(File image) Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. Photo: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Mayor Patricia de Lille admitted, after weeks of protests over living conditions in poor areas, that the needs of the poor remained substantial but said the city would spend R10.8 billion on services for the poor this financial year.

The DA-run city has been attacked by the ANC Youth League and the ANC leadership in council for not prioritising spending on the poor, but De Lille said she wanted to present the facts on just how much the city was spending on services.

“We want to put to bed the lie and myth that the city does not care about the poor. I know what we fought for and I want more people to taste the fruits of our democracy,” she said.

At a media briefing on Thursday, De Lille said the city planned to spend R10.8bn of its R18bn service delivery budget on the poor in this financial year. This will be on targeted expenditure in previously disadvantaged areas, provision of free basic services and provision of services and infrastructure in all informal and formal poor areas.

“South Africa and Cape Town have been left with the economic and spatial legacy of apartheid. Therefore, the city is firmly committed to a policy of redress and redistribution which seeks to systematically turn around apartheid-era under-investment in various parts of Cape Town,” De Lille said. She said the city’s water and sanitation department had more than doubled the number of toilets provided in informal settlements from 14 591 in the 2006/7 financial year to 34 225 in the current financial year.

With the provision of water in informal settlements, De Lille said the city increased its spending from R1.3 million in the 2006/7 financial year to R20.2m in the 2011/12 financial year. “We are conscious that the needs in the city remain substantial, but the city is working tirelessly to redress the imbalances of the past.” In the current financial year, she said most of the departments in the city would spend a large portion of their budgets on services to the poor.

The department of human settlements has allocated 99.1 percent of its R1.4bn budget on “pro-poor spending”. This will be used for existing settlements, new settlements, housing land, forward planning and informal settlements. Some of the areas receiving the biggest portion of this budget are Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Langa, Nyanga, Belhar, Ravensmead and Manenberg.

De Lille said providing electricity remained her priority as this was the main request from communities. Since 2006/7, she said the city had made 19 899 new electricity connections. “For someone who does not have electricity, to cook or have light for children to learn, electricity is the most basic need. For me the priority is to get electricity into every household in Cape Town.”

De Lille said she invited and was prepared to discuss the city’s pro-poor spending figures with the ANC leadership in the council.

ANC chief whip in the city, Xolani Sotashe, said the ANC was still discussing whether they would meet the DA, but they wanted a public discussion on the city’s spending.

“We don’t want to have private meetings, we have requested a public debate. We are asking the DA to bring their facts and we will bring our facts … we will show that the DA is not spending on the poor,” Sotashe said.

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Cape Times