Golfers Tee off at King David Mowbray Golf Club. Picture: Nic Bothma/EPA.
Golfers Tee off at King David Mowbray Golf Club. Picture: Nic Bothma/EPA.

Outrage over Mowbray Golf Club’s lease

By Bulelwa Payi Time of article published Aug 23, 2020

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THE City has made an about-turn regarding the renewal of King David Mowbray Golf Club’s lease.

Last month, the City called for public comments by August 25 for the renewal of the club’s lease of 9.5 hectares of public land for 10 years at just over R950 per month or R19 per hectare per month.

The City had said the land was “surplus”, not needed for “the provision of a minimum level of municipal services” and that “no demand exists” for it.

But now the City says the advertisement regarding the club’s proposed lease renewal application was “premature”.

The City said given that the application related to a “significant right to be granted the use and management of an immovable property asset of over R10 million” the matter would first be placed before Council for authority to advertise.

“The advertisement has accordingly been withdrawn,” the statement said.

The City had attracted heavy criticism from housing and social justice advocacy activists.

The latest move comes a few months after the City also announced that it planned to lease 45.99 hectares of prime public land to the Rondebosch Golf Club, next to the King David Mowbray golf course.

Activists accused the City of having no regard to the rising homelessness and land occupations as a result of Covid-19.

Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) described the plan as “exclusionary, unjust and inefficient” and along with advocacy organisation launched a petition.

By late on Friday, more than 1 000 signatures had been obtained.

The organisation said the land could have been used for the development of social or affordable housing in a city regarded as the most unequal and spatially divided in the country.

“The end of King David Mowbray Golf Club’s current lease offers the City a vital opportunity to act on a new vision for a just and more equal Cape Town – an opportunity that the City cannot afford to ignore.

“If the Covid-19 crisis has taught us anything, it is that we need to radically re-imagine our society and our cities – this piece of land offers the perfect opportunity for the City to demonstrate a break with the business as usual approach to the inefficient, inequitable and exclusive use of well-located public land,” NU researcher Michael Clark said.

The Development Action Group (DAG) said if the City were to “pro-actively” use the Mowbray golf course land to develop housing solutions at a scale, it would send a signal that “public land is truly for the public”.

DAG’s executive director Aditya Kumar said given the rapid homelessness and the vast number of occupations and evictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, access to well-located land had been identified locally and internationally as the only possible solution.

“Land such as the Mowbray Golf course could be used to prevent the knock-on effect of land occupations and provide housing for the poor,” Kumar argued.

Last year, the City’s housing backlog stood at 365 000 families and was growing by between 16 000 to 18 000 a year.

In 2016, deputy mayor Ian Nielson said there were too many golf courses in Cape Town and that the City had to explore how it could “rationalise” the use of public land.

“But four years later the City hasn’t released a single golf course of social or affordable housing,” Clark charged.

Cape Town has 24 golf courses, 10 of which are on public land, Clark added.

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