I have worked in local government for 16 years and have witnessed 5 Mayors and 5 Premiers come and go. Over time any rational person operating in a similar space acquires “institutional knowledge” which is generally regarded as “the ability to recollect and delineate issues within historic context”.

Currently there is a much talk in the media about “taking back the city”, gentrification and so on. Sale of land in the city center and surrounds often generate deep emotions and conspiracy theories.

I want readers to consider what emerged during the 2006 elections when Nomaindia Mfeketo was Mayor and the ANC promised citizens several housing projects in and around the urban periphery.

The promise included [1] Social Housing [2] Hostels to homes [3] other housing and [4] PHP Projects or Peoples Housing Process. I may have the only surviving map of the planned Social Housing in Walmer Estate, Bo-Kaap, Oranjezicht, Newlands, Claremont, Rondebosch East and so on.

Before and during the elections there was much fanfare about the projects as the ANC was buoyant of an election victory. Ebrahim Rasool was Premier and the ANC had absorbed the old NNP who emerged from a scathing divorce with the DP which was the parents of the DA.

The voters of Cape Town decided otherwise and so began the reign of Mayor Helen Zille, the meteoric rise of the DA and gradual demise of the national ANC.

Much has been written and said about the internal conflicts of the ANC which remains endless. In Cape Town the rot started when the ANC started selling prime land to its friends below market value in the name of economic transformation that seldom in reality filtered down.

While some measured social housing in wealthier suburbs a dream come true, others considered it a nightmare. In my belief most ratepayers have a natural instinct towards “NiMBY” meaning “Not in My Back Yard”. Most ratepayers want to help the poor but not at a pyric cost to themselves.

Likewise, when it comes to charity, like paying tax, most people do so, provided the poverty then goes away. Social housing in wealthy suburbs was “to in the face” even for the colored middle class.

Those who want Social Housing in wealthy suburbs could have, but repeatedly rejected this ANC proposal which was championed by Tony Ehrenreich in the 2016 elections. Like in the elections of 2000, 2006, 2011 and 2016 the results must be respected, regardless of a person’s political belief.

Reports of developers buying up Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory etc. is an outcome that was decided by the majority of voters. Those who cannot afford the rates etc. must move to where they can afford. This is the nature of capitalism which is embraced by the majority of economically active South Africans. Ironically as building expansion ensues, the City will accrue revenue from the rising middle class which will cover the cost of homes for the displaced poor.

Those who vote for politicians who promise free houses and so on must bear some liability as some-one has to pay. The rising middle class that displaces the poor to the urban periphery carries the rates burden and thus builds the poor, affordable housing. What other realistic options exist?

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress

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