Statement by Brett Herron, GOOD Secretary-General and Mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town
22 September 2021
The DA must own up to the fact that in the 15 years it has led Cape Town it has not built a single affordable home in a well-located part of Cape Town to begin the process of integrating the post-apartheid city – and that it has no intention to do so.
Instead of decoy marches to national government to divert attention from its own track-record, the DA must explain why it cancelled then-Mayor Patricia de Lille and my initiative to develop affordable homes on five inner-city sites three years ago. (Its opposition to this transformative project ultimately led to our resigning from the city.)
Instead of theatre and false promises about how many RDP or BNG houses it will deliver in future, the DA must take citizens into its confidence on the reasons for Cape Town having drastically reduced the number of fully-subsidised homes delivered over the past three years.
The DA’s mayoral candidate would, personally, also do well to explain his own role in the above processes, and reassure citizens that his private property developer aspirations do not cloud his judgement.
The GOOD Party agrees with the DA (and national government, it appears) that the old military bases in Cape Town, or parts thereof, would be helpful if they were turned over to housing. That’s why, when we were in the City, we championed that land’s release. But this didn’t stop us from developing homes.
Making a big noise about wanting those sites is no explanation for the political reasoning behind the City’s failure to build houses on land it already owns, which will be much faster to develop.
Cape Town has a shortage of approximately 400 000 homes. The City is the custodian of thousands of parcels of land and buildings suitable for use for affordable housing. The housing shortage is not a problem of land availability. It is problem of political will.
Being able to develop mass housing projects on military bases is attractive to the DA because it won’t disturb the prevailing Group Areas Act spatial status quo. But arguing for the land’s release doesn’t camouflage the truth of the City’s non-delivery of homes or its active disinterest in integration and long-term sustainability.
In the circumstances, the DA spin to be championing the release of public land for well-located affordable housing is a shameful farce.
Let us be serious about building affordable housing by starting with the land we have complete discretion over. That’s a demonstrable commitment to addressing the housing shortage.
In 2017, I identified several pieces of public land in the City’s custody in Woodstock, Salt River and the City Centre that were suitable for affordable housing in mixed-income, mixed-use, tenure blind developments. We issued a call for proposals for the development of five of the sites in September 2017 and by February 2018 the City had received 13 proposals from private developers.
Soon after my resignation from my position in the DA and its government the new Mayor and Mayco Member for Housing cancelled the projects. The sites are still vacant and derelict.
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