CAHF submission on the draft White Paper for Human Settlements for South Africa and joint letter to Minister

The draft White Paper for Human Settlements is currently undergoing consultation in South Africa, with the public invited to submit comments to government. The policy document is critically important as it precedes the replacement of the 1997 Housing Act with new legislation to govern the human settlements sector, and thus will shape housing policy and delivery in the country for the next 30 years.

CAHF’s submission on the draft White Paper was submitted 15 March 2024, and expressed serious concerns around the quality and content of the document. The submission was made on the basis of CAHF’s extensive track record in research, data analysis and advocacy in South Africa. Fifteen years after the Breaking New Ground policy, this WP needs to set out fundamental reforms for the sector and strategic directional changes. The WP must look broadly and systematically, starting with a review of the findings and recommendations from the past decade of research, evaluations, and studies that are available. The WP needs to pull that intelligence together, review the evidence, and distill key strategic directions moving forward. Further, it must not act in isolation, but draw upon international examples and incorporate a benchmarking analysis with other countries, in Africa and beyond.

Currently the draft White Paper does not do those things. As a result, the opportunity is lost for this policy document to acknowledge and critically review our progress and challenges, and record the sector’s consensus on what must change going forward. We look to the WP to make bold statements on strategic reforms, demonstrated strong leadership for the sector. To this end, our submission focuses on the key issues we feel need to be better addressed in the draft document, in order to effectively serve the sector.

As an additional part of our advocacy efforts, we led a number of NGOs and CSOs in sending a joint letter to the Minister of Human Settlements to express our concerns and to strongly urge the Minister to push out the timelines to allow for a rewrite and additional consultation. Sent 16 February 2024, the letter was signed by 31 NGOs, CSOs, and industry associations, and 29 individual human settlements academics and experts.

Furthermore, CAHF contributed to an opinion piece by Nick Budlender and Fezeka Ludidi that was published in South Africa’s leading business newspaper, Business Day, on 14 March 2024, calling for the establishment of a consultative forum–including public and private stakeholders–to rework the document, akin to the National Housing Forum that underpinned the original housing policy for South Africa. CAHF is a contributor and supporter of the op-ed piece, as indicated at the bottom of the article.

It is hoped that CAHF’s engagement and advocacy efforts will contribute to a more impactful, implementable and higher quality White Paper, which can serve the purpose required in leading and guiding the sector.

CAHF submission on draft White Paper Joint letter to Minister of Human Setttlements

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