‘No peace until we get proper housing’Comment on this story
Cape Town - Expelled City of Cape Town councillors have told the mayor that Mowbray Golf Course, Rondebosch Common, disused military land at Youngsfield and Wingfield and land in Goodwood could be used for housing for the poor.
Former councillor Andile Lili warned mayor Patricia de Lille there would be no peace in Cape Town until the living conditions of the poor were improved.
Wednesday’s meeting between De Lille, Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, the Concerned Citizens’ Group, the new civic organisation Ses’khona and residents of various informal settlements such as Kanana, Barcelona, Dunoon, Macassar, Kosovo and Delft, quickly turned into a stand-off as tempers flared and voices were raised.
“We want land for proper housing. We want dignity for all. Until then, there will be no peace,” Lili said. “We are not interested in politics any more. We will mobilise at least a million people. If you are not careful you will see the anger of the poor.”
After her initial calls for consultation in “good faith” turned into “grandstanding”, De Lille said: “I am always ready to fight. I am not afraid of anyone. I will not deny you your right to protest because I fought for that right.”
Former ANC councillor Loyiso Nkohla, who was recently expelled from the city for his involvement in the poo protests last year, fired the last salvo: “We are (more) prepared than her to fight. We will meet fire with fire.”
Madikizela was told by community members to sit when he tried to correct allegations that had been made against him regarding provincial housing delivery. Residents walked out of the meeting after De Lille told them to “stop their nonsense”.
There was also vocal disappointment that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was not present at the meeting, which was held shortly before the ANC’s march to the provincial legislature.
Both Lili and Nkohla were involved in last year’s housing protest march that ended in chaos when a breakaway group looted stalls in the city centre.
The former councillors said they had identified 32 tracts of land that could be used for housing. These included Mowbray Golf Course – when its lease expires next month – Rondebosch Common, land in Goodwood, and Youngsfield and Wingfield.
Lili and Nkohla refused to let city officials show a presentation on the city’s human settlements programme.
“We can no longer be locked in engagements and in boardrooms. We will fight until the people listen,” said Nkohla.
Lili added: “Let’s not talk about what government has done, but about what the people want.”
De Lille said: “I would like to place on record that the city is taking part in today’s engagement without prejudice, as the city is still pursuing legal action against some individuals present here today.”
Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne, representing the Concerned Citizens’ Group, said the city’s informal settlements were a “blight and a disgrace”.
“We are sitting on a social time bomb, and we know it as we have been sitting on it for 20 years.”
Crawford-Browne said it was likely that President Jacob Zuma would announce during his State of the Nation speech that military land at Youngsfield and Wingfield would be transferred to the city for housing.
While the R100 billion needed to provide 250 000 social housing units was beyond the city’s capacity, this could be done with funding from the national government.
Madikizela admitted that there were people who did not qualify for free houses or housing subsidies because of their monthly income, but who could not afford a bond from a bank. “The reality is that there are people who are not accommodated by the current housing policy.”
He said the province was grappling with a R26bn backlog in infrastructure. “So we might have the land but if we don’t have money to ensure that people can flush their toilet, we will still have problems.”
Lili said they had applied for permission for a housing march next month, and would take their fight to court if necessary.