At a recent visit to the stalled Riverside Housing Project, Mayor Herman Mashaba announced that he had appealed for the National Treasury to intervene in the funding issues between province and City.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has asked the National Treasury to intervene urgently in the City’s dispute with the provincial government over an R180 million change to funding, an issue which will affect Diepsloot residents waiting for houses.
The news was announced when Mashaba, along with the MMC for Housing Meshack van Wyk, conducted an oversight visit and walkabout with members of the media at the Riverside Housing Project. Riverside is a reconstruction and development programme (RDP) housing project meant to benefit 1 485 families currently waiting for housing and is located in the Riversands area of Diepsloot.
The funding issue is an ongoing dispute – the Gauteng Department of Human Settlement decided in 2018 to unexpectedly reduce the funding for the City’s Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) from R248 million to R68 million, saying that the reason for withdrawing the funding was because the City was not paying developers, not completing projects and had not spent all the previous budget.
“The City spent 98 percent of its Housing Capital Budget last year, and having contractors on the ground busy with construction. The decision is clearly irrational,” Mashaba told the gathered journalists against the backdrop of the planned Riverside sight. I think this is a political game [by the ANC-led province against the Democratic Alliance-led City of Joburg].”
“The foundations [here at Riverside] have already been laid, and construction was meant to start next week [week beginning 14 January] and be completed in 18 months. Now without the money, I don’t know what will happen.”
Riverside is not the only development in the city which will be affected: the Elias Motsoaledi housing project for military veterans, the Elias Motsoaledi RDP housing, Fleurhof RDP housing development, and the South Hills housing project are a few of the projects which will be impacted too.
Van Wyk addressed the media too, stating that the walkabout was hosted to bring attention to the matter. “I think the idea behind today was to inform the community of what is happening behind the scenes of government. I stand with the mayor.”
When contacted by the Fourways Review for comment, the Gauteng Department of Human Settlement’s deputy director general Keith Khoza reiterated that the funding was cut because the City had not spent all of the previous budgets and that it was Mashaba who was being political.
“It is Mashaba who is playing politics with people’s lives,” he said.
“There are different parties in the country, but it’s not about politics when it comes to service delivery.”
The decision to approach the National Treasury is aimed at exploring every avenue of negotiation, and if not resolved Mashaba said he will bring the
matter to court.