Over R650 million will be redirected from the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) to the country’s five metropolitan municipalities following a decision by the forum of Minister and MECs of Human Settlements (MINMEC).
According to the MINMEC, the decision was taken as a response to rapid urbanisation. Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said over the past few years metropolitan areas have experienced an increase in its population size.
She said this is largely informed by perceived better economic opportunities in big cities which ultimately create competition for adequate housing.
“South Africa is facing urbanisation challenges as young people move to cities to seek better economic opportunities. With this financial commitment we are enabling provinces and metros to respond to these challenges, this will include responding to student accommodation and adequate housing for low income earners,” said Minister Sisulu.
She said that provincial MECs of Human Settlements will work closely with the executive mayors in ensuring that the funds are not used for anything else but allocated to human settlements departments within metros.
Warning against land invasion
Meanwhile, Minister Sisulu sent a warning to developers and property owners who allow their land and buildings to be invaded. She said property owners have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are guarded.
“When they see illegal occupations taking place they must act immediately and report it to law enforcement agencies. I will be meeting with property owners to indicate my views about this, municipalities and law enforcement agencies must take action immediately when cases of illegal occupations have been reported,” the Minister said.
The Minister will further hold regular meetings with the MECs, executive mayors and municipal mayoral committee members to discuss human settlements challenges within metros.