Call to grow commerce

Nazeem Engelbrecht and Zubair Marlie, from Woodlands. In front are Michelle Evertson, from Tafelsig, Wendoline Engelbrecht, Muneeba Marlie, both from Woodlands, and Cassiem Gamiet, from Lentegeur.

At a workshop on land over the weekend, some civic body members expressed the view that more money and resources should be invested into creating employment in Mitchell’s Plain instead of strengthening other central business districts.

Pastor Dean Ramjoomia, from Beacon Valley, gawked at a budget presentation delivered by the Development Action Group (DAG) during a Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) workshop, at the sub-council chamber, in Lentegeur, on Saturday June 29, where those attending heard that an estimated R9 billion budget is set aside for the roll-out of the MyCiTi bus service transporting commuters from Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha to access job opportunities elsewhere.

“It is alarming as people always talk about migrant workers but here we are being relegated as migrants to work in the central business district (CBD) and elsewhere in the city. We have become like fodder pumping billions of rands into other business districts and not creating jobs, employment right here, where we live,” he said.

The MyCiTi Phase 2a project will unfold over the next decade until the end of the 2026/2027 financial year, linking Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha to the Metro South-East Integration Zone (MSEIZ) with Claremont and Wynberg in the southern corridor of the city.

DAG researcher Querida Saal reviewed planning and budget documents to address Mura’s call for an environment, which would attract investment for the creation of sustainable job opportunities.

This was a goal, which was set during Mura’s “Re-imagining Mitchell’s Plain Summit” in November last year (“Plan to get ’Plain to take off”, Plainsman, November 21, 2018).

“Processes of socio-economic division and social exclusion mark contemporary human settlements across the city and it is important to ensure that any proposed development option addresses the potential socio-economic polarisation,” read the mandate.

Ms Saal reviewed the budgets for national, provincial and local government as well as the City of Cape Town ward allocations for participants to better understand the area’s economic profile.

She flagged Town Centre as a nodal growth point, which will receive R1 751 672 in this financial year, and which is, as of Monday July 1, a special rated area.

Major projects over the medium-term include the Beacon Valley Housing Project at a cost of R90 million and the Mitchell’s Plain Waste Water Treatment Works Improvements (Phase 2) at a cost of R69.1 million, among others.

Irfaan Mentoor, interim secretary general for the Mitchell’s Plain Integrated Development Forum, said there is a lot of money in Mitchell’s Plain, in terms of work opportunities, with the building of infrastructure.

“We need to ensure that labour is not imported,” he said.

Mr Mentoor said the investment in the Town Centre is rather small, “which is the core centre, where poor people go shopping”.

He said informal traders are already financially challenged as banks are moving out of the central business district of Mitchell’s Plain and major retailers have already left.

He said with the building of infrastructure like the MyCiTi corridors and the housing development came economic opportunities because they are labour intensive, which means income.

“My plea is let us ensure that they do not import labour and that we build Mitchell’s Plain,” he said.

Most of the ward allocations were budgeted to cover parks, the installation of closed-circuit television systems, minimal expenditure on the youth and unemployment.

Mura member and Rocklands resident, Linda Jones, said there had been no consultation on what should be in the budget for Mitchell’s Plain.

“We have a job crisis in Rocklands. We have a housing crisis in Rocklands. We have a drug situation in Rocklands,” she s
aid.

She added that it was frustrating because residents were not challenging the services given to them.

“You must say this is what I want for my community. We need youth upliftment. On every corner they are gambling or selling drugs. Our youth have been drawn into gangsterism. They have been taken over and taken out by the gangs,” she said.

DAG also gave feedback on asset mapping, a tool used to understand who is in the community and what do they have; and land analysis of vacant plots of land in Mitchell’s Plain.

Crystal West, DAG programme director, said often communities have assumptions about their resources and assets.

They looked at Rocklands and Lentegeur specifically, at its local assets, including hospitals, government building and services, business, schools, colleges, human service agencies, libraries and parks.

“We have small stones in our sling shot and need to use them effectively,” she said.

The City owns 690.68ha of land, with many of the plots smaller than 1ha. The biggest land parcel is 60ha and is located in Strandfontein; then a 38ha and a 31ha pocket.

Provincial government owns four land parcels but not very big for any significant development. The biggest land parcel is 0.02 ha.

National government owns a total of 200ha, a total of 69 parcels of land, with the biggest being 7.8ha.

Transnet and the South African Rail Commuter Services own a variety of land parcels to maintain its functions.

However, these are mostly insignificant with the largest being 0.3ha.

There are 1 532 vacant land parcels in Mitchell’s Plain, which total 643.11ha.

Only 128 of these land parcels are bigger than 1ha.

A hectare of land could accommodate about 60 social housing units or 30 Breaking New Ground Units.

Mitchell’s Plain is largely a residential area with a few commercial and open spaces spread across the community.

Ms West said large tracts of land in the area are zoned for agriculture.

She said the big 60ha land parcel owned by the City is zoned for utility services.

“In terms of vacant land, many of the vacant land parcels are zoned open space which means that if any development should happen it would require a lengthy rezoning process,” she said.

Mura’s deputy chairman, Michael Jacobs, encouraged participants to take the messages to their communities and organisations.

“This is not just a meeting or a talk shop. It is for us to create consciousness, a new awareness to keep our office holders accountable,” he said.