Cancellation of viable inner city affordable housing prevents the progressive realisation of housing. Eviction of tenant in Woodstock is arbitrary.

In a city with a massive affordable housing crisis – across all income bands except the rich – the City of Cape Town’s DA government continues to demonstrate a couldn’t-care-less attitude to their constitutional obligations and a stubborn, but ethically unsustainable, attitude to their custody of public land.

Section 26 of the Constitution requires the State, including the City, to take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to housing.

Section 26 also prohibits arbitrary evictions.

The DA in government in the City is acting unconstitutionally.

The DA in government in the City is also acting grossly dishonestly.

Last month the DA government cancelled 5 viable inner city affordable housing projects that were launched by way of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in September 2017.

Between the Mayor and the Mayco Member for Housing they have given different and conflicting excuses for the cancellation.

None of them are legitimate. The most absurd excuse of all was the Mayor’s claim that disposing of sites without development rights is unlawful in terms of the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations. In the same week that he made this claim the City advertised 4 sites for disposal -with no development rights.

The call for Requests for Proposals for the 5 inner city sites – all public land – yielded 13 proposals from the private sector and social housing companies.

Each of the sites had a social housing threshold which had to be met in any development proposal. The combined threshold would have brought at least 1850 social housing units into the inner city and Woodstock.

The fact that there were 13 proposals or bids, despite the fact that some of the sites would have burdened the developer with rezoning applications in order to secure development rights, demonstrated that the project was reasonable and viable.

The cancellation of the 5 inner city housing projects was unreasonable and intentionally prevents the progressive realisation of housing. This places the DA government in direct conflict with its constitutional obligations.

This week the same DA government attempted a massive sell off of public land, by way of auction, to the highest bidder.

This included land parcels that do have development rights. For example there were land parcels in Durbanville zoned General Residential 1 – this zoning permits medium density, low-rise, blocks of flats.

Perfect for affordable housing in desirable locations.

Also included in this wholesale sell off of public properties was a house in Plein Street in Woodstock.

Mr Kenny Blaine, and his family, have been resident in this house since 1976. I visited Mr Blaine, who is 80 years old, and he told me that his family has paid rent to the City every month for 43 years. He told me his rent is paid even for this month of September. To sell off this house the City got an eviction order against Mr Kenny Blaine and his family.

Conveniently, for the sake of vacant occupation, the Sheriff evicted him from the house on Monday – the day before the auction. This is an old house in Woodstock where the tenant is an 80 year old man in good standing for 43 years. There can be no urgent or pressing reason for the sale of the house and the eviction.

The city apparently accepted his rent for the month of September and then evicted him half-way through the month. The eviction is clearly arbitrary – based only on an inexplicable urge to sell the house - and the City’s government has violated the constitution.

While the DA’s election manifestos make promises of spatial integration the DA in government is consciously working to entrench apartheid ideology.

The DA in government continuously demonstrates a massive failure, or refusal, to understand their role as custodians of public land. Their primary role is to use that public land for public purposes and not to sell it off to the highest bidder – irreversibly alienating it from serving the people who own it – the public.

Brett Herron, GOOD Member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament,
Secretary-General of the GOOD Movement.

Kieran Pearce