/ 7 December 2017

New resistance to spatial transformation claims in City of Cape Town saga

Cracking cartels: The Competition Tribunal penalised construction firms for colluding on contracts to build 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums such as the Cape Town Stadium.
Cracking cartels: The Competition Tribunal penalised construction firms for colluding on contracts to build 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums such as the Cape Town Stadium.

Divisions within the City of Cape Town are becoming even more apparent, with transport and urban development mayoral committee member Brett Herron saying that spatial development policies have indeed received resistance.

Herron has therefore backed what Mayor Patricia de Lille believes about the matter.

This despite the DA’s federal council chairperson James Selfe last week labelling as “nonsense” De Lille’s claim that there were attempts within the party to undermine spatial integration.

On Tuesday, an affidavit by Herron surfaced. It forms part of a mammoth unfolding saga involving claims and counterclaims between top City officials.

‘Apartheid spatial legacy’ tackled

He said his appointment as transport and urban development mayoral committee member came into effect on January 1.

Since then, Herron’s affidavit said, he had worked tirelessly to carry out De Lille’s “call to tackle the apartheid spatial legacy and the inequalities in our spatial form”.

This involved ensuring that urban planning and zoning considered the integration of residents from different areas and income levels.

‘Resistance and opposition’

“I… wish to confirm that the new spatial development transformation policies, of which I am involved, as more fully detailed below, have received much resistance and there are several people who have expressed their opposition thereto and accordingly I do not believe the mayor’s comments to be without merit,” Herr’s affidavit read.

Last week Selfe said De Lille had suggested in public communications that an investigation into maladministration involving top City officials “is an attempt to undermine the DA government’s efforts to spatially integrate Cape Town’s communities”.

“This is patently nonsense, as a basic reading of the documentation shows,” Selfe had said.

His view was therefore also different to that of Herron’s.

No precautionary suspensions

Earlier on Tuesday, it emerged the City of Cape Town council had decided, during a special confidential meeting, not to suspend three officials in a matter relating to maladministration allegations.

Two weeks ago, the City of Cape Town council unanimously resolved that the City’s performance audit committee be instructed to appoint an independent investigator to probe allegations against the executive director of De Lille’s office, Craig Kesson, City manager Achmat Ebrahim, and Melissa Whitehead, the commissioner of the transport and urban development authority.

They were then given seven days to provide reasons as to why they should not be placed on precautionary suspension.

On Tuesday it was announced the council resolved not to place Kesson, Ebrahim and Whitehead on precautionary suspension.

The suspension of Lindiwe Ndaba, the portfolio manager for probity, was also lifted.

Independent investigation

An independent investigator was still probing the matter and had until December 29 to do so.

City speaker Dirk Smit had ruled that all documentation presented at Tuesday’s confidential meeting be made available to the public in the interest of transparency.

Herron’s affidavit was one of these.

In it he also denied several allegations contained in an affidavit by Kesson.

Kesson’s affidavit focused mainly on De Lille and included scathing allegations against her.

These included that she had planned to publicly discredit a senior City staffer, who questioned alleged tender irregularities. Another claim was that De Lille had asked that a report into a possible R43m loss regarding another tender be made to “go away”.

De Lille then issued a statement in response to Kesson’s affidavit, saying that his “false” disclosures could not be viewed as the actions of a whistleblower, but were instead a criminal offence.