BOSA demands urgent action on Gauteng’s housing crisis

BOSA leaders, Mmusi Maimane and Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, advocate for housing reform outside Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s office. | Supplied

BOSA leaders, Mmusi Maimane and Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, advocate for housing reform outside Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s office. | Supplied

Published May 2, 2024


Build One South Africa (BOSA) rallied outside Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s office in Johannesburg on Tuesday, to deliver a memorandum of demands on behalf of the 1.2 million Gauteng residents who remain in the waiting list for housing.

Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, BOSA’s Gauteng premier candidate, said: “When I launched my bid for premier of Gauteng, I outlined five crucial commitments to the province’s residents, which would be top priorities under a BOSA administration.

“One of these commitments is addressing Gauteng’s housing shortage and high rental prices. Access to housing is essential for ensuring employment opportunities for everyone. With the province experiencing significant population growth, there’s a heightened need for housing, particularly among low and middle-income earners.

“Gauteng’s population is believed to increase by about one million individuals every five years. However, the existing administration has struggled to offer affordable housing options while also granting permission and assistance to exploitative property developers in the region. Suspicions of kickbacks and unethical agreements abound. Coupled with the rising homelessness rates in the province’s main urban areas, this situation creates a perfect storm for a severe housing crisis.

“Presently, a staggering 1.2 million Gauteng residents find themselves stuck in an unending housing queue, highlighting the severity of the situation. The response from Panyaza Lesufi’s government has been to construct 10 000 new houses annually in Gauteng.

“However, the pace of progress is insufficient, with concerns that under the current trajectory, countless South Africans will remain on the housing waiting list, potentially facing dire consequences before securing a home.

Hlazo-Webster added that if the ANC government persisted at this rate, it could take up to 120 years to address the existing backlog. Heartbreaking tales of elderly and impoverished individuals enduring squalid living conditions while awaiting affordable housing were widespread, underscoring the urgent need for action.

“I am informed about widespread corruption within the list system, enabling associates of ANC-affiliated politicians to bypass the waiting list. There are accounts of individuals discovering someone else occupying and developing their allocated plot after ownership has been transferred.”

She emphasised that according to Section 26 of the Constitution, all individuals are entitled to adequate housing, and the government is obligated to take reasonable legislative and other actions to progressively fulfil this right with the resources available.

She said that this responsibility was not being fulfilled, which she considered unfair and unjust. She also stated that the problem went beyond simply providing housing; it was also about maintaining dignity, promoting community development, and addressing the lasting impact of Apartheid’s spatial planning.

“We send a clear message to Mr Lesufi: There are no quick fixes or PR stunts that will suffice. Radical action is needed to bring about real change. It’s time to empower our communities and ensure that every family receives rightful ownership of their homes. The backlog of 1.2 million homes demands concrete action, not just promises.

“We demand that before Lesufi steps down in a month, he appoints a special task team, led by a retired judge, to thoroughly investigate the housing process in the province. This investigation should cover every aspect, including the supply chain, budgeting, allocation, and related matters.”

To address these issues, BOSA proposed a housing voucher system that gives families the power to build their own homes. This system, it said, would eliminate the backlog and corruption while ensuring transparency.

“We advocate for ending shady tender processes and providing opportunities for every family to secure housing. Our aim is to create fair-priced homes for all, fulfilling our pledge to the people of Gauteng,” said Hlazo-Webster.

She said a BOSA-led government would prioritise investigation into the quality of housing developments, fast-track public-private partnerships for affordable housing, establish homeless shelters with support services, reduce transfer costs, and provide accessible home finance for young professionals.

‘The Star’ reached out to Lesufi’s office for comment, but had not received a response by the time of publication.

The Star