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Reduced budget, impact of land invasions calls for greater innovation, new plans <p>​The reality is there is massive pressure on our housing programmes from land invasions and budget cuts and budget reprioritisation to deal with the COVID-19 impact especially on our most vulnerable communities. </p><p>In total, we are looking at cuts of some R117 million, which will affect housing projects and opportunities this year. But it is a catch 22 situation because we are also grateful that some of this money is going towards paying for the enhanced COVID-19 services to informal settlements. </p><p>In light of all of this, it remains imperative that we get greater cooperation from the National Ministry as well as from the South African Police Service in our efforts to prevent illegal land invasions to safeguard the opportunities for our beneficiaries. </p><p>This is what our engagements have been about this week. At the same time, we need to look at innovative partnerships to help reduce the impact of budget cuts on our projects and beneficiaries. </p><p>In the previous financial year, the urban settlements development grant funding was cut by R115 million in May. As mentioned, a further reduction of the national urban development grant of R84 million is expected and this will likely impact on at least ten housing projects to the value of more than R200 million in this financial year, 2020/21. </p><p>Added to this is the impact of what appears to be mostly orchestrated attempts to invade land and illegally occupy City projects which are threatening housing and upgrading of informal settlements projects to the value of some R1,3 billion. Should these projects be lost, it will not only be to the extreme detriment of the potential and future beneficiaries, it is to the detriment of Cape Town as a community. </p><p>The City, together with law enforcement agencies, is doing its best to prevent the attempts but it is mostly large-scale, well-planned, well-funded and orchestrated invasions. Actions to prevent the invasions or illegal occupations have also been met in some areas with extreme violence and destruction of property and the breaking down of community facilities. </p><p>It is clear that many thousands of law-abiding residents are silently bearing the severe impact of land invasions due to the unlawful actions of a relatively small group of people who occupy land illegally.</p><p>Encouraged by those shouting for the City not to act against land invasions and illegal occupation, many now see this as a green light to invade land, community facilities and City projects.</p><p>This comes in the wake of the court case involving the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Legal Resource Centre. It seeks to interdict the City from conducting any and all anti-land invasion operations. The SAHRC is further asking the court to void all existing court orders protecting specific sites from invasion. </p><p>There needs to be a societal consensus that we do not move forward and make progress when we invade land. Look at the flooding misery where newly invaded areas have been the most affected by the recent storms. </p><p>We also do not have the resources as a City to continuously divert funds from planned projects in our Integrated Development Plan to newly invaded areas. The money we are getting from the national government is decreasing but the settlements and basic services needs are increasing. </p><p>It does not add up. <br>In a month’s time, in September, a new strategy for Human Settlements will start to undergo extensive public engagement, after serving before the oversight committees of Council. </p><p>It has been in formulation for almost two years as a means to enable greater partnership interventions in the human settlements sphere. This is crucial as a City government - a local municipality - cannot be solely responsible or solve the challenges of urbanisation, increased informality and of more affordable accommodation on a larger scale. It needs all levels of government and private sector support and innovative, collaborative approaches to change the current trajectory. </p><p>We are working towards this goal already of finding new ways to tackle increased urbanisation and poverty due to South Africa’s dire economic picture, but if we lose more land and projects to invasions, our city will continue to carry the negative impacts of land invasions such as fires, floods, health and safety conditions, unrest and instability. </p><p>Of course the COVID-19 crisis has also had a massive impact on City operations and plans. We’ve had to find ways to reallocate funds from all projects and programmes in order to ensure that we focus strongly on our most vulnerable residents in informal settlements in particular with enhanced services. This comprises hundreds of millions of rand. It is a necessary step to take and it will of course also impact on planned formal projects and upgrade projects. </p><p>Together with the land invasions, it is a stark illustration of what impact growing informality has – the domino effect that is created because there is only one pot of money for all requirements. <br> <br>So what do we need? </p><p>1.  We need to strengthen inter-governmental collaboration and cooperation. </p><p>2.  We need all our private sector partners and stakeholders to help us to prevent land invasions and the proliferation and spread of more informal settlements which has a knock on effect on our planned projects. </p><p>3. We need Cape Town’s communities to engage with us on our new human settlements strategy when it goes for public consultation and we need innovative, workable and constructive proposals to reimagine our communities and neighbourhoods and build a better future. </p><p>4.  We need to safeguard our housing processes and ensure that fairness remains a key pillar, where queue-jumping through invasion is not tolerated. </p><p>5. We need to focus on enhancing basic services and mainstreaming basic service provision.</p><p>6.  We need to move away from the over-reliance on formal housing projects and focus increasingly on in situ upgrades and other accommodation options, such as social housing and bonded plots. As mentioned, we spent 94% of our funds in the 2019/20 financial year, and that is with the COVID-19 lockdowns. The previous year we spent 95%. So spending the funds on the projects for the people is not a problem. We deliver. But new approaches are required. Over the medium term we already have more than R800 million earmarked for upgrade of informal settlements and backyarder programmes. </p><p>7.We need everyone to understand we are at the coal face in our communities, we understand and see the needs out there. We have the very best interest of our residents at heart, we do not have agendas or motives other than improving the living conditions of all our people in a manner that is possible and constructive. And we cannot do this alone. The problems facing South Africa needs a societal solution, starting right at the top. </p><p>We appreciate the undertakings of support we have been given on a national level and for the continued engagements being done by our Mayor Dan Plato, and we will continue to do our best within the realities that we face. </p><p>But we are all ready for a new future and we look forward to working with all in our society and the different levels of government to ensure that we succeed despite the challenges. </p><p>Anonymous tip-offs welcomed:<br>Residents can give anonymous tip offs if they are aware of illegal activity that is taking place; that has happened or is still to happen. Please call 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.<br></p>2020-07-30T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#a4eccbe6-2bec-49aa-ad58-8ed41a372c82;L0|#0a4eccbe6-2bec-49aa-ad58-8ed41a372c82|housing;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#a61d1094-2d2f-48c6-934c-094c65faf9cf;L0|#0a61d1094-2d2f-48c6-934c-094c65faf9cf|funding;GP0|#0697441f-1d22-448b-b2a2-a992ed2a450a;L0|#00697441f-1d22-448b-b2a2-a992ed2a450a|Urban development1

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