Gauteng scored three awards: first runner up certificate in best provincial department in service delivery category; three certificates, a trophy and R200 000 for best community residential units for the Rathanda project; and a certificate, a trophy and R25 000 to Sello Olifant in best student of the year category.
“In their productive lives, people perform all kinds of chores for the betterment of their own conditions and those of others. While some opt to first take care of themselves, others prefer to first extend a helping hand to their fellow man. This is altruism. Such people deserve recognition. Tonight is their night,” said Sexwale.
He explained that the purpose of the awards was to motivate all stakeholders in the housing industry to harness human and other resources in accelerating housing delivery to improve the lives of millions of poor South Africans by building sustainable human settlements, providing a choice of quality housing opportunities with secure tenure and access to water and sanitation, and social, economic and recreational facilities.
People who were honoured included developers, building contractors, the banking sector, community-based organisations, the mining sector, building materials suppliers, professional associations that had committed to partner with the government in building sustainable human settlements and helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2014.
“Our Human Settlements Vision 2030 is a clarion call that says: none of our people must be homeless refugees in the squatter camps which dot the landscape of our country. This is the challenge of our mission.”
A lot still needed to be done to eliminate the stubborn housing backlog, which amounted to more than two million housing units required by about 12 million people, but as people walked and drove across the length and breadth of the country, they were beginning to see real change, said Sexwale.
“Hard concrete change is needed in the changing residential landscape where our Human Settlements construction sites are being mistaken for private sector housing developments! Small wonder that young people who occupy our high rise inner-city buildings and other people who move into our social housing, rental properties and other new home structures have begun to light-heartedly say: ‘Human Settlements rocks!’”
Winners included provincial human settlements departments, metropolitan municipalities, female and youth contractors; they will share prize money that runs into millions of rands. “The awards provide an opportunity for sharing information, lessons learnt, the strengthening of existing and the development of new partnerships and the replication of successful initiatives,” he said.
Provincial awards were handed out first, followed by the national awards. Joburg’s Cosmo City was recognised in the former for its amenities and for adhering to the principle of breaking new ground. The suburb was first runner up in the Best Priority Project category at the provincial awards ceremony, which was held in neighbouring Mogale City on 17 May.
The Govan Mbeki Human Settlements Awards were named after struggle leader Govan Mbeki in 2006, based on the role he played in collaborating with key stakeholders to build human settlements and a nation free of inequality.
He is regarded as a warrior, a revolutionary, an educator, a publicist, an organiser and a leader of the people. The awards recognise excellent work done by the department, promote best practice, create healthy competition and act as a monitoring tool to ensure delivery.