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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Response by mayor de Lille to article in Mail and Guardian

"Dirt" on DA doesn't stick

After nearly 10 years of Democratic Alliance government in Cape Town, the people of the city have grown accustomed to a few things. These include: clean audits, the highest level of services in the country, capital budgets spent, innovative policies and strategies, clean government, billing systems that are reliable, and basic services that work.

The Mail & Guardian has searched high and low to find something, anything that suggests an abuse of power (“City of Cape Town accused of muzzling dissenter” and “Editorial: Led astray by sins of incumbency”).

The M&G has come up with an evidence-free, “he said, she said” story about a building ­extension. If that’s all there is to complain about after a decade, we will consider our governance model a success.

It is worrying that this newspaper chose to publish an article based on nebulous assertions and to write an editorial about it. It ran on the front page [and as a lead in the Cape Town edition] when our universities face an existential crisis and discussions began about the purchase of a R4-billion presidential jet.

– Zara Nicholson, spokesperson for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Mail and Guardian article re DA and Strong bungalow

Cape Town ratepayers will foot the bill for a court wrangle in which the DA turned on one of its own

City of Cape Town accused of muzzling dissenter

13 NOV 2015
CRAIG MCKUNE

DA councillor Marga Haywood’s efforts to voice concerns about the proposed renovations led to her being subjected to an audit and facing possible disciplinary action. (David Harrison, M&G)
The City of Cape Town has settled a legal dispute that would have resulted in the airing of serious allegations in the high court that councillors manipulated council processes to favour a Democratic Alliance donor.

The metropolitan council did so after commissioning a forensic investigation into a whistleblower, costing Cape Town ratepayers thousands of rands.

The whistleblower, DA councillor Marga Haywood, now faces possible disciplinary action for speaking out.

Haywood’s allegations would have been tested under cross-examination if the city had not settled a fortnight ago.

The case involves a dispute over planned renovations to a well-heeled Camps Bay couple’s house. Because of strict heritage laws, Carol and Dixie Strong’s plans required special permission, which the area’s DA-led subcouncil controversially approved in June.

A group of neighbours objected to the plans and took the city and Carol Strong to court to have the council’s decision set aside. But ensuing events have led to accusations of a council cover-up and attempts to “intimidate and neuter” Haywood.

AmaBhungane has  previously reported that mayor Patricia de Lille ordered the city to defend the matter in court. In February this year she did so – against the advice of a number of senior officials.

Now that the city has withdrawn its court action, Cape Town ratepayers will have to pay the city’s and the neighbours’ legal fees.

The Strongs’ house is one of a number of historical bungalows in the suburb of Bakoven, south of Camps Bay, and as their planned extension went well beyond the area’s strict heritage laws, they applied to the council for permission.

Several neighbours objected that the plans would block their sea views and impinge on the area’s character.

Before deciding on the application, officials and councillors visited the property in May 2014. Haywood later made the stunning claim that, at this meeting, fellow DA councillor Errol Anstey said: “Strong is a big donor for the DA and the application should therefore be approved.”

Dixie Strong “was an old associate of Colin Eglin, who was an MP and … a donor to the Progressive Federal Party”


No 3 Beta Close, Bakoven. David Harrison, M&G

This surfaced in court papers in which McCain’s lawyer, Brian Aronoff, quoted his conversation with her.

Haywood later said the same thing to KPMG, the forensic investigators appointed to investigate her. She told them Anstey made a similar statement a month later at a meeting of DA councillors before the area’s subcouncil 16 was to decide on Strong’s application.

When amaBhungane first reported on the claims in August, Anstey denied making the statement. But he told KPMG that his words to Haywood were that Dixie Strong “was an old associate of Colin Eglin, who was an MP and … a donor to the Progressive Federal Party”.

The late Eglin founded the PFP, a precursor to the DA, which he later represented in Parliament.

Anstey’s version raises serious questions of political bias, which he denies. He told amaBhungane: “It is not unusual, when considering an application, to share information on what is known about an applicant or objector. Since I was not aware of whether or not he is a donor to the DA, I would not have mentioned that when the matter arose.”

In August, a person representing Carol Strong’s interest told ama­Bhungane off the record that Dixie Strong was not a DA donor. But Dixie has since admitted in court papers that he donated R24 500 to the party between 1999 and 2005.

AmaBhungane has heard a recording of subcouncil 16’s meeting on June 1 2015, when it approved the application. Strong’s case was discussed for 10 minutes. Anstey voiced his support for the application, Haywood said nothing and DA subcouncil chairperson Demetri Qually concluded that the application was approved.

”There was definitely an error because it is still a huge issue with my constituents.”

Haywood has since told KPMG that she missed the item in error because the agenda items had not been addressed in order and it had been wrongly labelled.

Later in the meeting, she voiced her confusion, objecting: “This is the item that I was opposed to … This is the one we discussed in caucus … I noted my concerns about this issue this morning [in the DA’s caucus] comprehensively and I had a huge concern about it. But I think there could have been a problem because it says [incorrectly] that the ward councillor is Beverley Schäfer, so I don’t know when this item came up. There was definitely an error because it is still a huge issue with my constituents.”

Qually dismissed her objection and closed the meeting.

Shortly after the meeting, Haywood tabled a motion to rescind and review the decision, as she believed it had been made in error.

She also reported Anstey’s alleged statements to the DA’s council speaker, Dirk Smit.

Documents before the court show that City of Cape Town legal adviser Susan Mosdell agreed with Haywood. In an official memorandum, Mosdell said: “There is no doubt that the decision is capable of challenge in terms of the provision of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.” But she said that, because the decision had been finalised, the city’s only recourse was to apply to the high court for it to be reviewed and set aside. She recommended that this be done.

”Obviously it is not a process which should be embarked upon lightly”

An email chain in the court file suggests that there was no disagreement with Haywood that the decision needed to be reviewed. For three weeks in August, city officials deliberated in the correspondence only about whether the council could review the decision or whether it needed to be taken to court.

It was eventually agreed that the city would have to apply to the court. The decision about whether to do so was referred to Smit.

But in a letter to Haywood, Mosdell said: “Obviously it is not a process which should be embarked upon lightly as it has reputational and damages implications.”

It appears that Smit stalled because no decision was made for six weeks, and in December the neighbours, led by Mark McCain launched their own high court application for the decision to be reviewed.

AmaBhungane has previously reported that a number of officials then met and decided that the city would not oppose the application, subject to De Lille’s approval. In an email, an official told McCain’s lawyer, Aronoff, that it was unlikely De Lille would oppose it.

Five senior officials signed off on this decision, but the document then languished for a month before De Lille finally signed it, ordering the city to fight the case in court.

She previously defended her action, telling amaBhungane: “It was decided that it was most appropriate to defend the systems of a structure of council.”

Then, eight months after Haywood had tabled a motion to have the decision reviewed, Smit commissioned the KPMG investigation.

Councillors “sought to cover up what had actually transpired by inventing the misconduct narrative”

In a court affidavit, the DA’s Qually said: “When councillor Haywood’s ‘motion to rescind’ came before the speaker’s office, there was a concern that [she] had transgressed the subcouncil rules and code of conduct.

“As a result, KPMG was appointed to conduct a forensic investigation into her conduct in relation to the application and the motion she attempted to introduce.”

KPMG’s investigation eventually cleared Haywood of this allegation, but found “grounds for disciplinary action against Haywood” because she had reported Anstey’s alleged statements to Aronoff.

But Aronoff complained that it was only after he had demanded that Haywood provide evidence to the court that Smit and other subcouncil 16 councillors “sought to cover up what had actually transpired by inventing the misconduct narrative”.

He said the councillors were “fictitious and vague” when they alleged under oath that there were concerns about Haywood’s conduct.

He said the forensic investigation was commissioned “with the aim of intimidating and neutering Haywood, as she is the only person at the city who was not prepared to hide the truth of what had actually transpired”.

“I need closure so that I can move on.”

Haywood said: “I confirm and have proof that I informed KPMG that I have no objection to making a sworn statement [about Anstey’s comments]. I do not know why I was not required to do so.

“I was also willing to testify under oath in the high court and to be cross-examined in this regard.”

Asked whether she thought Anstey’s comments were acceptable, De Lille said: “We will have to wait for the legal processes to be concluded before we determine which actions, if any, need to be taken.”

Correspondence between Haywood and Smit, which is in the court file, seems to suggest that Smit was considering disciplining her for tarnishing the city’s reputation.

He told amaBhungane: “I do not debate disciplinary investigations of councillors in the media.”

Haywood said: “Because I stood up for what I perceived as a miscarriage of justice, I have suffered occupational, reputational, psychological and financial detriment.

“I need closure so that I can move on.”

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

#patriciamustfall

MONDAY NOV 09, 2015
An intelligent and prudent political management will ensure that development is sensible, sensitive and sustainable. This bunch of DA led politicians, under de Lille in this case, are only interested in short-term gain for their developer buddies, which of course translates into party funding and who knows what else. Developers are profit-driven and will obviously cherry-pick juicy projects over the less profitable (but often very necessary infrastructural development required by a city) ones. It is the duty of the City to manage this process - but clearly the DA only has it’s own interests at heart.
Zille used her executive power to ensure that the CT Stadium went ahead - despite massive public opposition and clear financial and technical warnings that the stadium was unsustainable (as it inevitably proved to be) - simply to ensure that her construction industry buddies got a lot of work. And has her silence been deafening when the collusion between the big construction companies was uncovered….. Imagine that shrill voice if ANC benefactors had been caught with their collective fingers in the till !!!!


#deLilleMustFall

Chris Willemse
CBRRA

SUNDAY NOV 08, 2015
Why is Mr. Schulze unable to raise this point without resorting to the topic of race, or name-calling? Silly little catch-phrases like "whities" and "kill de Lille" are immature at best. They completely detract from what would otherwise be a valid point.
However, since Mr. Schulze has opted to raise the topic of race - perhaps, as a white Capetonian, he should perform a bit of self-reflection? It's easy to adopt an anti-development stance when you're perfectly comfortable with the status quo because it suits you. However, when you're poor and living on the outskirts of the city far away from most economic opportunity, this type of progress is exactly what the city needs.
A densification policy is vital to the city's future - not only from a sustainability perspective, but also in terms of inclusiveness. We simply cannot continue on our current trajectory of urban sprawl. Tracts of land in District 6 are but a small part of the solution to this problem. They're already earmarked for development and would only house a limited number of people to begin with.
Mr. Schulze needs to accept that the city is developing rapidly and is already struggling with housing issues and unemployment. We've become the most congested city in the country. Unless we start densifying, we will be paying for it in the years to come. We won't be able to afford to build/maintain bulk infrastructure, public transport, housing and the like. We will never become a truly inclusive, world-class city.
I'm pro-development, but completely agree that we need to protect our Heritage. We are capable of marrying these two concepts. There are plenty of examples of the preservation of our Heritage throughout the city, if one chooses to look at them. I could rattle off countless examples.
On a side note: if you think the Leinster Hall in Gardens would have received a provisional roof under an ANC-led local government, you're in for a surprise. Be careful what you wish for..


FRIDAY NOV 06, 2015
Cape Town's pro-property development stance questioned

What is happening in Cape Town? The City's ruthless pro-development stance is now clearly getting out of hand.
The Spelum rejection against the VOC warehouse proposal was simply overturned this week. So was Spelum's rejection of the Riverside Extension in Kommetjie.
Maiden's Cove is now put on tender, Bakoven's historic bungalow is set to be demolished, Highclere in Blouberg is under threat of demolition, and the Philippi farming area is to be developed. Next, it seems like the Arcadia House of the Winchester Mansions Hotel (corner Hall and Wisbeach roads in Sea Point) is going to be demolished for a 56-room highly contemporary addition. Perhaps, if we wait long enough, the Princess Vlei shopping mall proposal will again be revisited.
The DA is convinced it's got us white Capetonians by the short and curlies in that we're forced to vote for it to keep the ANC out. Well, it might just get a nasty surprise. My vote in next year's municipal elections will now definitely go to another party. This nonsense of Mayco overturning Spelum decisions, giving developers the goahead for those greed-driven proposals, proves the DA's self-indulgent (mis)behaviour against our builtheritage that is not only "white history", by the way.
Our old buildings wouldn't exist if it weren't for the labour and craftsmanship of our non-white citizens' forefathers. This goes for very old, but also our early 20th century Arts&Crafts (Revival) and Art Deco buildings being relentlessly demolished or contemporised to oblivion.
Unfortunately, the principle of distinction that is taken up in the approved City of Cape Town's Cultural Heritage Strategy (2005), which forms part of the Integrated Metropolitan Environmental Policy (IMEP), (Policy 3: Authenticity, which states, among other things, that the City will ensure that a distinction be made between the authentic fabric of a resource and later contemporary interventions), further causes the fast erosion of our heritage resources, rendering them more and more insignificant and therefore expendable.
This also gives the impression that non-approved contemporisations are acceptable, especially in that such illegalities can be approved retrospectively if anyone from the City even cares.
This distinctive approach appears overemphatically based on the authenticity concept of the 1964 Venice Charter, which again has it's roots in the 1931 Athens Charter that was essentially established to protect ancient Greek and Roman ruins. I, for one, object to these strict terms being placed on our relatively young built heritage, and feel that conjecture for the sake of some homogeneity in contextual areas - especially within Heritage Protection Overlay Zones - should be encouraged, if not enforced. This is also done in other countries despite those charters.
Another erosive factor is the City's densification policy, which I feel ought to be reviewed as long as District Six (and large parts of adjacent council land) lies vastly empty. With the present status quo, it will lie fallow for another 40 years.
In terms of built-heritage protection, the DA appears to be deliberately underfunding Heritage Western Cape (HWC), likely due to pressure from the vested interests of the construction industry. Three months ago, the entire upper floor of the 1850s Leinster Hall in Gardens was destroyed by a fire. HWC still hasn't got a provisional roof over the open building to protect it from further rainwater damage.
Some will argue that it is much worse in ANC-run cities - I beg to differ. Yes, many buildings may be considerably rundown there, but at least they're still standing. Once something is gone, it's gone, especially since above-mentioned "accepted heritage practices" don't allow conjecture in this city.
It seems we're in a catch-22 with our mayor, who has fought for democracy during the freedom struggle, but abolished it for a near dictatorship favouring developers and construction firms who appear to have funnelled enormous amounts of cash down the DA's throat.
Is this what conspiracy theorists call a corporatocracy? Big money running the show? De Lille and her inherent ID probably couldn't care less if the DA loses next year. Judging from past events she'll just split off the DA again, to form a coalition with whatever closest winning party. We're stuck, unless we politically "kill de Lille" at next years polls.
Heiko Schulze
Cape Times

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Mayor sells of Maiden's Cove and Clifton for money for the DA, not just the City.



The City of Cape Town, under the instruction of Patricia de Lille, has approved the selling of the people of Cape Town's public open space,  from Maiden's Cove to Clifton Fourth beach for development, leaving all process in the hands of the developer!!

We, the community,  have suggested that the City rezone the land themselves and, in terms of the Municipal Finance Act, achieve the best value for the asset. As an aside, it is almost certain that the statutory processes - especially the Traffic Impact Assessment - will fail.

The City refuse to do this for one simple reason, in our opinion:

The Mayor is looking for money for the DA, not just the City.

If they sell off land with no rights, such as this public land, the price is naturally quite low (the City itself has estimated a figure of R50 - R100m). The "favoured" developer then spends a couple of million rand, plus a year or two, and with very compliant City officials and political committees (not to mention the absolute authority of She who must be obeyed), the land is suddenly worth close to R1bn. That's a lot of money left on the table for a deeply grateful developer to show his appreciation to the "benefactor". And given that there are no real restrictions on party funding - or disclosure thereof - it's sort of (partially) legal as well.

The DA politicians have not been able to properly explain why they refuse to follow the process, with Neilson, City Finance, simply saying that it's up to the developer to achieve the rights.

This begs the question:

What if he fails to achieve these rights? 

Does the ownership of the land revert to the City, or does the developer embark on the age-old trick of letting the land go to hell or "allow" squatting - which will then force the local communities to support any development that he wants.

Of course, if the City manage to achieve the rights themselves, then the cash flow is directly into the City coffers and nothing left for our poor, destitute politicians…..

However, the legal point of the MFA might well trip up this Administration in court.

In any event, as Pieter Dirk Uys so eloquently put it: Democracy se moer.

We must act as a community against this corruption.
Join our action now.

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