Helen Zille on the state of Cape Town 2009

Speech by the mayor to a full council meeting, Civic Centre, January 28 2009


Speaker, I would like to welcome all Councillors back from recess and wish everyone Unyaka Omtsha ozele ngamathamsanqa. Alle seenwense vir die nuwe jaar.

I would also like to extend a special word of welcome to our new councillors following the by-elections in late 2008, as well as those councillors who have returned under a different political banner.

In spite of the economic difficulties that the world economy is experiencing, this was still a successful festive season for Cape Town 's tourist industry by most accounts.

It has also been a successfully managed one from the City's point of view.

I am pleased to say that the number of lives lost on our roads this year fell by over 50% from last year's festive period, from 278 to 128.

This even exceeds the considerable national reduction of 31%, and is partly due to lower traffic flow, and partly due to visible and diligent policing on the part of our traffic department.

I would like to thank Councillor Dumisani Ximbi , Councillor JP Smith, Heathcliff Thomas and Richard Bosman, as well as our law enforcement, metro police and traffic teams for their efforts over the holidays.

Our traffic department has held 22 roadblocks and 53 vehicle check points since November, and 110 arrests were made for drivers driving under the influence.

The City's law enforcement and metro police teams also worked hard to keep our beaches safe, clean and free of public drunkenness.

Over the Christmas and New Year week alone, about 1000 bottles of alcohol were confiscated on our beaches and about 400 fines issued. Over the whole festive season, around 320 fines were issued for littering and illegal dumping.

I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our cleansing department to keep litter and grime under control - they had teams on all major beaches collecting bins twice a day and picking up litter from first light until late evening.

And I would like to thank all other City staff who worked or were on standby through December and early January so that Cape Town 's workers and visitors alike could enjoy the festive season, especially our City's Fire Department, which has successfully fought up to 25 fires per day. It seems that the increased capacity and equipment in that department is beginning to produce positive results.

While we have had a successful holiday season, I would like this council to note certain serious incidents and sad events which have occurred since we last met.

Firstly, early in January a long standing member of this council, Councillor Willem Van Der Bijl, passed away.

Councillor Van Der Bijl has served in the Unicity since it was formed in 2000, and represented his constituency in Tygerberg before that, from 1996. We will miss him in this chamber.

I extend my condolences to his family and his colleagues in the DA caucus.

Our thoughts are also with all other councillors present today who have lost loved ones recently, and with the family of Mr Sivuyele Ntlongotya, the worker who lost his life on the Green Point Stadium construction site two weeks ago.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to bid a sad farewell to one of our City's long-standing senior staff members, our manager of public lighting, Mr Charles Kadalie .

Charles has served this City for 37 years, and is known to nearly every Capetonian who listens to the radio or reads newspapers. I wish him well in his future endeavours, but regret the loss to our administration.

Speaker, turning to the year ahead, this multi-party government is ready, once again, to set new records for service delivery and infrastructure investment as we continue our drive to promote economic growth and job creation.

This is our third year in office, and I hope that the 2007/8 Annual Report for the City which I table today, as required in law, will help to motivate councillors and officials for the continued work we need to do.

Most of the key achievements outlined in the Report have already been published in our performance reviews, and in the media. Various speakers will highlight the most important aspects.

To recap briefly, we have made substantial progress in delivering on our constitutionally mandated functions as a local government, including the provision of clean water, sewage systems, electricity reticulation, refuse removal, storm water systems, road access, urban planning, public health, planning and law enforcement.

In the year under review, R3.7 billion or 94% of our capital budget was committed to key infrastructure projects, of which R3.2 billion was spent before the end of 2007/8.

This is the highest so far in the Unicity, and the third record for investment in a row - what they call a ‘hat-trick' in cricket.

Our rate of housing delivery has also remained 100% higher than the five year annual average prior to 2007.

And our procurement processes for the delivery of key projects accelerated to 6.5 weeks, up from 7.2 weeks in the year before, and up from 15 weeks prior to our arrival in office in 2006.

We also, once again, received an unqualified report from the Auditor General, and we have again received the highest credit rating in the country, from international ratings company, Moody's.

I must emphasise that these are not just abstract, behind-the-scenes statistics that we roll out each year.

Capital expenditure is the total amount of money invested in projects that carry forward our core objective, an objective of making Cape Town a sustainable urban platform for business, living and development.

And our turn-around times for delivery measure how efficiently our administration is building, maintaining and servicing this platform.

To put it differently, the figures in our annual report tell exactly how well we are fulfilling our election promises to the citizens of Cape Town .

Looking at our mid-year Performance Review on today's agenda, it is clear that we are maintaining much of this positive delivery trend in the current financial year.

Our rate of capital expenditure by the mid financial year (31 December) already reached around R2 billion, which is twice what the City used to spend in a full year between 2000 and 2006.

Our turn-around time for tenders has been further shortened to 5 weeks, from 6.5 last year.

We have increased the rate at which building planning applications are finalised within the statutory timeframe, from 95% last year to 99% this year, and the rate at which land use applications are finalised, from 72% last year to 100%. This used to be a major weak point in the City, and is indicative of how much our administrative efficiency has improved.

We have created 7700 jobs through our expanded public works programme in the first 6 months of 2008/9, and therefore look set to exceed last year's annual total of 12500. This is an important part of promoting skills creation and economic growth in Cape Town .

Speaker, our mid-year performance review also shows we are on track to deliver the greatest number of housing opportunities this City has ever provided in a year, a critically important part of our plan to increase opportunities for our residents by offering a secure living space. We delivered 4015 opportunities by the end of December. This is more than we delivered in an entire year in 2006, and twice what was delivered in the entire year 2003.

Another aspect of our programme to create more opportunities for disadvantaged communities is delivery of free basic services. Our mid year review shows we have continued to meet all of our targets for the delivery of electricity, sanitation and water to households, and we are on target with our informal settlement upgrade programme.

And, finally, in the interests of securing massive national government investment in Cape Town , and boosting our city's international appeal to investors, we have forged well ahead of schedule with the Green Point Stadium, having completed 55% by the end of December.

In fact, we are doing so well in the area of 2010 preparations that the Adjustments Budget on today's agenda proposes moving R1.3 billion forward to the current financial year, funds which we were only expecting to spend in the 2009/10 financial year.

Of this, R220 million will provisionally come from the City of Cape Town's own funds (followed by a further R80 million extra in 2009/2010), an amount which will be recovered through ticket sales, stadium naming rights and other profits accrued from hosting the event.

In this regard I should also mention that on Monday we briefly celebrated the 500 days to kick-off milestone for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Councillors have been given information supplements which appeared in the Cape Argus , Cape Times and Die Burger. These contain useful information on the event.

Community papers will also carry supplements. The supplements are part of an information and education campaign on 2010 which will run over five months, which is a joint initiative with the two dominant print media houses in the metro, Media24 and Independent Newspapers.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of this government, the City's top management team and all of our staff for their role in helping to bring about the increase in productivity reflected in our Annual Report and our Mid-Year Performance Review. I encourage everyone to keep up this outstanding work as we enter the second, and traditionally busier, half of the financial year.

While we are making good progress in improving the City's performance in key areas, there are still some serious challenges that will require the full commitment of our staff to overcome.

Of greatest concern, in terms of our IDP goal of stimulating economic growth through infrastructure investment, are delays on key projects and lower than targeted private investment levels in Cape Town .

The delays on projects relate to capacity constraints in our own administration, and we must continue to identify weak points and address them.

In some cases of delayed projects the delays are also being caused by other spheres of government.

This is particularly the case with housing, where large parcels of housing land owned by various provincial and national government departments in parts of the City where demand is high are still not being made available. After years of struggle, we are also hoping to finally obtain the second phase of Housing Accreditation from the Western Cape MEC, as promised, by February this year. But don't hold your breath. 

In terms of the job creation and investment figures in our Mid Year Performance Review, we can see that the global economic conditions have started to have substantial effects in Cape Town over the past six months.

We have to prepare ourselves for a difficult year ahead, although I must stress that this downward cycle will eventually end, and we must prepare for the upward swing to follow.

In this regard it is unacceptable that an administrative bungle by the Provincial Department of Planning and Environment relating to the Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO) has caused Cape Town property owners' land use development rights to lapse without their being warned. This is a matter which could shake public confidence in Cape Town 's property market at a point where our economy is already under strain.

Key sectors in Cape Town , including property development, construction and financial services are being hit hard. There are also consequences for people with bank bonds on properties where the loan may now exceed the value of their property.

This bungle was covered up by the Provincial Government for a year. When the City dug this out it emerged that they should have extended the land use provisions of LUPO to prevent this from happening.

We have taken expert legal advice on this matter and we now call on Province to immediately and urgently restore people's land use rights and appropriately extend the relevant provision in LUPO. If Province does not do this now, it will be one of our priorities when we take over after the elections.

We urgently need to restore confidence in our property market.

And we need to build public confidence in the capacity of government administration by making sound decisions.

Unfortunately Province has also failed to do this in other areas in recent months.

I was not surprised to learn that the Speaker got a letter from Minister Uys yesterday saying that the charges against Badih Chaaban were not considered serious enough to warrant his dismissal as a councillor.

That is rich.

But I presume when you are supporting a Presidential candidate who is refusing to go to court to answer charges on 783 counts of corruption, then it is understandable why the convictions of Badih Chaaban through our disciplinary process seem minor in comparison.

Like the patronage politics that got Zuma into trouble in the first place, this syndrome is another reason for the failed state. A fish rots from the head.  And if this alleged level of corruption is not only tolerated, but deemed fit for the highest office in the land, how can lesser transgressors be called to account?

This is how we move so rapidly to the criminalised state. The voters know this. They will get the government they deserve.

Speaker, let me make one final point before taking questions.

The City of Cape Town has been approached by the World Wildlife Fund to assist in holding an event called Earth Hour. On the evening of 28 March the WWF has asked major cities around the world to switch off as many of their lights as possible for an hour.

Leading up to the event, they are also on a drive to get 1 billion people to sign up on the internet, committing themselves to this initiative (at no cost to themselves).

The aim is to send a message to the world's most powerful nations that we need a better deal on climate change when the Kyoto Protocol expires this year.

This is a clear priority for Cape Town, given that a sea level rise of only 2 metres due to melting ice caps could cost us over R4 billion. And we also want to position our city as a global leader on environmental issues, given our excellent track record in this area. We will show our commitment by switching off the lights on Table Mountain and anywhere else possible.

Of course, we would also like to challenge other South African cities to take part as well.

I urge councillors to take part by signing up on and spreading the word to their constituents.

I thank you.

Issued by the Mayor of Cape Town's Office, January 28 2009