Below is my submission (slightly edited since) to Helen Zille asking her to stop the sale of Tafelberg Site in Sea Point and to set it aside for social housing instead. I encourage everyone to do the same. If there can be a Hip Hop Tent at Daisies, there can be affordable housing in the City!
I would like to voice my objection to the sale of the Tafelberg Site in Sea Point as well as suggest that it instead be transferred to the Western Cape Housing Department for the development of social housing.
Cape Town, for all it’s natural beauty, remains a disgustingly unequal and segregated city. On the one hand there is a R150 000 000 home for sale in Clifton while rains destroy homes built on low lying land every winter. This is the legacy of Apartheid and years of systematic dispossession working in full force against the flourishing of the city’s poorest residents. Your government has a duty, moral and constitutional, to fix that.
When the tenants of the De Waal Drive flats were facing eviction this time last year, the government promised to compensate them by giving a free house in Pelican Park. I have worked on the Pelican Park project with a global housing NGO. It is huge and ambitious project. The houses look comfortable and only time will tell what kind of a community emerges there. However, I do not want to live in a city where Pelican Park type housing projects are hailed as groundbreaking. They aren’t.
Pelican Park’s location, more than 25kms, outside of the Cape Town City Center, is eerily reminiscent of Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, and others. We all know why those townships were established, and the great deal of social and economic hardships that define living in these areas. Just one economic effect of Apartheid spatial planning is that South Africans spend a great deal of their income on travelling to work everyday, more than 15%. Travel expenses are non-discretionary, I can’t choose to pay the multiple taxi-drivers who gets me work and back everyday, I must. Transport costs effectively reduce a workers net income and it stands to reason that the further away one stays from their place of work, the truer this will be. As I have already said this is just one example, I’m sure that the people who live in these communities can offer you more.
With the Tafelberg Site, the Province has an opportunity to experiment with social housing that doesn’t relegate the poor to the outskirts of the City. A mixed-income development within the City can start reversing the devastating effects of the Group Areas Act and the discrimination in contact which still exists as a result. Cape Town doesn’t need more private schools, nor does it need anymore dormitory suburbs. It needs more humanity.
More on this campaign can be found on these pages:
- The RTC website.
- A run down of the court case that resulted in the freezing of the transfer of the site is here and here.
- And a strong indictment of the DA government by Max du Preez on the Reclaim the City Facebook page.