Undignified rant

Len Swimmer
Chairman : Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance
12 August 2013

Mayor de Lille’s “I will not be made a stereotype” published in the Cape Times on 12/08/2013 refers;

I can say, without fear of contradiction, that Ms de Lille’s place in South African history is secure as a doughty fighter in the struggle against apartheid, for her contribution towards the production of one of the finest constitutions in the world and her fearless attempts to get to the bottom of the questionable Arms Deal.

Unfortunately her record as mayor of Cape Town has been less illustrious but it gives us no pleasure to do our duty as citizens concerned with the direction that the City’s administration is heading, by taking her to task when we perceive serious mistakes being made. In this process we always say who we are, as does everyone who writes to the local media – our letters & articles would not be accepted for publication otherwise, so her rant about “nameless sources” is undignified.

We are particularly concerned when our mayor states as a fact something which is patently not so. Mind you, she is not alone in this regard; Cllr Bloor made the same assertion in his letter “Not a Fact” published on 08/08/13. To say that Council agenda item C69290513 about changes in delegations was only a draft proposal ‘not formally brought to any structure of council’, just isn’t true. The document says that it is “For recommendation by the Executive Mayor and decision by Council”. The fact that this item was on the agenda at all meant that the mayor had agreed that it should be placed before a formal meeting of the City Council, the highest decision-making body in the City of Cape Town, or someone had done so in her name without her knowledge.

If her councillors had not bravely refused to countenance the revised system of delegations proposed that day that would have been the end of the matter. The system set out in item C69290513 would have been introduced, without any public participation.

We heard from Cllr Bloor this afternoon on the radio that the proposed changes to the delegations system have been modified, so it seems that the public outcry and the mayor’s own councillors’ concerns on the matter have, fortunately, had an effect. We look forward to being able to engage constructively with the City on these fresh ideas, as the mayor stated in her newsletter ‘We are compelled in law to do public participation and we will always comply’. We just hope it won’t be a mere tick box exercise, as so many public participation exercises in the past have turned out to be.

From the mayor’s unfortunate remarks about the decision to move the urban edge in the vicinity of the Philippi Horticultural Area, it would appear she has not taken any notice of, or her staff have kept from her, the great mass of informed comment which, for an overwhelming mass of indisputable reasons, rejects the idea as proposed. The reasons she now gives for the decision show no real appreciation of the damage that will be done or the simple route that exists to avoid the impending economic and ecological disaster: build the desired low-cost housing in the northern area of the PHA, where all knowledgeable opinion points out that the soil has been so polluted that continued farming is well nigh impossible. One has to wonder what compelling reason the mayor has to push the idea of building middle-class housing in the most agriculturally productive part of the PHA, or has she been conned by her in-house political advisor group; all her departments recommended that the urban edge NOT be moved except, unsurprisingly, Human Settlements?


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