The Free State Department of Human Settlements has been accused of corruption and incompetence in the delivery of quality housing to deserving beneficiaries in the province. MPL Leona Kleynhans delivered a scathing Budget Vote Debate on 14 April 2023, highlighting the department’s failure to address the legacy of apartheid and colonialism.

According to Kleynhans, the department has been guilty of a crime against humanity for at least ten years, with the priority of the department being to extract as much money out of the budget and get it into the coffers of connected tenderpreneurs and cronies. She accused the department of being a laundromat to enrich cadres and cronies, with the delivery of decent housing to the poor not being a priority.

Kleynhans cited several examples of the department’s incompetence, including the fact that almost half of the department’s targets were not achieved, with poor beneficiaries receiving substandard houses or none at all. She also highlighted the ‘catastrophic’ record-keeping in the department and the appointment of outside consultants, which she said could be avoided if the department was well-capacitated with relevant skills.

The MPL called for the awarding of contracts to be done in an equitable and transparent fashion as required by law, with the priority being the effective completion of the project within time and within budget. She also called for a relevant and technically highly skilled Organisational Structure to be approved, including professionally qualified conveyancers, engineers, environmental experts, auditors, architects, project managers, and scientific innovators in the built environment, planners, legal experts, communication experts, and public administrators.

Kleynhans further called for the department to be capacitated to deal effectively with criminal activities such as ‘the construction mafia’, which is plaguing development projects, vandalism, illegal land invasions, and illegal occupations of houses.

The Free State Department of Human Settlements has not yet responded to the allegations made by Kleynhans. However, the Public Protector has been asked to investigate the Linda Mkhondo project in Maluthi-a-Phofung, where people are living in appalling conditions. The DA has also opposed the budget, citing the department’s inability to manage and spend its budget properly and effectively.

As education is a basic human right, the state must make reasonable measures to ensure that it is progressively available and accessible to all learners, regardless of their social circumstances, geographic location, language, and upbringing.