Parliament, Saturday, 17 September 2022 – The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements was informed that the lack of capacity and skills at municipal level, especially in poor municipalities, is a potential risk to the effective implementation of the proposed Housing Consumer Protection Bill. These sentiments were made in Upington yesterday during the first public hearings in the Northern Cape on the Bill.

Participants told the committee that it took up to three years to evaluate and approve plans at smaller municipalities, making the enrolment of homes difficult. This backlog within municipalities will prevent people from enrolling their houses which denies people access to the warranty fund which is one of the benefits that are promised by the Bill and its key pillar. To alleviate this problem, participants called for the capacitation of human settlements divisions in the municipalities to ensure the effective implementation of the Bill.

Some participants underscored that the Bill represents renewed hope for small construction companies and promises to open business opportunities for them in the construction industry. Female owners of construction companies called for the Bill to ensure the transformation of the industry and such transformation should be biased towards the empowerment of women.

A strong view was highlighted that the Bill must prevent the influx in the building industry by unskilled and unregistered foreign builders in South Africa. Many small and medium companies were critical that big construction companies had a tendency to hire unskilled migrant workers denying skilled and registered South Africans job and business opportunities in the industry.

While a majority of participants supported the Bill, some were critical of the cost of registration with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), especially the requirement for annual registration, especially in the context of limited business opportunities.

Participants raised the invisibility of the NHBRC and its inspectors as a concern. They called for increased information sessions by the NHBRC to enlighten the people more about the benefits of the Bill. Furthermore, participants called for the improved capacitation of inspectors to ensure adherence to the specified building standards. Meanwhile, participants also called for tightened prevention of corruption as participants told the committee that there is a perception that building inspectors are bribed to abandon their responsibility of inspection.

The committee welcomed the qualitative inputs made and is of the view that they will enhance the Bill. “We must appreciate the comments today and we are hopeful that the passing of the Bill will have a positive impact on the adherence to housing standards and generally improve the quality of houses our people stay in,” said Ms Machwene Semenya, the Chairperson of the committee.

Meanwhile, the committee has committed itself and the district municipality to resolving a housing issue of an old disabled man that complained that he has been waiting for a house for a long time. The man complained that he was moved from pillar to post without support. However, the municipality has committed to rectify the problem.

The committee will today continue with the public hearings on the Bill in Kuruman. The committee invites all individuals and interested organisations to come and make inputs on the Bill, to ensure that the final product is reflective of their will and aspirations.

 Details of the Hearings (Day 2)

Date: Saturday, 16 September 2022

Time: 10:00

Venue: Wrenchville Community Hall, Kuruman 


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