One angry Cape Town



1 OCTOBER 2019


Executive Mayor Dan Plato denies apartheid link, announces sweeping new policy to address segregation

A misleading and slanderous protest in the Cape Town City Centre yesterday tried to link Mayor Dan Plato to the apartheid-era National Party. Today we announce a suite of major policy directions to definitively desegregate the City of Cape Town.

Zombie stunt linking Mayor to the National Party misleads

A so-called "activist" group claiming to represent less-fortunate Cape Town residents has once again pulled off a stunt to impress their international funders. This time, "Reclaim the City" is spreading lies about Mayor Dan Plato, and seeking to distract from the track record of the City, which has consistently been recognised as the best-run metro in South Africa.

In yesterday's unlawful protest, hundreds of "activists", pretending to be National Party "zombies" from the apartheid era, blocked main roads and caused traffic mayhem at peak rush hour; traffic and law-enforcement officers had to be diverted from their duties assisting law-abiding residents.

The implication of the protest—explained ad nauseam to the press and in videos of the action that have since gone viral—was that the City of Cape Town is replicating apartheid spatial planning. It also included a slanderous ad hominem attack on Mayor Dan Plato, calling him an "Old Nat". In fact, Mayor Plato has been a bona fide member of the Democratic Alliance for fully 17 years; in contrast, he was a member of the National Party for only 7, of which only 4 were during apartheid. And in fact, a majority of the Mayoral Committee have never been members of the National Party, neither during nor after apartheid.

Executive Mayor Dan Plato announces sweeping new policy directions to definitively desegregate Cape Town

While there is more work to do, the City of Cape Town's achievements advancing spatial justice speak for themselves. Projects in Woodstock and Salt River are well underway. And had the "activists" actually engaged Mayor Plato in a meeting, they would have been advised that the Mayoral Committee has already approved, in principle, five new concrete proposals to address gaps that have been identified in City policy, and that had been already scheduled for announcement this coming Wednesday.

We have decided, in response to yesterday's provocation, to release these five new policy positions today rather than Wednesday, and to make them immediately available in full online without embargo.

Mayor Dan Plato has instructed the Mayoral Committee to review existing policies and bylaws, in particular regarding housing and urban planning, for alignment with these proposals. All statutory public participation will be followed before bringing any amendments to Council for adoption.

Mayor Dan Plato will address the media formally at a press conference later this week. Further details will be announced shortly.

In summary, the City of Cape Town will:

1. Cease City-led mass evictions from state land

Acknowledging the devastating long-term impact of forced removals on Black, Coloured and Indian communities, the City of Cape Town will, in principle, no longer support City-led mass evictions from state land.

The Mayoral Committee recognises the right under the South African Constitution to adequate housing in a climate of dignity, safety and security. That right, indeed, is central to the enjoyment of all other rights. We will shut down the Anti-Land Invasion Unit, previously responsible for removing homes and shacks, and redeploy officers to support the safety of residents living in informal settlements.

2. Upgrade all informal settlements

Acknowledging how historical land dispossession has lead to generational trauma and systemic economic disparity, the City of Cape Town recognises its obligation to redistribute state land in order to redress past injustices by, inter alia, guaranteeing long-term security of tenure for all residents living in all informal settlements.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of residents live in informal settlements on state land; any form of mass eviction is neither practical nor desirable. At the same time, considering that the current waiting time for a home on the housing database is around 20 years, it is no longer viable to expect residents to wait until formal housing can be provided.

Over the next five years, we will work with the Provincial and National Governments to ensure we have sufficient capacity to engage in a comprehensive upgrading programme that will, at a minimum, rezone public land for housing, establish communal security of tenure, install street lighting and roads for emergency services, and provide sewage and electricity services to all households.

In addition, we will establish a City-owned depot with subsidised construction materials, as well as a resource center to help families build homes where they live.

3. Shut down all Temporary Relocation Areas

Acknowledging the spatial inequality resulting from the establishment of segregated townships under apartheid, the City of Cape Town will, within three years, shut down all Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs) on the periphery of the city, and rehouse residents in refurbished public buildings or on state land in well-located areas.

The Mayor recognises that it was under his authority that the first TRA was established in 2008 in Cape Town at Blikkiesdorp, a site that has since become permanent. The City recognises its responsibility to provide all citizens housing that is dignified and well-located; no one should have to choose between being made homelessness and living 30 km from good infrastructure, services and employment.

In addition, all residents facing eviction and homelessness from private rental accommodation will not only be provided with emergency accommodation near to where they live, but will be supported at Court through a guaranteed right to legal representation.

4. Cease the sale of all City-owned land

Acknowledging the central role the Constitution places on land in transforming South African society and the desperate need of many for access to land, we now recognise it to be in breach of our obligations to sell or lease public land that could be used to satisfy that need.

While the City of Cape Town maintains that it requires new revenue streams to fund budget deficits, we now recognise that the long-term social value of land for poverty alleviation far outweighs any possible market value it might have.

In light of this, we will work with social-housing partners and the Provincial and National Governments to develop a plan for developing City-owned land into affordable housing in well-located areas.

In addition, we will review the long-term lease of golf courses and parking lots in City-owned land and priorities these for affordable housing when leases expire.

5. Reject policy direction from large developers

Recognising our obligation to advance spatial justice through urban planning rather than obeisance to a market logic that has served only the wealthy, and recognising that large development companies have for the past ten years built housing which has been unaffordable for the vast majority of residents, we vow to engage developers through the planning process to secure affordable housing in the public interest and publish an Inclusionary Housing Policy within the next six months for public comment.


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