Questions over plaza sale

A section of Uluntu Plaza in Bloekombos.

Sub-council 2 has met for the first time since several DA councillors were suspended late last year for bucking against a party decree to put its anointed candidate in the chairman’s seat.

Grant Twigg, the man the councillors voted for last year, snubbing Clive Justus, settled into his disputed seat as sub-council chairman at the meeting on Wednesday January 18, which was also attended by the suspended councillors, Marian Nieuwoudt, Brenda Hansen, Caryn Brynard, and Xolisa Pakela-Mapasa (“Sub-council chair gets the boot,” Northern News, November 23).

Shaun August, DA chief whip in the City of Cape Town, and its leader in the metro, told Northern News that a DA federal legal commission investigation into last year’s sub-council revolt “is still ongoing”.

But if there’s any bad blood after what happened last year, its wasn’t evident at last week’s meeting – there was no sign of any tension between the suspended councillors and Mr Justus, and the sub-council quickly got down to tackling the issues on the agenda, which included: a run-down commercial property, ward committees and the establishment of a new Northpine improvement district.

* Uluntu Plaza

Erf 20507 in Bloekombos, Kraaifontein, one section of Uluntu Plaza, will be going on sale.

The City put the item on the sub-council agenda for “noting” but a debate on whether public participation should take place ensued among councillors.

Ms Nieuwoudt said that the history of the run-down property, which is zoned for business, was as long as her political career and that a “number” of public participation processes had already taken place.

“It’s a prime piece of land,” she said.

The sub-council decided that the issue should be taken up by the ward committee.

Mr Twigg said: “Send it to the ward committee and allow them to further debate on this.”

Ward 101 councillor Luyanda Mbele, within whose ward the cluster of small shops falls, was adamant there had not been adequate public participation. In an interview with the Northern News, he said: “The process was never taken to the community.” He said residents had told him the area was built for small businesses and they wanted a say in what happened there.

“They are not happy,” he said.

Josef Ngubenkosi, a Bloekombos resident, said before the shops had been built, City officials had assured the community they would be used to help unemployed residents start businesses.

“There is a lot of mischief and corruption that is happening there,” Mr Ngubenkosi said.

He said residents at the time had believed leases for the units would go to those taking part in the meetings because they had been asked to pay towards them. “It would be rented out by the City. That is what we were told.”

But other tenants had moved in and opened businesses, infuriating residents, some of whom had vandalised the units in protest.

“Some people got angry and broke that place down. That’s why it is not being used.”

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said shops, which she referred to as the “Bloekombos business hives” had been built by the then Oostenberg Municipality with co-funding from the Cape Metropolitan Council and the provincial government through the Dignified Spaces Programme in 2001.

“The objectives of this project were to upgrade the urban environment and to provide affordable business infrastructure to emerging entrepreneurs in the Bloekombos area.”

She said there had been extensive public participation before the hives were built and they had been split into three sections managed by the economic development department, which had given contracts to not-for-profit managing agents. However, the agents had withdrawn their services in March last year after “contestations from groupings within the community”. And the non-profit organisation that had managed the facility before then also abandoned the project.

The local sub-council has since recommended that two sections of the property be leased to the various business entities trading there. Presently the business entities trading have established a tenants’ committee to try and self manage these sections,” said Ms Little.

According to her, at least 60 percent of the units were occupied.

“The sub-council has further recommended that the remaining section be considered for outright disposal,” she said.

Ms Little said some of the units appeared to have been vandalised after the NGO’s exit.

“There have been sporadic incidents during maintenance work on site and a group invaded the site demanding work opportunities,” Ms Little said.

* Northpine Improvement District

Mr Twigg said the City had received an application for a city improvement distict (CID) in Northpine.

He said a second public meeting would be held on Sunday February 12, at 6.30pm, at Northpine Technical High School to inform the public of the details of the application and discuss its “practical implications”.

* Over in Kuils River, newly elected Sub-council 21 chairman Malusi Booi, said new ward committees were being constituted and meeting schedules would be finalised soon.

“I wish to encourage all communities to engage with these members who have been elected and to make them accountable, including our councillors,” he said.

Mr Booi said he had visited all the wards and was planning several site visits to familiarise himself with the area and its challenges and let constituents “feel our presence around them”.

Anyone was welcome to visit his office if they had ideas to share or concerns to raise.

“My door is always open, and the same applies for all our councillors.”