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S. Africa housing drive targets shanties

By Associated Press
July 23, 2010

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PRETORIA, South Africa — South Africa’s government is launching an ambitious plan to build 400,000 homes for people living in shacks on the outskirts of the nation’s cities, the president said yesterday.

President Jacob Zuma, addressing a media briefing in Pretoria, said the state aims to provide the new homes with “essential services’’ by 2014, paid for out of state budgets. He did not give further details on the cost of the project.

Cabinet ministers and top officials approved the program during a government retreat that is held twice a year, he said.

The South African Institute of Race Relations, a think tank, said in recent research that about 14 percent of poor households in the country live in shacks and shantytowns outside cities. The remaining poor live in township houses.

Crime and unrest over inadequate housing and utilities are common in South Africa’s burgeoning squatter camps.

South Africa’s successful hosting of the World Cup has led the government to focus on infrastructure, Zuma said.

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