5 June 2016
The Honourable Premier of the Western Cape
Premier Helen Zille
Dear Premier Zille,
We, Claremont Main Road Mosque Community, hereby object to the sale of Tafelberg Remedial School and Wynard Mansions (formerly homes for poor people) by the government of the Western Cape.
Cape Town is a city where poor and working-class people have been systematically excluded from the inner city and its immediate environs on the western seaboard in suburbs such as Sea Point and Green Point. Few, if any affordable homes have been built on state land in these areas since apartheid formally ended in 1994. Moreover, the city has a harsh history of forced removals under Apartheid, including in Sea Point, with very little having been done to correct these past injustices.
The City is selling off well-located land yet there is an urgent need for land for low cost housing in and around the city. It lacks sense for this land to be sold to a private school which advances the interests of mainly wealthy people in Sea Point. This is unjust because it perpetuates apartheid and the resultant inequalities.
Those who are in the greatest need of decent, well-located affordable housing are the low wage workers servicing wealthy households and businesses in the city and its immediate environs. Some of them may well currently live in Sea Point but in terrible conditions in basements, storage facilities and “maids quarters”. Many of them face the threat of eviction. Others who have been relegated to the peripheries of our City embark on long, costly and dangerous commutes daily to get to work.
The Western Cape Provincial Government itself agrees that the land is suitable for affordable housing for working-class people (who need it most). The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements requested that it be reserved for affordable housing, and a government-supported feasibility study concluded that the site was suitable for social housing development of up to 341 affordable residential units. But recently, the Western Cape Provincial Government decided to sell it to private investors at the cost of the many that could benefit from affordable housing. This decision we believe is both irrational and prejudicial to the poor. It also goes against National and Local government policies.
With the property values in Cape Town inner city, Sea Point and Green Point rising rapidly it forces out not only working-class people out of the area but increasingly also middle-class people who cannot afford high rents, rates or property prices. By selling the land the Province is entrenching not only the racial segregation of Apartheid but also financial segregation and thus class segregation. Despite the rising property values, wherever possible pockets of affordable housing units should be protected by the state to ensure integration.This is the practice in many parts of the world and should be a priority in a country such as ours if we are serious about healing from the scars of Apartheid.
We remain adamant that well-located land is a scarce resource. State-owned land in such locations should be preserved and used for the benefit of all the people, particularly the poor. We strongly object to the sale of this land and feel it would be a wasted opportunity to right the wrongs of the past – but more importantly to construct a future for Cape Town as a ‘City for All’ and not only for the rich.
We want to live in a Cape Town that is home to everyone and therefore we ask Premier Helen Zille to STOP THE SALE of city assets and ensure that affordable housing is built on this state land in Sea Point and elsewhere.
We are open to engaging you on this matter.
Secretary obo CMRM Board
Dr. Rashied Omar
Imam, Claremont Main Road Mosque