POLITICS
01/12/2017 13:31 SAST | Updated 01/12/2017 14:00 SAST

Mzwandile Masina’s Housing Promises: Did He Deliver?

Ekurhuleni mayor promised 5,000 houses in the first year and aims for 100,000 in five years.

Good Hope, an informal settlement in Ekurhuleni
Denvor de Wee/Visual Buzz SA
Good Hope, an informal settlement in Ekurhuleni

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mzwandile Masina has promised to deliver 100,000 houses in five years –– an ambitious target for any metro. In the financial year that ended on June 30, he said the metro would deliver "approximately 5,000" houses. How did Ekurhuleni fare?

The mayor's office says 3,800 houses were provided in 2016/17. Of these, 582 were "directly implemented" by the city. The remaining 3,218 were delivered by the provincial government.

The promise was therefore only kept in part.

But should the metro include houses delivered by the provincial government in its targets and promises to residents in the first place?

The mayor's office described the roles of the different levels of government in housing delivery as follows: "The city is primarily responsible for land provision, planning services and infrastructure provision, [while] the provincial government is responsible for top-structure [the building above the ground] construction. The national government is responsible for policy formulation and allocation of funds."

We asked the national department of human settlements if it agreed with the city's view, pointing out that the construction of houses would surely be the responsibility of a metro in cases where it manages a housing project from start to finish.

Head of communications at the national department, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said he would be comfortable with an amendment to the effect that top-structure construction is either the responsibility of the metro or the provincial government, depending on whether a project is managed on metro level or at a provincial level.

But he added: "The keyword is 'primarily' in the description ... Other responsibilities to the metros are actually delegated to [them] by the MEC, and they can be reviewed at any time."

Masina's promise of 100,000 houses in five years is based on the rollout of so-called mega housing projects –– "projects that deliver a large number of housing units and are catalytic in nature. They are developed through the collaborative efforts of national, provincial and local government, emphasising the role of local government as the ultimate owners of the process and the final product".

In these projects, the mayor's office says, the metro provides land and bulk infrastructure and is "the ultimate owner of the process and the final product".

Most of the houses are expected to be delivered in 2019/20 (26,953) and 2020/21 (60,618).

Ekurhuleni is bound to take credit if the delivery targets are met. Who will take responsibility for any failure to do so, given that housing delivery is a shared responsibility, remains to be seen.

This story is part of a collaboration between HuffPost SA and Track My Mayor. The latter keeps track of mayoral promises in the interest of increased accountability at local government level. Reporting was supported by Code for Africa's impactAFRICA fund.