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Thursday Jul 17, 2014

Minister mulls end to free housing

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is determined to eradicate the 2.3 million housing backlog before thoughts may turn to long-term considerations of a possible end to free government housing - although not state-subsidised housing.

Key to getting to grips with South Africa's housing logjam is a database to get a full picture of who still required free housing 20 years into democracy and to eliminate fraud, corruption and housing waiting-list queue jumping.

'It never was the intention of this government to give free homes ad infinitum,' Sisulu told The Star yesterday.

'What makes an 18-year-old think the state owes them a house? It's a culture of entitlement... we can't continue with a dependency culture.'

When the government put in place the provision of free housing, it was to correct the wrongs of the past.

But beyond a certain point, questions needed to be asked.

'Somebody has to have the courage to say this is not what we intended,' she said. Free housing is not in the Freedom Charter nor in the constitution.

It is a potentially controversial stance. But the minister, who returned to the human settlements portfolio after the May 7 elections following an absence of several years, maintained there were many options to ensure that no vulnerable, poor South African was left without access to adequate shelter.

This included providing state housing subsidies through the social grant system and providing affordable rentals.

Beneficiaries of free government housing are anyone earning less than R3 500 a month.

The Star


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