Archive | human settlements

Communal Property Bill assists land reform

Reform assisted on communal property 

communal-land-4…sent to clients 21 Oct….The tabling of the Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill could represent a major advance in bringing order to many aspects of government’s land reform policy. In essence, the Bill will ensure that householders have security of tenure and thus have the ability to raise capital before they enter into any agreement on the management of communal land.

The new Bill focuses on developing the practical and legal aspects of ownership of communal land by a communal property association (CPA) whilst at the same time providing security of tenure with a new initial procedure of naming householders to benefit. The draft has now been approved by Cabinet.

Whilst the thrust of government policy on land reform has always been to bring ownership ofland-reform self-sustaining agricultural land to previously disadvantaged communities, the process has been much bedeviled by conflict over land falling under the control of traditional chiefs; the inability of small farmers to raise finance without title and, most important, for households able to enjoy security of tenure.

Communal confusion

An unintended consequence of the original CPA programme launched by government has been that government has not wished to involve itself, nor has any investing entity for that matter, in the community strife and argument over communal land, a feature of many CPAs. Consequently, the CPA system has demonstrated its inability to involve itself in loans, any state support, or receive the support of agricultural assistance programmes.

community-farmIt might be said that CPAs as a structural system is “off the banking radar”, a fact which MPs in parliamentary committee meetings have complained of a number of times.

As a result, expensive trusts have become the order of the day, banks preferring to deal with such entities and even government itself having to use them because of the informality of a CPA and the inability of loan applicant to show security.

The objective of the Act when it was signed into law was to create a new form of juristic person to allow disadvantaged communities to acquire, hold and manage property in common. A community that qualifies in terms of the Act can therefore, on the basis of agreement contained in a written constitution, form a legal entity (the CPA) and thereby become owners of property, including land, via the CPA.

Agricultural reform

A CPA as it currently stands allows its members to become owners of land which has been “prioritised for the provision of infrastructural support to land reform farmers to enable them to create sustainable jobs and alleviate poverty.”

However, over the few years since CPAs were established, it appears from parliamentary Lesedi traditionalportfolio committee meetings, that things have not gone well. In some cases, traditional chiefs had intervened and gained control of land previously under the aegis of the members of a CPA. Meanwhile, traditional chiefs had complained that CPAs were acting like “chiefdoms” in themselves, the department told parliamentarians.

Tweaking and compromising

Some attempts were made by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to persuade CPA members to appoint traditional chiefs on an “ex-officio basis” but the situation remained untenable, not necessarily just because of the problem of traditional control but because, due to shortage of staff, they said, had no ability to monitor the situation and no picture of what land was under CPA control, where CPAs were, and their needs.

In addition, no measurement of outcome of any schemes appeared possible, Opposition members complained. Quite clearly, they said, the NDP land reform programme has not been successful to date. Whilst the idea had been along the right tracks, it seemed the system was patently in trouble.

Green Paper study

After two years of investigation, in 2014 the Ministry, produced a Green Paper on the subject. After creating communal property ownership rights, the new proposal in the Paper was to secure individual tenure to each household beforehand, be it a farm-dweller or tenant, and for each household to own its rights at law before the CPA was formed to lock into this.

land-reform-5As per the Act in force, it would be possible for a community or group of persons to have access to a registered title to land through common or joint ownership with every name included (in a deed of transfer) or through a trust (with title vesting in the trustees) or a juristic person (with title vesting in that legal entity). Once registered, the CPA would become a juristic person – that can sue and be sued. It could acquire rights and incur obligations in its own name, in accordance with a CPA constitution.

In a policy statement, a Bill was proposed along these lines with a CPA constitution as before dealing with sub-divisions, servitudes, the right to encumber with a mortgage, deal with leases and settle disputes – all essential to the development of the area concerned but in respect of nominated persons giving those persons therefore security of ownership.

The bigger picture

The new Bill therefore speaks to a process to align a CPA to the broader land reform mandate in terms of the policy statement. The Bill also says a Communal Propertyland-claims-court Associations Office is to be established which is headed by a Registrar of Communal Property Associations. As a result, CPAs will be better equipped, it is felt, to take part in development; its status is recognised and is known to government; and has a secure system of tenure established as a base for ownership.

DHA said the plan was to clearly establish the connection between the land itself and those who live on it and depend on it for agricultural income. With more clearly established security and a need to register for compliance, it is hoped that a CPA structure will present a more viable face to the investing world.
Previous articles on category subject
New approach to land reform – ParlyReportSA
Restitution of Land Rights Act reversed – ParlyReportSA
Land Holdings Bill joins state acquisition trend – ParlyReportSA

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White Paper on Human Settlements shortly for comment.

Human settlements rethink on township size…

lindiwe sisuluMinister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, has told Parliament  that a White Paper  on “restoring human dignity by building quality houses by obtaining the advantage of larger developments to improve economies of scale”.

She said that the plan was to encourage beneficiaries to participate in their own building developments in their own areas accompanied by the appropriate trade skills training.

Minister Sisulu said the whole question of hostels would be restructured for the moment but eventually the plan was to do away with the hostel system in its entirety.

Hostels always an issue

The plan was to upgrade the hostels and then have them managed as social housing projects by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority which had a provincial reach.  Hostel dwellers will eventually receive a subsidy towards normal accommodation.

On housing generally, the minister announced that a partnership between her department and the Banking Association of South Africa was being developed which would result in the setting up of a working group focused on the housing market. A consultative workshop is planned before the end of June 2015 that will allow key stakeholders to brainstorm on ideas.

Minister Sisulu concluded “We want to give hope to our people and indicate that there is solid policy. But a policy is only as credible as its capacity to deliver on that
policy.”

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/human-settlements/informal-settlements-lack-progress-queried/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-bill-ends-long-journey-in-the-parliament/

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Agrément Bill from CSIR will help localisation

building siteAgrément process helps new products…. 

An Agrément South Africa Bill has now been tabled in Parliament in an attempt to re-vitalize innovation and technical and engineering development mainly in the construction area that will hopefully benefit  socio-economic and developmental projects – for example, low-cost buildings, water and sanitation, road construction and basic systems applications. A responsibility currently of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Agrément SA is an institutional practice which, according to its website, “serves the national interest as an internationally acknowledged independent SA certification centre also serving the building and engineering communities.” It says it by providing “assurance to specifiers and users via technical approvals of ‘fitness-for-purpose’ of non-standardised and/or unconventional products”, Agrément SA evaluates such “fitness-for-purpose” on items and products used in the construction industry for which no national standard exists. The system is perceived as a necessity since many municipalities and local governments do not have personnel who can assess innovative systems themselves and can look therefore for such certification.

Legitimising many new products

A recent review of the Agrément SA’s departmental performance revealed that a lack of legal status, had negatively impacted on the department’s overall “functionality”. In other words, expectations were not being met and the “red tape” created by examination of too many government departments involved in the investigation, testing, liaison and certification process, produced a much delayed result and inefficiency. Since 1969, CSIR with Agrément SA has certificated internationally 266 systems developed in South Africa and 52 products created locally but this is considered way under par in the race to encourage innovation and develop small business, particularly in the targeted area of providing socio-economic benefits. Cabinet approved in October last year a draft designed to tighten up how Agrément SA is to be managed. Firstly, the bill as now tabled, seeks to establish Agrément SA as a juristic person with the relevant staff transferred from CSIR, and for an entity to be formed with its own board subject to the PMFA.

Non-standardised products can be specified

Secondly, the Bill seeks to provide legislation that will continue to provide assurance to specifiers and users of the quality and value for money of non-standardised construction related products or systems.  The Bill is specific in its focus to support the introduction and use of a certified non-standardised construction related engineering or other products or systems in the local or international market. Primarily the overall object will also remain a catalyst for encouraging research and development of non-standardised construction related products or systems to support socio-economic development. However, the reconstituted entity will be able to charge fees for services rendered and open a bank account. Any issued agrément (consent) certificates will be valid for three years. Other articles in this category or as background ParlyReportSA – CSIR reports on languages We can do better says new public works minister – ParlyReportSA Infrastructure Development Bill to cut red tape – ParlyReport

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Informal settlements: lack of progress queried

 

Minister has catch-up job on settlements…

IY2With a budget of nearly R31bn to be spent this year on human settlements issues  to improve the lives of South Africans in the area of housing and more recently sanitation, the department of human settlements (DHS) says it has to come to grips urgently with the situation regarding informal townships in South Africa.

This is according to parliament’s own research team when briefing the new portfolio committee on human settlements on the housing backlog under its new ANC chairperson, Ms Macwene Semenya.

The briefing also touched on government’s plan to achieve eradication of sanitation backlogs by 2014, set at one year prior to the target specified by the UN’s millennium development goals.

Good track record

These and other major problems add to the catch-up pressure upon the new minister of human settlements, Connie September, who has a long-standing relationship with Parliament serving in the past on the trade and industry, water and joint rules portfolio committees and who has played an important role in the development of COSATU.

The portfolio committee was told that DHS worked to a difficult framework in terms of various policies, constitutional and legislative aspects, to assist and enable municipalities to manage housing developments within their areas of jurisdiction.

DHS does not build houses as many assume, they said, but attends to the finance in terms of appropriations transferred to 250 municipalities through provincial government on an accredited basis to make this happen, parliamentarians were told.

Finance for municipalities

Within three years of finance being received from DHS in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), each municipality has to plan, implement and maintain housing in the terms of a national integrated plan but first the municipality plans had to be perused and accredited by DHS in order to receive funding.

This is a complex process that needs long-term projects, major reforms and needing a strong political will, the committee was told.   It is here that DHS is experiencing its main problems, or “challenges” as put by the parliamentary briefing expert, Leepo Tsoai.

The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) was reported as having noted in a report which went to the cabinet that the increases in the human settlements budget are not linked to increases in delivery on the ground, a fact which had been the responsibility of the outgoing minister.

Not straightforward

The FFC had also noted that the effectiveness of the many human settlements grants to municipalities, over and above standard appropriations, were diverse and “segmented” and there was a serious need for “alignment and sequencing”.

Also the Auditor General, although having given an unqualified report on DHS for the 2012/3 figures and again for this year, a note was added by the AG that the vacancy rate on professional and skilled staff within the department is far too high, indicating a large vacuum where it is most needed despite funds being available.   Also far too many staff were “acting”, reported the AG, indicating that their posts remained unsubstantiated.

Lack of skilled staff was therefore one of the main reasons, said the parliamentary profiler, for the slow rate of approvals aside from the lack of skills at provincial level.

Nevertheless, the current target for DHS remained to accelerate the delivery of household opportunities and upgrading of 400 000 households in informal settlements so that there was access to secure tenure and basic services.

Back to finance problems

In this regard, DHS was also responsible for a subsidy programme for households unable to find mortgage finance or should their monthly income exceed the maximum income limit for a government free basic house.

It was noted in the parliamentary briefing, however, that many strides in terms of accelerating access to water and on sanitation matters had been made, with some 3m South Africans gaining access to adequate sanitation services since 1994, although 2.2m were still without water, bringing SA close to non-alignment with UN goals.

Also it was noted that DHS also had a target to establish a mortgage insurance guarantee scheme to deliver 600 000 housing finance opportunities.

Committee members were briefed on the two Bills passed last year; the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Bill and the Community Scheme Ombud Service Bill – the Rental Housing Amendment Bill being withdrawn but now re-introduced. In the pipeline were the Consumer Protection Measures Bill and Housing Development Property Bill.

Backlog title deeds

Insofar as the previous government was concerned, the legacy report of the last committee was reviewed which had asked for a total review of DHS funding models on projects and programmes and a way of regulating for the registration and issuing of title deeds for state subsidised houses.

Also, the legacy report stated, there was a major problem on the issue of “backyard dwellers” in urban areas to be dealt with.

As far as budget allocations were concerned the briefing showed that budget for 2013/14 was R20.2 billion, increasing in 2014/15 to R30.5 billion, with projected increases thereafter to R32.8 billion in 2015/16 and R34.4 billion in 2016/17.

At the end of the last financial year, DHS administration had under-spent 74% of budget at the end of the financial year, a major factor contributing to this the inability to fill senior management posts with the right qualifications.

At the time of this report, the committee was awaiting the annual strategy report from DHS prior to the budget vote.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-bill-ends-long-journey-in-the-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//human-settlements/sexwale-details-new-housing-loans-programme/

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Rental Housing Amendment Bill attempts country coverage

Clarity called for but Bill passed….

The Rental Housing Amendment Bill proposes a number of radical changes including the fact that all lease arrangements between tenant and landlord will be in writing, extending the anchor Rental Housing Act to all areas of the country with tribunals in each province; and “clearly demarcating the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords ensuring that both parties understand their rights and obligations”.

Promoted by the minister of human settlements, the Bill attempts to define “arbitrary eviction”  to align such acts with the Constitution.   Tribunals to handle disputes are planned for each and every province in South Africa.

Submissions made by stakeholders called for more clarity on certain sections of the proposals.

Other than making a considerable number of provisions on how such tribunals in each province will be made up and run, the new Bill also allows for the establishment of a rental housing office in every municipality.

More central powers

Interestingly, the new Bill allows for the empowerment of the minister of human settlements to make regulations affecting any area after consultation with the relevant parliamentary committee and MEC for human settlements. The Bill obviously changes reference to the department of housing to human settlements throughout the wording.

Most submissions have called for more clarity in the wording of the Bill, Pam Golding Properties calling for considerably more clarity on such expressions contained in many of the clauses, particularly surrounding  the clause which states “the Landlord must provide a tenant with a dwelling that is fit and suitable to live in, as well as maintain the existing structure of the dwelling and where possible
facilitate the provision of utilities to the dwelling”

“What is fit and suitable?” they asked.  It was, they suggested, more practical to agree to such matters beforehand in writing. They also asked for clarity on the phrasing of the Bill where it is stated that “a landlord maintain the existing structure of the dwelling”.

Understanding at local level

Whilst the intentions might be obvious to the drafters of the Bill, they say, in reality and on the ground the practicality and meaning of such wording as “ facilitate the provision of utilities to the dwelling” would cause great trouble at tribunal or housing office level and the situation had to be much clearer.

They cast considerable doubts on the Bill as far as the application of penalties was concerned and called for explanations on how “fixed term agreements” would be handled.

The Bill was debated extensively by the parliamentary portfolio committee on human settlements and most of the public submissions contained requests pointing to both obscurity at law on wording and clarity on how both tribunals and penalties would apply to relationships  between landlord and tenant specifically. Re-wording was carried in many instances.

Earlier articles on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/property-sector-charter-b-bbee-codes-now-in-force/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/dti-publishes-property-industry-bbbee-code-regulations/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/land-reform-chiefs-something-very-sad-is-going-on/

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PRC report out on SA’s public service..

Lack of liaison throughout….

The presidential review committee’s (PRC) report on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is now in the public domain.

The report clearly lays out in writing what has suspected by many for a long time; that in the opinion of the PRC there is major disconnect between government departments in form of liaison over national objectives; a total lack of common  data to work with and that there is a similar disconnect between SOEs and the different tiers of government service – national, provincial and local.

The recommendations precede a Bill which to be tabled by the minster for performance monitoring and evaluation, Collins Chabane, called the State Owned Entities Bill, which will relate to all SOEs, their planning and decision-making processes, as well as their relationships with government departments in general.

All this is to be in an effort to overcome the problems enumerated in the report.

Governance issues

In a statement issued at the time, the minister stated that cabinet had approved the final report at the end of April 2013, the original committee to make such a report, having set this up in 2010 with the objective of auditing all SOE’s to “review the current governance arrangements”.

It was also expected of the process to review government’s development objectives, particularly in so far as the New Growth Plan was concerned and comment on possible improvements in SOE contributions.

Auditing 700 units

The committee was given 21 terms of reference covered in the general topics of development and transformation; governance and ownership; their business viability and their strategic management and operational effectiveness. A total of 715 SOE units were listed for audit.

“Crucial weaknesses within SOEs were that whilst SOEs have an indispensable role to play in service delivery and also have crucial performance and transformation potential, there are grave impediments to their optimum contribution”, the minister said.  It is now proposed to set a SOE inter-ministerial committee to guide implementation of the recommendations.

One of the crucial issues to emerge from the report was whether SOEs were responding to the South Africa’s developmental agenda and assisting in a meaningful way towards the need for government departments to deliver. The report also recommends, aside from the fact that government should enact a single overarching law (State Owned Entities Act), it should also establish a central remuneration authority (CRA).

Mixed objectives

It was clearly established that there are “no commonly agreed strategic sectors and priorities across the three spheres of government as well as a common database on the SOEs.”  “There are also challenges”, the report says, “and an endemic tension with balancing the trade-offs between commercial and non-commercial objectives of SOEs including the funding those mandates and as well capitalisation model for the SOEs.”

After enunciating on eight pages of reforms needed, the PRC report concludes that “government must ensure the requisite capacities to implement these SOEs reforms are in place, including visioning and strategy-setting, appropriate human capital and structures, as well as an effective electronic oversight systems to enabling monitoring and evaluation of SOEs.”

It calls for the establishment of an SOE Council of Ministers to drive implementation of the recommendations of the PRC to achieve effective state oversight  by cluster grouping but specifically states that any “commercial” SOE should be overseen by two distinct cluster authorities.

Thirty one specific issues that need immediate attention are identified and certain “critical challenges” isolated, which included “an endemic tension with balancing the trade-offs between commercial and non-commercial objectives of SOEs including the funding those mandates and as well capitalisation model for the SOEs.”

Tiers disconnected

It also noted that there were “no commonly agreed strategic sectors and priorities across the three spheres of government.”

The authors had studied similar structures in New Zealand, Canada and Sweden “where SOE reforms have proved to be reasonably successful. They were amongst the first to focus on formulating a clear overarching legislative framework for SOEs and setting out objective for the management of SOEs”, the PRC reports says.

“In many SOEs”, the report concludes, “there is a current need for massive injection of capital and the finance policies of many SOEs require close re-examination. Ownership policy and funding models for social and economic development mandates of SOEs are in some instances are blurred and bewildering, at times leading to undercapitalisation; a factor which completely impedes the SOE’s ability to meeting national challenges it has been set.”

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/presidential-review-committee-calls-for-overhaul-of-soes/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/public-enterprises-reports-on-a-rocky-and-controversial-year/

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Spatial planning bill ends long journey in Parliament

Provincial vote powers Bill through….

cropped-parlypng3.jpgThe Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill (SPLUMB), in its third drafting, eventually received approval by majority of the National Council of Provinces since, as a section 76 Bill, it required provincial level debate.  The Bill, when it becomes law did not have total support since seven provinces supported it with the Western Cape Provincial Legislature being the only exception.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature failed to submit its mandate causing some uncertainty on its position.   Nevertheless, the Bill was approved by the NCOP on a majority vote basis, which means the Bill was returned to the National Assembly for reading and final voting with the obvious result, since the opposition party in the NA had supported the Bill.   The wild card therefore remains the Western Cape in its provincial role.

Second go

The original Bill was withdrawn some three years ago as there was not sufficient time left to process the Bill in order to meet the Constitutional Court deadline then set.   The problems were, as was stated by government at the time “a legacy of challenges around land use and planning, causing distortions brought about by separate development policies and the Group Areas Act.”    A two year extension was then sought from the Constitutional Court.

The department of rural development and land reform said it had been known since independence that the legislation had to be repealed but in June 2010 the Constitutional Court had ruled certain provisions of the anchor act and legislation on land use, as it stood, to be both unconstitutional and invalid.

Will new Bill solve problems downstream?

municipal meetingIn any case, questions arose at the time amongst parliamentarians regarding the ability of smaller municipalities to manage the processes envisaged by the that particular Bill in the language it had been written; the lack of involvement with stakeholders; what would happen in the case of conflict between the spheres of government; whether argument on the separation of powers would arise on what government wanted and what Parliament would accept and whether the state realized that a two year delay would possibly cause more confusion, argument and insecurity.

In presenting the first draft of the re-written SPLUMB to the relevant NA portfolio committee some years later, minister Gugile Nkwinti said, “The need for legislation in land use is urgent and has to precede any policy need”, indicating that the governing party may have to surrender some of its entrenched policies on the issue to provide urgently the legislation to enable local government to perform.

Bad practices

In their presentations on the Bill, the department told parliamentarians that there had to be a set of norms and standards outlined by over-arching legislation applying to all tiers of government.   Past practices, such as “building 60,000 homes without providing a school” had to be stopped, the department said.

Same problem: who defines “the national interest”?

The main issue to develop in the debate that followed was a discussion on what constitutes “the national interest”, an all important expression or term used in the new Bill part of which is an enabling clause which gave the minister the right to act in situations at all levels of government.

The reality is, said a commentator recently, despite the noble objectives of the SPLUMB proposals, to integrate policies for the development and use of land with other policies and programmes at different levels of government and with different departments is going to be an arduous task. “It might take another five years to get any form of commonality on local ordinances”, said one parliamentarian.

The fact that the Western Cape, for reasons which it considers critical, has rejected the Bill, emphasises this.

Transparency

Meetings with SALGA and traditional chiefs have now taken place and considerable consultation with municipalities.  Metros had also been dealt with and a debate commenced with the Legal Resources Centre making recommendations for improvement, both parties basically endorsing the proposals. A “road show” to all nine provinces was conducted to obtain opinion and Controlesa (The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa) were included in meetings.

A few months ago, most members of the NA portfolio committee seemed confident that after nearly seven months of debate at portfolio committee level, sufficient compromise could be reached. The Bill was approved and went to the NCOP for further debate.

The objects defined

The Bill is over forty pages long and has as its objectives constitutional imperatives to promote land planning that takes into account the environment; that enables citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis; the right of access to adequate housing and sustainable human settlements; and realizes the need of communities to have easily available sufficient food and water.

It follows the White Paper on the subject in 2001 and fills the gap of the failed Land Use Management Bill in 2008. Finally, the purpose of the new Bill is to eliminate discriminatory practices of the past. With the no adoption of the Bill coming from the Western Cape at provincial level, it remains to be seen how the opposition party deal with voting during the Bill’s final reading process.

WP local government complaints

However, SPLUMB, in its current form, will no doubt be shortly signed into law. With the Premier of the Western Cape, Patricia de Lille, now attempting to over-ride WP local government on a whole host of land planning matters, there are already major objections at many levels and it remains to be seen how practical much of this legislation is going to be at grass roots level.

More background articles on subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-land-use-management-bill-moves-on/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/minister-says-need-for-legislation-on-land-reform-a-priority/

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New Air Quality Act will deal with major polluters

Three areas under focus…

emissionsIn terms of who is in trouble in terms of the newly proposed Air Quality Act amendments, the chief director, air quality management at the department of environmental affairs (DEA), told parliamentarians that there were three priority areas that had been identified in South Africa where ambient standards are being exceeded.

These are the Vaal Triangle airshed, which could be said to be Orange Farm south to Sasolburg; the Highveld area, roughly Witbank south to Ermelo and back up to Delmas; and the Waterberg-Bonjala area which is essentially Brits through to Limpopo. The minister believes that that these areas, said Dr Mduli, should be “declared” as such in terms of the law, as soon as possible.   In the case of the Waterberg-Bonjala area, it was more a case of what was being planned for the area, than what existed at the moment, she said.

de Lange gets tough

Adv. de Lange, chair of the water and environmental portfolio committee, who were being briefed on current developments under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, asked why Durban South was not a priority area in terms of DEA’s estimations.   Dr Mduli replied that recent improvements in ambient air quality in that area had shown that it need not be rated as such.

The main sources of pollution in the three priority areas were emissions from industrial complexes; the domestic burning of dirty fuels in highly populated areas; mining operations; and vehicle emissions, she said.

Hotspots named

She named the industrial “hotspots” as the Vaal Triangle area, this being Sasolburg, Vereeninging, Vanderbijlpark, Meyerton, Orange Farm and Soweto. Also, the Highveld, which mainly suffered from SO2 (sulphur dioxide) problems, this being the generalised Ekurhuleni area, Delmas, the eMalaheni area and Witbank, the Govan Mbeki area and Secunda, the Steve Tshwete area and Middeburg, the Msukaliqwa area and Ermelo and the Lekwa area which took in Standerton.

PM10 problems (heavy dust particles) existed in Ekurhuleni, Witbank, Secunda and Ermelo, she told parliamentarians, but in general terms the department was establishing a national air quality indicator where, by using the 45 monitoring stations that existed in South Africa, there was a possibility of establishing a “constant” that could be evaluated against comparison.

Getting together

Dr. Mduli said that it was not just a question of penalising pollutants that, in many cases, were providing valuable jobs.  It was more a case of working with the industries involved to provide answers. An example, she said, was Engen in Durban South, where a compromise had been found between saving jobs and achieving an outcome which resulted in better ambient air quality.

The issue of offsets to business as incentives, either as tax or other credits, was raised by parliamentarians as a benefit for results achieved with improved ambient air qualities for their “airsheds” but Dr Mduli said whilst these might apply to industry where there were routes to follow, the answer had yet to be found how to apply incentives to communities where traditional fuels producing carbon emissions in highly densely populated areas were the problem.

Community answers

Insofar as industry incentives were concerned, she felt that offsets were not so much a problem and which no doubt were to be considered but in the case of communities, where just individuals were concerned, a lot of the problems would be solved with simple electrification being applied as the answer, as distinct from coal or wood burning. As a result of all this, DEA monitoring stations tended to be located in highly populated areas in order to measure results, rather than emissions.

Dr. Mduli said that for this reason, so DEA could understand better the effects on communities, monitoring was on results, not on emissions, as mostly the bigger particles were in fact the biggest contributor to poor health amongst communities. “Command and control systems by regulation as conducted with industry cannot be used here”, she said and “community persuasive systems had to be envisaged”, she added.

Added to this was the winter atmospheric inversion problem on the Highveld, which tended to trap bigger particles on a long-term basis and contributed to health problems.

Eskom again in the picture

It was noted by Dr Mduli, in displaying graphs, that SO2 played a large part in the national industrial emissions problem and Eskom were the certainly the greatest polluter in this regard, she said. But offsets would not help here, she said as Eskom had other financial priorities, although electrification of townships and all rural areas were amongst Eskom targets to fight the problem of pollution.

In describing the new regulations to follow from the Air Quality Act amendments, she said a number of events would follow in the next few months. Firstly, section 21 of the Act required a list of activities to be published and which had been attended to, the control of which would define the associated regulations necessary to finalise environmental emission standards as an answer to the climate response issue.

The rest of the proposals…

Secondly, section 22 and onwards would include a declaration of control of processes and which was constantly under revision; for example, even the control of declaring mobile asphalt plants might be considered, she said.

Section 29 and following sections involved the definition of greenhouse gasses as pollutants as defined internationally and requirements that followed from global agreements. Then followed clauses which would allow regulations on a “hands on” basis, bringing controls and regulations down to a localised basis, such as sugar cane burning in KwaZulu Natal.

Get a big fish

Adv. de Lange concluded that DEA, in his summing up of the new amendments, had “done well” and he noted “his surprise” at the advanced stage of air quality controls in the country and successes to date. He stated, however, “that what was needed now was a legal success in a major test case against a large industry polluter to show that DEA meant business”.

It was noted in the presentations that Cape Town in general had dropped as far as excessive quality emissions were concerned but that Goodwood, as a residential area had suffered particularly insofar as SO2 was concerned and this had to be investigated. Other issues that concerned DEA on air quality emissions was that mercury readings in emissions were gaining ground, mainly in coal producing areas.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Fuel,oil,renewables, human settlements, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Environmental Affairs speed things up with SEAs

SEAs for major infrastructure projects…..

Environmental minister Edna Molewa said during her budget vote speech that strategic environmental impact reports (SEAs) would be shortly introduced, saying that she was aware that her department may be holding things up with outstanding environmental-impact assessments (EIAs) which applied to specific localised projects.

The idea is to speed things up “without undermining sound environmental-impact management principles”, minister Molewa said and such a strategy for environmental-impact assessments generally to address key national concerns “is well under way”.

National overiding interests

SEAs, she said, are typically carried out on one or more large national projects or programmes, as distinct to environmental-impact assessments (EIAs), which apply to specific localised projects. The idea is to hasten the process “without undermining sound environmental-impact management principles.” Such a strategy for environmental-impact assessments generally to address key concerns “is well under way,” minister Molewa said.

On the subject of major national infrastructure projects, DEA’s Lize McCourt said, in a separate presentation to Parliament, that the department had undertaken an evaluation of the eighteen Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) which the cabinet has named as essential to the National Development Plan (NDP).

Presidential overwatch on SIPs

“We have looked at what will be the best approach in terms of environmental regulation for each one in terms of the departmental clusters involved and made a preliminary evaluation”, she said.     She indicated that a “streamlined” environmental authorisation process was to be introduced by DEA to facilitate the implementation of all the SIPs projects being overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).     The idea of the SEA was born.

1,300 EIAs outstanding

There are currently some 1,300 active EIA applications being considered by the nine provinces and here again DEA stressed they were attempting to sped up processes with these, with possibly a single approval process involved, rather than several separate processes.

Posted in Earlier Stories, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, human settlements, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

New approach to land reform

Playing fields altered in land reform legislation….

Gugile_NkwintiIn a newly proposed Bill on property valuation, the government’s new policy in respect of rural development and land reform department is more clearly expressed with the proposal of an office of a Valuer-General.  Public comment on the Bill is called for.

It appears that the minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti, will table in Parliament a Property Valuation Bill primarily, and presumably, to establish an entity to carve through the current settlement process problems surrounding money settlement terms.

“Willing-buyer-willing-seller” not working

The new proposals, in the background rationale to the draft Bill, state that “the willing-buyer-willing-seller approach to land reform is not working at a sufficient level to achieve the desired land reform targets”. It goes on to say that government’s plan is to deliver 25 million hectares of commercial agricultural land by 2015 and so far, only 25% of this has been achieved.

The explanatory memorandum of the Bill says, “New legislation is required to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution which provide for land reform and land restitution and to facilitate land reform and land restitution through the valuation of property in order to determine the purchase price for or payment in respect of property”.

Market value to be “assigned”

The approach involves market value being assigned to specific pieces of land. The Bill says that the minister’s concern is that actual market value is not being applied in a number of land reform initiatives. Escalated prices tend to be offered. This slows down the entire land reform process and this is where the office of the Valuer-General will come in.

Objectives of the bill includes the establishment, functions and powers of the Office of the Valuer-General; the appointment and responsibilities of the Valuer-General; provision for the valuation of property that has been identified for land reform or expropriation for purposes of determining a value as well as property that has been identified for acquisition or disposal by a department, organ of state or a municipality and to provide for the repeal of the Land Affairs Act.

A review committee is to be established to deal with objections to valuations.

Further Bill backdates claims

In tandem, the minister has also published a draft Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill and both drafts give the public until 22 June 2013 to make comment.

This proposed legislation intends extending the date for lodging a claim for restitution to 18 June 2018 and backdates the period to much earlier periods in South Africa’s land restitution history apparently to accommodated some of the San tribe issues.

This bill will also introduce penalties for the fraudulent lodging of claims.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Facebook and Twitter, human settlements, Justice, constitutional, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Public utilities0 Comments

Sexwale details new housing loans programme

Housing loan plan now on the table…

tokyo-sexwale2(P)Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale said that the finance-linked individual subsidy housing loans programme (FLISP) was the future of human settlements in South Africa. The funding model and the financing structure were in the process of being designed, he told members of the portfolio committee on human settlements.

Documents handed out described FLISP as an instrument to assist qualifying households by providing a once off down payment to those households who have secured mortgage finance to acquire a residential property for the first time. The objective of the programme was to reduce the initial mortgage loan amount and to render the monthly loan repayment installments affordable over the loan payment term.

People to be assisted

Minister Sexwale said that such grants were to be about R85 000 and followed the world wide trend where governments assisted people in building their own homes, plus the fact that his department was willing to assist people in getting full bonds. Such systems existed in America, China and many other countries which had successfully transformed housing into sustainable human settlements. “Individuals were sent to the banks and were backed by the government”, he said.

He told parliamentarians of the portfolio committee on human settlements that the present system of grants provided by the state were really just a welfare scheme and could not constitute the basis of a proper South African human settlements plan.

All the same, he said, it was to him a “given” that in South Africa had to have this “low route” and this had to be provided for the really poor but it was still only a safety net. No housing policy could work with welfare grants alone.

Quality the focus

The Minister said his department was going to focus on the building of capacity and focus more on quality rather than chase numbers in the delivery of housing. He said the department’s plans to improve and roll back the sanitation backlog, the prioritisation being the rectification of old houses first over the delivery of new houses, wipe out the corruption amongst housing construction providers and bring good governance to the system.

Back up to mortgage loans

He said that the department with FLISP would be dealing with households who were in the income range of R3 501 to R15 000 and who were South African. The process was designed to assist qualifying beneficiaries who wished to obtain mortgage finance from a lender to acquire ownership of an existing residential property.

Also beneficiaries of FLISP would be able to obtain vacant serviced residential stands which are linked to house-building contracts with home builders registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC); or build a new house with the assistance of a home builder registered with the NHBRC, on a serviced residential stand, already owned by the beneficiary.

The following articles are archived on this subject:

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-land-use-management-bill-moves-on/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/rights-of-tenants-to-obtain-fair-leases-protected/

Posted in human settlements0 Comments


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