Letters to the editor: December 11 to 17 2015

De Lille abuses her office

The letter from Patricia de Lille, the mayor of Cape Town, through her spokesperson (‘Dirt’ on the DA doesn’t stick), in response to the Mail & Guardian’s article on the Bakoven bungalow debacle, clearly articulates the mayor’s disregard for due process and her (and her senior cabal’s) disconnection from the communities of Cape Town.

What the letter does not state is the fact that, on De Lille’s instruction, the city entered into litigation with various affected neighbours and the Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association.

She did this against the clear advice of her legal department to defend a flawed and incorrect decision made by the Good Hope subcouncil. All of this is contained in court papers and the KPMG forensic report commissioned by the city.

When it became apparent that the city could not prevent the local Democratic Alliance ward councillor, Marga Haywood, from giving damning evidence in the Western Cape high court, it hastily abandoned the case and tendered legal costs to the applicants.

The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from this bizarre action can only be De Lille’s need to protect the DA councillors in the subcouncil from being exposed for corruption and bias.

The KPMG report and the court papers clearly show that this is not a “he said, she said” matter, as alleged by De Lille. KPMG’s report reveals that councillor Errol Anstey conceded that he made biased statements in favour of the Strongs, the owners of the bungalow, who, by their own admission, contribute to the DA’s coffers. The unnecessary stress and trauma caused to law-abiding ratepayers by the developer-friendly DA administration, not to mention the financial commitment required of private individuals to fight a city that blithely uses ratepayers’ money to fight its own citizens, is shocking in the extreme and should result in the mayor falling on her sword.

The estimated cost of this exercise in futility, including the cost of the KPMG report, runs into millions of rands and constitutes fruitless and wasteful expenditure on De Lille’s part. This is surely a case for investigation by public protector.

In addition, taking into account two recent cases before the Western Cape high court, namely the attempted cancellation of the Camps Bay Bowling Club lease and the Wynberg MyCiti debacle, in which the mayoral committee’s decisions, bulldozed through the DA caucus, were reviewed and set aside by that court (with sharp condemnation of the city’s disregard for its constitutional obligations in terms of public participation), then a clear picture of abuse of executive power by the mayor comes sharply into focus.

The arrogant statement that “we will consider our governance model a success” belies the reality that the DA-led city, under De Lille, can only offer trite and disingenuous comparisons with ANC rule, rather than set their own decent standards for inclusive, transparent and accountable governance in Cape Town.

The proposed sale of public land in Clifton for private development, despite being protected under heritage laws and being against the wishes of the majority of stakeholders across the entire city – and the accompanying public participation sham – is a good example of this mayor’s leadership style. – Chris Willemse, chairperson of the Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association

Salute to a truly great patriot

One of the people who ensured that Nelson Mandela was freed and that our people are free today was Thami Mkhwanazi (Memories of Robben Island). His writings are still inspiring, yet such a person is not admired and respected like some “com-tsotsis” who are pickpocketing the public purse.

When people were called to take up arms against the apartheid regime, Mkhwanazi responded to the call and it landed him on Robben Island. His writings about life on the island gave us insight into the lives of those who were jailed for their beliefs.

Mkhwanazi exemplified how to be a great patriot. As members of the Azanian Students Organisation and later the South African National Students Congress, we used his writings for political education.

He gave us an understanding of our leaders’ qualities. Mandela, the “bulldozer”, was arrogant at times, but fearless, militant and disciplined. Walter Sisulu was a strategist, Govan Mbeki a theoretician and Oliver Tambo a unifier. Mbeki and Harry Gwala’s political education classes produced a leader such as Kgalema Motlanthe and transformed black consciousness activists such as Mosiuoa Lekota, Popo Molefe, Saki Macozoma, Eric Molobi and Amos Masondo into Freedom Charterists.

Mkhwanazi revealed that Sisulu believed in media diversity and freedom of the press. The secrecy laws of the Jacob Zuma era contradict what Sisulu stood for. Without a free media, we would not have known about the corruption of Nkandla, Guptagate or many other scandals.

When the Post and the Weekend World were banned by the apartheid state, people such as Mkhwanazi felt it was time to fight for media freedom. We salute not only Mkhwanazi but also Percy Qoboza, Zwelakhe Sisulu, Ruth First, Joe Gqabi and many other journalists who helped to build our house of freedom.

Ndonga, senatle sa linatla! Ulale ngoxolo! (Ndonga, man among men! Rest in peace!) May your soul propel us to advance and protect media freedom! – Siyanda Mhlongo, KwaDukuza

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