Ndifuna Ukwazi welcomes study for affordable housing on Tafelberg

Ndifuna Ukwazi welcomes the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet’s decision to consider affordable housing on the Tafelberg site. A Provincial Cabinet resolution today (see attached) calls for a “financial model” to be secured for the development of social housing on the site. This is a victory for black African and coloured working class people who need affordable homes in the inner city. Province has accepted that working class people should be considered as potential tenants in the inner city.

Premier Helen Zille and her cabinet are commended for taking steps towards a well-considered final decision on the sale. Provincial Cabinet’s request for financial modelling, to inform its decision, goes well beyond what was required from Province in the court settlement of 5 May 2016. Ndifuna Ukwazi, however, makes a number of demands on this process.

The study must be open and transparent

In securing this model, Province must ensure that the process includes an opportunity for open consultation and proper input from social housing institutions, independent planners and experts. It must also include an opportunity for black African and coloured working class people, people who stand to benefit from the housing delivery, to contribute through a public participation process.

During the recent submissions period three social housing institutions (Communicare, Sohco, and the Madulammoho Housing Association), as well as the National Association of Social Housing Organisations (Nasho) expressed interest in the site, suggesting that social housing is one option for Tafelberg. This confirms a 2012 report by Nasho which showed that social housing is feasible for the site. Similarly, many working class people contributed valuable insights into the needs for affordable housing in Sea Point and the inner city.

This study is also an opportunity for Province to explore innovative options, other than social housing, for maximising the feasibility and yield of affordable housing on Tafelberg.

Provincial Cabinet should ensure that the study is not unduly protracted process.

Province must investigate whether the original decision to sell Tafelberg was legal

Provincial Cabinet admits that it must conduct a study in order to consider the “rationality” of calls for affordable housing on the Tafelberg site. To us, this implies that Province did not make this rational consideration in its original decision to sell Tafelberg to the highest bidder.

Ndifuna Ukwazi, along with our partners at the Reclaim the City campaign, have consistently questioned the legality of the decision to declare Tafelberg surplus to service delivery needs, opening the door for the sale. Premier Helen Zille and the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) have not yet answered to the flaws in the process. In light of this Provincial Cabinet resolution, they must do so now.

The DTPW cannot be trusted to produce this study

Recent revelations of lies and conflicts of interests, related to the Tafelberg sale and attributed to officials within that department, should disqualify the Department and Transport and Public Works from being the authority in charge of securing this study.

An expose by GroundUp (published in City Press on 24 July 2016) proved that Tafelberg was sold to cross-subsidise the unaffordable Dorp Street PPP mega-project and that Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant lied about that fact to Provincial Parliament. An expose by amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism (published in City Press on 17 July 2016) revealed that the former Public Works head of department, Gary Fisher, had a R190 million conflict of interest (through recent property investments made by his company CapitalGro) in the vicinity of the Tafelberg while he engineered the sale of the site. The Premier has not adequately responded to these concerns.

We cannot entrust the future of Tafelberg to a department that has been dishonest and hell-bent on selling the site for personal and budgetary financial gain. DTPW is not capable of an impartial decision.

Leave a Reply