Why Cape Town stadium should be demolished

Terry Crawford-Browne says inquiry needed into how the city was lumped with this expensive white elephant

Are South Africans actually serious about upholding our constitutional democracy, the rule of law, and in ridding our country of the scourge of corruption? Those are the serious issues motivating my suggestion that the Cape Town stadium should be demolished.

I asked Premier Helen Zille on June 30 to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate how and why the stadium was foisted upon Cape Town by FIFA and the national government. Secondly, what remedial action (if any) can be taken before the stadium degenerates into an eyesore and slum. Apparently its roof is already leaking (Cape Times, June 28) in our Cape winter storms.

FIFA, with central government collusion, was adamant that the stadium had to be built on Green Point Common. We Capetonians are now saddled with the consequences of a financial "white elephant."

Green Point Common is land vested by King George V in 1923 for use by the people of Cape Town in perpetuity for recreational purposes only. In terms of that land grant, the Common may not be used for commercial purposes. 

Without commercialisation of Green Point Common, the stadium can never be economically viable. This is the crux of more than a dozen restrictions, which the Cape Town City Council is now illegally attempting to revoke "to leverage the space for food outlets, retail stores and even a nightclub - all paying tenants."

In addition, the City Council is trying to foist the stadium onto the Western Province rugby union. Cape Town already has a glut of shopping centres, hotels and restaurants in the aftermath of the World Cup.

Councillor Grant Pascoe declares the stadium was part of a "package deal." What "package deal?" One can immediately "smell a rat" reminiscent of the arms deal.

The Green Point Development Framework by the Cape Town Planning and Development Directorate dated October 1997 is instructive. It reveals a determined effort by some city officials, undoubtedly in collusion with the notoriously corrupt municipal politicians of the time, to destroy the Common.

The "vision" on page 21 sets priority 1 as supporting the growth of the tourism industry by acting "as a catalyst for higher order facilities... hotels, business, retail and residential accommodation." Priority 4 includes "high order institutional infrastructure such as museums, education centres, conference centre, etc."

Chapter ten of the Constitution requires public administration to be "efficient, economic, accountable, transparent," and "a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained." In short, public administration must aspire to be corruption-free.

As with the arms deal scandal, it is evident that the stadium contracts dismally failed that requirement, and can be suspected as having been fraudulent.

Fraud unravels everything. The international remedy for fraud is cancellation of the contracts and recovery of the monies. A further principle is that the fraudsters should receive no financial benefits, and should perhaps even be blacklisted internationally.

Recovery of R4.5 billion could make a very substantial contribution towards resolving Cape Town's low cost housing crisis.

It is well known that Mayor Helen Zille, then newly in office, baulked when FIFA and the central government insisted that the stadium had to be built on Green Point Common.

It made no sense from a town planning perspective, and Cape Town ratepayers are stuck with the consequences. Costs rocketed to R4.5 billion, and it is beyond belief that no consideration was given to the use of the stadium after the World Cup. Why pour even more public money down a drain?

As Premier Helen Zille, she now has the authority to appoint a commission of inquiry to expose whatever shenanigans occurred. Did bribes grease the process? What undertakings from FIFA and central government have failed to materialise?

This requires exposing the politicians/officials/contractors that got Cape Town into this mess, and then charging them with criminal behaviour. Instead of naively thinking we will know better next time, that priority trumps "making it work" by illegally revoking the provisions of the 1923 land grant.

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