Blacklist the shoddy contractors

The Democratic Alliance  has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, to reveal the names of contractors whose inferior work will result in R50 billion being spent on the rectification of RDP housing projects.

The DA wants to know who the fly-by-night contractors are and whether they are still contracted to build houses. Contractors who build faulty houses should be blacklisted so that no more public money is wasted. It is time that Minister Sexwale took some tough action to match his tough talk.

This year alone, R 930 million was set aside for the rectification of just over 34 000 housing units across the country. The vicious cycle of spending, shoddy workmanship and rectification must be broken by blacklisting bad contractors and preventing them from future involvement in contracts for state-funded housing.

Minister Sexwale is trying to shift the blame for crumbling RDP houses by saying that it is service providers, and not his department, that are responsible for RDP construction. The Minister conveniently ignores the fact that service providers are contracted by his department and should be held accountable by it.

He also fails to mention the obvious failure by the National Home Builders Registration Council, an entity within his department, to protect housing consumers from unscrupulous contractors and to ensure that contractors who deliver sub-standard housing projects are blacklisted.

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The Department of Human Settlements’ dogged defence of under-performing contractors was evidenced again in last week’s discussion in the portfolio committee for Human Settlements on the continuation of contracts to two sanitation service providers who have repeatedly failed to deliver on their commitments.

In 2010/2011, the Independent Development Trust (IDT) and Mvula Trust received contracts to the value of R32 million and R11 million, respectively. Despite their failure to meet their targets, their allocated contracts grew to R150 million and R120 million in the current financial year.

It is time for the Minister to prove to South Africans living in appalling conditions in state-funded housing and the millions of South African still awaiting access to housing opportunities that he wants to get rid of service providers who squander state resources.

South Africans deserve sustainable human settlements, where families can be raised, where dreams can be realised and where people are given access to the economic opportunities that arise from home ownership.

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