LIFE changed for Lillian Memani when she moved from a shack in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth, 12 years ago to her first house.
The mother of two is among millions of South Africans who have benefited by receiving one of the 2376675 Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses built between 1994 and 2010. The housing programme changed the face of the more than 800 townships that existed around the country in the early 1990s.
“The government delivered on its promise and because of it we are housing three generations of Memani women in this house – which wouldn’t have been possible in the shack. The security a house provides is more valuable than anything else. To know you have a roof over your head changes everything because no matter how bad things are, you always have the security of your four walls,” Memani, a 62-year- old pensioner, said.
“I raised both of my daughters [Nomkululeko and Zisiwe] here and now Zisiwe is raising her three children here. This is an all-women household, and with the high crime levels I am very grateful that we as women have somewhere safe to go.”
It is a sentiment shared by Khuselo Masekwana, 49, who has been living in his Junior Street, New Brighton, home for 11 years with his wife, Bulelwa, 46, and their son, Likhona, 9.
“I am extremely grateful, because now I am a homeowner. It has definitely given me more confidence knowing that my wife and child can come home to our secure four walls,” the cleaner at Shatterproof said.
“It is a good feeling knowing my boy has somewhere safe to study. And my wife has electricity and water to cook and clean.”
The families are but two of the thousands of people who have benefited from the billions of rands pumped into the RDP housing project in the province since 2009, according to Human Settlements Department spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha.
“The government in the province has built 398000 housing units, spent R11.81-billion, transferred 57760 title deeds to people and acquired 944ha of well- located land for human settlements development.
“Over the five-year period, the department has spent 92% of the conditional grant allocation which contributes approximately 89% to the total departmental budget allocation. There has been a reduction in the housing backlog from approximately 750506 [Community Survey 2007] to a total provincial housing backlog of about 606161 [Census 2011],” Sicwetsha said.
However, the Bay continues to be plagued by service delivery protests, particularly in Uitenhage, where residents say they have been neglected.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Ben Fihla said: “Over the past eight financial years, the municipality built 28800 houses. We are deeply aware that the rate of housing provision should be increased, given the extent of the backlog … concrete strategies have been put in place to address these challenges.”
In addition, many of the RDP houses have since needed to be repaired or have fallen apart. – Tremaine van Aardt