TEASA Submission on the Whitepaper on Human Settlement

A common feature of Evangelical public witness around the world is that it limits its moral lens to the personal sphere. Whilst this is a legitimate advocacy agenda, we are also biblically obliged to focus on broader moral concerns of the common good. The church has an important role to play in advocating for peaceful and secure habitats, particularly for the poor, widows, orphans and other vulnerable groups in society. This broader outlook has inspired our comments, made in a submission on the Department of Human Settlements’ Whitepaper on Human Settlements.

On Tuesday 27 February, we hosted a webinar to reflect on the Department of Human Settlements’ (DHS) latest Whitepaper on Human Settlements. Our intention in hosting this webinar was to ask TEASA members to join us in assisting in formulating our submission on the Whitepaper.

The webinar raised a number of issues. Please watch a recording of the webinar by using this link: https://us06web.zoom.us/rec/share/LA6LQY5_FMi7VaQSurBF1pSwYWRgcZ0G5iXp8GDfZ4EU-uxpXkly_p125LUoO5do.l84uIGb0xg3PsxFD?startTime=1709051256000

Please access the video using this passcode: %gg51+!j


TEASA Submission on the Whitepaper on Human Settlement

  1. We wish to congratulate the department for finally putting forward a white paper to review our housing /human settlement policies that have been in place for the last three decades.
  2. We are a Church based membership group that takes seriously the impact of our public policies on poor and vulnerable members of our community. We commend the government’s effort to provide decent housing to many of our citizens in both urban and rural areas who were staying in crowded, uninhabitable and in most cases mud houses in our rural areas. Decent houses afford and enable families to build homes that have dignity and are conducive environments to nurture good relationships and parent children appropriately.
  3. We have come a long way, made good progress and have learnt many lessons.
  4. Accordingly, we therefore wish to make the following submissions:

4.1 We welcome the intention to emphasize the importance of equity at the heart of the policy review. In this instance the policy purports to prioritize women empowerment, people with disabilities and military veterans. But we wish to raise an important point that needs not be emphasized.

4.1.1 Prioritize family: The family is the heart of every society. The black family is sadly at its weakest. As you may be aware, only three out of ten black children are growing up with the benefit of staying with both parents. We believe that this this state of affairs requires that measures be explored to support and nurture the strengthening of black families. The provision of human settlements can serve a role in efforts to rebuild black families particularly amongst low income and poor sections of our population.

4.1.2 Families white paper: Cabinet has last November 2023 adopted a new white paper on families that was tabled by the department of social development. The white paper should explore synergistic ways of using the provision or delivery of human settlements to low income and poor families to rebuild black families.

4.1.3 People married customarily: There are many partners who are married customarily but have not registered their marriages with the department of home affairs. The white paper should incentivize couples who are married customarily and registered their marriages with DHA as part of a preferential eligibility criteria. Women and children in a marital arrangement that is consummated customarily but not registered at the department of home affairs may face hurdles in the event of the male partner’s passing, particularly in resolving inheritance matters.

4.1.4 Child Headed Household: The subject of child headed household as a beneficiary category needs to be crossed with the department of social development. There is an estimated three million orphaned and vulnerable children in the country. 2.5 million orphaned and vulnerable children stay in kinship arrangement, another 264,000 are in foster parent arrangements and 500 children are in legal adoptions. Thus the majority of orphan and vulnerable children are residing in kinship arrangement. Policy intervention should rather focus on orphan and vulnerable children in kinship arrangements.

4.1.5 Military Veterans: The subject of military veterans are as a prioritized category. Military veterans are currently receiving pension benefits & health benefits through the department of military veterans (DMV). DMV also pays for their dependents schooling, college and university tuition, accommodation and living allowances. The same department is also assisting them to acquire houses. We encourage DHS and DMV to find synergies that drive efficiencies and avoid double deeping.

4.2 Target group consistency across departments: There are programs across governments that targets low income and poor members of our society. These programs are offered by education, higher education (Nsfas, NIHSS & NRF), social development, health and other departments. There needs to be coherence and consistency in how the category of beneficiary groups is articulated in the different departments. Nsfas is available for children who come from a household that has a combined income of less than R350,000. SASSA has its own means test for beneficiaries of child grants, social relief of distress & R350 grants.

4.3 Migrants and Refugees: Our country has a significant population of migrant population and most of them are undocumented. We encourage the department to explore options for docu00mented, poor and vulnerable migrants and refugees. The department should also take note that DHA through its recently published white paper is exploring to withdraw from some international treaties & protocols, then re-enter with exemptions. Exemptions may qualify services that migrants and refugees may qualify for in our country. There should be synergy between DHS and DHA in this area.

4.4 Urban Homeless People: There is a growing and unattended population of homeless people staying in the streets in our cities. There is no policy that is covering this growing need and neither is there a department that is taking responsibility to articulate a clear policy to guide local government.


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