By Valencia Talane
Gauteng’s department of local government and housing is no stranger to bad news, the latest being poor audit results from the 2012/13 financial year. The auditor-general’s office revealed on Thursday that housing fared the worst out of all the Gauteng departments audited.
Premier Nomvula Mokonyane told the media that the department’s failures were due to weaknesses in its record keeping and project management systems, and urged the provincial treasury to step in to help.
“Treasury will have to put together a plan to assist the department of housing…” said Mokonyane.
The effects of fraud and corruption in this department are felt most by the poorest of the poor in the province, who depend on it for access to basic housing.
For failing to clean up its act, the Gauteng local government and housing department is our zero of the week.
Earlier this year Corruption Watch shared the story of Naomi Genu, a single mother who had waited for six years to receive an RDP house in Mogale City, west of Johannesburg. She represents thousands of people all over Gauteng with a story to tell about being ripped off by officials who allegedly demand bribes or fail to follow housing-allocation procedures, often leaving beneficiaries in the dark on progress.
In a Sowetan report we quoted at the time, dated March 2012, it was said that 725 houses were built in the first phase of the Chief Mogale project. Of these, 500 were occupied by beneficiaries from the surrounding areas. The rest, said the report, were believed to have been occupied by families who did not qualify for RDP housing. Attempts by Corruption Watch to get confirmation of this from the department were unsuccessful. To date, there has not been a response to questions that we sent to the department.
One official from this beleaguered department, a former project administrator by the name of Chris Matlala, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by the Krugersdorp magistrates court in July last year after he solicited a bribe of R5 000 from an RDP housing beneficiary. He had asked the beneficiary to meet him at his office, where he revealed that his name did not appear on the list of those awaiting allocation. This, he told him, could be sorted out for a fee, according to the Sowetan.
Head of department Mongezi Mnyani was quoted by the publication at the time: "If we don't deal with corrupt officials we are sending the wrong message to the general public that the quickest way to get your RDP is when you pay a bribe."