CoCT council meeting - Mayor's Speech, April 2022
Words in bold were said by Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis
The meeting began with a minute of silence for Terence Henry Stringer, a City of Cape Town electricity official, who succumbed to his injuries in hospital on the 16th of April, after vandalised cables exploded while he was attending to an outage in Gugulethu, on the 4th of April.
It was then followed by an interruption by a group of protesters, who wants the Cape Town Mayor to address the city of cape t unlawful occupation by-law, as well as addressing the basic services in informal dwellings.
Now addressing the council at the Cape town civic centre, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis thanked those who came forward with donations for those who lost their homes in the fire in Langa over the 260 structures were destroyed in the Joe Slovo informal settlement over the Easter Weekend, after a fire ravaged through the Langa area. 767 individuals were affected.
Our deepest condolences also go out to all those in KwaZulu-Natal who lost loved ones as a result of the flooding in that province. It is a human tragedy that has shocked the country. I’ve spoken to Mayor Kaunda of eThekwini regularly, and he has conveyed his sincere thanks for the search and rescue team that Cape Town sent immediately after the tragedy to help in the relief efforts.
We thank that professional team for the work they did, the Disaster Risk Management staff who worked on the Langa fire, and all Capetonians who donated for the truck of goods we sent to KZN.
The City of Cape Town has updated its Standard Operating Procedure on noise-related complaints, and it says that the ‘Noise Nuisances’ section of Cape Town’s Streets, Public Places, and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-Law does not apply to Places of worship operating within an appropriate zoning.
Speaker, before I begin, we are just days away from the sighting of the moon and the end of Ramadaan. We have also celebrated Easter and Passover. This period in which all three of the Abrahamic faiths celebrated together, has demonstrated the very best of Cape Town’s cultural, religious and historical plurality.
Early in January, I instructed our policy team to begin work on a new document setting out a standard operating procedure that would resolve once and for all the issue of noise complaints relating to places of worship.
Our goal was clear: To give every faith community in Cape Town the peace of mind of knowing that this issue is now sorted, done, and resolved.
Our new standard operating procedure makes it clear that the by-law provisions on noise disturbances will not apply to correctly zoned places of worship.
This document provides surety and a guarantee of religious freedom for correctly zoned places of worship. It also balances these freedoms by not giving a blanket exemption for un-zoned premises, which is not reasonable or fair in a plural constitutional democracy.
We have now completed this new policy document, and have consulted with the Muslim Judicial Council about it. We are grateful for their statement of blessing and support.
Notwithstanding this, I expect that some will continue to try to foment religious division on this issue. I hope in this holy month, you will all join me in taking a very dim view indeed of those who would abuse religion for political gain.
I’m also grateful to other councillors who have drawn attention to this issue, one of whom has placed the matter on the order paper today for debate.
While we welcome their attention to this issue, I am sure they will share my pleasure in the news I have just announced – and the obvious implication of that announcement, that their motion is moot as the policy document we’ve prepared and which has been under preparation for months, is now finalised, and the matter is now well and truly dealt with.
Hill-Lewis says the City introduced multilingual billboards for road warnings
We are also looking for better ways to demonstrate our commitment to inclusivity in meaningful ways. In Kaapstad vier ons die diversiteit van ons stad se tale en kulture as ‘n bate eerder as ‘n las. Daarom is ek trots dat Kaapstad die eerste stad in die land is met digitale padtekens in Afrikaans en Xhosa. Saam is ons sterker!
E-Kapa sibhiyoza ukwa-hluka kwe-elwimi zesi sixeko njengo-kulu-lutho, hayi umthwalo. Somelele ngobambano!
The City of Cape Town’s administration will soon be six months in office.b Hill-Lewis reflected on work done thus far, and admits that more needs to be done
While there are still many challenges ahead, it gives me great pride to look back at what we have already achieved in this short period, and I hope that all those residents who joined in our many clean ups over the past months, who have joined our committees, and actively share their ideas for a better Cape Town with us, share in that pride. At the same time, I am filled with hope and excitement for what we are still going to achieve in the coming months and years.
As Mayor, I am committed to doing more, and I know that every one of our councillors and city officials shares that commitment.
In particular, I am dedicated to doing more in those policy areas where the national government is struggling to deliver.
This is not because we want to take power for its own sake; it is because we have an obligation to make sure that every Capetonian gets the services they deserve. I refuse to allow our residents to be vulnerable because of another government’s incapacity.
If a local or regional government is able to carry out functions that the national government is failing to fulfil, then those functions should be devolved to that local or regional authority. This is what I call ‘functional federalism’.
Thankfully, the Constitution backs me up on this point. Section 156(4) of the Constitution, states that a municipality MUST be assigned a function when there is agreement between the national and local governments; and where there is adequate capacity at the municipal level to perform the function.
Speaker, there are many people who say that South Africa is either a failed state or is fast becoming one.
It does not matter whether you agree with this assessment or not. What matters is that in Cape Town, we refuse to let it happen. What matters for South Africa is what we do here, to put our country on the correct path.
We need to show people that state failure does not need to be inevitable.
We need to show people that there are places in South Africa where things work, where citizens are listened to and responded to and where services are delivered for everybody.
And so, in the City of Cape Town, we are doing all we can to effectively fulfil all the functions traditionally assigned to local governments. But, we are going further than that: we are starting to move into policy areas that have historically been out of our scope.
Take policing, for example. In terms of the Constitution, policing is primarily a national competency under the Minister of Police and the South African Police Service.
Local government police have traditionally been limited to policing bylaws and traffic violations. Through writing and passing new local and provincial legislation under DA administrations over the past decade, and ensuring the proper interpretation of national legislation, we have empowered our officers to go beyond these previously limited responsibilities.
Now the Western Cape will be receiving 1 118 new recruits during the course of the current financial year. This was confirmed by Western Cape’s police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Thebisile PatekileHowever, this amount is 821 less than what was budgeted for
This is why the City of Cape and the Western Cape Government has worked together to deploy 1000 extra LEAP (law enforcement) officers to the 11 worst crime hotspots in our city.
And we have already seen what dedicated boots on the ground can achieve.
While crime in the rest of the country is on the increase, we have seen a marked decrease in our crime hotspots.
This is evident in the 40,5 percent reduction in crime in Kraaifontein, a 24,1 percent decrease in crime in Nyanga, a 21,1 percent drop in crime in Khayelitsha and a 14,5 percent cut in crime in Harare – all areas where we have deployed dedicated LEAP units.
Some of these hotspots have now dropped off the murder-capital lists that they have dominated for a decade.
While this progress is encouraging, it is too soon to celebrate. We must keep going until every man, woman and child in this city feels safer in their homes and in their neighbourhoods.
This is why we will continue to find more money in our budget to train and deploy additional police officers. In my address to Council on the tabling of the draft budget, last month, I announced that the City of Cape Town will be providing for 150 new officers and 80 new auxiliaries, for a total of 230 new officers in one year.
We have allocated R66m to expand our training college so we can produce more officers over three years, including staff, programme, and property improvements; R50m is allocated for the expansion of our CCTV and Licence plate recognition camera network in 2022, R36m on new Crime-fighting aerial technology, R7,6m on a new and innovative drone programme and
R78m on dashcams and bodycams.
We are also starting a new protection unit for frontline staff and community facilities.
We will continue with our plans to take more metro police officers out of their offices and onto the streets where they can take the fight to criminals.
Hill-Lewis says its not just police officers being deployed in hot spot areas, but itas also those that live in the community, such as neighbourhood watches
We want everyone who lives in a LEAP deployment area to know and feel the greater safety that this investment is delivering.
We want residents to know that they live in a LEAP area, and we want criminals to know it too. Don’t even try it, because you will be caught.
That is the whole point. Capetonians can feel safer because of this investment.
So we are not stopping at just boots on the ground. We want to develop those communities themselves, and build partnerships with active citizens.
We want to work more closely with neighbourhood watches in LEAP neighbourhoods.
We are going to dedicate millions more for neighbourhood watch equipment and training specifically in LEAP areas.
And our small business support teams will move in and give training and support to entrepreneurs in those communities.
And our sewage pipe replacement and infrastructure investments will improve basic services and dignity in those areas.
This is a whole of society approach to bringing violence down and making communities safer.
The Cape Town mayor also touched on electricity, and specifically load shedding. Hill_lewis says he met with Eskom members and discussed what can be done to transfer Eskom customers on to the City’s system.
Hill-Lewis is on a mission to make cape Town a load-shedding free city
I don’t need to spell out here how the national government has failed to manage the country’s power supply.
All of us feel the inconvenience of load-shedding on a regular basis, and we see the impact that load-shedding has on service delivery, on businesses and on jobs.
The City of Cape Town refuses to have our local economy bled dry, small businesses suffer and manufacturing jobs leave our shores because of the national government’s inability to ensure a reliable and stable supply of electricity.
We are already in a position to provide our customers with relief from one level of load-shedding. Last week, when Eskom customers were facing six hours of load-shedding a day on stage 4, City customers were on stage 2 and 3.
This is thanks to our Energy Directorate’s excellent maintenance of the Steenbras Hydro Pumped Storage Scheme. Going forward, we will invest heavily in the refurbishment and upgrade of Steenbras to keep Capetonians protected from that extra stage of load-shedding.
This week, I met with Eskom and we discussed what can be done to transfer Eskom customers on to the City’s system, so that every Capetonian can be protected from a stage of load-shedding.
The City’s Energy team is doing a detailed analysis of Eskom supply areas, and Eskom has pledged their support and co-operation in providing the information necessary for this analysis, and in working together towards a transfer process after that.
Of course, ultimately, we want to go much further in protecting our residents. We want to go from protecting them from one stage of load-shedding to free them from load-shedding altogether over time.
And so we are moving as quickly as possible to bring Independent Power Producers (IPPs) on board, adding more independently generated electricity to the grid, and further reducing our reliance on Eskom. This is a journey that will take time. That is why it is so important that we start as early as possible and move with real ambition to get this done.
I announced in my budget speech last month that embedded commercial generators will no longer be compelled to be net consumers of City-supplied power; in fact they will be incentivised to be net producers. This is a major policy shift that will see a huge contribution being made to our energy grid, and combined with the other interventions I have just mentioned we will make Cape Town the first load-shedding free city in South Africa.
Hill-Lewis announced steps to take over the rail network in the city. Treasury granted the city a feasibility study for the ailing PRASA system in Cape Town
it was revealed that In June 2019, Prasa was operating 444 train trips on a weekday in Cape Town, in early 2020, (pre-pandemic) this had dropped to 270 daily trips, and that this year there are no more than 153 train trips across the city on a weekday, a 66% reduction in availability of the service.
And so I am very pleased to announce here today that the City of Cape Town is now ready to proceed with a detailed feasibility study for the devolution of the metropolitan rail function to this metro.
Like with ending load-shedding, projects of this ambition take time, and so it is essential that we start immediately. We have already issued the tender and the work will begin as soon as the new financial year begins on 1 July this year. I do not think this first part of the project needs to take a long time and I know that our Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Cllr Rob Quintas and his team will ensure not a second is wasted here. Let’s get it done as quickly as possible, so we can move on with getting the trains working.
In recent days there has been a sea-change in policy statements from the national government – we are now seeing regular and substantive verbal commitments to privatization in South Africa, not from us (who have been calling for this for years), but from the national government itself. Their resistance to this has cost South Africa dearly, and has left all of these essential services in a state of advanced collapse. But we are greatly encouraged that they are now embracing the idea, and we want to make sure Cape Town is at the forefront.
The truth is this: government should not be in the business of running businesses. Government is there to regulate, set the rules of engagement, ensure competition and fairness, provide essential infrastructure, and uphold the rule of law.
We hope the recent statements are meaningful, and not just lip-service being paid to economic reform. We will certainly test the sincerity of these statements, and we intend to do it soon.
Early signs are very encouraging. A letter received from the Minister of Finance this week not only gives us a green light to conduct the passenger rail feasibility study, but fully endorses our intended policy direction in favour of devolution of this critical function.
In the letter, Minister Godongwana expresses the view on behalf of the National Treasury that a study of this kind is essential and should be carried out by the City. Furthermore, that a municipality should be assigned a function by agreement, and as long as there is adequate capacity at the municipal level to perform the function, which there no doubt is here.
The Minister further added that the policy intent in the White Paper on Transport Policy and the draft White Paper on Rail Policy, is for public transport to be devolved to the lowest level.
This is a big deal, because up until now, the national government had tried to block the feasibility study. There is a new wind blowing, we hope.
It seems that some sections of the national government agree with my analysis that functional federalism is the way to go. I hope that, in time, more of their colleagues will adopt the same stance and devolve more functions to us.
Our aim is to ensure that the trains run on time, that they are safe to travel on and that they are the preferred mode of transport for our citizens. This is essential if we are to connect our city and our residents to one another, to unlock economic opportunity, to relieve the congestion on our roads, and to unstitch the legacy of Group Areas.
Hill-Lewis concluded his speech by giving words of hope of how he aspires the City of Cape Town to be.
Speaker, I am a huge believer in this beautiful country of ours. I know that we face many challenges as a nation but I am convinced that, if we work hard, we can fix any problem.
It starts here at local level. I want Cape Town to become the standard-bearer for good government in South Africa, a place where things work and every citizen is given a fair chance to live a better life.
That does not mean we are in competition with other spheres of government.
We are all South Africans, and we should all want our country to succeed.
It is my hope that Cape Town is given the space and the resources to show South Africa what good governance looks like. We will do this by collaborating with our colleagues in national and provincial government, and sharing knowledge and expertise with other cities.
I fully intend for this City to take greater control of its own destiny as envisaged in the Constitution. Let us be a beacon of hope for every citizen of this magnificent country.
And if there is to be the sweeping economic reform in our country that revives the dry bones of our economy and sets South Africa finally on the path of prosperity, then let it start here in Cape Town, and let it start with us.
Done By: Mitchum George