We Need To Consider Social Housing Route- EHB CEO

Eswatini Housing Board (EHB) Chief Executive Officer Mduduzi Dlamini says the government must play an active role in the housing space in a bid to ensure that the majority of emaSwati get to own property in the country.

Dlamini was speaking during the commemoration of World Habitat Day, held at The Royal Villas in Ezulwini. This year’s theme is ‘Resilient urban economies. Cities as drivers of economic growth.’

Present during the event was the Principal Secretary (PS) from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development Dr. Simon Zwane, the Director of Human Settlements, Bhekithemba Matsebula as well as representatives from all local municipalities and town boards.

In his address, the CEO acknowledged that emaSwati do not afford to own property in their own country.

He noted that according to a National Household Income Survey conducted by the Central Bank of Eswatini in 2013 around 99% of emaSwati earned less than E20 000, which paints a gloomy picture for the country.

Dlamini went on to state that as a result, a majority of emaSwati are excluded from owning property under title deed land.

He disclosed in detail how colonialism played a major role in indigenous emaSwati being excluded from owning formalized property.

“Eswatini was under British colonial rule from about 1900 to 1968, during that period certain pieces of legislation came into effect and have determined how the country is structured today. The two key pieces of legislation are the Land Proclamation Act of 1907 and the Concessions Act of 1904. These two pieces of legislation divided the land of Eswatini into three land tenure systems. The first is communal land, which is referred to as Eswatini Nation Land (ENL). The second is the freehold system which is title deed land and lastly, Crown land which was owned by the colonial administration and is now under government administration.”

He said Eswatini Nation Land is around 60% which is land mostly owned by indigenous emaSwati. Dlamini noted that the disadvantage of ENL is that it is not formalized, meaning one cannot access loans from financial institutions and grow their wealth using it.

“In essence, emaSwati are not allowed to own land in their own country, apart from Eswatini Nation Land, which is currently not formalized.”

He said as a result of this disadvantage it is important that the country ventures into social housing. Dlamini defined social housing as housing that is enabled by the state or the government through subsidies.

The CEO then outlined key areas that the country and government should focus on to ensure that emaSwati gets to own property.

  1. Economic growth – The country needs to build an inclusive economy that benefits all emaSwati. An inclusive economy will lead to job creation, and our research informs us that the economy should be at least be growing by 3% GDP per annum. Most importantly the economy has to function in order for people to receive higher salaries.
  2. National Infrastructure Programme- Development of infrastructure must take place at a regional and national level. He said without a national infrastructure plan, important input costs such as water, electricity, telecommunications, public facilities, and roads cannot be achieved.
  3. Re-Engineer Financial Relationship between Urban & Rural Areas- funding models need to be national in approach, irrespective of title deed or Eswatini Nation Land. The current financing model by local financial institutions is not practical for emaSwati.
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