By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)
“At Ellerines in Standerton, we need to collect Dolly, then its not far: continue straight over the crossing and turn left to get to Extension 6. We want to share what we are doing in our savings scheme. Some of us have houses, and some of us are starting small businesses”
(Togo Simelane, FEDUP member, Mpumalanga)
As Mama Dolly Moleme and Togo Simelane arrive at their home in Extension 6 in Standerton, they lead the way to Gogo Emelina Hlabati’s home. Together with Beauty Nkosi, the three ladies make up the steering committee of FEDUP’s PHP housing projects in Standerton. Apart from acting as FEDUP’s regional financial signatories, the group is involved in negotiating with the municipality and provincial government for direct access to housing subsidies through the People’s Housing Process (PHP). Read more about FEDUP’s engagement with PHP here.
Building first houses in Extension 6
FEDUP has been active in Extension 6 since 2001, with five savings schemes (Masakane, Lethukhanya, Vukuzenzele, Masihambisane and one income generation / loan group).
“We started building all the FEDUP houses in Extension 6 in 2005. uTshani Fund supported us with pre-financing the houses. We managed the construction of the houses through our Community Construction Management Teams (CCMTs). Houses should take one week to build but we waited for one month for the materials to deliver. The role of the government is to provide an inspector to check that the houses we build meet the appropriate standards.”
FEDUP self-financed its first three houses as “show houses” to negotiate for direct access to subsidy funds in 2001 and 2002. This enabled members to build houses with bigger dimensions than RDP houses. For the group of ladies it was clear,
“We’re not looking for municipality houses – we want Federation houses because they are much bigger and more beautiful”
Between 2005 and 2006 FEDUP has built 36 houses. Other members in the community are approved to receive a subsidy but Dolly explains that there has been little movement from the municipality. The group therefore contacts the municipality on a weekly basis to find out about proposed plans for the next subsidy houses. The likelihood of receiving subsidies in the near future, however, is small. This reflects the inability of South Africa’s provincial Departments of Human Settlements to adequately meet the country’s housing backlog. The backlog in Mpumalanga alone is close to 200 000.
Building Savings, Building Support
Through daily savings, however, FEDUP, has nurtured strong savings schemes and spaces in which members can support each other, regardless of the extent of municipal commitment and support.
“The Federation helped Gogo Emelina to such an extent that when she was born she was living in a shack. She started daily savings and luckily with the support of the Federation she was able to bury her husband in a dignified manner. When her husband passed away, the house was completed. Today she has a house and a chicken business. Otherwise she would be out in the open”
Dolly, Emelina and Beauty speak about their savings scheme:
“We are all part of Masakane savings scheme. Now we are about 30 members. Many of us received houses. Together we have a chicken project. We buy small chickens, we grow them and then we sell them when they have grown big. When we heard about the FEDUP loan group we decided to sell chickens because many people like to eat chickens.”
Read about FEDUP’s Income Generation Programme here.
Masakane savings scheme is also involved in other forms of saving such as saving towards groceries for the year-end. At the end of the year 60 members use the savings to buy a big load of groceries and one sheep each.
“Many people who live here live in shacks often don’t want to save. But when they see us building our houses they come running to us and ask how they can do this too. I like the Federation a lot! Even though I already have a house I would never dream of leaving the Federation. Many people are struggling. Through FEDUP we support each other even if the municipality doesn’t seem to want to help us”
(Dolly Moleme, FEDUP member, Standerton)