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The provision of 4.3 million houses and subsidies to more than 20 million of South Africans since 1994 was one of the big highlights of this financial year’s budget vote speech, which took place on 3 March 2016. “The number of houses and subsidies that we have provided to our people could house the entire populations of Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland combined,” said the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Regarding catalytic projects (named thus, because they will trigger massive investments by the private sector and have huge economic spin-offs), Minister Sisulu reported that a detailed analysis and shortlisting of projects submitted by the private sector and various spheres of government have been completed and will be rolled out in the coming three years.

Through the implementation of catalytic projects “we are doing things smarter and faster”, she said.

Investment in this project, projected to be R90 billion over five years, is expected to trigger about R150 billion from the private sector. [This means that, as the HDA, we are rolling up our sleeves as the custodian and implementing developer of the catalytic projects. We have been tasked by the Department of Human Settlements with more responsibility than before.] Also, through this venture, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be sustained and thousands more created.

So far, a detailed analysis and shortlisting of projects submitted by the private sector and by various spheres of government have been completed and are due to be announced in the next few months. There are a total of 101 projects, with 94 ready for implementation as soon as the Agency concludes the paper work. All the catalytic projects in all nine provinces have the combined value of more than R300 billion, creating and sustaining at least 20 000 jobs in the construction sector and downstream industries. As part of the project requirements, youth training will be provided and there will be a youth brigade for each project.

Other highlights that will have an effect on the sector include the establishment of a Human Settlements Development Bank, a White Paper on human settlements and a new system of transferring management of the beneficiary list. In addition, we are looking at fast-tracking of the military veterans project, a ring-fenced budget for title deeds, revitalisation of inner cities (looking at expropriating unused buildings and assigning them for building social housing next to work places) and clearing the housing backlog (e.g. in the Northern Cape) within the next two years.