Jaap de Visser examines the responsibilities of the three spheres of government with regard to implementing the right of access to housing and, in particular, the responsibility of local government. Local authorities are obliged, just as much as national and provincial government, to protect basic rights and advance their realisation.
When it comes to implementing an economic, social or cultural right, however, local government is bound by its constitutional mandate. The Constitution, the author argues, does not place the primary obligation to implement the right to housing on local government. However, in Government oj the Republic oj South Africa v Grootboom the Constitutional Court held that that access to land cannot be separated from access to housing or access to basic services, such as water and sewage removal. Local government thus plays a key part in fulfilling those ancillary aspects of the right of access to housing.