A R180m budget cut could result in Africa’s wealthiest city Johannesburg being unable to proceed with its planned housing projects and could see an increased backlog.

Johannesburg, home to millions of migrants seeking work and better services, estimates its housing backlog at about 300,000 housing units.

It gets a grant from the Gauteng provincial government's department of human settlements for some of its housing projects.

 Mayor Herman Mashaba said last week that the provincial government had “without warning or reason” reduced the city’s human settlements development grant (HSDG) funding by R180m  for the current financial year.

He said the city was informed at the beginning of the 2018-2019 financial year that the grant would be in the region of R248m, a figure the metro’s housing department used as basis for its business plans.  

“To our shock, a recently published gazette indicated that the City’s HSDG funding from the provincial government would only amount to R68m — wholly insufficient to meet the desperate housing needs of our residents,” Mashaba said.

Mashaba said the grant had   “intentionally” been cut after the ANC lost control of the Johannesburg metro.

 Last week the mayor asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene He warned that his metro would either lodge an intergovernmental dispute or take the matter to court to have the decision to cut the grant reviewed and set aside, if the issue was not resolved.

He said   slashing the  grant would have serious implications for the city’s housing projects.  The City may not be able to pay its service providers and this could then result in major delays.

The Gauteng department of human settlements has, however, placed the blame for the cut squarely at the city's door.

On Tuesday MEC Uhuru Moiloa said the department regretted the reduction of the grant.  “But this is due to the City of Joburg’s under-performance on human settlements, its failure to pay developers for work done, and its failure to work with the department in the delivery of houses to deserving beneficiaries,” he said.

Moiloa said Mashaba had been reluctant to cooperate with the  government in the delivery of housing, despite numerous attempts by the department, its MEC and recently the premier David Makhura.

However, Mashaba said Moiloa’s statement was “grossly misleading" and a clear illustration of the MEC playing politics instead of seeing to the housing needs of residents.

Mashaba said the city and the department have over the past few months been locked in an ongoing dispute regarding the “redemption claims” that must be sent to the department in order for the provincial government to release the funding.