Whose interests are political parties supposed to serve? The answer seems obvious, the interests of their voters of course.

Local government, as opposed to National and Provincial, is the only level of government with directly elected political representatives. Political parties and their representatives are voted into power to represent the interests of their constituents, and elected councilors represent the interests of their constituents according to the values, principles and beliefs encompassing the ideology of their political party.  

“Instead of investing in the formalisation of the area, spurious attempts to extend the footprint of the informal settlement into the formal abutting neighbouring areas were made on several occasions in the last two years.”

In the 2006 municipal elections the DA narrowly gained control of Cape Town. Patricia De Lille promised the DA and her voters that the ID would go into a coalition with the DA, and if she fulfilled this, the DA-ID coalition would have won the election with a comfortable majority. As it were, the DA coalition scraped home with a single vote. As a result, when its elected Ward 74 (Hout Bay, Llandudno, Camps Bay & Clifton) Councillor, Pieter Venter, died of cancer shortly afterward, the DA stood to lose control of Cape Town.

During the March 1 election earlier that year, the DA won about 85% of the votes in Ward 74, followed by the ANC’s 7%. Patricia De Lille’s Independent Democrats garnered 2% of the votes in the Ward. After the passing of Cllr. Venter, a highly contested by-election was called for Ward 74. On 7 February 2007, after a record voter turnout, (about 16 000 voters were eligible to go to the polls), the DA won 61, 8%, and the ANC 37% of the votes. Competing political parties focussed mainly on solutions for issues relating to housing in general but in particular the overcrowding in the IY informal settlement. Many promises were made to the members of the community of Hout Bay, in return for their votes. The one promise that shifted the balance and appealed most to the majority of the voters, including the original, indigent, legal beneficiaries of the informal settlement, was the promise by the Mayor and her team that the formalisation of the informal settlement was going to happen promptly. 

In Part 1 of this story reference was made to the 2009 National and Provincial elections, the appointment of former DA Mayor Helen Zille as Premier of the Western Cape, and the commitments and undertakings made by Dan Plato when he took over from Helen Zille as Mayor of the City of Cape Town.

To the surprise of many and despite the broken promises of 2006, Helen Zille suggested that the DA and ID merge under the DA banner and this happened on 15 August 2010. During the 2011 Local Government elections, Patricia de Lille became mayor of Cape Town. Here is a brief summary of her quotes over the span of her political career: De Lille Brief History by Ed Herbst

Whereas local communities, in accordance with their rights in terms of the law, are supposed to be contributing to the decision-making processes of the municipality, affecting their rights, property and reasonable expectations, and despite the fact that the local ratepayers had been party to the negotiations with local and provincial government, since the early Nineties, to provide for and to properly develop land for the existing informal settlers living in Hout Bay, this was about to change swiftly. As of November 2011, shortly after the elections, the City started holding separate meetings with recently appointed “leaders” in IY, and excluding all of the other stakeholders who had over the years participated in legally binding agreements with regard to the development and formalisation of the area. IY is not a separate area on the outskirts of a town or city, as is often seen in the historical spatial layout across the country. IY is located in the heart of Hout Bay, and its development and infrastructure have an impact on the day to day lives of everyone who lives in Hout Bay.

Since then the wider Hout Bay community has not been kept informed of what the City is doing in terms of the formalisation of IY, as a normal suburb, with the usual amenities of proper streets, sewerage, water and lighting as agreed in the IJR Principles in 2009, subsequent City Council resolutions and environmental and other approvals by Provincial Government in 2010/2011. In its place, new plans were apparently being hatched, behind closed doors, to the exclusion of the broader community, and legally required procedures and public participation ignored. Instead of building the much needed multi-storey brick houses that everybody had been looking forward to, the informal structures were going to be “re-blocked”, and make-shift services were going to be installed. These plans were not only contrary to the approved plans and environmental authorisations, but also not sustainable in the long run, due to the geotechnical challenges of the area involved.

In the meantime, the 16 ha that had been set aside for community amenities and public open spaces in terms of the original legal agreements, Provincial Notices, and subsequently confirmed by a High Court interdict in 2004, have been taken up by more informal structures, to the extent, that when it was urgently required after a massive fire swept through the area in 2017, no space was available for emergency housing. Instead of investing in the formalisation of the area, spurious attempts to extend the footprint of the informal settlement into the formal abutting neighbouring areas were made on several occasions in the last two years.

In the next part of this story we will expose the bad faith, misrepresentations and underhanded methods used by city officials, in consecutive attempts since September 2017, to expand the footprint of the informal settlement, and how the City is using Ratepayer’s money to exhaust the financial resources of affected residents.