​Tafelberg school site decision to be guided by Constitution, says Helen Zille

A decision on the disposal of the old Tafelberg school site in Sea Point, Cape Town, has not yet been taken, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Sunday.

She was commenting on a report in the City Press newspaper suggesting that the property interests of a former senior official in the public works department may have influenced government in relation to potential future uses of the site.

“There has been no undue influence in the decisions around the property to date, nor will there be as the process unfolds,” Zille said.

“Any decision will be based on our constitutional and legal obligations, including a consideration of the public comment received. We have sought to follow a fair and open process, to the extent that we agreed to re-open public participation when a member of the public said she had not been afforded the opportunity to comment. I seek and follow legal advice at every step of the way in complex governmental processes, and this one is no different,” she said.

The provincial executive would make a determination on the property once all of the about 5000 submissions had been fairly considered, and in accordance with the Constitution and other applicable laws. All the legal advice received at every stage of this process would also be available to the executive.

Zille said the official in question had not been involved, or even employed by the transport and public works department when the decision was taken to include the property in the provincial regeneration programme’s mandate, or the department’s initial proposed disposal of the site to the provincial executive. These decisions on the property either pre-dated, or followed, the official’s employment at the department.

“The official is also not involved in any way in the current process regarding Tafelberg. As per his current employment conditions, his only role is to co-ordinate the delivery of a major affordable housing project at the site of the old Conradie Hospital. His expertise has had a significant and positive impact on the project.”

Zille said both the province and the city were making major progress on affordable housing developments in the vicinity of Cape Town’s CBD. One of the flagship projects was the Better Living Model on the former Conradie Hospital site in Pinelands, a nodal suburb of the inner city. This was a mixed-use development that would include over 3500 residential units, green public spaces, transport infrastructure, and schools.

The city had also recently announced plans to develop the inner city’s foreshore precinct, which would include affordable housing. An expression of interest had been issued for proposals from the public.

“We are committed to our housing mandate, as derived from the Constitution. The economic success and jobs created in Cape Town’s CBD has led to higher demand for well-located, affordable housing. The solutions we are driving are unique in South Africa, with the ability to make a real impact on the legacy of apartheid spatial planning in the city,” Zille said. – African News Agency (ANA)

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