is the responsibility of every citizen to vote.

‘Why vote?’ is one of key questions some people, especially the youth, are grappling with. What will the vote change and what will it influence? The power of the vote as a policy-influencing and mandate-giving moment is not unpacked in many of the IEC educational campaigns and this is where NGOs like Afesis-corplan and others, whose work is aimed at deepening democracy, comes in.

It is  my view that there has never been as pressing a time as now, to link the vote to the socio-economic struggles of our society and to use every vote as a mandate-giving moment. Citizens can also, in numbers, use their vote as a recall mechanism if those in power fail to address the pressing needs of communities.

With all the socio-economic challenges confronting them, all citizens eligible to vote cannot afford to be bystanders in the country’s democratic processes and expect targeted policy that addresses their needs to emerge thereafter. They have to play a meaningful part in shaping the country’s future and its policies. And voting is only one step in that process.

Elections give legitimate status and power to elected leaders. Once this power has been delegated to those elected, the role of citizens thereafter is to make sure this power is not abused. We should never give up our right to hold government accountable and should never delegate such a responsibility to the few, i.e. political party supporters.

The low numbers of people that are turning out to vote year in and year out indicates that there is a need for more deliberate and targeted voter education, one that will particularly target citizens that are abstaining from voting.

In response to that question youth ask – why must we vote? – I say:

“You need to vote because every election matters, you as an individual matter, the choices you make matter, in your hand lies power and that power is in your vote and your choice will have a very direct and concrete effect on your daily life.”

High voter turnout sends out a message about the sort of government citizens need and expect. Our elected representatives must work together and also strive to deliver better healthcare, education, early childhood development, fair taxation, sustainable employment, small business opportunities, better infrastructure and a more affordable public transport system.

The multiparty governments that we have seen following the 2016 local government elections gave South Africans a glimpse of the possibilities that awaits us if elected representatives put their differences aside and work for the people that voted them into power. The in-sourcing of 1600 security officers to the City of Johannesburg municipality bears reference. According to media reports, previously the City outsourced its security through service providers paying an average of R14000 per security guard, while the guards themselves received as little as R4000 as a basic salary. Under the in-sourcing system the guards received the life changing R14000 salary a month with additional benefits such as medical aid, pension fund membership, subsidised education and housing.

In many countries including South Africa, people fought for the right to vote. Today voting is a simple and painless process and with the availability of many voting stations, you are guaranteed to spend little time on the queue. Go vote, but your actions must not end there; you also need to follow your vote by holding those you voted for accountable to you through various legislated means until the next election. This can be in a way of attending ward committee meetings in your area, participating in Integrated Development Planning public participation meetings, submitting petitions to your municipality, making Promotion of Access to Information requests, and organising marches, to name just a few.

If you don’t vote, others will make the decisions for you because only the minority would have voted for leaders in government.

  • Zwanga Mukhuthu is a programme officer responsible for communications and advocacy at Afesis-corplan, an NGO contributing to community-driven development and good local governance in the Eastern Cape. He is a youth, and writes in his personal capacity.

References

  1. SA Labour News, 2018. City of Joburg Insources 1600 Security Guards. Available http://www.salabournews.co.za/45052-city-of-johannesburg-insources-1-600-security-guards [30 April 2019]
  2. Independent Electoral Commission: National and provincial result. Available https://www.elections.org.za/content/Elections/National-and-provincial-elections-results/ [30 April 2019]




Renewed Commitment to Upgrading of Informal Settlements

Ronald Eglin

Government is renewing its commitment to the upgrading of informal settlements.  In his budget vote speech on 20 February 2019, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni stated that

“(f)unding totalling R14.7 billion over the two outer years [202/21 and 2021/22] has been reprioritised to two new conditional grants for informal settlements upgrading which will enable these households [living in informal settlements] to have access to basic amenities.”

In preparation for introducing these two new conditional grants (according to the Division of Revenue Bill 2019),  government will, in the 2019/20 period be introducing two new ‘windows’ within the Human Settlement Development Grant (HSDG) and the within the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) where funds from these grants will be ring fenced for the upgrading of informal settlements. The HSDG is administered by provincial Departments of Human Settlements, while the USDG is a grant that is allocated by Treasury directly to metropolitan municipalities for metros to administer.  These windows set a minimum amount each province, working with municipalities (for the HSDG), and each metropolitan municipality (for the USDG) must spend on informal settlement upgrading, and requires these provinces, municipalities and metros to work in partnership with communities. (Division of Revenue Bill 2019, page 90 for HSDG and page 106 for USDG).  Depending on the success of these two ‘windows’, two new Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grants will be introduced in subsequent years, ‘skimming’ funds off the HSDG and USDG allocations up to a total of R14.7 billion for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 period.

The upgrading of informal settlements has been a priority of government for a number of years now – since the introduction of the Breaking New Ground policy in 2004 (A Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human Settlements) – but in many instances government appears to be claiming many projects as upgrading of informal settlements projects, but on closer inspection these projects could better be described as conventional RDP housing projects making use of the Integrated Residential Development Programme grant.  These projects may benefit some people living in informal settlements in that they move these people from their informal shack into a new RDP house. However, these projects do not actually follow the phases for upgrading as described in the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) of the 2009 housing code.

A ‘true’ UISP project involves a four phase process

The new Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grant, that is being tested in the 2019/20 financial year and will be formally introduced in 2020/21, seems to be an attempt by government (through Treasury) to ensure that in future government counts true upgrading of informal settlements projects within its statistics for upgrading and does not claim conventional RDP housing projects as upgrading.

It needs to also be remembered that government in its 2014 – 2019 medium term strategic framework for human settlements, set itself a target to provide 750 000 households by 2019, through the Informal Settlements Upgrading Programme, with access to basic services and security of tenure.  This new informal settlement upgrading grant introduced in the 2019 budget vote speech will go a long way to helping government achieve any new target it sets itself for the next 2019 – 2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework period.




Annual Report 2017

Afesis-corplan is proud to present our Annual Report for 2017. Find out about all the exciting projects we are working on and the progress, successes, lowlights and lessons we are learning as an organisation.

Annual report 2017




The narrative that continues to associate state capture with Zuma is a lazy one

By Nontando Ngamlana

There has been great public interest in the phenomenon dubbed ‘state capture’ since the revelation of the Gupta influence on ministerial and other senior institutional leadership appointments. Rightly so because the collusion of business and public representatives in ways that advance their personal and business interests over public good cripples the state from effectively delivering on its transformative socio-economic mandate. However, the spotlight shone on the negative impact of the Gupta-Zuma relationship took attention away from the capture of institutions in the other spheres of government. The VBS saga facilitated a moment in which the country was forced to confront the extent of looting of state resources across all government.

Click here for the full article.




Glenmore Sports Field Refurbishment

[IN CASE YOU MISSED IT]: Here’s our Executive Director, Nontando Ngamlana’s widely publicised media statement on the refurbishment of the Glenmore Sports Field by the Ngqushwa Local Municipality.

Click to open.

Refurbishment of Glenmore Sports Field by the Ngqushwa Local Municipality Press statement

For background and more information about Glenmore, view the following articles on our website:

Accounting for Basic Services (ABS): Participatory Budgeting

Afesis in Action March 2017: Participatory Budgeting

Glenmore residents start petition to get their sports field rectified

Glenmore residents march to the Ngqushwa local municipality