Following the nation’s celebration of 30 years of freedom, Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, highlighted the importance of socio-economic rights, specifically the constitutional right to safe and decent housing.

Speaking at the “Access to Housing” session during the Breakfast Series, attended by approximately two hundred individuals both physically and virtually, Deputy Minister Dr Pilane-Majake emphasized the need for greater focus on addressing housing needs. The session featured expert panellists from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority, the National Housing Corporation, and the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS). Participants included representatives from civil society organizations like the National Civic Organisation, Business Unity South Africa, as well as the private and public sectors.

“In our pursuit of progress, we must acknowledge both our successes and areas for improvement,” stated the Deputy Minister during her introductory presentation.

During the session, panellists shared success stories and innovative approaches adopted by their respective organizations.

Ms. Yoliswa Makhasi, the Director-General of DPSA, stressed the importance of popularizing and raising awareness among public servants about the government’s housing subsidies. This would contribute to increased uptake of the range of housing products offered.

Mr. Sandile Luthuli, Chief Executive Officer of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), highlighted how government subsidies are utilized to bolster rental housing, making it affordable and accessible to low-income citizens, thereby bringing them closer to socio-economic opportunities.

Likewise, Ms Azola Mayekiso, CEO of the National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC), discussed how the NHFC facilitates loans for households ready to purchase homes but face challenges in obtaining traditional financing due to their economic status.

While the services of SHRA and NHFC are open to all qualifying South Africans, including public servants, Mr Dumisani Nkwamba, Chief Director responsible for the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) at the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), clarified that GEHS exclusively caters to public servants in salary levels 1 to 12.

Since its launch in 2016, GEHS has played a vital role in providing affordable housing opportunities to public servants in salary levels 1 to 12. Aligned with Resolution 7 of 2015 by the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, the initiative aims to facilitate housing access for those who face challenges in securing traditional financial assistance.

Through strategic collaborations with financial institutions such as SHRA and NHFC, GEHS utilizes housing allowances to empower public servants, enabling them to become first-time homeowners. By fulfilling the constitutional right to housing, the government demonstrates its commitment as a caring employer.

The subsequent discussions covered a range of topics, with particular attention given to the issue of high levels of indebtedness among South Africans, including public servants.

In her closing statement, Deputy Minister Dr Pilane-Majake reiterated the purpose of the Breakfast Series sessions, emphasizing the importance of public input in shaping the DPSA’s initiatives. She concurred with the need to intensify efforts to address the issue of indebtedness among public servants.