Dear Premier Zille,
There is a consensus that Cape Town’s segregation remains essentially unchanged after 22 years of democracy. There is also general agreement that this is inefficient and unsustainable. For example, Transport for Cape Town reckons that the poor spend 45% of their income on transport. Government policy at national, provincial and municipal levels recognises the need for urban transformation, partly through the provision of affordable housing on well-located land.
Public ownership of the Tafelberg site offers a prime opportunity to build affordable housing for hundreds of low paid workers with jobs in Sea Point and the CBD. If the Province was to release this land for social rental housing it would be hugely significant symbolically. It would also set a valuable precedent for other public entities with large holdings of vacant and underused land in and around the central city (such as Transnet and the Defence Ministry) to release that land for affordable housing.
If the Province simply chooses the highest bidder with no strings attached it will greatly weaken City and Provincial efforts to persuade these other entities to transfer their surplus land to the City for affordable housing. In short, the Tafelberg site presents an opportunity to demonstrate the Province’s commitment to social inclusion, urban innovation and spatial transformation.
Professor Ivan Turok
Economic Performance & Development Unit, HSRC