Crumbling housing and failed promises : a critical study of corruption in low cost housing in the Phoenix area.
Since the ending of apartheid the new South African government inherited a country with a critical shortage of low income housing. While great lengths have been made to address the housing challenge, a major obstacle to this has been corruption. The aim of the study was an investigation of corruption in low cost housing in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, with a case study on complexes built in Phoenix. The objectives of the study were to assess the scale and types of corruption in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, investigating corruption in low cost housing provision, assess government’s response to corruption in Phoenix and proposing methods to combat it. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study found corruption levels to be high in the low cost housing process in KwaZulu-Natal. The worst impacted sector was procurement, with cronyism and nepotism common. Contracts were awarded to friends and family, which led to the growth in a small elite amassing huge fortunes. The consequence of corruption in procurement was poor workmanship. While many homes have been built across the province, up to R1 billion might be needed to rectify shoddy work. Other instances of corruption included bribery to pass shoddy work, corruption in the waiting list system, housing subsidy fraud and BEE fronting. The case study of Phoenix mirrored what was happening across the province. Poor workmanship and non-compliance with building standards emerged. The company involved in the project was linked to a controversial businessman, who had been previously convicted of corruption. Residents were forced into unrealistic rental tenancy agreements, which cost more than it would have to but the unit. Many residents fell behind on payments and were evicted, had their water and lights cut off or had items stolen from their homes. It furthermore emerged that the developer had illegally received government funding. Corruption is a major problem in South Africa and impacts on the poor and most marginalized in a society. Corruption impacts on the homeless and is helping to entrench the high poverty levels across the country. Thus corruption must be combated to rectify the historical housing legacy of inequality in South Africa.