The townships in South Africa's Gauteng province are set for a major facelift, with the provincial government budgeting R4.4-billion over the next five years for building more houses, improving their quality and eradicating corruption around their allocation.
"The multi-billion investment will see old townships such as Alexandra, Bekkersdal, Soweto, Evaton, Tembisa and Vosloorus being revamped within five years' time," Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo said while delivering his budget vote speech in the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Part of this project, Mamabolo said, would involve eradicating informal settlements while boosting of the local economy and the construction sector.
Mamabolo also announced the creation of a Programme Management Office (PMO) to monitor the quality of work by housing service providers in the province.
"Through this PMO, we will also conduct a full audit of all service providers to establish their performance based on sound service level agreements and contracts, monitor status of their projects, ensure quality and timeous completion of projects, and ensure that they are paid within 30 days."
Part of the budgeted amount will be used to acquire well located land, with a view to promoting social and spatial integration.
Mamabolo said his department would be setting up a biometric fingerprint system in order to clean up the province's housing data base.
"This will be a major milestone in using technology to ensure that the poor masses, who have been waiting for years, finally receive their homes. Through this process no person will have more than one RDP house and we would have gone a long way to dealing with housing corruption."
Mamabolo said that Gauteng province had provided over 1-million human settlements opportunities over the last two decades through houses, units and serviced stands.
Despite this, his department faced various challenges, including the peripheral location, and poor design and racial integration of state-sponsored RDP houses post-1994.
"Part of de-racialising housing in South Africa is to nullify the perception that government-subsidised houses are for black people only. We have seen today that poverty knows no colour or race," he said, urging all qualifying South Africans to apply for government subsidies irrespective of their historical background or colour.Mamabolo said his department would also be working closely with the Deeds Office to change the turnaround time and fast-track the issuance of title deeds for residents.