Premier Helen Zille has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to “examine” state-owned mega-properties in Cape Town that could yield up to 100 000 affordable housing opportunities by provincial government estimates.
The President made this commitment in the National Assembly yesterday (22 August) while answering a question from the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Cape Town is particularly well endowed with land suitable to what the President is describing for “rapid land release”. There are five large tracts – all owned by national government (the Department of Defence and Transnet) – and all in strategic locations for affordable housing close to economic opportunity.
“Our calculations indicate that the sites known as Culemborg, Ysterplaat, Youngsfield, Wingfield and Denel could yield 93 817 affordable housing units. This will be a game changer for urban land reform – enough housing for up to half of the 200 000-plus families in Cape Town on the Housing Database who earn too much for a free house, but could qualify affordable housing,” said Premier Zille.
When asked about this land in the National Assembly President Ramaphosa had remarked “clearly I'm not au fait with the pieces of land ... I would like to examine that”.
Premier Zille said in reaction: “The President seemed strangely unaware of these mega-properties, which his government should actively be working on releasing. Populist talk of expropriating land might be convenient, but the debate is sterile because national government is sitting on land which holds the solution in a major metro like Cape Town.”
“I will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request an urgent meeting, in order to brief him, so that he becomes familiar with these pieces of land and how it will go a long way in addressing the urban housing need,” added Premier Zille.
The Premier said the Province has developed an affordable housing model that works for large tracts of well-located land. The model enables both government and private sector cross-subsidies to bring down the cost of units targeting the “affordable” housing market.
“Ever since I was mayor of Cape Town between 2006 and 2009, I have been trying to secure the release of these sites for this purpose. The release of this land would facilitate the kind of land reform that will build, rather than break, South Africa’s economy,” said Premier Zille.