City irked at shaming

2017-02-21 06:01

The City of Cape Town is appealing a directive that it was in violation of environmental laws in Masiphumelele.

The directive issued by the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs last month, stated the City had caused “significant pollution and/or degradation to the environment, which constitutes a significant danger to the health and wellbeing” of Masiphumelele residents law (“City told to do job”, People’s Post, 7 February).

The directive ordered the City to undertake a thorough and effective cleanup, remove refuse and carry out maintenance of toilets, washing facilities, canals and other infrastructure.

The directive also ordered a progress ­report.

In its response to provincial government, issued on Friday 3 February, City officials said they had already undertaken some of the measures directed and was in the process of doing the rest.

“However, despite compliance having been confirmed shortly after the directive was issued, the City has decided to file an appeal against the directive as it remains in place and has not been formally withdrawn even though compliance has been confirmed,” says Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, in a statement.

The provincial department issued an acknowledgement of the City’s response on Monday 6 February, stating the “City has complied with the requirements” and the “file will be closed”.

“The City also raised the point that it was not given an opportunity to make representations prior to the issuance of the directive, as is required by administrative law,” Limberg says.

Another sore point for her is that an intergovernmental task team on Masiphumelele, which includes representatives from the provincial government, was not taken into account before the directive was issued.

Limberg says: “Masiphumelele is an incredibly complex and challenging area. There is not a single or overnight solution for Masipumelele but there is a great recognition that only through working with government stakeholders in all spheres will the lives of our residents in Masiphumelele be substantially improved, and in an urgent manner.

“The City cannot act only within its own limited resources and mandate to solve the substantial and rapid urbanisation issues in Masiphumelele and elsewhere. Other government spheres have a responsibility to lead, to guide and to assist a local government with issues of extreme urbanisation, hence the establishment of the task team.”

The purpose of the task team is to establish remedial measures to be taken by the national, provincial and local government to apply urgency to the service delivery challenges in Masiphumelele.

“It must be emphasised that the City will continue to remove illegally erected structures in the wetland area or near the site of the phase 4 housing project.

“We are not driven by narrow interests or other agendas. Our agenda is to enhance service delivery and to improve the lives of our residents in a sustainable manner.

“Doing so through partnerships and in collaboration with all concerned is the only way to do so,” says Limberg.

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