Ndifuna Ukwazi’s actions diminish possibility of constructive mediation
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Today, the Western Cape Government notified Ndifuna Ukwazi that it would not be proceeding with a proposed process of mediation in relation to the sale of Tafelberg remedial school site in Seapoint.
The initial decision to proceed with mediation was taken in the hope that issues currently in dispute, around the sale of the Tafelberg site, could be explored without having to enter into a costly and protracted court process.
However, we indicated that this mediation would take place on condition that:
- No court action or application being initiated by Ndifuna Ukwazi or its members during the this process; and
- The normal process of mediation whereby all information shared remains confidential applies.
Contrary to recent statements made by Ndifuna Ukwazi, the reason for this confidentiality requirement is not to hide something or to act “secretively”, but rather to maintain the integrity of the envisaged mediation process.
In fact, we had hoped to achieve exactly the opposite with this condition as it would enable both parties to share documents containing third party information, which by law cannot be publically released.
We believe that without this element of confidentiality, no bona fide or viable mediation process is possible.
While Ndifuna Ukwazi initially agreed to mediation, they would not commit to a confidential mediation process.
They also subsequently came with a list of new conditions last Friday, 11 March 2016, which they now want included in the terms of reference of the mediation proceedings.
These new conditions have thus rendered any prospective mediation process unrealistic and unviable.
For these reasons, the Department of Transport and Public Works has decided not to continue discussions with Ndifuna Ukwazi regarding a mediation process.
Furthermore, the organisation has made a number of public statements and allegations in the media recently, which are completely untrue and require a response:
- Ndifuna Ukwazi has claimed that the sale of the Tafelberg site has been clouded by secrecy, which is entirely untrue. The site was initially made available, along with three other sites, to private sector investors for mixed-use development proposals in March 2014. Further, the Department advertised a Notice of the Proposed Disposal of Provincial State Land, in terms of the Western Cape Land Administration Act, No. 6 of 1998 and its Regulations, inviting interested parties to submit representations in writing, which they wish to make regarding such proposed disposal in terms of Section 3(2) of the Act. At no stage in this process did Ndifuna Ukwazi lodge an objection. They have also claimed that the other three sites have also been sold, which is untrue as no decision has yet been taken in relation to those sites.
- The organization has falsely claimed that the site was earmarked for affordable housing and then sold to a private developer with no strings attached. The site was in fact earmarked for possible mixed-use development. To suggest “no strings attached” is contrary to the intent behind putting it out onto the market in the first place, and the conditions met by the successful bidder in presentations made in their bid documents.
- Ndifuna Ukwazi has also publically claimed that the site has been sold to “one wealthy white individual with no strings attached”. The successful bidder for the site is the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School NPC, a matter of public knowledge, who emerged successful following an open tender process. This statement is therefore not only untrue, but deliberately divisive.
The Western Cape Government is committed to addressing the spatial legacies of apartheid, which still remain today and are the cause of many social problems in the Western Cape. We are acutely aware that there is a shortage of well-located affordable houses close to employment and economic opportunities in the City of Cape Town.
These challenges are compounded by sustained population growth in Cape Town, which saw the City grow by 45% between the last 2 censuses.
We are dedicated to addressing them through projects like the Conradie Better Living Model which will see more than 3000 affordable residential units built. This will be the largest and most innovative affordable housing project of any South African city.
However, not all government property can be leveraged in this way. Other sites are best leveraged for economic purposes that will assist us in funding the many social projects that are so desperately in need of funding, particularly during these tough economic times.
It is unfortunate that Ndifuna Ukwazi has chosen to act in bad faith through their conduct, thereby diminishing any chance of a constructive mediation process. The Western Cape Government has been entirely co-operative and responsive to their requests. We had hoped that they would respond in kind, which has proven to not be the case.
We will await their response and subsequent course of action.