‘Developers have received favourable treatment from DA’
- Cameron Dugmore
- 21 Feb 2017 11:51 (South Africa)
Premier Zille made much of the fact that her speech on Friday was her 10th State of the Province Address. What she did not mention was that in her first SOPA in 2009, eight years ago, she promised to establish the Children’s Commissioner. The Constitution of the Western Cape, which has been certified by the Constitutional Court, obliges that the Premier establish both a Children’s Commissioner as well as a Commissioner for the Environment.
There is not a choice in the matter.
It is now 2017 and this province still has no Children’s Commissioner. We have no Environmental Commissioner.
This makes a mockery of the DA’s commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic.
Alongside her broken promises, we see the worsening position of children and youth in the Western Cape.
A study conducted by UCT’s Children’s Institute, as a follow-up to the Medical Research Council’s, looked at two mortuaries, Salt River in the Western Cape and Phoenix in Durban. During 2014, 711 cases were reviewed, the majority in Salt River; 53% of child deaths were due to natural causes, 43% unnatural causes, and 4% undetermined. Looking at non-natural deaths, child deaths in both mortuaries, homicides accounted for 32% of the total 324 cases reviewed, road traffic injuries 28%, fires and burns 9%, and suicide 7%. The teams reviewed 110 child murders, with the most prevalent relating to teenage boys killed in conflict with peers or gang violence. The second highest cause of child murder was abuse, with children under five years old particularly at risk.
In the latest Stats SA victims of Crime Survey, it was found that households in the Western Cape had the highest percentage of households (42.9%) who indicated that they do not allow their children to play on their own in the area because of fear of rime, as well as not allowing their children to walk to school on their own (34.7%).
And yet, Speaker, it was Premier Zille who told the standing committee on the Department of the Premier, five years after making the promise to appoint a Commissioner for Children, that, “it probably wasn’t necessary and would cost a lot of money”. Now, despite the people of the Western Cape having overwhelmingly rejected Premier Zille’s attempt to amend the Constitution which would have made the appointment of these commissioners discretionary in 2015, we still have no Children’s or Environmental Commissioner.
This conduct is unlawful and in breach of the Provincial and National Constitution. It is a disgrace. What really lies behind this cynical breach of promise and conscious delaying tactics is a simple truth – Premier Zille and the DA are terrified at the public and media scrutiny which will flow once these commissioners have been appointed. The cosy relationship the DA enjoys with certain unscrupulous developers would be disturbed by the prying eyes of an environmental commissioner.
We know, Madam Speaker, that the Premier is known as a good fundraiser for the DA.
She has refused to say how many of the hundreds of millions collected by the DA since she became Premier in 2009 have been donated by property developers who have received favourable treatment from DA provincial and local municipalities. And we are not holding our breaths, she will not tell us tomorrow when she responds.
How does the Premier explain for example that her government has failed to recover any of the millions lost due to the corrupt appointment of Filcon to build schools in our province? Filcon, when appointed, had numerous High Court liquidations pending and was being run by Saul Loggenberg who had been banned from doing business in the UK. Once again the Premier has refused to answer questions about whether the DA received donations from Loggenberg. It is criminal that the lives of small black contractors in the city have been ruined by the City’s appointment of Filcon. The City also have failed to institute proceedings to recover money. It’s fine for the filthy rich to get away with corruption under the DA and Helen Zille.
And yet we see, Madam Speaker, the Premier, apparently with the active encouragement of the Chief Whip in this house and the MEC for Public Works and Transport, agreeing to the summary dismissal of the only DA MPL who took his oversight role seriously. I am of course referring to Honourable member Lennit Max. Is it not shocking that when I as a member of the committee proposed that we visit Tafelberg for an in loco inspection and a detailed committee discussion about this blatant attempt to prevent much needed social housing in the inner city, the DA majority refused! It now is becoming clearer to me, Speaker, that with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Premier, this committee was literally muzzled. Please assure me Hon Premier that you were not in any way aware of the motivation to remove Hon Max? But more about Tafelberg later.
The truth has a way of coming out, Speaker, and I predict that so too will the truth emerge about which property developers have funded the DA over these years of “good governance” by the DA. Yes, the Auditor General would not have picked this up because he does not audit the DA’s books, but watch this space.
This cynical game must stop now. And that is why we as the ANC will tomorrow morning, in terms of section 6 of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, report this matter to the Public Protector and request an urgent investigation.
We will make the case for a finding against the Premier and that the province be obliged to take remedial action and appoint these commissioners without delay. We now know that should such a finding be made, it will have to be implemented unless taken on judicial review.
It is clear that since that first speech made (by) the Premier in 2009 when she inherited the province governed by the ANC that the material conditions facing the majority of our people, especially from the Coloured and African Communities, have worsened.
The statistics on crime are there for all to see.
The statistics on the economy are there for all to see. As honourable leader of the opposition member has mentioned.
The statistics on housing delivery are there for all to see.
Compare 2009 to 2016 and you will see the regression under the DA.
Madam Speaker, my point about the interests which call the tune in the life of the DA are also relevant in the next two issues I want to address. They are the PHA (Philippi Horticultural Area), Tafelberg.
In regard to the Philippi Horticultural Area, Madam Speaker, I believe that we are fundamentally dealing with a problem. That problem is the Mayor of Cape Town. She has gone completely rogue. She is out of control. I will ask the messenger to give you two documents just now, in case you have not seen them. The first is a letter from the then Minister of Agriculture to the City of Cape Town. It was formally received by the City of Cape Town on 24 July 2009. The letter explains the refusal the application by the City to change the land use designation of certain erven in Philippi, Schaapkraal from “horticultural” use to “urban development”. It concludes with the following words, “It would jeopardise Agriculture’s stand of protecting agricultural land for agricultural purposes when similar developments are being applied for on adjacent or nearby properties situated between the above properties and the existing towns. This will lead to a serious loss of agricultural land where economic agricultural practices are still being protected.”
Secondly, is the legal opinion of the City’s own legal advisers. It concludes by saying, “It is clear from the comments of National Agriculture that it does not support the application to change the land use for the PHA. It will not grant consent to the sale of such land for development. According to the Constitutional Court, such consent is still required. Regardless of the City’s recommendation in this regard, therefore it is unlikely that this development will be sanctioned. Even if the more accommodating approach of Provincial Agriculture is adopted, it is clear… that National Agriculture wants to retain the integrity of the PHA as it currently exists”.
Now despite this it is clear that the DA Mayor and former leader of the DA in the province, Patricia De Lille, has tried to stretch every single rule in the book to see to it that developers Wentzel Oaker (Rapicorp) and John Coetzee be given the keys to the PHA. If the rogue mayor gets her way, 1,000 hectares of agricultural land will literally be paved over – the very area which is the primary recharge area of the Cape Flats aquifer. The rogue mayor wants to allow the building of 30,000 houses, two shopping centres, a private school, a private prison… all of which will ultimately delete the 200,000 tons of vegetables produced each year.
We face a very serious human tragedy as well. There are over 15 informal settlements in the PHA. All on private land. We have hundreds of families, third generation families who have been living and working on these farms. They have vested rights. But now we see the landowners who are being tempted to sell their land, renting this land out to other tenants who are in turn cutting of water and electricity to these families. They sit without services. Over 7,000 people work in the PHA. Over 3,000 people, the poorest of the poor, are living there.
This cannot be allowed to continue.
I sincerely believe that the PHA campaign has huge support from across Cape Town. They say there are six reasons why we should care about the PHA, and I believe they are right.
- The PHA is a unique horticultural area producing over 150,000 tonnes of vegetables and flowers every year;
- The proximity of the PHA to consumers means minimal transport costs: fresh, affordable vegetables throughout the year;
- The PHA farmlands and seasonal wetlands are the last naturally occurring recharge for the Cape Flats aquifer;
- SA is a climate vulnerable country. PHA is well placed to provide food and water security for Cape Town literally for eternity;
- The PHA employs almost 4,000 workers from vulnerable groups;
- The PHA soils are the sink for atmospheric CO2 and CH4 in the City. Soil purifies aquifer water and is a natural resource for water and atmospheric carbon. In this way PHA helps with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Honourable Premier, it is time to do what is right for Cape Town and the province. As the ANC, we are participating in this debate to raise our critique but also make proposals.
We are not disrupting procedures. We are not walking out.
Firstly. You need to rein in the rogue Mayor. Invite her to Leeuwenhof for a fireside chat. Secondly, convene, with our help, a meeting with all spheres of government, the relevant provincial and national departments and the stakeholders involved. Let us find a solution to this. Thirdly, as a sign of good faith, place a moratorium on all development in the PHA. Fourthly appoint a team, and we as the ANC will help with this, to address the immediate humanitarian plight of those living in shocking conditions there, without electricity, without water. The ANC Jean Davids branch in ward 43 will take you there and show you the human suffering which is happening on your doorstep. They are actively supporting the PHA as part of their branch programme of action.
But I also want to make it very clear, Speaker, to both the Mayor and these developers, and any other developers who want to develop bricks and mortar in the PHA, that once the new Expropriation Bill is enacted into law after the consultation process, we as the ANC in this province will make the case for expropriation. In the end, if you do not demonstrate leadership on this matter, honourable Premier, this may be the only option. You are well aware of the provisions of our national Constitution, upon which the new Bill is based. These are that the public interest should be considered, and that not only market price should be considered. Other factors including the history of acquisition will also be considered.
Of course, the developers need to be engaged. Let us really put the future of our city and province first. All of us. Across party-political lines. All of us have to identify well located public land for integrated human settlements belonging to National, Provincial and Local government, and also parastatals. Outside of the PHA.
I would also like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to the brave men and women from the PHA campaign. They are the real deal. Warriors for justice. Do not lose hope. Thank you for all your efforts. Qina maqabane!
Honourable speaker, I turn now to Tafelberg. I want to strongly urge every member of this house to read the 115-page submission made by Ndifuna Ukwazi in response to the feasibility study into rental housing done by the Department of Public Works. I want the National Minister of Housing to read it. And the MEC. You can find at STOPTHESALE.NET/WCLEAKS.
I want the Minister of Public Works to read it. It is the most shocking indictment of this DA provincial government. It exposes clear conflicts of interest, it exposes deliberate untruths and distortions by MECs past and present. It points to the DA in this province, kow-towing to the interests of the rich. And ignoring the poor.
Unless, honourable Premier, you and your fellow MECs admit that you were wrong and now take a decision in support of affordable housing on the Tafelberg site as part of a sustainable development, you will not only stand to be judged by history, but may also face prosecution for failing to implement the oath of office which you have attested to. Not only will you lose an application to have your decision overturned (if you do not reverse the sale), but members of the Executive might well find themselves liable for costs personally.
Anyone who will take the time to read this document will understand why I am saying so.
This provincial government does not have a leg to stand on.
The sale was illegal.
The duplicity started with former MEC Carlisle. It continued with MEC Grant who has tried to give the impression that any proceeds would go towards affordable housing, whereas it is clear that they want to use the proceeds to fund inner city developments to provide accommodation for provincial departments.
Honourable Premier, you know of and are aware of the lawful and legitimate request by this province’s own Department of Human Settlements to use Tafelberg for social housing. You know that the province has not complied with GIAMA. You know that the Department of Transport and Public Works failed to appoint a functional Provincial Property Committee as required by law.
Honourable Premier, you have signed an oath to uphold our Constitution and all our laws. I am suggesting that these laws have not been upheld by some of your MECs, past and present. Whether this was wilful or negligent remains to be seen.
Like with the PHA, we need to resolve this matter. Those who attempted to purchase this land under false pretences should be engaged. All of us once again need to the right thing. We need social housing as part of a sustainable development on that site. This will pave the way for many more. For example, there is vacant land along South Road which can accommodate further housing, without destroying the existing houses there. Let’s come to our senses and route the MyCiti Phase 2 down the Lansdowne corridor as was always the intention. There is no need to build a new, expensive and disruptive road in South Road.
Speaker, I must also express my sincere disappointment that the Premier did nothing to condemn the statements by certain individuals purporting to speak on behalf of the Jewish community, calling on Jewish people not to attend a public meeting to discuss Tafelberg. How can such people attempt to speak on behalf of all Jewish people? And in fact, in reality, try and intimidate Jewish citizens into not showing solidarity with the domestic workers seeking accommodation close to where they work.
I know many Jewish people who felt that others should not speak in their name. To imply that no Jewish people support social housing at Tafelberg is an insult. And you, Premier, were as far as I know silent on this.
This was nothing more than an attempt at crude religious mobilisation.
The Western Cape, after eight years of DA rule and Helen Zille as Premier, is a worse place to live for the majority of citizens, who are African and Coloured and working class.
We are happy with clean audits, that’s how it should be.
But when the truth emerges about funding to the DA from unscrupulous developers, it will become clear, Speaker, that this provincial leadership has been captured. Captured by the elite. The privileged and the wealthy.
A DA that wants growth without transformation.
A DA that wants growth without redistribution.
A DA that wants profits without fairness.
A DA that wants only share schemes and not the transfer of and sharing of the land by the black majority – African, Coloured and Indian.
When the majority of our people see the truth, the DA’s days will be numbered.
We as the ANC not only believe that transformation has to take place – whether there is growth or not – but we also believe that real and sustained economic growth will only happen through transformation. DM
Cameron Dugmore is African National Congress MPL in the Western Cape Legislature.