by Marian Nieuwoudt
The front page lead “Didiza issues stern warning to City of Cape Town: ‘Do not gentrify District 6’" conveniently omits the very important fact that the minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s letter to Cape Town mayor Dan Plato is dated July 2020 – the article creates the impression that this was sent recently.
Second, the minister, Angela Didiza, did not “issue a stern warning to the City”.
The letter followed after the City requested the minister's consent to use the 2012 Development Framework Plan – the very plan that the article is quoting from and wrongly interprets as “a stern warning” to the City. This cannot be further from the truth.
The letter served as a confirmation from Didiza to Plato that the City may indeed use the 2012 Development Framework Plan.
This was common cause as the plan is the intellectual property of the National Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, and the City cannot merely use this without written authority to do so.
The fact that the City is using the 2012 plan as a point of departure for our ongoing engagements with residents in refining a Local Spatial Development Framework for District Six demonstrates our commitment to social justice and redress.
We are working closely with the national government, and this front page lead story is attempting to create strife where there is none.
Although the City is not involved with the restitution process, we are responsible for creating an overall spatial vision for District Six, in collaboration with the District Six community and other residents.
The purpose of this spatial plan is to re-establish this once-vibrant neighbourhood, to create a sense of belonging, and to establish a multicultural community.
The media has a pivotal role to play in informing residents of the facts, and to not sow divisions between the different spheres of government, the City, residents, stakeholders, interested parties and, importantly, those residents who will return to District Six.
The redevelopment of District Six is one of the most important redress projects we have undertaken to date.
Much can be achieved when we are focused and when we work with intent and urgency, and when we work together. The community of District Six has been waiting for decades and it is time for their return.
The Cape Argus has a responsibility to not derail this process with spurious and sensationalist reporting.
* Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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