Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance (DA), which controls the Western Cape and the City, has come under fire for maintaining apartheid spatial planning and for protecting white privilege.
This after the Western Cape High Court had set aside the province’s controversial sale of the Tafelberg school site in Sea Point.
Housing activists have for years campaigned for the site to be used for affordable social housing in one of Cape Town’s wealthiest enclaves. The high court found that both the City and the provincial government failed in their constitutional mandate to address apartheid spatial planning.
Under the watch of then premier Helen Zille, the site was sold to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million, despite the provincial human settlements department’s promise it would be used for housing.
“The Western Cape has a cabinet that was delinquent. It broke the law in selling the property without following proper process. Its politicians ignored its own policies and the advice of professionals on spatial transformation,” Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said.
“The court found it had not only failed its constitutional duties but had no plans to progressively achieve the constitutional rights of the people of the Western Cape. The province had no answers.”
Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela ruled that the regulations used by the province to justify the sale of the site were unconstitutional and invalid. The court issued a declaratory order stating that both the City and the province were in breach of their constitutional obligations to advance access to affordable housing.
The ANC said the ruling reaffirmed the DA administration’s position not to move poor people close to the city.
ANC MPL Lulama Mvimbi, the party’s transport and public works spokesperson, said: “This judgment has exposed the DA as a party for white privilege and for the preservation of apartheid spatial planning. This is not the first nor the last suitable pocket of land to be disposed of cheaply to the captors of the DA, the property magnates.”
Head of the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, Disha Govender said: “The judgment acknowledges that spatial inequality and injustice persist in central Cape Town and that the province and City need to do more to address this. The housing crisis persists and is worsening and we maintain that public land should be released urgently for the development of truly affordable and dignified housing and that the government needs to be more robust in this and in creating an environment to ensure that the private sector also contributes.”
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperson Yonela Diko said: “The City of Cape Town has done very little to ensure that the constitutional obligations to ensure our people are fully and adequately housed are realised.
“Currently, 60% of land by residential value in Cape Town is occupied by 20% of the population, which means 80% of residents must make do with what is left.
“The sale of the Tafelberg property further entrenched this land exclusion. We (have) considered many options in trying to deal with the housing backlog and the desperate need for land. and have come up with a plan which has been shared with all stakeholders and is awaiting Cabinet approval,” Diko said.
DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said the provincial cabinet would discuss the judgment on Tuesday, and then make an announcement.