Title deeds lag plagues housing department
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s department is struggling to clear a title deeds backlog, an issue raised by auditor-general Kimi Makwetu in his 2016-17 annual report.
The department’s annual performance target had factored in eradicating the backlog, but had experienced challenges in expediting the administrative process and had struggled to locate people who had to receive deeds, director-general Mbulelo Tshangana said.
"Delays in issuing title deeds are as a result of the complexity of the process, including retrofitting of town planning processes and difficulty in locating the title deed beneficiaries," said Tshangana.
However, he expressed his optimism for the future, pointing out that the department had provided 148,000 "housing opportunities" through its R30bn budget allocation in 2016-17.
Four significant programmes of the department had each underspent their budgets by millions. Tshangana blamed this on unforeseen changes and delays in the medium-term expenditure framework.
The multilayered process in securing the right to use land for human settlement projects had weighed on the department’s ability to deliver projects, thereby compromising its performance outcomes significantly, Tshangana said.
"The process of ensuring land is ready for human settlements development does not get to be completed in a year.
"It is a multiyear process that entails a number of milestones," said Tshangana.
In his audit report, Makwetu wrote that he was unable to determine whether the department’s performance report required any adjustments as there was insufficient evidence to support its claims that it had come close to eradicating the title deeds backlog.
"I was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence for the reported actual performance of the target for the number of title deeds backlog eradicated. This was due to lack of adequate source documentation to support the reported achievement," said Makwetu.
Regarding the department’s financial outcomes, Makwetu said it had not taken effective steps to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R2.5m.