NTHELE MOTSEPE | Gauteng landscape changed beyond recognition

The outskirts of Clayville in Olifantsfontein on the East Rand.
The outskirts of Clayville in Olifantsfontein on the East Rand.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The media landscape is bursting at seams with criticism for government’s failures – some real, others perceived.

This is to be expected – especially in a country where freedom of expression among many others remains sacrosanct.

After all, the Fourth Estate is not just society’s watchdog, but a mirror through which we ought to see ourselves. It is an important institution through which all civil servants must have their proverbial feet properly held to the fire.

Having said that though, it is equally important to strike a counterbalance.

They say, don’t they, that in our attempt at discarding what is wrong, we must never ever throw the baby out with bathwater.

As the new SA marks her 30th anniversary, the Gauteng department of human settlements should be able to look back with pride for having achieved strides of lasting significance – spatial transformation which is mostly likely causing Hendrik Verwoerd and his ilk to tremble in their graves.

The architect of apartheid and his ilk, dead and living, must be particularly nettled by the integrated spatial transformation offered by Mega Cities such as Riverside View, Clayville, Fleurhof, Savanna, Elijah Barayi, Dan Tloome, just to mention a few.

Today, the 30-year-old SA showcases more than 1,135,588 new housing opportunities comprising 341,822 serviced sites and 793,766 housing units in Gauteng alone. This does not only serve to alleviate the housing backlog and transforming the country’s tapestry: it continues to ensure security of tenure for the hoi polloi.

In keeping with the mantra of saving the baby as we discard the dirty water, it is only fair to recognise that the department has, through its agency, the Gauteng Partnership Fund (GPF), completed thousands of units within the rental and social housing projects and student accommodation projects.

In the fullness of time, the tapestry of the Gauteng City Region will indeed jar sharply against what the architects of apartheid had envisaged. The narrow ethno-linguistic subcultural cleavages which characterised many townships is fading very fast.

Louis Botha – the bullfrog-eyed apartheid minister – would be blinded by different typologies interlacing the province. Thanks to the visionary leadership and its unapologetic transformation agenda.

Subsidies such as the First Home Finance and Rapid Land Release Programme are already transforming the lives of people who neither qualify for RDP housing subsidy nor bank mortgages. These appropriations are offering fully serviced stands and top-up housing funding.

Throughout this 30 years spatial transformation journey, thousands of previously disadvantaged people continue to acquire Construction, Project, Financial and Inspectorate Management skills and general building skills under the department’s skills development initiatives – with women being the biggest beneficiaries.

As doomsayers continue to lament the shortcomings, it is only fair to celebrate these achievements and anything that remotely riles Verwoerd & Co. It is clear that if one migrated to Jupiter of Mars for an extended period, one would not be able to recognise the Gauteng landscape upon return.

Yet, in a vortex of political contestation, such tremendous achievements can indeed remain hidden in plain sight.


  •  Motsepe is a retired journalist and a civil servant

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