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Compiled by Richard Knight, July 2001
House completed since 1994: 1.1 million. These houses have secured tenure, running water, sanitation and electricity.
Number of homes still needed: 2 to 3 million
Number of people given shelter in the past 5 years: 5 million
Number of people still in need of adequate housing: 7.5 million people
Number of rented council units transferred to full ownership: 370,000
Number of rental council units still to be transferred to full private ownership: 350,000
Click here to view a table of the total number of houses completed or under construction, April 1994 to March 2000, by province.
Conflicts and Challenges
Over one million houses have been built and services have been extended to millions of people. Nonetheless, the government estimates that an additional million units still need to be provided.
This backlog is exacerbated by high unemployment (in the neighborhood of 50% in most townships), leaving millions of people unable to afford basic necessities. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) recently noted: "While Africans make up 76% of the population, their share of income amounts to only 29% of the total. Whites, who make up less than 13% of the population, take away 58.5% of total income." The HIV/AIDS pandemic, with 4.2 million South African infected, is adding to the development problem. It is estimated that GDP will be 17% lower for 2010 than it would be without AIDS
Even where people are housed, conflicts continue over access to basic services and housing payments. Reports regularly appear in the South African press of the formation of committees of township residents occupying unoccupied houses, and fighting the cut-off of water and electricity for non-payment of rates and evictions for non-payment of mortgages.
Under apartheid, segregation was mandated by law. Blacks could not live in "white" areas but had to live in townships or in impoverished rural areas know as bantustans. Very little housing was built for Africans by the apartheid regime. As a result when the ANC led government came to power there was only 1 formal brick house for every 43 Africans compared to one for every 3.5 whites. The urban backlog alone was estimated as at least 1.3 million units in 1994. To meet population growth, 130,000 houses have to be built every year. In 1993 only about 50,000 houses were built. Between 7.5 and 10 million people lived in informal housing such as shanties in squatter camps and back yards of Black township houses. In the 1980s, as part of the struggle against apartheid, township residents organized rent and services payment boycotts.
Today, millions of people still live in shanties and squatter camps. The government estimates that an additional million homes are required to meet their needs.
In 1994 the African National Congress adopted
the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP),
an integrated socio-economic policy framework which is now the policy if the
government. The RDP set a goal of
300,000 houses to be built a year with a minimum of one million low-cost houses
to be constructed within five years.
Adequate Housing - Law of the Land
Section 26 of the Constitution of the
The establishment of legal rights to housing began in 1997 the Housing Act was passed. A comprehensive National Housing Code was issued in 2000. (A complete copy of the Housing Code is available on the Ministry of Housing web site www.housing.gov.za.)
The Housing Act, “housing development” is defined as:
1(vi) “… the establishment and maintenance of habitable, stable and sustainable public and private residential environments to ensure viable households and communities in areas allowing convenient access to economic opportunities, and to health, educational and social amenities in which all citizens and permanent residents of the Republic will, on a progressive basis, have access to:
(a) permanent residential structures with secure tenure, ensuring internal and external privacy and providing adequate protection against the elements; and
(b) potable water, adequate sanitary facilities and domestic energy supply.”
Acts that impact on housing needs are: Rental Housing Act (1999) to
ensure that more houses are provided for rental purposes and to regulate the
behavior of unscrupulous landlord to they do not charge exorbitant rents. The
Act provides for a dispute mediation between landlord
and tenants and outlaws the evicting of long-standing tenants from their homes
with mediation. Housing Consumer
Protection Measurers Act (1998) aims to protect homeowners from inferior
workmanship. Builders are responsible
for design and material defects for three months, roof leaks for a year and
structural defects for five years. The Home Loan and Mortgage
(2000) (modeled after the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act in the
The government's goal, as set out in the Housing Code, is the provision of 350,000 houses per annum until the housing backlog is overcome. Currently about 200,000 are being built annually. Broad principles of housing policy include people centered delivery and partnerships; skills transfer and economic empowerment; fairness and equity; choice; quality and affordability; innovation; transparency, accountability and monitoring; and sustainability and fiscal affordability.
The ability of government to provide housing is restricted by its macro-economic policy known as GEAR. Two important goals of this policy are to reduce inflation and reduce government expenditure to below 4% of GDP. This in effect limits the amount which government can spend on social needs including housing.
financing remains a major challenge to low cost housing development. The 1994
White Paper estimated that at least 70% of
The government has come up with a series of programs to help people finance the purchase of houses. Over 1 million housing subsidies have been provided. This includes the Rural Housing Loan Fund that has financed some 25,000 loans for low-income housing.
The government has a series of programs that allocate subsidies according to recipients’ income. To date, over 1.3 million subsidies have been approved.
Monthly Beneficiary Income
Up to R1,500 ($180)
R1,501 to R2,500 ($180 to $300)
R2,501 to R3,500 ($300 to $420)
These calculations reflect the exchange rate of R1 = $0.1212
Banks have been reluctant to provide housing finance and the government is having ongoing discussions with the banks. The recent collapse of the Gateway home loan program, which sought to create housing opportunities for low and moderate-income households through an effective secondary market, has been blamed in part on the lack of support from banks.
are significant differences in each province that need to be taken in
account. The Housing code notes that
53.7% of the population lives in urban areas.
The most urbanized provinces are
In addition to building new houses, some 370,000 rented council houses have been transferred to full private ownership and a further 350,000 houses are scheduled to be transferred. The government has also setting up a national rental housing company.
Criticisms of the housing being built includes quality, size (many are very small) and location (numerous identical houses in areas with no social or economic infrastructure). Many of the houses that have been built are what are popularly known as "RDP houses." Some RDP houses are so small and badly built that people joke that they are "so small you need to go outside to change your mind." The government has been working to overcome these problems.
there are conflicts over housing. The Gauteng Housing Department is moving approximately 3,000
families from Alexandra to an area of
and 2000, 1.5 million new electrification connections have been established and
4 million more people given access to clean running water. This means that many people now use
electricity for cooking. The impact can
be seen in the recent closing of a match factory due to declining demand. Many of these connections are for a special
kind of pre-paid meter. However, many
people have been unable to afford to pay for these services. A recent survey by USAID found that South
Africans were willing but unable to pay for services. According to press reports,
During the 1999 election campaign the ANC promised to provide free electricity and water to the poorest households. However, it is expected to take some time, perhaps years, before this promise can be fully met.
Twenty-three million people (51% of the population) now receive a basic free water allowance of six kiloliters each month. However, it is expected to take some time, perhaps years, before this promise can be fully achieved. Issues to be resolved include finance and infrastructure. Another 15 million people live in local government areas where the local government has not decided to implement the water policy or are in the process of doing so. An estimated seven million people live in areas where there is no infrastructure for the supply of water. And the government has allocated R1.1 billion to address this problem.
electricity also faces many obstacles including the privatization of
Eskom. Households in 16
rural development areas will this month begin receiving 50 kilowatt-hours free
of electricity as national government continues to explore ways of making
energy affordable for
there have been protests in a number of townships resulting from the cut-off of
water and electricity due to non-payment.
There have also been evictions due to non-payment of mortgages (known in
Government’s overall approach to the housing challenge is aimed at mobilising and harnessing the combined resources, efforts and initiative of communities, the private sector, and the State. This approach has been adopted against the backdrop of severe market and societal abnormalities associated with the policies and political turbulence of the pre-democratic era.
The goal within both urban and rural areas is to improve the quality of living of all South Africans. The emphasis of our efforts must be on the poor and those who have been previously disadvantaged. To meet this goal in a manner that is viable and sustainable, we understand that we need to undertake a range of interventions. These interventions then underpin our policy and strategy…as contained in the Urban and Rural Development Frameworks.
Government’s goal is, subject to fiscal affordability, to increase housing delivery on a sustainable basis to a peak level of 350 000 units per annum until the housing backlog is overcome. It is expected that this process may take several years. Realisation of the goal relies on government ensuring that its implementation systems in all three spheres of government can accommodate the budget allocation and delivery programme.
Our vision is further reiterated in both the Urban and Rural Development frameworks. In each of these documents, the environment within which a house is situated is recognised as being equally as important as the house itself in satisfying the needs and requirements of the occupants. Ultimately, the housing process must make a positive contribution to a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and integrated society.
Much of the information in the Statistics and Policy
sections is taken from the Ministry of Housing web page, including the National
Housing Code, the ANC web site, selected news reports and the Reconstruction
and Development Programme. This includes much of the language in the
text. Other sources include
quotes from South African text and titles South African spelling is used. In
Press Reports on Housing
Housing Shortage Still Desperate
By Barry Streek
About 7,5-million people in
Since 1994 about 1,129-million houses have been built, and secured tenure, running water, sanitation and electricity provided.
Minister of Housing Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele says the provision of more than 1,1-million homes in six years was an achievement that very few, if any, countries had matched.
"Five million South Africans who did not have a roof over their heads, will return at the end of today to a place they call home, will have running water and sanitation, which they did not have before we embarked on this journey," Mthembi-Mahanyele said during her policy speech in the National Assembly last
Mthembi-Mahanyele also said at an earlier press briefing that 7,5-million people are still without shelter, and "between two and three million" houses still had to be built to meet this need.
Many of these people are living in informal settlements in urban areas, where 53,6% of the population live, whereas others share accommodation. The pace of housing delivery annually has declined -- from 300 000 in 1997 to about 200 000 the following year.
"We will be slowing down further -- we have to look at the quality issue and at tenure alternatives," Mthembi-Mahanyele said.
Mthembi-Mahanyele said the housing situation had been exacerbated by inappropriate policies, a skewed distribution of resources and wealth and the general factors, such as growing economies, which draw people to the cities. "As a result of the shortage of adequate and available shelter, people occupy any vacant land they find and put up shacks in areas without sanitation, infrastructure or social amenities.
"Others occupy old disused and/or abandoned structures, or prefabricated buildings of inferior material, some at an advanced stage of decay." Mthembi-Mahanyele said since 1994 the government has consolidated more than 10 different housing departments, fragmented policies and 34 pieces of legislation.
She said this was a journey that "took us through the potholes of reluctance by financial institutions to extend credit to previously marginalised communities and redlining, and defusing the landmines of fraud, corruption and criminal activity".
One of the Department of Housing's flagship programmes, the upgrading of informal settlements, involves 293 different projects that benefit 232 000 families who had their shacks converted into proper homes.
Copyright © 2001 Mail & Guardian. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
South African Press Association, June 19 2001
NEW BILL AIMS TO PROMOTE INVESTMENT IN POOR AREAS
New draft legislation aimed at promoting private sector investment in poor communities would be presented to Cabinet this year, Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele said on Tuesday.
Introducing debate on her budget vote in the National Assembly, she said the Community Reinvestment Bill would follow legislation which had stopped banks "redlining" or discriminating against loan applicants from poor communities.
The Home Loan and Mortgage Disclosure Act - passed last year - had forced banks to disclose their reason for not advancing a home loan or mortgage.
The new bill would form the "next phase of this intervention", Mthembi-Mahanyele said.
It would also identify "causal deterrents" to investments and create incentives.
Access to finance remained the greatest challenge facing low-cost housing development.
Since 1994, the government had established four finance institutions in an effort to normalise the housing loan environment.
Some of the instruments had not worked out as they should have, such as the Gateway Homeloans project.
Mthembi-Mahanyele said on Monday that banks had played a major role in contributing to the failure of the project, a home-finance scheme set up by the National Housing Finance Corporation in 1998.
Banks were "very hesitant" to finance housing for low-income earners, she said.
The South African Communist Party said in a statement on Tuesday it believed the failure of the scheme and continued evictions of residents defaulting on their home-loan payments, pointed to a need to intensify the campaign to make banks serve the people.
In her address in the National Assembly, Mthembi-Mahanyele said more than five million poor South Africans were provided with housing over the past six years, but there remained a backlog of seven-and-a-half million people who needed proper shelter.
She said 1,1-million houses had been built over this period, all with secure tenure, running water, sanitation and electricity.
But another two to three million units were still needed.
A total of 53,6 percent of the country's population lived in urban areas - most in informal settlements because of a shortage of adequate shelter.
Mthembi-Mahanyele said her department had upgraded 293 projects and provided 232000 families in informal settlements with proper houses.
South African Press Association, CAPE TOWN 22 June 2001
MBEKI WANTS BANKS TO HELP HOUSING DELIVERY
The country's banks were not pulling their weight to help government speed up housing delivery, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.
Questioned by the public broadcaster about housing, he said: "It would also help a great deal if there was a much better response from the banks on this matter."
The government had not succeeded in getting banks to supply funding to help support its housing programme.
Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele was discussing the issue with the financial institutions.
"I have said to her I would also like to meet them myself.
"There seems to be great risk aversion from the banks and they don't want to get involved and that limits the possibility of speeding up the availability of new homes," Mbeki said.
Earlier this week, Mthembi-Mhanyele told Parliament that more than five million poor South Africans were provided with housing over the past six years, but there remained a backlog of seven-and-a-half million people who needed proper shelter.
She said 1,1-million houses had been built over this period, all with secure tenure, running water, sanitation and electricity.
However, another two to three million units were still needed.
Municipal services: Willing to pay, but too poor [News24.co.za]
A recent survey showed South Africans were willing to pay for municipal services like water and sewage removal, but could not afford to, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) said on Thursday.
"Five to ten years ago, people struggling against apartheid were politically motivated to refuse paying for the rates they used," said Lucius Botes, project leader of the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State, which conducted the research commissioned by USAid. Now people had the will to pay, but not the means.
The research found widespread unemployment.
"The poverty of many households in low-paying areas mean people cannot afford rates charges, though most say they would be willing to make at least partial payments."
There were high levels of satisfaction with the provision of electricity, water, waste disposal and other municipal services.
"The report indicates poverty, not a culture of non-payment, seems to be the main reason for default of payment in most instances."
The study was prompted by the Project Viability Report of 1998, which indicated that total debt to all municipalities for the 18-month period up to March that year exceeded R8.5 billion.
Some 1599 households from 32 places across the country participated in the survey.
Policies to help the poorest of the poor to afford access to basic services would partly alleviate the problem of non-payment, the report stated.
"The study implies that government will need to evaluate and monitor these policies to ensure that they are fiscally sound and sustainable."
The researchers suggested municipalities should stimulate job creation through appropriate local economic development activities, like small business promotion through private-public partnerships.
South African Press Association, JOHANNESBURG 22 June 2001
SOWETO ELECTRICITY COMMITTEE STAGE A SIT-IN AT ESKOM
Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee members staged a sit-in at the Eskom offices in Braamfontein on Friday after a meeting aimed at resolving a conflict failed to bear fruit.
Committee spokeswoman Dudu Mphenyeke said Eskom invited the members to a meeting on Friday and they went assuming they would get a response from Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo to a memorandum they handed to him during a march earlier this month.
Instead Eskom representatives told the committee that the government would provide free electricity only if residents paid their arrears, she said.
"How can we pay areas when there are people sitting with areas totalling R96000," Mphenyeke said.
She said the members would continue the sit-in until Masondo, who she claimed promised residents free electricity during his election campaign, addressed them.
"Actually we want Masondo to implement a promise he made during his campaign. He promised us free electricity," she said.
Masondo's spokesman Kgotso Chikane said the mayor had informed the residents that he was waiting for a response from Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
He said the mayor had a meeting with the minister after receiving the memorandum. Mlambo-Ngcuka promised to take the matter to Cabinet for advice.
Chikane said the Metro was hamstrung and had no mandate to order Eskom to provide free electricity because the power company was controlled by the national government.
Mphenyeke accused Eskom of divisionism, alleging the paratastal had run a radio advert which called on senior citizens to visit its offices and sign documents in regard to their arrears.
"The (comittee) rejects this move because it is a repetition of the agreement signed by Sowetans three years ago which was found to be...against the laws of natural justice. In that agreement, senior citizens were duped to sign (sic), signing meant signing away your rights as a customer."
She said the protestors would spend the night at the offices and would only leave after Masondo addressed them. Eskom was unavailable for comment.****
South African Press Association, JOHANNESBURG June 30 2001
GOVT INVESTIGATING CHEAPER ENERGY
The government was investigating various ways to make energy affordable to the country's poorest households, Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Tuesday.
would begin the process this month by providing free basic electricity of 50 kilowatt-hour per month to people in 16 different rural
development nodes countrywide, she told reporters in
Last year government announced that free basic services would be provided for those households earning less than R800 per month.
"I must confess we underestimated the administrative and technological challenges," Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
"We realised that the administrative co-ordination was so chaotic that to have left each municipality to devise its own means was going to come back and haunt all of us."
She lauded municipalities which were, on their own, trying to find ways to assist the poorest under their jurisdiction.
Municipalities could conceivably finance the free basic energy by means of cross-subsidisation or from the allocation they received from the National Treasury.
However, constitutionally the national government could not dictate to the municipalities how they should use those funds, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
That option tended to work well in the richer municipalities, she said. Cross-subsidisation - whereby richer households pay more and the poorest pay less - was impossible in areas where there was no source to cross-subsidise from.
National government had to find money from its own budget to kick-start the process in the 16 nodes identified by President Thabo Mbeki in his State-of-the-Nation address in February.
It included technological conversion, for instance of pre-paid electricity meters.
The roll-out would continue until March next year when a strategy would be devised for the next set of nodes, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
By then, preparation would be underway for six regional electricity distributors (REDs), set to take over from the current figure of about 250 businesses.
A decision would then also be made on the possibility to provide free basic electricity to everyone, and step up the tariff for higher consumption.
The free electricity of 50 kilowatt-hour per month would save a household about R180 per year.
It would mean each household would have access to energy for lighting, ironing, limited cooking, water heating as well as the use of a radio and a black and white television.
Those using solar energy would receive an operation and maintenance subsidy of up to R40 per household. These households currently paid about R48 per month to maintain solar panels, the minister said.
In terms of the policy of energy efficiency, Eskom's project on efficient light would be piloted in a number of areas, whereby free energy-saving globes would be experimented with to determine if they could reduce consumption.
Other measures to make energy more affordable included exempting paraffin from value-added tax.
No specific arrangements had been made for liquid petroleum gas (LPG), as few poor people used it. However, the government wanted people to use LPG instead of paraffin for safety reasons, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
A mechanism could not be found to subsidise the poorest people who used wood and cow dung for energy, she said.
All the experiences gathered from the different pilot projects would be assessed in order to help the government - probably through REDs - with the ultimate roll-out of free basic energy that would start in 2002/3, the minister said.
South African Press Association, CAPE TOWN July 1 2001
FREE WATER GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN WITH FEW HITCHES: DEPT
About 23 million people who were promised a basic six kilolitres of free water per household by their local governments had benefited since Sunday, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry said on Monday.
The department's director general Mike Muller said: "Everything has gone according to plan. Although people in some areas are disappointed that they have been left out, the understanding is that there are a few problems in the new local government areas...."
Many municipalities had either not yet decided to implement the policy, or were in the process of doing so.
Earlier it was reported that Pietermaritzburg ratepayers would have to wait another three months to receive their free water. Msunduzi municipality officials (which incorporates Pietermaritzburg municipality) cited technical and administrative difficulties and uncertainty as the reasons for its failure to deliver the services, especially in rural poor communities.
Muller said: "We will be helping those specific municipalities with the planning and budgeting so that they can introduce and implement the free basic water to every household as soon as possible."
"The big gap and major problem faces those people who do not have access to water infrastructure. But for that group we are spending R1.1-billion this year in order to bring water to nearly one and a half million people and we think we are making good progress on that front also."
In a statement issued earlier on Monday, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils said: "I need to emphasise that consumers should continue paying for water until their respective local governments have informed them of their arrangements.
"In many of the rural areas, the department is still the water service provider, and although water is provided free, there is often inadequate control over the actual usage."
This resulted in some households often using more than the free basic amount of 6000 litres a month.
Spokesman for the Johannesburg executive mayor, Kgotso Chikane said the government's policy would not make a difference to rich households but would help the very poor.
"It will really make a difference to people living in shacks and small houses and come as a tremendous relief and really be a good proposition if these people use their water sparingly since they will find that they won't have to pay if they don't require more water than allocated."
He said the government was also sorting out matters regarding body corporates running flats and townhouses in order to avoid tenants being cheated or exploited regarding the free water.
Chikane said his department was also working around the clock to ensure that the city, together with Eskom provided free electricity to residents in Johannesburg in the near future.
ANC provincial leader Ebrahim Rasool yesterday again called for a moratorium on all evictions. This week has seen evictions and water cut-offs across the Cape Flats. Many more families face eviction while communities under the leadership of the anti-eviction alliance are trying to resist the evictions.
On Thursday 21 June , the ANC's office in Mitchell's Plain was flooded by people who had been evicted. An emergency legal aid clinic was set up while ANC members made arrangements to accomodate those with nowhere to stay. It is clear that the Unicity is not following due process in regard to many of the evictions taking place. The ANC is in the process of compiling affidavids of those evicted who say they never received a summons and other who say that they went in to make arrangements to pay but their money was not accepted by the council.
Mr Rasool said;
the DA gained control of the unicity on 5 December
2000 the ANC called on them to place a moratorium on all evictions until a
common indigent policy was adopted by the new council. Both
"The DA promised jobs for all. They promised to be for all the people. Now we see their promises lying in tatters. Now they are trying to stop the ANC's campaign for fair rates by forcing a 7 % rates increase for all ratepayers. Under the ANC in 2000 , we had actually brought rates down in places like Mitchell's Plain. These areas have been paying high rates and subsidising the wealthy areas like Camps Bay and Sea Point.
"Many people who are being evicted simply cannot afford to pay. Others have tried to make arrangements and then fell behind. Tygerberg does one thing. SPM says something else. There is no common policy. While this is happening people are suffering. Families are being broken up. Children are traumatised.
"The ANC know that some people are illegally occupying houses and that some houses are used by gangsters. These issues must be dealt with.
"The only way to move forward is to stop the evictions now and agree on a policy which will benefit those who genuinely cannot pay and expose those who simply don't want to pay. If the DA does not agree to this, the suffering of innocent and poor people will continue."
Contact: Head of Communications Cameron Dugmore on 082 894 7553
Sunday Times 9/7/01
Evictions loom in suburbs
By Edwin Lombard
Department of housing is set to turn the screws on tenants who owe millions of rands in rent arrears
Scores of tenants in well-off areas could soon face the same fate as those in Mitchell's Plain and elsewhere on the Cape Flats who have been evicted over the non-payment of rent and services. The provincial department of housing is set to turn the screws on tenants who together owe millions of rands in rent arrears. Cecil Herandien, provincial minister of housing, said he was compiling lists of tenants in the former white areas of Parow, Goodwood and Sercor Park in the Helderberg who since 1991 have not paid rent for their government-owned homes.
In one area in the Helderberg alone, tenants owe in excess of R100 000 each. Twenty-seven families that appear on the list owe a combined amount of over R2-million. The debts have been accumulated since 1991. Monthly rentals for these areas vary from between R150 to R400.
"I'm compelled to act against these people otherwise I will be accused by the auditor-general of maladministration," said Herandien. He said if defaulters did not make arrangements to pay off r arrears, "we will have to act against them."
Residents on the Cape Flats who have been forcibly evicted by officials from the unicity council for the past three weeks accused the DA-controlled provincial government of treating tenants in slightly more well-off areas with kid gloves while treating them "like animals."
Ayesha Davids of the Anti-Eviction campaign on the
only act against those tenants who were administered by the provincial department of housing.
Louwtjie Rothman, DA councillor for Goodwood, said he was unaware of the planned evictions.
Herandien said the arrears owed to both the provincial department of housing as well as local government was seriously undermining the province's ability to address the backlog in housing. He also said the DA in the province had formulated a provincial housing policy on the handling of all issues of housing.
"What it will come down to is that we will draw up a poverty profile that will distinguish between people who don't want to pay and those that simply cannot pay." Residents of Lavender Hill will hold a public gathering today to collect affidavits from people who claim to have been assaulted by police during an eviction attempt in the area last week.
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