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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

‘Read the Constitution’ − Kubayi clarifies housing comments following criticism

The minister insists she has been misunderstood.

Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi has found herself in the firing line with people telling her to read the Constitution after she made comments about government providing housing for South Africans.

“Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right,” reads Section 26 of the Constitution.

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In an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday, Kubayi said: “When the Constitution says to us that we must ensure there is shelter, that people have a right to shelter, it’s not that it says it must be done by government. We must create a conducive environment for people to have shelter in the private space.”

Those who watched her interview did not take kindly to her comments and accused her of contradicting the very Constitution she was referencing.

However, the minister says she has been misunderstood.

“Where Section 26 speaks about everyone, it does not specify the income levels of the different segments of the South African population, yet we know that our population is segmented into different income levels from low to high income,” explained Kubayi.

The government has created housing programmes aimed at helping the poor, the elderly, the child-headed households, and people living with disabilities, she said.

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However, this has been done with the understanding that households earning above R30 000 per month have access to bond financing through established financial institutions such as banks. This group can access adequate housing with indirect assistance from government, she explained.

“The current housing policy dictates that government should provide free housing for households with income levels of between 0 and R3500, including designated groups and military veterans.

“Furthermore, government provides assistance through grants and subsidies to what is called the gap market or the missing middle − those who cannot access bond financing from financial institutions and yet they do not qualify to receive free houses for government. These are families earning between R3 501 and R22 000 per month,” said Kubayi.

She listed low-cost rental and rent-to-own and the First Home Finance programme, as some of the programmes designed to support the missing middle to access housing opportunities.

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“The minister’s comments were referring to the importance of placing emphasis on the segmentation of the housing market as part of the policy proposals in the Draft Human Settlements White Paper.

“Her reference to the creation of the conducive environment was precisely to make the point that there are other indirect ways that government will assist South Africans to access adequate shelter, such as social housing, first home finance subsidies and service sites to the qualifying beneficiaries.

“Simply put, government cannot and will not build a house for everyone except for the most vulnerable. However, where necessary, it will provide a conducive environment within its available resources for the private sector to create housing stock for other income groups.” she explained.

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