Availability of land is not the obstacle to housing and spatial redress.

Speech to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament by Brett Herron, GOOD member and Secretary-General

10 September 2020

 

It is the anti-poor attitude of the DA in government that is the obstacle. 

Member Maseko and Minister Simmers would like us to believe that this government is paralysed by the unavailability of land.

They would like us to believe that only the portions of land in the custody of the National Government, and under the authority of the National Minister of Public Works, can resolve this province’s housing problems.

There are two things we can observe:

That they are willing to play cynical politics with land because the main objective is not to access land but to vent their animosity towards Minister Patricia De Lille.  They simply cannot get over her and move on.

That this entire argument is a fabrication.  The Department of Human Settlements has a fully allocated budget and a pipeline of housing projects for years.  There is no immediate impact on the provision of housing for beneficiaries arising from land availability.  The department will not use the land nor will they allocate any additional funding to build more houses if they had the land. 

In Dunoon, where freight trains can’t run because of encroachment of informal structures onto the rail reserve, the department promised to relocate those residents two years ago. 

When Covid-19 came the department also promised to de-densify overcrowded Dunoon. 

Neither of these promises have been met – despite the urgency – not because there is a shortage of land but because the political leaders will not use the land earmarked by the City for housing because they say its too politically sensitive.

Availability of land is not the obstacle to housing and spatial redress.  It is the anti-poor attitude of the DA in government that is the obstacle. 

There are processes that governments must follow to release public land. 

They know, that Minister De Lille is following a lawful process in releasing land and that process is underway.

This government just got a brutal lesson in how not to do it in the Tafelberg School case.

The Western Cape High Court found every single thing the Western Cape Cabinet did was unlawful.

Minister Simmers must tell us why they haven’t used the Potsdam land to resolve the Dunoon crisis or the land in Woodstock and Salt River to build affordable housing in the city centre? 

Minister Simmers must advise what they will do with additional land.  Sell it off like they did with Tafelberg?