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Faatimah Hendricks
 
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'Dear Tony Ehrenreich...'

29 April 2011, 09:26  - Faatimah Hendricks
Dear Tony Ehrenreich,

I like you. I do. You are very clearly so passionate about the needs of the disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape and that is the type of person we need in power - a pro-active individual who will address the needs of this city and deliver on basic services which have been lacking since... forever. Based on this I would really love to vote for you.

However, your extreme views on “affluent areas” are worrisome for me. I happen to live in an affluent area in the Northern Suburbs, the part of Cape Town you publicly speak out against - the “elite/white wealthy” residents of Cape town who are “friends of the Democratic Alliance”. Yes, those are direct quotes from your press releases in my inbox.

It’s really not fair of you to make such a massive generalisation. I, for one, know plenty of people on this side of the world who are not regarded as part of the “elite wealthy” and who do not support the DA. In fact, here are loads of “poor whites” who are pro-ANC and anti-DA and there plenty of non-whites who live here.

For now I just want to touch on one tiny issue that you have made a big hoo-haa about on numerous occasions - transport infrastructure in the townships vs transport infrastructure in the affluent areas, home to the apparent DA supporters.

You have always been openly critical of the bicycle lane that was constructed to run from Milnerton to Cape Town’s Central Business District. You’ve expressed your dissatisfaction with the City of Cape Town that “prioritises bicycle lanes for white wealthy citizens whilst poorer communities on the Cape Flats are subjected to overcrowded and unsafe public transport every day of their lives”. Here’s another lovely quote of yours: “These larneys of Milnerton all have cars anyway, so they should not be the most urgent consideration of public funds.”

The “poor, mainly black and coloured communities” are fortunate enough to have trains, buses and taxis running every few minutes. They start their rounds early in the morning and end off late in the evenings. I wish I could take public transport to work but I can’t because in my neighbourhood there are no nearby train stations, taxis are virtually non-existent and there’s one bus every hour starting from 06:00 only.

I am not white, wealthy or elite. I can barely afford to own a car, much less keep it filled with petrol, but I have no choice. I have a job to get to by a certain time every day in Salt River. I really wish public transport could be more accessible for my neighbours and me, and I would love to do my part in saving the planet and using a car as seldom as possible.

I think there is a great need for a bicycle lane or any other infrastructural developments that would reduce traffic and our carbon footprints, as well as making public transport way more accessible. We have a right to these services as we pay tax - probably more than those living in the poorer communities. So why can’t we benefit from that public funds? Why do we have to be excluded from development projects if we contribute towards public funding?

Of course the disadvantaged communities must be upgraded and developed. I support that 100 % because my roots lie in the Cape Flats. But we in the North can’t be completely overlooked and sidelined.

Please bear something in mind. Not everybody living in Milnerton, Table View, Blouberg and its surrounds are rich or white. Poverty is widespread and it knows no race. Everybody is battling to survive these days. We are all affected by the ever-increasing costs of living and there is a large informal settlement here called Du Noon that will also benefit from any social upliftment projects.

Lastly, could you please try to refrain from referring to the “blacks”, “coloureds” and “whites”? You are calling for the integration of the different races and classes which is cool. But you have got to stop with the race labelling. The more you refer to individual races, the more you’re making us sound to be a divided nation. We should all always aim to be united - whites, coloureds, blacks, yellows etc.

When I read your press releases targeting the “white elite of Milnerton” I get a great sense of animosity towards them from you. I’m not sure if I want someone like that, who discriminates against certain races and classes, to be my leader. So come May 18, who will I be voting for to be my mayor, the person who will look out for the needs of my community? That is the million-dollar question.

Yours sincerely,
Faatimah Hendricks


- Faatimah is a journalist and works at a community media house. She blogs here and tweets here.

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