DA telling ’blue lies’ about shortage of land for affordable housing, Minister De Lille says
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GOOD party leader Patricia de Lille took a swipe at the DA yesterday, saying it was telling “blue lies” about the shortage of land for well-located affordable housing, in the inner City of Cape Town.
“The current DA government is using the excuse that they are not able to build affordable housing in well-located areas because they are waiting for land to be released by national government.
“This is the big blue lie we are exposing today,” she said, when she addressed the media on land readily available for development in the city centre.
The DA and GOOD party have been engaged in public spats over the release of state land for affordable housing.
It started when DA mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis wrote to De Lille, who is also Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, asking that the national government release Acacia Park, and other Parliamentary villages, to provide housing for the people rather than politicians.
Hill-Lewis even led a protest requesting the national government release state land – such as Ysterplaat, Wingfield, Youngsfield and Culemborg – to the city, for development, in partnership with the private sector.
De Lille said her party supported calls by civil society that the use of large pieces of land for military purposes be reassessed, and that the land or portions of it be made available for housing.
“I can confirm that part of Wingfield, already we are in agreement, can be released for human settlement purposes.
“I shared that with mayor Dan Plato. To say that I did not keep to my commitment to work on the military land is also a lie,” said De Lille.
However, she said the housing at Acacia Park was intended for MPs who did not live in Cape Town.
“If the DA has a proposal to do away with state provided housing for public office-bearers, then this must be tabled with the appropriate authority.
“In the case of the National Assembly, this would be the Speaker of Parliament. I am not in a position to terminate this arrangement and evict the MPs who use these homes,” said De Lille.
De Lille insisted that there was still provincial land that was available for affordable housing.
“I have access to the Western Cape provincial property immovable asset register, which lists more than 450 vacant properties, in the custody of the provincial government,” stated De Lille.
The City of Cape Town has thousands of land parcels ready to be used for housing.
“The claim, that the city cannot provide affordable housing because it has a shortage of land, is a lie. When I was mayor, I requested a land audit. The property management department found 3 000 properties that it didn’t even know the city owned,” added De Lille.
She listed 11 parcels of land that were identified in 2017, in Woodstock, Salt River, and the Inner City, for affordable housing purposes, but these were cancelled after she quit the DA.
In 2016, six hectares of land were released in and around the unfinished Foreshore Freeways.
“Despite several exciting proposals, this project was also cancelled,” she said.
She found it odd that the DA expected her, as the Minister, to fix – in two years – all of their failures over 15 years of government.
“But, I am going to show them that with or without the DA, we are going to integrate the City of Cape Town and, therefore, I am in the process of releasing Customs House, right here in the City Centre, to be repurposed for affordable housing.
“With or without the DA, we will bring our people back closer to work opportunities,” said De Lille.
Hill-Lewis said his party’s analysis of the land controlled by De Lille and the national government was 72 times bigger than all of the identified city-owned sites combined.
He said it would provide between 13 times and 70 times as many homes for Capetonians, as all of the city-owned sites combined.
Speaking to one of the broadcasters, he said there was a huge shortage of well-located land.
“The fact of the matter is that the city has got small pockets of land in the city centre,” Hill-Lewis said.