Spatial division still mars our towns and cities - Patricia de Lille

GOOD leader says surplus people of Alex should be moved across to Sandton

Statement by Patricia de Lille


5 May 2019

Instead of reciting alist of grand-sounding promises, as other parties do to entice voters to support them, I thought it fitting to conclude GOOD’s inaugural election campaign by focusing on a subject that the DA and ANC have studiously sought to avoid: Spatial integration.

While there has rightly been a massive focus on corruption – and GOOD has just established a corruption desk to handle a spate of allegations of corruption at municipalities across the country – we must not make the mistake of shifting all blame for our woes onto the Guptas. Political parties have largely campaigned on the basis of how anti-corruption they are, and how tough they’ll be on graft. Simply put, those guilty of corruption must be sent to prison, not parliament.

I have done lots of driving through the provinces over the past 60 days and there’s one thing all our towns and cities have in common:  . A business district surrounded by a suburb or two of decent houses previously reserved for whites, a location on the outskirts for people of colour, and a sprawling informal settlement without basic services or community amenities even further away.

This is not a sustainable model for co-existence let alone unity of purpose or inclusivity. It is a model that graphically symbolises the extreme inequity that characterises our society. It is a model for insecurity, anger and protest.

For how long will the people of over-crowded and under-serviced Alexandra continue to peacefully gaze across the highway at the opulence in Sandton? Surely the development of Alexandra, and the accommodation of some of its surplus people in Sandton is in fact in Sandton’s interest. Surely the development of Imizamo Yethu is in the interests not just of those living in shacks but all who crave peace and sustainability in Hout Bay.

Our government has built millions of subsidised homes since 1994, just about all of them on the peripheries of towns and cities far from work opportunities – perpetuating the apartheid pattern of spatial disintegration. The fact that the construction of these homes could not keep pace with rapid post-apartheid urbanisation exacerbates the spatial injustice. The poorer you are the more money it costs to get to work or to the shops.

I decided to make my closing public address of the election campaign on this particular piece ofland in central Cape Town in order to highlight the fact that both the DA and ANC, in towns and cities they have governed, have used prime land owned by the State to make money rather than using it to unstitch the Group Areas Act and effect spatial justice.

This particular piece of land was integral to my breakdown with conservatives in the City of Cape Town, my departure as mayor and the formation of the GOOD movement just a few months ago.

GOOD is contesting the national election with a plan to fix South Africa based on four policy principles: Social, economic, environmental and spatial justice.

GOOD says the job of re-imagining a South African society for all of its people begins with using public land for public good.

Changing the Constitution to enable land expropriation without compensation is a populist smokescreen to camouflage the fact of our woeful failure to effect spatial justice. The Constitution already allows for the expropriation of land without compensation, but government has chosen not to use it.

When we speak of public land for public good, here we stand on public land, under the control of the DA government of Cape Town, in the heart of the city, that is perfectly suited to the development of affordable homes.

If you look around you, you see that it is a relatively under utilised site with a low-rise fruit and vegetable surrounded by medium density commercial and residential buildings in a rapidly changing part of the city.

There is no reason why this site shouldn’t be developed with a medium density building, with mixed uses (retaining the supermarket on street level) and mixed income residential units above including social housing and affordable housing.

In September 2017, implementing the DA promise of integrating communities, we identified this piece of land along with several others in Woodstock and Salt River, for mixed use, mixed income, integrated development including a social housing threshold.

We put out a call for proposals for five of the 11 sites we identified – and by February 2018 we had received about 15 proposals from private developers. This site, plus the four others, would have added at least 4000 social housing units from Salt River through to the city center.

Besides these sites, both the St Monica’s home site in Bo-Kaap and the Tafelberg School site in Sea Point should have been used for public good and to provide affordable housing where it is desperately needed.

There are many other sites in Cape Town, from Dunoon to Tokai, that are suitable for social housing projects.

But municipalities across the country, including here, bemoan a lack of “suitable” land. In fact, the only unsuitable thing about the land is that it is valuable.

From the day I announced after the 2016 local government elections that I would be focusing on tackling the failure of all governments, including the one I led from 2011 to 2016, to reverse the apartheid spatial plan of our city I became enemy number one in the DA.

Conservatives in the DA went to great lengths to get rid of me. They couldn’t admit that it was because they were anti-transformation so they cooked up a bunch of flimsy blue lies.

The proposals for the development of these sites have not progressed and my efforts to bring affordable housing to better locations – closer to jobs, transport and public services – have effectively been blocked.

This site symbolises the DA’s hypocrisy – promising integrated communities but failing to deliver a single integrated project anywhere near to where it matters. It symbolises the DA’s attitude to public land and the protection of privilege.

It is not just the DA that has failed Cape Town. This site is surrounded by parcels of land that make up the District Six Land Restitution precinct. District Six, where my grandmother lived, illustrates the utter failure of the ANC Government to restore dignity and homeownership to the families of forced removals under the Group Areas Act after having had 25 years to do so. The national land reform department insisted that it was better positioned to control the development of District Six than the City.

I believe the department’s primary interest is to accommodate returnees on as small a portion of the land as possible so it can sell the rest of the land to developers for profit.

I have been a politician for nearly 40 years. I fought against apartheid, participated in negotiations that led to our democracy, helped draft the Constitution, exposed the ANC’s corrupt arms deal, and opposed DA conservatism in the City of Cape Town to an unprecedented succession of clean audits. I am in no mood to give up fighting now.

GOOD was born to do the work that the ANC and DA lack the leadership and courage to do. To fix our towns and cities, and to fix our country.

We close our campaign as we started it. Fighting for spatial justice. Race and space determined every South African’s dignity and quality of life for over 300 years to 1994. Wherever you go in South Africa you will see that very little has changed. Race and space still determine nearly every South African’s prospects.

GOOD is saying that we’ve heard the ANC and DA’s blaah blaah for long enough; the time has come to walk the walk.

We are asking South Africans to walk with us for the next five years, to raise the sharp questions with us, to hold the powerful to account with us, to help us build a fair and inclusive society for us all.

Issued by GOOD, 5 May 2019