Open letter to Mayor Dan Plato
12 August 2019
Last week, after your administration cancelled the Woodstock/lnner City Housing Project amid a flurry of misinformation, I challenged you to a public debate so that residents of Cape Town could know the truth.
I note the weekend news article headlined, "City Accused of Blatant Lies", in which you claimed to be unaware of the challenge; I therefore write to you now to put it on formal record.
I further note your opinion piece, in the same newspaper, which, consistent with the approach of the City since you took office, is riddled with lies and absurd contradictions.
I have been following your administration's pattern of lying to the public.
Besides trying to spin your way past the fact that your administration has consistently blocked every effort to undo apartheid-era spatial planning, here are some other examples:
The removal of people from Clifton Beach in December.
The removal of people from Clifton Beach was unlawful and was not conducted by the private security firm, PPA, without the involvement of your law enforcement.
The response to the "noise complaint" about the call to prayer in May.
When it targeted a Mosque in District Six, the City said it was forced to implement Provincial guidelines on noise complaints. The Provincial government however confirmed that this is not true — the City may exempt any noise it chooses, as is often done in the case of church bells, rugby matches and concerts, for example.
The fining of homeless people in July
Your councillors blatantly lied to the national media that there were enough beds in the city's shelters for all homeless residents. Yet the Provincial Government has confirmed that this is a lie — there is in fact a shortage of thousands of bed spaces in the City's shelters.
Your explanation for the collapse of the MyCiTi service to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain on 1 June 2019 is also riddled with false-hoods.
Woodstock/lnner City Housinq Project Lies:
I issued the challenge to you to a public debate immediately after hearing your interview on CapeTalk with John Maytham last week. The following morning your Mayoral Committee Member, Malusi Booi, was interviewed on the same station by Africa Melane. You contradicted each other, and both lied.
You claimed that there was nothing wrong with the process two years ago but that you had decided to follow a different process — you were unable to explain why.
You then claimed to be shocked that Woodstock Hospital was included since it still belonged to the Province. Yet, you are well aware that the Province gave the City a Power of Attorney to commence the development process in 2017. You were part of that cabinet.
Booi, on the other hand, claimed that the project was cancelled because the September 2017 process had linked the sites to each other. In fact, the sites were not linked to each other. The request for proposals was for five separate and distinct development proposals — one for each site.
Then, in your weekend newspaper article, you suggested that the disposal of public land without development rights is unlawful, and argue that doing so makes it impossible to comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act and Municipal Assets Transfer Regulations.
This is not true. Development rights, as determined by the zoning, simply determine the value of the land. Land with no development rights is disposed of by the city all the time.
Just last week, on Thursday 8 August you placed four full-page adverts in The Argus advertising the proposed disposal of public land. Three of the proposed sites have no development rights while the fourth site is partially zoned Open Space or Transport.
These four sites are thus no different to four of the five sites we advertised in September 2017. The only difference is that 5th site — Woodstock Hospital — is zoned GR4 allowing for mixed use medium density development. The Woodstock Hospital site thus already had development rights — indeed, there is a large old hospital on the site.
Your MyCiTi lies:
Today we enter the 1 Ith week that commuters from Khayeltsha and Mitchells Plain must make do without a MyCiTi service.
You and your government are not only being dishonest about the reasons for the cancellation of the service — you are also treating our residents with disrespect and cruelty.
You are dishonest because the reason the service is not operating has nothing to do with previous contracts — you simply failed to negotiate a new one. The service ran uninterrupted for five years.
Even if there was something wrong with the 2018/2019 contract, it was always due to expire on the 31st May 2019, as indeed it did.
If the contract signed in May 2018 was irregular, take action against the City officials who drafted, reviewed, authorised and signed it. Don't punish commuters.
You and your Mayco have repeatedly promised to address the matter since allowing the service to collapse. But three weeks ago, after the City claimed to be doing all it could and to be close to signing a new contract, CODETA said that Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase, had "never engaged with CODETA".
The truth is that you have been unable to sign a new operating contract because you have failed to negotiate the migration of the bus operations of the service from the provincially-subsidised Golden Arrow Bus Services to the taxi operating companies that make up the N2 Express Joint Venture Company.
Hence. my call for a public debate:
I repeat my invitation to you to a public debate on the cancellation of the housing projects, and suggest we also address the collapse of the N2 Express MyCiTi Service — and the other lies your government has told to date.
I look forward to hearing from you.