Farouk Cassim writes to commend the Cape Argus for its ’Starfish Project’ aimed at congregating all who can help to make Cape Town as safe as it is beautiful. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Farouk Cassim writes to commend the Cape Argus for its ’Starfish Project’ aimed at congregating all who can help to make Cape Town as safe as it is beautiful. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Starfish Project: Plan to make Cape Town a prosperous and safer city for all

By Opinion Time of article published May 12, 2021

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I wish to commend the Cape Argus for its initiative aimed at congregating all who can help to make Cape Town as safe as it is beautiful. That is an ambition worthy of achieving.

Last week, in our spatial planning and environment portfolio committee, we discussed the Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan. The document that served before the committee expressed all the right sentiments.

For example, it stated that “spatial planning encompasses forward planning of land to ensure that adequate space is allocated to provide for the ordinary land use needs of city growth and that the distribution of land uses is done in such a manner to ensure the well-being of the population, protection of the integrity of the environment and enhancement of the economy”.

It went on to explain that achieving spatial justice was a necessary component of that plan. Why?

The City recognised that it was under compulsion to “reverse historical spatial planning patterns to prevent ghetto-isation and segregation, and the unfair allocation of public resources, to ensure that the needs of the poor are prioritised”.

While the City had a moral obligation to do so, it was also required under the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA), gazetted in October 2015, to bring its spatial development framework into alignment with SPLUMA.

Over and above that, the national government in 2006 created The Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant. The purpose was to encourage and exhort municipal governments to use the annual grant to develop multi-faceted plans for apartheid-era townships to attract private sector investment there.

It pointed out in Toolkit 1 that townships were sitting on unproductive assets worth billions of rand. Without being able to use their properties as collateral, residents of the townships are economically stymied and their areas remain economically stagnant.

Unfortunately, the City did not move to ignite economic development in the townships. The three-year-long fight of Sub-Council 10 to get Spine Road, which runs through Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, to become a main road of the type running through Claremont, in spite of the full council approving my motion to that effect, has not produced the desired effect. That is why, as the report before us stated, land remains a contested and challenging technical and highly politicised issue.

Land as a means of redress for the spatial injustices and inequality of the apartheid spatial planning policies and programmes is central to SPLUMA. Land invasion and service delivery / land-related protests are frequent and tangible responses to the speed and “reach” of historical land planning programmes.

Officials are documenting what the laws of the land require, but it is the DA administration that is lacking in political will to drive the transformation that is needed to make Cape Town a more prosperous and safer city for all.

For the past 27 years, the townships have remained as dormitories and have suffered economic stagnation. Consequently, they continue to experience worsening socio-economic and safety problems and they are destined to remain the same for decades if there is no political consequence for that neglect and omission.

* Farouk Cassim, Cope. Century View, Milnerton.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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