Skip to content





Speech to Council by Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis<p>Molweni, goeie more, as salaamu alaikum, shalom, good morning, </p><p> <br></p><p>Speaker, we are all familiar with the City's lovely, modern logo. For those who haven't looked closely at it, it features a Table Mountain motif running in colourful concentric rings that come together around a central circle to remind us of the protea. It conveys our city's natural beauty and diversity, and gives us a sense of focus. </p><p> </p><p>Before modern logos and designer slogans, before any homo sapiens of any creed or colour ever lived here, Cape Town's beautiful and distinctive mountain has presided over this bay and has become the global symbol of our city home. </p><p> </p><p>It is now officially the number one tourist attraction on the African continent – towering over the ancient pyramids of Giza, the Victoria Falls (Mosi-o-Tunya), and even the Serengeti National Park. </p><p> </p><p>It is not only a wonderful place to visit, but it also symbolises stability and strength. </p><p> </p><p>Much like our mountain has seen every storm, fire and gale come and go for 10 000 years and more, the mountain calls Cape Town and Capetonians to the values of steadfastness, resolute composure and calm confidence about the future. </p><p> </p><p>And so important are the values of strength, stability, and steadfastness at this moment in our country's history. </p><p> </p><p>It is a sad fact, Speaker, that almost wherever we look in South Africa, we see the opposite — instability, vacillation, and institutional weakness. </p><p> </p><p>Last week, our country's President was found by a committee of preliminary enquiry to have committed a <em>prima facie </em>breach of several legal and Constitutional obligations by hiding hundreds of thousands of US dollars, inexplicably, in his couch. </p><p> </p><p>Soon after, news emerged that the President would resign, leaving many worried about who would replace him. Apparently, the President then changed his mind, but not before the Rand took a nasty tumble against foreign currencies, making many basic goods even more expensive for the country's poorest residents.  </p><p> </p><p>Currently, no one is quite certain who will be leading our country next week or the week after. In many ways, the futures of 60 million South Africans hang in the balance. </p><p> </p><p>This is not the first time that our national leaders have shown themselves to be neither stable, nor steadfast.  </p><p> </p><p>And, this year, several local governments across the country, including in important metros, have been rocked by instability. </p><p> </p><p>In some of these cases, coalition members simply changed their minds about coalitions they had contractually agreed to enter and support. These coalition members believed their short-term political interests in creating political instability were more important than residents' interests in strong, forward looking and principled government. </p><p> </p><p>Madam Speaker, I stand here today grateful to be able to once again say, "not in Cape Town". </p><p> </p><p>One year into office, this council is functioning like it should, and our government has been able to avoid the petty political drama that destabilises governments across the country every day. </p><p> </p><p>In Cape Town, we have lived up to the values represented by our famous mountain. We have been steady, strong, and steadfast in our pursuit of the pledges on which we were elected, and our commitment to make this a City of Hope for All. </p><p> </p><p>We have looked forward with optimism to a more prosperous future for Cape Town, and we have rolled up our sleeves to actively build that future together. </p><p> </p><p>I'd like to take this moment to thank every official of this administration who has played a role in ensuring this year has been such a positive year for Cape Town. </p><p> </p><p>Thank you to all those councilors who have put people before politics by holding our government to account honestly and fairly, with facts and not with innuendo and political theatre. Substantive, honest opposition is an essential part of stable democratic government. </p><p> </p><p>Every resident of this city must know, and can know, that this government will administer public money honestly, and in service of the public. We will never, ever allow the epidemic of corruption that has destroyed the national state and the national governing party, to gain any foothold here.  </p><p> </p><p>I look forward to seeing the results of the Auditor General's audit of the City, which will be released early next year. I am confident that we are running a competent, financially disciplined and clean administration and that the audit will confirm this. </p><p> </p><p>It has been a remarkable year for this council, for our government and for the whole of Team Cape Town. Not only have we made strong and steady progress on our electoral mandate, but there is a real feeling of focused determination, energy and resolve in this building. </p><p> </p><p>We know what our mission is, and we are delivering it day by day. </p><p> </p><p>Our mission is to grow this city economy faster, so we can get people out of poverty and into work, so that every person can be optimistic about the future again, and know that South Africa can work, because Cape Town is showing the way. </p><p> </p><p><strong>Last year, Speaker, our government pledged to make Cape Town safer. </strong></p><p> </p><p>Two weeks ago, we received the latest quarterly crime statistics from the SAPS. Amid a truly bleak national picture, the stats for the areas where we are doing more to make up for SAPS and the national governments' policing failure, show cause for optimism. </p><p>Of course there is still far too much violent crime. But our model is starting to bring down violent crime and remove criminals and guns from our streets. </p><p>Since LEAP was deployed to Philippi East earlier this year, the area has completely fallen off the list of top 30 crime zones in South Africa. Gugulethu has seen a 30,6% decrease in murder in the last year and Delft a 17,4% decrease in murder. </p><p>Last month, we launched our tech-led Highway Patrol Unit, which will help make our major routes a lot safer. Over the next three years, we'll invest hundreds of millions in new safety tech that will enable smarter enforcement, from drones and manned aircraft, to CCTV, bodycams, dashcams and gunshot sensors.</p><p>And we are pushing hard for the devolution of more policing power to our excellent City law enforcement services, as SAPS lacks the resources to fight crime alone. </p><p>We continue to call on national government to devolve full criminal investigative powers to our officers. There is no doubt that if our officers have the power to prepare prosecution-ready case dockets, crime will come down in Cape Town even more. We will continue to fight the good fight in the coming year on behalf of every single resident impacted by crime in our city.</p><p><strong>Last year, we pledged to start doing something about the economic devastation brought about by energy insecurity in South Africa, and begin to end load-shedding over time in Cape Town. </strong></p><p>Since we made that pledge, we have gone out on tender in record time for the procurement of 300MW of privately produced power. We have enabled businesses who produce excess energy to sell all of it back to the City. We have announced the construction of our own solar plant in Atlantis, and we have commenced our wheeling pilot project with several large commercial participants. </p><p>This year, we've protected City customers from more than 1 100 hours of load-shedding. I want to thank those members of Team Cape Town who diligently work to manage our grid to protect jobs and residents.</p><p>Yesterday, our country was once again plunged into Stage 6 darkness. We now face the very real prospect of even higher stages as Eskom announced that one unit at Koeberg is going out of service today for six months of essential upgrades. In response, the City yesterday activated our Disaster Management Centre, which will remain in a state of activation until the threat of a Stage 8 blackout recedes. </p><p>While every effort and every preparation that can be made will be made to protect essential services in the event of an escalation beyond Stage 6, make no mistake – if this were to happen it would be a time of profound and unprecedented social and economic crisis for South Africa. </p><p>As it is, there can be no prospect of national development – and progress out of poverty – so long as this crisis of rolling blackouts persists. </p><p>Every time this happens, our resolve is only strengthened further that Cape Town will show South Africa how the future can be different. We will exploit any and every opportunity to accelerate our efforts to reduce our reliance on Eskom and the national state as fast we can. </p><p><strong>Last year, we pledged to do more to clean up Cape Town, and we have made meaningful progress in this regard.</strong> </p><p>But what has impressed me most is how eager Capetonians are to roll up their sleeves to improve their own communities in our #SpringCleanCT campaign. </p><p>I have said that restoring the health of our waterways and vleis is non-negotiable. In the coming years we aim to steadily close off the multiple sources of pollution to our critically affected waterbodies – including Milnerton Lagoon, where we are building up to the dredging and removal of sediment containing decades of urban pollution.</p><p>We have increased our investment in water and sewage infrastructure to R8 billion over three years and have quadrupled our sewer pipe replacement, and we are also investing in improved responsiveness to sewer spills. </p><p>We are making meaningful progress on achieving more dignified living conditions for the least well off in our city, Speaker, and I think we can all be very proud of what we have achieved this year. </p><p><strong>Last year, we pledged to improve public transport in our city. </strong></p><p>The N2 express MyCiTi service is back up and running, and the expansion of services linking Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain with the Southern Suburbs is well under way. This will go a long way towards addressing the spatial separation that persists in our city. </p><p>We have begun the process of devolving control of passenger rail from national government to the City, which will allow a functional and affordable public transport system with trains as its backbone. The rail feasibility study will be an exciting aspect of our governance programme in the year ahead. </p><p><strong>We also pledged to do the basics better.</strong></p><p>We have made it easier for residents to access the City's services through improvements to our C3 system, by implementing online motor vehicle licensing renewals and account payments. Residents who still want to access services in person can now book an appointment and skip the queue.</p><p>I believe businesses in Cape Town already have the country's most reliable access to the basics they need from the government in order to thrive and grow. I was delighted this week to see that Cape Town officially had the biggest decrease in unemployment in the country in the second quarter of this year. </p><p>There is now a much smaller proportion of people either out of work or who have given up looking for work in Cape Town than anywhere else in the country. This is because investors are choosing Cape Town, and employing people in their businesses here.</p><p>But, Madam Speaker, we know that there is more to be done to aggressively grow our economy and get more Capetonians out of poverty through work. </p><p>Through our ease of doing business programme, we are hearing directly from businesses about what they need to be able to operate better. We are listening to them, and we are changing where we need to. </p><p>We have significantly increased our infrastructure investment because we know that good infrastructure is the foundation of every growing economy. Not only are we putting up the money, but we are ensuring that we have the engineers and project managers we need to make these projects work. </p><p>And we are focusing our efforts on the most economically impactful areas of infrastructure -- water and sewerage, roads and transport, safety, and energy. Not only will this secure a more dignified way of life for many of the City's least-well-off residents, but it will lift more people out of poverty through growth and employment.</p><p><strong>Finally, we pledged to do more for housing in Cape Town. </strong></p><p>Today we can announce yet another well-located property for social housing, with public participation opening tomorrow on the City's plans to release the Earl Street property in Woodstock for development.</p><p>This is the fifth property to reach a critical milestone for land release in just over six months, under our Land Release for Affordable Housing priority programme.</p><p>Around 1 300 social housing units have been approved since May, with 800 social housing units now in the construction phase in Central Cape Town. </p><p>Our newly-launched <em>No Cost Transfer programme</em> will make it easier for tenants of around 7 500 saleable Council rental units to become home owners, without having to pay anything towards the transfer costs of these units. And how it has warmed all of our hearts to see Ms Elizabeth Bruintjies, and Ms Francis Isaacs, and Mrs Gadija Japhta, and many other residents becoming home owners for the very first time in their lives by taking 'no cost' transfer of the homes they live in. Mrs Japhta from Lotus River joins us in the audience today, and we welcome her and congratulate her and her family warmly. </p><p>Speaker, we are also making encouraging progress on plans to expand dignified transitional shelter to help more people off the streets in Cape Town. </p><p>Over the last year, we have shifted the City's policy to care interventions designed to help the homeless off the streets, with the clear understanding that even if this offer of help is rebuffed, we must act to keep public spaces open, clean and safe for all Capetonians.</p><p>There are some in our city who think that we should allow people to claim a piece of public land as theirs and never do anything about it. There are some who think the city should never evict anyone from property that is not theirs. There are some who believe it is a good idea to encourage the further loss of public space to those who would like to claim it, even if it meant that every verge, road reserve, sports facility and public building in Cape Town was lost for broader public use.  </p><p>We do not agree. That is not and will never be our policy. Living on the street is not safe and dignified for those living there, nor safe and dignified for the people living around them. </p><p>Our city's public spaces serve important economic and community needs, and no person has the right to reserve these spaces as exclusively theirs, while indefinitely refusing all offers of shelter and social assistance.</p><p>To expand dignified transitional shelter in Cape Town over the next three years, we're looking to spend at least R142 million to increase the number of City-run Safe Spaces where these are most needed. This is on top of the City's ongoing support to NGOs assisting the homeless, including grant-in-aid funding and support to expand shelters operating on municipal land.</p><p>A large proportion of Capetonians living in the public spaces suffer from mental afflictions, addiction, depression, psychosis, trauma, or familial abuse. This situation severely worsened due to the economic impact of Covid-19 lockdowns. </p><p>That's why, much like NGO-run shelters, the City's Safe Spaces offer dignified transitional shelter, two meals per day and access to a range of care interventions, like social services, mental health care, addiction treatment, job placement, family reunification, help getting ID books – all of these care interventions are designed to reintegrate people into society and help them off streets on a sustainable basis. </p><p>Earlier this week, I visited Green Point CBD to check out a site for a potential new Safe Space, which will add around 300 more beds to help more people off the streets. We already have two expanded Safe Spaces in the CBD area totalling around 500 beds, and one in Bellville with around 200 beds.</p><p>We are now filing the applications required for planning approvals for this new Safe Space in Green Point, which will also include an opportunity for any affected parties to comment. The property is on Ebenezer Road, and is well-positioned to help more people off the streets along the Seaboard.</p><p>We are also making progress on re-purposing other municipal-owned sites elsewhere in the City, working together with NGO partners, CIDS and residents.</p><p>Simultaneously, the City's social development officials are continuing with a city-wide process of conducting individual social assessments of those living on the streets. This includes the reasons for homelessness, physical and mental health, living conditions, and sources of income. This will result in a referral for social assistance, which can include accommodation at a shelter or City-run safe space.</p><p>Many people accept these offers of support.</p><p>But, Speaker, sadly there are also many cases where those unlawfully occupying public spaces have consistently refused all offers of social assistance.</p><p>In these instances, the City will seek the necessary court order, and ensure alternative accommodation at shelters or safe spaces has been offered, where this is just and equitable.</p><p>An example is the public open space on Baxter Street in Durbanville, where the High Court recently ordered the serving of eviction notices for those who have consistently refused offers of social support.</p><p>The City will be approaching the courts for similar orders for hotspots around the City, including the CBD. These processes do take time, as the City needs to establish the social circumstances and identities of those unlawfully occupying public spaces, and ensure there is a record of social assistance having been offered as a first resort. </p><p>This is the only principled way forward on this issue, Speaker, which allows us to protect the public spaces needed for social and economic development, while also showing care for people sleeping rough.   </p><p>Madam Speaker, inspired by our mountain, our government strives to be a strong and steadfast custodian of our great city. And it is in that strength, stability, and steadfastness that Capetonians experience the possibility of hope for the future. </p><p>This year ahead, Speaker, I ask that every councilor here present joins me in recommitting ourselves to Capetonians, their interests, and their futures. We must, Speaker, be the agents of hope. But in order to do that, we must put our own interests last. That is what is required to act in a principled way, in a way that remains consistent with the ideals to which we are called by our Constitution and which forms the only sure foundation on which we will save our country.</p><p>Our first year is behind us. Now we look with great excitement and anticipation to the year ahead, because we know it brings still more opportunity for Cape Town to do more. </p><p>While storms, gales and blazes batter our national politics and our fragile economy, Cape Town stands tall and proud as a living symbol of how we will build the future. </p><p>I wish everyone a blessed festive season, which includes the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, the Christian holiday of Christmas and Hindu holiday of Makar Sankranti. I wish every Capetonian a blessed New Year. And in the words of the hymn I'm sure we all remember, "God be with you till we meet again".</p><p>Merry Christmas. <br></p><p><br></p>2022-12-07T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#90b49a62-96e2-436a-9c68-187c9ab33534;L0|#090b49a62-96e2-436a-9c68-187c9ab33534|Mayor;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb10

You have disabled JavaScript on your browser.
Please enable it in order to use City online applications.