DA analysis of Auditor-General’s reports on provincial housing departments has shown that many housing delivery projects are failing because of staff shortages, ineffective financial controls, poor management and a host of other problems, the party revealed last week.
Two key problems were poor control over housing subsidies and poor management of housing projects, said party housing spokesperson, Butch Steyn last Thursday.
Steyn cited some examples such as the Free State, where there was often no evidence that beneficiaries had qualified for subsidies - in 49 cases the Auditor-General looked at, he could find no records of applicants’ incomes and he also found cases where subsidies were awarded to government employees earning above the subsidy threshold.
He had also found 5 houses which had been allocated to more than one beneficiary, 417 developments where no sewerage services had been provided, and 17 sites where other fixed structures already existed on the land.
In KwaZulu-Natal, a forensic investigation had found evidence of fraud in the awarding of housing subsidies to government employees, but the department had done nothing to close the loop-holes identified to prevent the fraud from recurring; and,
In the Eastern Cape, a number of houses did not meet National Home Builders’ Registration Council standards, which was often a result of money being paid over to developers without service level agreements being in place.
“It is not hard to understand how these problems arose when one considers appalling staff shortages in many departments and the lack of proper plans to address these shortages” Steyn said.
“There is a 68 percent vacancy rate In the Free State department, a 67 percent vacancy rate among assistant directors in the KwaZulu-Natal department and a 43 percent vacancy rate in the Eastern Cape.”
He said there were many other significant problems - provinces struggled to collect debts and rentals owed to them, and some did not even have contact details for debtors or did not know how many houses they were renting out.
“It is obvious that, until these problems are addressed and basic business principles adhered to, the provincial housing departments will not fulfil their mandate to provide decent houses for the poor,” he said.
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