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Cape Town - DA leader Helen Zille says she will declare an inter-governmental dispute with the national fisheries and public works departments for “ignoring the plight of harbours in the Western Cape”.
Zille was speaking at a rally in Hout Bay on Thursday morning where about 400 of her supporters joined her.
“For more than four years, the national department of fisheries and public works have ignored our plight here in the Western Cape,” she said.
Zille said she had already consulted lawyers and will seek one of the Western Cape's 12 harbours to use as a study. She said if the dispute falls on deaf ears they will approach the courts.
“It’s been tragic for the people of Hout Bay. They have lost their fishing rights and problems keep on getting bigger.
“About three weeks ago, I received a letter from Treasury in which they have given up on the process of improving the 12 harbours we have in the province,” she said.
Zille said Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi vehemently objected to the upgrades when she had approached national Treasury last year.
“The land and buildings at our harbours are in the hands of their departments. They have refused to work with us and we will not allow this to continue,” she said.
DA deputy shadow minister for fisheries, agriculture and forestry Pieter van Dalen said: “If the DA was given a chance at governance we would listen to the people. We (would) cut down on red tape. Our goal is to push our fishing production to 10 000 tons per year. We also want to fishing as part of the curriculum in all schools on the coastal areas.”
Zille was greeted by a roaring cheer from her supporters on Thursday morning. Supporters followed her to the harbour and later marched to nearby Hangberg.
Zille danced and cheered with her supporters holding up her posters that read: “Together for Jobs”.
“You people are wonderful for joining me here today. I travel the country, but my heart is here in Cape Town,” she told her supporters.
She said for four years she had been fighting “nicely” with national government to get them to improve the harbour.
“They will not help us to get new jobs for people. It’s famous for snoek and other fish. We could have wonderful things here but it needs to be fixed. We don't want another Waterfront, because this place has its own charm,” she told her supporters.