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Friday, April 12, 2024

It’s all blatant lies, says the Mayor

HERMANUS – No document with a development proposal for the Schulphoek informal settlement has served before the Overstrand council and allegations that the Municipality has changed the scope of the project to a so-called site and service development are blatant lies, the Mayor last night told a packed Hermanus Auditorium.
Dr Annelie Rabie’s so-called ‘information sharing session’ on Schulphoek follows shortly after an event organised by Sandbaai’s Schulphoek Action Group (SAG) earlier in January where the Municipality was accused of withholding information about the Schulphoek project and unilaterally changing the scope of the project from a so-called mixed-use development to one where the existing informal settlement would simply be upgraded (Upgrading of Informal Settlement Plan – UISP).
After hitting out at her detractors and again accusing people of attacking her personally, Dr Rabie said: “Whether we like it or not, people living in Schulphoek won’t be going away. We need to manage the situation in all 13 informal settlements in the Overstrand.” (Ed: Many would say the present informal settlements are not being managed at all. In Kleinmond we’ve certainly seen rapid growth without any intervention by the Municipality).
Dr Rabie told the meeting the tender document for the appointment of an implementing agent specifically referred to a fully integrated mixed-use development that catered for different residential types, including site and service, single erven, single and double-storeyed homes as well as four-storeyed walk-up flats. She said that based on this tender the Municipality last year appointed ASLA as the implementing agent.
The Mayor admitted that she had acted wrongly when she initially wanted to exclude Ward 7 (Sandbaai) from the new social compact she had established after taking office. “I was wrong – and did take it back to council”.
Briefly referring to the previous social compact, which she had scrapped to start anew, she said the previous social compact had been rejected because it had, according to her, not been signed by all the parties. That compact was initiated by then Western Cape Premier Helen Zille after the 2018 riots. Rabie said previous mayor, Dudley Coetzee, has confirmed that none of the deliberations or decisions of the previous social compact had ever served before the Council. (Ed: and was thus for all intents and purposes null and void and nobody seems to be asking Dudley Coetzee and his senior staff at the time why this was the case, as they were part of the meetings. It boils down to the fact that in Municipal affairs, you don’t trust a man’s word or even his signature. If it hasn’t served before the Council and a decision taken it is more or less worth nothing).
Pierre Blaauw from implementing agent ASLA also briefly addressed the meeting to explain how the process actually worked. He said that they would first survey the Schulphoek community to establish a profile of who was living there at the moment. Based on this their urban planners would draw up possible development plans which would then serve before Council. Public participation would be an integral part of the whole process, he said. None of these processes has even started.
Ed: Why was this meeting even called? To tick a box? It makes no political sense. Why herd a bunch of angry, stirred-up people into an auditorium to tell them nothing has happened? There has been no movement whatsoever. Nada, zilch, zip. Absolutely nothing has changed in terms of Schulphoek. It appeared as if the meeting was about grandstanding and political point-scoring.
A simple presser early in January with this information would have cleared things up and put an end to all the name-calling and accusations. In fact, judging from the questions asked by members of the public, a monthly or quarterly press statement on the progress made at Schulphoek would probably be a good idea.
While the Mayor made her political points and sat down, the poor Municipal Manager, Dean O’Neill, who looked stressed and at breaking point, had to deal with the fallout and the angry people. And how convenient for the Mayor to say sorry I can’t comment on the development as I’m the appeal authority on land use development. redakteur@overstrandherald.co.za

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