In line with its mandate to assist government employees in accessing affordable housing, the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS), took part in the Human Settlements Indaba and Exhibition which was held on 4 – 5 September 2022 at the Durban Exhibition Centre in KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The Indaba was hosted by the National Department of Human Settlements under the theme, “Transforming Human Settlements environment through accelerated planning, implementation and public-private partnership.”
Minister for Human Settlements, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi, and Deputy Minister Ms Pam Tshwete, led the Indaba and were supported by the Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) from all the Human Settlements Departments in the country.
Also in attendance was the Executive Mayor of eThekwini Municipality Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda, Head of Infrastructure South Africa, Professor Kgosientso Ramokgopa and heads of entities falling under the Department of Human Settlements as well as traditional leaders. There was strong attendance by the private sector and civil society organisations.
The first day of the Indaba was characterised by Minister Kubayi and the dignitaries visiting the exhibition stands. Upon arriving at the GEHS stand, Minister Kubayi acknowledge the existence of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that exists between GEHS and the National Housing Finance Corporation which aims to facilitate access to affordable housing for government employees. The Minister further committed to converting old government buildings into residential/rental opportunities for government employees who are unable to access housing finance through the banking sector.
Thereafter there were panel discussions on unlocking the Human Settlements delivery chain. In the evening, it was a Stakeholder Engagement session where women from the private sector who operate in the Human Settlements environment, shared their success and challenges in the industry.
The second day of the Indaba focused on commissions to deliberate on various topics and followed by a report back in the Plenary. The topics discussed in the Commissions which are relevant to the GEHS were the Planning and Development of housing stock in general including for government employees, Building Regulations (particularly with the involvement of the National Home Builders Registration Council), Finance and Transformation involving funders and challenges experienced by Developers, Building Consensus with Civil Society towards Human Settlements Delivery as well as Entrenching Empowerment and Transformation in the housing delivery chain.
The Acting Director-General of the Department of Human Settlements, Ms Sindisiwe Ngxongo, informed the delegates that the outcomes of deliberations of the Indaba will be put together as part of the Principles for a Social Compact. The Eastern Cape MEC for Human Settlements Ms Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi provided a post-Indaba Road Map on what should happen in the Human Settlements sphere up to the next Indaba.
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, delivered a paper on, Human Settlements, a catalyst toward economic recovery.
Delivering the closing remarks on Monday afternoon, Minister Kubayi said: “The discussions in this Indaba have made a strong indication of the shift in the way Human Settlements are viewed. The sector is a powerful economic sector that we should harness to advance our fight against unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
Participating in such conferences provides the GEHS with valuable strategic information to ensure the scheme shapes its position, particularly as the GEHS implements the PSCBC Resolution 7 of 2015 which aims at ensuring government employees general access to housing opportunities.
Mr Makgoke is a Manager at the Government Employee Housing Scheme, he writes in his official capacity.