Speech by Ben Mthembu in the National Assembly

06 September 2007

Honourable Chairperson
Honourable Members

The need for sustainable human settlement is informed by the type of society we seek to create as articulated in the freedom charter says:

"There shall be houses, security and comfort
All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security unused houses space to be made available to the people.

Rent and price shall be lowed;
Slums shall be demolished and new suburbs built where all has transport, roads, lighting playing fields, crèches and social centers. Rest leisure and recreation shall be the right for all; fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished.

Chairperson; the sustainability of settlement as envisioned in the freedom charter is a multidimensional approach to people development.

It deals with settlement dimension, environment conditions, economics viability, institutional ability and structure; social relationships and voilnes and aspiration.

Sustainable human settlement also entails assisting communities and individuals to break out of the cycle of poverty. It should enable people to restore their dignity and to participate effectively in the democratic dispensation and improve their material conditions.

Chairperson; there is no doubt that the quality of life for the majority of South Africans citizens ha improved considerably since 1944. The vests Majority of people now have access to shelter and basic water, sanitation and electricity services. However more work still need to be done, especially in rural and farm areas. There is a need to speed up the creation of sustainable human settlement in the rural areas.

This is important in realising a better life for all, an inclusive society, and a caring society.

Chairperson, on the farm Rustler's Valley there is a farm workers village called Naledi Villages. When the owner turned as an income instead of evicting the 150 farm workers who were living on the land, he decided to place a chunk of this farm in Trust of the villages and set about making the self-reliant. Naledi Villages is now a prosperous community that provides a range of services to other communities in that area.

Similarly in the provinces of Mpumalanga along N4 road to Mozambique, there is a huge chunk of land that has been turn into Trust called Mjejane through the land restitution process. It is envisaged to make this land a part of a tourist attraction, farming, and human settlement with housing, school, clinic and recreational centers. Most importantly, those beneficiaries who want to farm will be given training in farming.

Chairperson, Naledi Village and Mjejane Trust illustrate an innovative way of creating sustainable human settlement by addressing asset poverty in rural areas.

These approaches promote active community participation in all aspect of social and economic life, it strengthens social relations and economic participation by individuals, household and communities to reduce poverty and hunger, and achieve sustainable livelihoods.

If we are to promote sustainable human settlement in rural areas we need to speed up the ownership of property, especially land.

Chairperson, land is an asset to create wealth, to fight poverty, to create sustainable livelihood. Without land we cannot build houses. The case of Mjejane and Naledi Villages are innovation worthy of emulation.

Chairperson, it is disturbing that we still have witness horror stories of farm evictions. Farm workers evicted many years of dedicated. Service is left destitute, homeless and landless. When they move to urban areas they have to wait for many years to get houses, sometimes because the municipalities are struggling to obtain land. This in turn leads to increasing growth of unplanned informal settlement.

Chairperson, I am of firm view that the creation of sustainable human settlement with reference to rural areas, calls for or form reaching structural changes in the distribution of assets, power, and access to education and associate income- earning opportunities. The unequal and highly concentrated patterns of assets ownership is the fundamental cause of poverty, underdevelopment and deprivation.

Our government has put in place a set of redistributive policies designed to bring about far-reaching structural changes to address these in equalities. These include land restitution, rural development human capital in the form of education and skill development