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B Cameron
 
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This city works for who?

04 July 2014, 11:33

Some corporate slogans are merely just clichés, a lot of noise signifying nothing. Take for instance the City of Cape Town’s slogan “This City Works for You”. But the slogan belies a stark reality for many Cape Town residents whose experience with City has been otherwise. 

Below is a real life example to illustrate the point. The following story is based on a true account of actual events, although the names of persons have been changed to protect their real identity.

On Monday, June 30, 2014 The New Age newspaper announced “R34m Belhar-Pentech Project to Start soon.” According to the report the project will provide 340 singe-storey homes and that 177 beneficiaries have been approved. Local counsellor says that a Project Steering Committee (PSC) has been monitoring the beneficiary application process. It all sounds very rosy and promising. Unfortunately, this is no “and they lived happily ever after” story for the Moolman family.   

The Moolman’s is a Coloured family of four, they are backyard-dwellers, who have been living in a Wendy House on the backyard of another household in Belhar, Cape Flats for over three years now. Shawn, the husband and his wife Leanne, both in their 50’s, are self-employed. In other words, they’re both formally unemployed, trying to eek out a meagre existence. Shawn was retrenched due to work restructuring at his previous employer in 2009, and after hundreds of job applications and countless interviews haven’t been able find a job ever since. They have two sons, Brad, 20, and Liam, 16.

This family have been on the City of Cape Town’s Housing waiting list since 1993. With their nominal combined household income, they qualify low income housing. Shawn has been to Belhar housing office to check whether their names are included as beneficiaries for this new Belhar-Pentech Project. Instead, he was referred to the Bellpark Housing Office, Bellville. In turn, they referred him to the Housing Department in Wale Street, Cape Town. Last week Shawn visited the Wale Street Housing Department. But all these respective housing offices confirmed that although Shawn’s name was on the City of Cape Town’s waiting list, but his name was not included in the Belhar-Pentech Project.

When Shawn enquired why they were excluded, council functionaries gave him a contact name and telephone number of the Housing Project Manager who is not contactable or reachable.

The City recently changed its slogan to “Making progress possible. Together.” A change of logo makes no makes difference for people who do not benefit from promised service delivery.

So far, no one within the City of Cape Town’s echelons of bureaucracy has been able to assist the Moolman family or give a reasonable explanation. All their requests for assistance have been buried in red tape. In the meantime, last month their landlord gave notice to vacate the premises within 30 days or face being evicted.

This city works for who?

To compound the situation, their eldest son, Brad, completed Matric last year with Bachelor’s Degree pass, with excellent results – Mathematics B, Physical Science C, Computer Aided Tech A, and C symbol for other subjects. He is currently studying towards a Electrical Engineering National Diploma at CPUT, Bellville. Last year the City of Cape Town offered bursary opportunities for Engineering studies. So,  naturally Brad applied but sadly received no bursary nor any reply for the City of Cape Town.

This city works for who?

Brad’s parents had to borrow the registration fees he could at least proceed with his studies. On registration day Brad applied for Financial Aid from National Student Financial Assistance. And he was assured that, with his good matriculation results, he should qualify for Financial Assistance. This did not materialise.

This is not the provincial government we voted for in recent 2014 elections. We did not endorse this kind of municipal disservice when casting our ballots. Sorry, but this city does not work for its deprived and disadvantaged residents. It has failed residents like the Moolman family.

The author, B. Cameron, is a writer and management consultant with over 20 of experience in the mobile and digital industries.  He can be reached at bertramjc@gmail.com.

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