In a post State of the Nation briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday, ministers in the Economic Sectors and Employment and Infrastructure Development cluster said good progress had been made in the maintenance and refurbishment of infrastructure cutting across sectors that include transport, human settlements, water and sanitation, rural development and education.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the budget allocation towards the Human Settlements Development Grant was part of interventions aimed at stabilising the mining industry. "The mining sector remains a major contributor to economic growth and employment.
"Therefore, government has led an initiative, together with mining companies and unions, to ensure the implementation of key agreements that seek to stabilise the industry," he said.
Following the violent nature of labour unrest in the mining sector, President Jacob Zuma delegated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to meet with mining companies and unions to sit around one table to draft a framework agreement aimed at stabilising the mining industry.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was roped in to facilitate all discussions behind closed doors, with Deputy President Motlanthe saying at the time that workers were allowed to protest, provided it gets done in a peaceful and lawful manner.
A list of interventions that was agreed upon includes:
- Strengthening the regulatory certainty in mining through the streamlining of authorisation processes;
- Establishing Mine Crime Combating Forums in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng;
- Prioritisation by the CCMA of mine disputes; and
- Reducing employee indebtedness. The National Credit Regulator has taken action against unscrupulous micro-lenders. Twelve micro-lenders have been closed in Rustenburg as a result of this initiative.
Human Settlements Minister Connie September said the grant was allocated on a continuous basis to help government and mining houses address inadequate housing for mineworkers.
"The Human Settlements Development Grant that has been set aside is a grant that will enable us to continue those projects that have been identified, particularly in the mining houses that are around the North West area. "So it is part of a continuous process in that area," the minister said.
Sanitation backlog reduced
Meanwhile, Minister Patel said government has been addressing challenges related to sanitation - an area that has been clustered with the Human Settlements delivery target.
He said according to the 2011 Census report, the sanitation backlog had been reduced from five million in 1994 to 2.4 million in 2011.
"This is further being reduced by the bucket (system) eradication programme and general sanitation roll-out in a joint venture by the department of Human Settlements, Water Affairs and Cooperative Governance.
"The immediate target is to eradicate bucket sanitation in formalised townships within the shortest period. Basic sanitation services contribute to the improvement of people's wellbeing, their dignity, improved health and better human settlements and livelihoods," he said.