Housing demand growing faster than delivery

RAPID urbanisation was causing the demand for housing to grow faster than the government could deliver it, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Friday.

"At this rate we are not going to get very far. We have a serious problem," she told the Black Management Forum (BMF)in Johannesburg.

Of South Africa’s 2,4 million informal households, only 800,000 were on the government’s waiting list, she said.

Africa’s urban growth rate was currently at four%, twice as high as that of Latin America and Asia, the speed of which had caught governments unaware.

"We have created 1,8 million houses in the last 10 years, but it hasn’t taken us very far." Referring to the recent eviction of slum dwellers in Zimbabwe, Sisulu said other African countries risked finding themselves in similar situations unless governments took action.

The top three areas in SA that were urbanising most rapidly and were severely affected by the housing shortage were Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

"All these areas of rapid urbanisation are presently a crisis for us," she said.

Sisulu appealed to the private sector and construction companies to help government solve the housing crisis.

A culture of responsibility also had to be created so that people improved the houses they received, instead of selling them and returning to live in townships, she added.

Sisulu could not say how much of the government’s housing money was lost to corruption, but said the housing ministry would embark on a study with the auditor general to determine the extent of corruption in provinces like Limpopo.

Another problem was shoddy workmanship by construction companies. She acknowledged that in areas of the Free State this was a "serious problem.

"We are putting together a housing code so that we can apply a uniform standard and are going to have a ’living-worthy certificate’."

She rejected the idea of turning dagga plants into bricks as a cheaper alternative to building materials.

"It’s a very cooling method of building a house, but not what we advocate."