File picture:: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The City’s sudden decision to cancel the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the highly anticipated Woodstock and Salt River affordable housing project is an attack on the vision of an inclusive city.

This is according to housing groups, one of them the Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF), which yesterday expressed shock that a letter had been sent from the City to an individual indicating that the process was cancelled.

The letter issued and signed by director supply-chain management Basil Chinasamy read: “The Supply Chain Management Bid Adjudication Committee of the City of Cape Town on 29 July, 2019 resolved that the tender (RFP for development of affordable housing, Woodstock and Salt River Precinct) be cancelled. I wish to thank you for your interest shown in this project.”

The proposals were for at least five parcels of public land in the inner city: the Woodstock Hospital site, the public open space next to the hospital, Fruit and Veg in Roeland Street, New Market Street and the Pickwick Street social housing site, which would have delivered thousands of new homes to residents. The call for proposals had closed in February 2017.

WCPDF chairperson Deon van Zyl said: “At the time of City issuing the RFP call, the WCPDF encouraged its members to actively participate in the process and to assist in generating creative thinking on the need for the provision of inclusionary housing. 

"Several developers and consultant teams worked tirelessly to come up with innovative solutions. All of this work appears, once again, to have fallen on deaf ears with the cancellation of yet another innovation project.”

Van Zyl said it appeared that the City expected the private sector to step up to the plate every time it issued a call for proposals or tenders, only “to fall foul of its own procurement processes, its obsessive audit culture and internal political camp fighting”.

The cancellation comes just two weeks after the WCPDF released the results of a survey it conducted with built environment professionals, highlighting how delays and cancellations around procurement and tendering at the City were further crippling an already failing industry and resulting in thousands of job losses.

Reclaim the City said when former mayor Patricia de Lille and former Mayco member for urban development Brett Herron were purged, they stated that a “cabal” that had taken power was attempting to dismantle the affordable housing projects that had been committed to in the inner city and surrounds.

“We are in the midst of the most profound housing crisis. Clearly, councillor Dave Bryant is failing in his responsibilities to represent communities in their struggles to secure affordable housing and he is failing to keep up to date and explain the decisions taken by officials and politicians in council,” the statement reads.

WCPDF and Reclaim the City called for mayor Dan Plato to investigate the RFP process and undertake a detailed investigation of the City’s procurement processes.

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said yesterday that the decision was made “so that the City can follow a different process for the disposal of these sites that are earmarked for social housing opportunities, and to ensure that we comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations (MATR)”.