Cape Town – Geordin Hill-Lewis, the DA City of Cape Town mayoral candidate, has not been deterred by the “petty insults’’ of Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille in his commitment to fight for more affordable housing through the release of large tracts of government land.
Last week, Hill-Lewis wrote to Minister De Lille requesting her to cancel the lease over the Acacia Park parliamentary village so that the City of Cape Town can buy the land and release it for the development of affordable housing.
Hill-Lewis said in a statement his call for ’’houses for people, not politicians’’ was not “stupid” or a “joke”, as De Lille had labelled it.
What most puzzled Hill-Lewis is De Lille’s dismissal of the DA’s call to release national government owned land for housing, when she previously issued exactly the same call in February 2014.
’’It is a sensible, achievable call that De Lille has supported herself in the past. Her views have clearly changed since her appointment to the ANC national government cabinet,’’ Hill-Lewis said.
’’Minister De Lille may have abandoned Cape Town, but we have not. We will keep fighting for more affordable housing for more Capetonians.
’’I launched my plan to address the housing shortage in Cape Town so that more residents can live a life of dignity. I committed to speeding up the release of city-owned land for this purpose.
’’I also called on the national government to release the massive tracts of land that it owns or controls, because these pieces of land dwarf anything else that is available in Cape Town for housing.
’’Unfortunately, in an interview responding to my plan over the weekend, De Lille showed little sympathy or understanding of the pressing need for housing of so many Capetonians. Instead, she dismissed my call for her to release Acacia Park as ’stupid’ and ’a joke’.
’’The infrastructure that already exists at Acacia Park makes it a move-in ready social housing project – located close to major business nodes, with a school, its own train station, parks and a swimming pool.
’’The DA has obtained correspondence sent to then President Jacob Zuma by De Lille when she was still mayor of Cape Town on 6 February, 2014. In the correspondence, De Lille notes that ’land holdings owned by the National Department of Public Works… which if released for housing purposes, would play a significant role in reducing the housing backlog in the city.”
De Lille defended the continued use of the 56.8 hectares of Acacia Park to house MPs on the basis that the National Party also used this valuable land for politicians, and instructed the DA “to go and ask the National Party” to release the land.
’’This suggestion makes little sense, however, as it is the ANC national government – of which De Lille is a senior member – that is in power and has for 27 years overseen the continued exclusion of people in desperate need of housing from sites like Acacia Park, as well as the Wingfield, Youngsfield and Ysterplaat military bases,’’ Hill-Lewis said.
’’We have long known that the national ANC government vindictively refuses to release well-located pieces of state-owned land to the DA-led City of Cape Town.
’’By dismissing the needs of the same city she once served as mayor, it is clear that De Lille has become nothing but an agent implementing this same cruel and vindictive ANC policy towards the people of Cape Town.’’