City arrogance – Has Cape Town’s success got to Mayor de Lille’s head?

By Wilf Nussey*

Patricia De Lille
Patricia De Lille

Since it took over Cape Town the DA has been doing a pretty good job coping with its people’s needs and the challenges of explosive growth.

But now one wonders whether its successes have gone to Mayor Patricia de Lille’s head and generated an unwanted and atypical conceit. There is a crack in their façade of goodwill to all.

It is nothing to do with politics (although such philosophically barren individuals as Ehrenreich and Fransman will do their best to make it so) and everything to do with greed and arrogance.

This week the City had inserted into local newspapers expensively glossy brochures extolling “The progress we’ve made possible together through our integrated development plan”.

It covers just about every aspect of what has been and is being done – too long to list here, and states that “Residents of Cape Town need to know that their government works for them, is accountable to them, and answers to them at all times”.

Wrong. They don’t. There is one vital part of its job, which it omits from its list blessings and is handling very badly: commercial housing development projects. Its attitude to this is so crassly dictatorial one wonders whether it is simply desperate to increase its rates base or if gratuities have passed hands somewhere.

Cape_Town_slider

The area which is hardest hit by this is the so-called “Far South”, the large region over the mountain range south of Muizenberg and Hout Bay, reachable only by the Ou Kaapse Weg, the greatly overcrowded Main Road and Boyes Drive, the costly Chapman’s Peak drive and the dangerous and unreliable Metro railway.

The region is already so full of housing plus the still mushrooming squatter township of Masiphumelele that travel from there to the rest of the city has become an intolerable ordeal. Some people have moved north because they cannot cope with the daily grind of an hour or more across the mountains in addition to the massive traffic jams to the north.

Yet the City is going ahead approving plans for still more housing and other developments in the Far South. A huge new mall has grown almost next door to the existing Longbeach Mall in Sun Valley, which is already more than enough to meet local needs.

Now a giant new and apparently expensive housing development is being built at the southern end of the Ou Kaapse Weg, which will add drastically to the traffic flow. And the City has approved the first 107 of 400 houses to be built in little Kommetjie. Other projects are in line or under way.

There is simply not enough transport, water, electricity and sewage services to cope with all this. They are over-extended to destruction already.

One does not object to whatever the City does to better the living circumstances of those unfortunate enough to have to live in Masiphumelele. But that does not give it the right to ignore the needs and demands of the rest of the community, as it is doing.

It has effectively dropped its “integrated” development plan for the Far South. It is supposed to consult residents. It does not.

The Far South Peninsula Community Forum (an alliance of those of the various regions like Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town) have been trying for nearly two months to meet Mayor de Lille to hand over a petition (appropriately under the heading “Gatvol”) detailing and objecting to the rampant approval of unsustainable development. Excluding phone calls they have tried ten times and been brushed off every time with a contempt which was a hallmark of our former disastrous ANC mayor Nomainda Mfeketo, now a senior figure in the party’s archive of political rogues.

De Lille and her party should bear in mind that just because they control Cape Town does not mean they cannot lose votes in the coming elections, and the way they are going they will.

They should put an immediate stop to all this development whose only beneficiaries, ultimately, are the developers whom conned them into giving approval, and will take their money and run as soon as they are completed.

Until then we have no reason to believe that the City’s pompous newspaper inserts are no more than gilded words worth less than the paper they are printed on … at ratepayers’ expense.

  • Wilf Nussey, educated at Potch Boys High, had a career in newspapers with the Argus Group before becoming a full-time author. His books are available on Amazon.com.