This is an edited extract from Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s address to the full council meeting on Wednesday.
Cape Town - In the present climate of increasing demand for basic services, we do not measure our progress in decades or years, but months.
Some of the things we have achieved in the past 26 days include completing the upgrade of the Monwabisi Resort, which will provide a site for residents from across Cape Town to enjoy the benefits of a council-supported facility catering for low- to medium-income families especially; announcing the investment of R1.6 million in the Khayelitsha Wetlands Park this financial year, part of our more than R12m investment in this park; opening our third male clinic, providing access to primary health care, education on safe sex and sexually transmitted infections, diagnosis and treatment; starting construction of an Early Childhood Development centre in Strandfontein; and proposing the release of 154 city-owned fully-serviced erven in Atlantis and Makhaza in Khayelitsha at reduced prices.
This intervention would allow prospective first-time homeowners to buy these sites and build their own homes, allowing people access to the gap housing market and therefore helping us address this pressing public housing issue.
This proposal comes on the back of handing over title deeds to those leasing city-owned land for Lagunya shops.
This underpins an important ideological position of this government: that one of the best ways to encourage economic activity among people who are either first-time entrants or new to the formal eco- nomy is to encourage a culture of ownership. Ownership allows people to leverage their assets and create value for themselves and their families. The drive to encourage and enable ownership is a powerful intervention from the state, especially in the context of public housing. But in order to facilitate this, we have to have all role-players in the public sector dedicated to the task.
In this regard, the city has been trying for years to get the national government to release the land that it owns in Wingfield and Youngsfield for public housing purposes.
We have been trying to get national departments to release these parcels, but to no avail.
So I wrote directly to President Zuma, asking him to intervene. Apart from a letter of acknowledgement, I have yet to receive a substantive reply from the Presidency.
However, the city’s maintenance of its strong financial position is particularly noteworthy in boosting investor and community confidence in light of continuing economic volatility.
This confidence is further strengthened by the fact that Cape Town is the only metro to receive a clean audit from the auditor-general.
This shows that, even when faced with a slow and unresponsive national government that has sometimes forgotten the needs of service delivery, a committed local government with the right policies and right approach can remain a centre of excellence.
There can be no greater testament to our excellence and the legacy of building an inclusive city than the MyCiTi route we opened this month linking Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg and Hout Bay with the city centre.
Indeed, just over a week ago, children from Imizamo Yethu waited in line to use the bus to get to the Sea Point swimming pool. These were children using a city service to get to a city facility open for all, proving the wisdom of our investment both in MyCiTi and the Sea Point pool and promenade area.
This is in stark contrast to claims by the leader of the ANC in the council, Tony Ehrenreich, who has said that the MyCiTi service only goes to rich areas and that investment in Sea Point was discrimination against the poorer communities in Cape Town.
There are many good stories to tell in Cape Town. Our stories are not the fairy tales that President Zuma reads us where he tries to take credit for the achievements of former presidents Mandela and Mbeki.
Our stories are the stories of a city coming together to create a new narrative for the future, a narrative that belongs to all of us.
* Patricia de Lille is executive mayor of Cape Town.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.