Although I partially agree with the opinion that available state land be returned to the historically disadvantaged, I differ on a fundamental point. I advocate the land be sold competitively with an added advantage to the Coloured, Indian and Black middle class.

While different spheres of the state own many underutilized property in affluent parts of this city, assiduous middle class taxpayers are paying premium prices for homes in average suburbs. For example, in Mitchells Plain, a township designed for the lower income, properties are currently selling from R250 000 to R550 000. Because banks require bond payment to be 25% of your income, without a cash deposit, you need to earn R20 000 a month to buy in parts of Mitchells Plain. In Crawford, Rondebosch-East and Plumstead etc. because of high demand and limited stock, an average 3 bedroom house on a 500sqm erf, costs in excess of R1 million. Suburbs like Constantia and Newlands are therefore unaffordable to the growing middle and upper middle class.

I propose that government sell available properties strategically to intensify the upward mobility of the local middle class into areas like Constantia etc. The BEE component should have a 35% benefit. Locals should be allocated 15%, another 10% to women, and 10% to the historically disadvantaged. This should inhibit outside located BEE’s and the wealthy who buy for investment and not for residential purposes. This suggests that a 500sqm state owned erf in Constantia be sold for a discounted R600 000 and a 200sqm dwelling, built for about R1 million. With a basic cost of R1 600 000, I am assured that the historically advantaged neighbours would not be to greatly affronted.

Bridging the massive gap between Constantia and Crawford should allow the middle class greater upward mobility. This effect will avail properties in other areas, allowing material progression for the lower middle income. This act could prevent land invasions in traditional leafy suburbs as the state land would house an empowered middle class, rendering the race debate superfluous. Due to the BEE component, there would also be no need for added tax on the previously advantaged as advised by Bishop Tutu. The state would save on the maintenance and security of the underutilized properties. The additional rates would allow the city to further assist poor Capetonians.

Those who criticize this proposal should remember that Apartheid was not only about empowering a few. Besides the inhumanity, Apartheid actively worked to disempower the majority. Alternatively, Capetonians can wait until the desperate, impoverished and unemployed youth stream in from the Eastern Cape and occupy the land by force.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress