What would have been a radical judgement? Here the reply was that its interesting to compare the situation in Brazil, where after a five year period of peaceful occupation of privately owned land, the land ownership rights accrue to the occupiers. A radical judgement would grant permanent rights to the land, therefore allowing the households to consolidate its urban base without further interruptions. Subject to a land regularisation (formal plot pegging) process the household could begin constructing a permanent dwelling. Clearly this could not happen on land that is not suitable for occupation, without the risk first being reduced. In some cases a radical judgement might involve the right to be rehoused nearby.
A comment from the Western Cape Provincial Government was that the Province and the Oostenberg Municipality learnt a lot out of the Grootboom case. They are now much more aware of these issues. There is hardly a meeting without Grootboom being referred to. However, there is frequently the problem that when subsidised housing estates are being developed, the word gets around and the houses are invaded, a form of queue-jumping. The reply to this comment was that such invasions are organised. Many people in need of housing are organised (civics etc.), but cannot access land and housing resources collectively (other than by invasion). There is a problem that the policy focuses on the individual demand, rather than catering also for collective demand (again the Brazilian experience is instructive).
A question from Alioune Badiane was whether the courts are the right way to pursue access to land, and whether the general low-income population did not see Grootboom as positive. Here the response was that during late apartheid the courts played an important role in the process of accessing land by the poor. The message of Grootboom is not strongly popularised. In terms of the affected community represented by Mr Irene Grootboom, the benefits were not very tangible. Mrs Irene Grootboom in fact left the group out of frustration, and sought to find shelter elsewhere.
A further comment from Alioune Badiane was that the Melon Foundation, in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission of the UN are monitoring evictions around the world. He would like to see us in South Africa connect with this initiative. In Ghana, the residents of the Sodom and Ghomorra settlement, where 30 000 people invaded land some 10 years ago, are now being evicted to make space for a renovation project. This needs to be monitored. The reply from the presenter was, that one needs to look into what the UWC Community Law Centre is already doing in this direction. Badiane’s response was that one definitely needs a reporting system in South Africa. The UN is monitoring in 11 countries – in relation to the Cities without Slums campaign. We need to connect with the expert in the World Bank Office (and this should be reported back to plenary).
A comment from Uitenhage local government was that they are faced with the problem of elderly man, who was part of an invasion many years ago, now refusing to move to the plots that the municipality has provided. He claims the land is his, and is unhappy that the site he’ll be moved to is not big enough for him to have his cattle there. How should the local government proceed? The presenter acknowledged that these are complicated cases, and that she did not have sufficient information to comment constructively.
A last comment related to the Modderklip case, and how this compared with the cases in the paper. The presenter was not familiar enough with the Modderklip case to be able to answer this, but noted the need for ongoing research to monitor new cases.
Suitability for book:
There was quite a lot of interest in this presentation, many people asking for copies of the paper. It has been published in full length in Urban Forum earlier this year (Urban Forum gives authors the right to publish the material elsewhere). I would suggest a shorter version, also up-dated to include the Modderklip case (some research would be required), and the significance of the TAC ruling. Given a little time, the author could contextualise the chapter within housing rights provisions in other African countries, in order to establish the regional significance of the SA Constitution and the Grootboom case.
People’s Housing Process – Zesuliwe Mkhize (Director: People’s Housing Process, Department of Housing, Gauteng Provincial Government)
The People’s Housing Process builds on the culture or people helping themselves and of helping one another. Shacks are understood as resulting from this process, but without access to support. (As in the Zambian case) support and technical assistance are central to the PHP. Households are the main decision makers in this process. Special capacity is required in the Province, the support organisations and local authorities. Key principles are partnerships, a people-driven process, skills transfer, community empowerment and simple and transparent procedures. The role of national government is in assisting households to access land and services, in subsidising the house construction, in the issuing of establishment and facilitation grants, and through technical and logistical assistance. Among other things, national policy also aims to promote economic upliftment and a culture of savings through the PHP.
For implementation in a given neighbourhood, a legal entity is formed, to serve as the Support Organisation. Its roles are technical support, account administration and project management. It assists in the establishment of a Housing Support Centre for this purpose. In Gauteng, support organisation are CBOs, local government, and communities entering into agreements with legal bodies such as NGOs or private sector organisations.
Through the PHP the beneficiary saves on labour costs and profit (charged by developers). Trade-offs in material procurement are optimised, and the beneficiary has choice in terms of house type and construction process. Gauteng Province Department of Housing has the objective of developing a PHP strategy, ensuring distribution of resources and capacity, collaboration with other role players, monitoring and evaluation, alignment with poverty alleviation programmes, and ensuring beneficiary choice.
Challenges relate to capacity (particularly in the Housing Support Centres, and the Support Organisations), financial management, certification and supervision of the construction process and alignment with job creation and poverty alleviation programmes. One obstacle appears to be that the government subsidy system is project focussed, and not process focused. There are policy requirements that do not meet the PHP principles.
The paper proceeds with a detailed table of the interventions of the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (ATC?), the Support Organisation (with reference to certain chapters in the Housing Code.) and the Housing Support Centres. It then refers to the current PHP review process at national level, various new guidelines, and partnerships that have been created. The verbal presentation included reference to 20 Housing Support Centres and 2 000 houses that had been built in Gauteng to date, and a partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry for training.