’Plain people hopeful as budget is tabled

Kayaking at Strandfontien pavilion are Janine Overmeyer and Marlene Josephs, from Strandfontein. Behind them is Leah Pietersen, from Rocklands. Mitchells Plain councillors say, that for years they have been lobbying for economic investment in the area, especially along the coastline and at Strandfontein Pavilion.

Mitchell’s Plain councillors, residents, ratepayer associations and members of local ward committees are hopeful that their submissions will be tabled in the City of Cape Town’s 2019/2020 budget this week.

Elton Jansen, councillor for Ward 43 (Strandfontein and parts of Philippi) and chairman of Sub-council 23, said it was time for the DA- elected government to reward its voters with economic development opportunities.

He told the Plainsman on Wednesday May 15 that he has made the same submission regarding development on the False Bay coastline since he became councillor almost four years ago.

Public comments on the 2019/2020 draft budget were due on Wednesday April 24. All councillors will decide on the budget tomorrow, Thursday May 30.

“I am positively optimistic that the City will hear the calls from the community,” Mr Jansen said.

He said every year, since 2016, he has submitted the same plea: “to open economic opportunities for the people of Strandfontein at Strandfontein Pavilion and find creative ways to involve the community”.

Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) deputy chairman, Michael Jacobs, said they had engaged with Mayor Dan Plato and his mayoral committee members (Mayco) to discuss a holistic plan for Mitchell’s Plain, including safety and security, local economic development, housing and land reform.

He said there should be a draft document tabling the roles and responsibilities of the community and councillors to help drive issues in the area. “We want to propose and ensure there can be meaningful engagement with the elected representatives,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said Mura had also called for a moratorium on the release of all land in Mitchell’s Plain and that housing developments should be a priority.

“We need a tartan track, better sporting facilities, arts and cultural theatres for our youth to express themselves and safe spaces for them to nurture their talents,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said Mitchell’s Plain, just like any other coastal town, needed to capitalise on its resources and that it too could become part of the tourism route. “The community must have a stake in it,” he said.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 (Beacon Valley, Eastridge and Town Centre), said the local central business district (CBD) needed to be a special rated area (SRA).

Town Centre having SRA status would mean property owners would contribute additional rates to fund further services such as public safety, cleaning, maintenance of infrastructure and development of social and environmental services. “Safety and security is also a priority for me and constituents,” he said.

Mr Philander said he would like to equip neighbourhood watch members with equipment to help keep their communities safe.

Danny Christians, councillor for Ward 81 (Rocklands and parts of Portland), said he started lobbying for facilities on the coast where blacks reside in 1985.

He said back then development was never funded by the government and that the False Bay coastline was reserved for whites but because of urban sprawl, they feared for their safety.

A moratorium for any development on the coastline was forced.

“I vehemently objected to this moratorium as it has manifested itself as an agency of selfish, irresponsible and self-preservative attitudes that destroy and marginalise the lives of the poor,” he said.

Mr Christians said this mentality of the economic imbalances between rich and poor wreaks of economic confusion.

He said the coastline was presently a “ghost coastline” with sparse economic opportunities but that it could be turned into a “gold” coastline. “This is the jewel of Mitchell’s Plain as are the platinum mining rights for the Tswana people,” he said.

Mr Christians said the struggle continues but residents had to be vocal about their rights and speak to their rights when commenting on the draft budget.

City media manager, Luthando Tyhalibongo, said submissions could be made in person by attending sub-council and other public meetings and online.

He said online submissions primarily referred to tariff and rates matters. “As far as it concerns the public meetings, the dominant matters raised were about sewer blockages, illegal dumping, water and sanitation in informal settlements, employment and youth programmes; housing and tenancy programmes; among others.”