City has exceeded its annual housing target – Patricia de Lille

Mayor says City is no longer building homes for specific racial groups in only certain areas but rather integrated communities

Council speech by the City's Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille  

26 July 2018

Mr Speaker, can we have a moment of silence for the two City staff members from the Water and Sanitation Department, Siyabonga Skoti and Marius Swartz, who tragically passed away in an accident while on their way to Atlantis on Monday. Our condolences and prayers go out to their families, friends and colleagues.

We also remember legendary South African Cricket Board all-rounder Saait Magiet, disco music legend Ali Katt, renowned photographer David Goldblatt, former journalist and DA MP Zelda Jongbloed and all other residents who passed away recently.

Thank you.

Good morning, Molweni, Goeie Môre, Salaam wa-Alaikum, Shalom, Namaste to all councillors and people in the public gallery.

Mr Speaker, we are more than halfway into another busy year and we have started our new financial year where we must all push harder to achieve excellence in service delivery.

It is nearly two years since the start of the term of this Council and, while we can reflect on a lot of progress, there is still so much more to be done.

It is time that we elevate our work and find new and innovative ways of doing things so that we can fulfil our commitments in the IDP and the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan.

This month we are commemorating 100 years since the birth of our dear Tata Nelson Mandela and I remember his words when he said, and I quote: ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’

All of us are inspired by the dedication to the people of this country that Mandela displayed throughout his life.

On Tuesday, we again honoured him as a world icon by unveiling a new bronze statue of Mandela on the City Hall balcony.

Madiba standing on that balcony after 27 years in prison symbolised the triumph of a generation of leaders that sacrificed everything for our freedom.

The new bronze statue of Madiba will be a physical reminder to current and future generations of the example we must all follow to live in service to others for the betterment of our country.

Now that he is resting, it is up to us to whom the baton has been passed to continue the work so that more people can taste the fruits of our hard-fought democracy.

In order to take service delivery to the next level as we promised in 2016, in June I started a new initiative with the Mayor’s Pop-up Office.

This innovative concept is aimed at making government more accessible, more responsive to the needs of our residents and aims to go to where residents are instead of waiting for them to complain.

It is not just about taking my office to the communities to listen to concerns, it is also about going into areas to see what proactive measures we can implement to bring progress to those areas.

We also looked at the general cleanliness of the area and looked for things that need to be fixed such as potholes and any other matters that needed to be addressed.

So far I have taken my office to Athlone, Eerste River, Khayelitsha and Masiphumelele.

Councillors in these wards joined me as we listened to residents’ concerns and complaints.

We actioned these complaints for immediate attention and also gave feedback about programmes and projects in the various communities.

This concept gives full effect to the principles in the ODTP of being a responsive and customer-centric organisation where our goal is excellence in service delivery.

It is also about collaboration with residents and listening to residents’ ideas on how we can improve their lives through service delivery.

In many of our partnerships we have seen great ideas coming from residents and these have led to successful projects done together with residents.

The Pop-up Office will be visiting many more areas in the coming weeks to bring government closer to more people and will continue making progress in the community.

Mr Speaker, last week together with Mayco members and councillors I also visited the new housing project in Fisantekraal where I was very impressed with the quality of the homes we are building for beneficiaries.

So far, more than 700 beneficiaries have already moved into their homes in the Greenville Garden Cities development in Fisantekraal, near Durbanville.

The new homeowners who lived in backyards and informal settlements for many years were very happy that they could finally settle down.

We expect the handover of the remaining 101 homes in Phase 1 to be completed by October 2018.

I was also excited to see that Phase 2 of the project has already started and the first group of families will move in as soon as October this year.

The second phase will see about 500 homes being built for beneficiaries on the City’s housing waiting list.

This project forms part of a greater catalytic housing development which will eventually boast approximately 4 000 housing opportunities, social housing, and financed-linked houses.

Mr Speaker, the City is committed to providing our residents with dignity through home ownership and sustainable communities.

We are no longer building homes for specific racial groups in only certain areas but rather we are building integrated communities with a sense of place.

Speaking of integrated communities, it is also important for me to provide clarity on the status of the Foreshore Freeway Request for Proposals (RFP).

The cancellation of the RFP does not mean the project is cancelled.

Last week the City manager informed me that the RFP for the future of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct was to be cancelled.

The City Manager, as the accounting officer, cancelled the RFP after taking legal advice.

In July 2016 we launched the RFP for the future development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct. 

The commencement of a formal process to address the unfinished freeways, and the future development of the 6-hectare precinct, followed decades of uncertainty and inaction. 

The 6 hectares of prime City-owned land, sterilised by the uncertain future of the unfinished freeways, presented an opportunity for traffic congestion relief.

The land also presented an opportunity for us to deliver on one of our key pillars – building an inclusive city – by ensuring that affordable housing was included in any development proposal.

It is disappointing that our first attempt did not work out. However, the cancellation of the RFP does not mean that the project is cancelled. 

The need to address the future of the unfinished freeways remains. 

So too does the need ensure access to affordable housing in our city centre and to relieve congestion.

The 6 ha Foreshore Freeway Precinct is the last remaining undeveloped land in our inner city and the response to our RFP demonstrates a market appetite to develop this land even with the following conditions we imposed:

Address traffic congestion

Include affordable housing

Deal with apartheid spatial planning

Ensure integration of different communities and income levels and establish inclusive communities as committed to in the DA’s national manifesto

Providing inclusive spaces to be funded by partnerships with private sponsors and leveraging City assets and optimisation of these assets to drive economic benefits for the City is in line with the DA’s manifesto for Cape Town.

Leveraging City-owned land to address service delivery needs is also consistent with our Integrated Development Plan.

The City Manager has agreed that the RFP will be redrafted to address concerns raised during the appeal process and it will then be reissued. 

A project team has already been assembled to ensure that this can happen as soon as possible.

This project, along with the release of the 11 parcels of City-owned land in Woodstock, Salt River and the city centre for affordable housing remains crucial to achieving integration and reversing apartheid spatial planning.

At this point I am delighted to share with Council that we have seen a major achievement in the delivery of housing opportunities this year.

For the first time since 2000, the City has exceeded its annual housing target.

I wish to congratulate officials from the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) for their exceptional performance over the past financial year.

This department has exceeded its delivery targets by 62% or 3 100 opportunities for the 2017/18 financial year that ended on 30 June 2018.

The department’s initial target was to provide 4 961 housing opportunities consisting of 1 808 serviced sites, and 3 153 State-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018.

The multi-party TDA transversal committee challenged the department to outperform by increasing their annual target by more than one third.

By 30 June 2018 the TDA had delivered a total of 8061 housing opportunities as opposed to the initial 4 961 set for the year.

I know these figures might seem small in comparison with the dire need for affordable and decent housing in Cape Town.

However, what this achievement has confirmed is that the TDA is on the right track, and is delivering on its mandate to expedite the delivery of new housing opportunities.

I want to publicly thank Director Ray Rughubar and his dedicated team for the many long days, nights, and weekends that they have sacrificed to achieve this.

Mr Speaker, I am also pleased to share that construction has started on the Belhar-Pentech BNG housing project.

The City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority commenced with the construction of 340 Breaking New Ground units on 14 July 2018.

The project is valued at more than R57 million and is scheduled to take approximately 24 months to complete.

Mayco member Brett Herron and councillors visited the site and assisted with the building as part of their 67-minute Mandela Day initiative.

The project entails the building of semi-detached and free-standing single storey houses, as well as the installation of electrical infrastructure, street lighting and sidewalks.

There are also open spaces that will be landscaped to create spaces where children can play and residents can socialise.

Mr Speaker, speaking of 67 minutes for Mandela, I want to thank councillors, businesses and residents for their acts of kindness through donations or service to those in need.

I joined Councillor Beverley van Reenen at Uitsig Primary last Wednesday where we painted the new container library which the City recently donated to the school.

Tata Madiba was very fond of children and advocated strongly for the right to education and we all know his words when he said, and I quote: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

It was therefore an honour for me to spend this time on Mandela Day with the young children at Uitsig Primary and be part of an investment into their education with a better library and reading materials.

I again want to thank Van Schaik Books for their generosity in donating books and Councillor Van Reenen for initiating this project and getting so many sponsors involved.

We must all do more every day to honour Madiba and the values he lived by in dedicating his life to serving others.

Mr Speaker, another way the City is helping those in need is through the recently launched Safe Space for street people.

Alderman JP Smith and the City of Cape Town’s Social Development Department officially opened its Safe Space for street people as services at the facility continue to grow.

The overnight facility, aimed at addressing the shortage of bed space at shelters, has been operational since earlier this month and has been welcomed by many.

The street people who have been accommodated thus far have provided valuable feedback.

We hope that more street people will embrace the services offered, which in turn will lead them off the path of homelessness and eventually to becoming reintegrated into the community.

While we are looking at new ways to address the issue of street people and homelessness, I am also proud of the work we are doing to empower job seekers.

The City has facilitated computer training for 300 temporary workers employed through the EPWP in a programme that aims to improve the long-term job prospects of residents.

The five-day training course, valued at a total cost of nearly R520 000 for all participants, is the latest initiative designed to ensure that EPWP workers get more value out of the programme and improve their job prospects.

We live in a digital world where an understanding of, and ability to use digital tools, is crucial.

It also opens up a new world of possibilities for job seekers and improves their chances of employment so I hope that this training will serve these job seekers well.

Mr Speaker, while we are tackling these socio-economic issues, there is another fight that we are pressing on with and that is substance abuse.

This year the City is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Matrix® Programme which aims to improve access to a range of evidence-based treatment interventions to minimise the harm caused by drug and alcohol abuse.

The first Matrix® site was opened in Tafelsig a decade ago and this has grown to include six other facilities.

We currently have six Matrix® sites in Tafelsig; Albow Gardens; Delft South; Town 2, Khayelitsha; Parkwood; and Ruimte Road, Manenberg.

I have seen many success stories of how people have dramatically changed their lives after beating substance abuse.

We must all do what we can to let those who are still suffering know that there is help available to them, they only need to be willing to take that step to get help.

Mr Speaker, earlier this month we also kicked off another health campaign as part of our pledge to the Global Partnership for Healthy Cities.

We have launched the City’s new initiative to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks as part of the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of cities committed to reducing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities was spurred by the appointment of former New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, as World Health Organization(WHO) Global Ambassador for NCDs.

Through this initiative, Cape Town has gained access to a global network of city leaders and public health experts working to prevent NCDs, along with a seed grant to jumpstart the effort.

Residents would have started to see the campaign on billboards, community newspapers, social media and at various transport hubs and stations with advertisements warning against the dangers of sugary drinks.

Diabetes is a silent killer and there are key lifestyle changes we can make to turn the tide on this disease which has already claimed many lives in our city.

Later today, to help our staff and residents lead healthier lifestyles, we will be launching the free diabetes screening and blood pressure tests drive here on the second floor of the Civic Centre starting today until Tuesday, 31 August.

I want to encourage all councillors, staff and residents to go downstairs for a free test so that they can know the status of their health and make informed decisions on how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Mr Speaker, in closing, it is in line with fulfilling another global commitment as part of the C40 Cities group committed to tackling climate change that I am pleased to share the progress being made with our street lighting energy efficiency measures.

The City of Cape Town’s drive to retrofit existing street lights along major roads and in neighbourhoods across the metro is progressing well, with about R22 million having been spent on this project in the previous financial year.

The programme to replace high intensity discharge (HID) lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) technology is lighting up the way for motorists and pedestrians with a characteristic white hue along roadways.

The City has budgeted approximately R20 million in this new financial year to install more LED lights.

To date, some 820 km of roads have been retrofitted across the metro.

City investigations indicate that a saving of about 40% can be achieved compared with an HID fitting with the same light intensity.

This represents a huge energy saving for the City and its residents and has equally significant benefits for our climate change mitigation efforts.

Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi, shukran and God Bless.

Issued by Zara Nicholson, Spokesperson for the Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, City of Cape Town, 26 July 2018