De Lille invokes the 'Queen of England' as she spars with DA over land in Cape Town

2019-11-05 22:22
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. (Adrian de Kock/Netwerk24)

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. (Adrian de Kock/Netwerk24)

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The Queen of England has been drawn into the battle between the DA and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille about six land parcels in Cape Town.

Shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed former DA mayor of Cape Town De Lille to his Cabinet, the party started asking her when the department would release the land parcels of Ysterplaat, Denel, Culemborg, Youngsfield, Wingfield and Upper Darling Street.

On Tuesday, IOL reported that City of Cape Town mayoral committee member Malusi Booi wrote to De Lille to urgently request the release of those land parcels for housing.

In her response, De Lille did not mince her words and urged Booi to complete affordable housing projects in the city centre, Woodstock and Salt River.

"Please do not play crèche politics. I'm done with that. Also, did you get permission from your masters to write to me? Show me your housing plans that can deal with apartheid spatial planning," she wrote, as reported by IOL.

During a question session in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday afternoon, KwaZulu-Natal DA MP Tim Brauteseth said the parcels of land could deliver about 93 000 accommodation units in addition to 9 852 units already being built or planned by the City.

"The minister, of course, knows this," he added. 

Brauteseth then referred to a letter she had written to former president Jacob Zuma while still mayor, asking him to release the land.

He said his colleagues, DA MP and spokesperson on human settlements Emma Powell and Booi, also asked her to release the land.

"You accuse them of crèche politics. But can we just get serious? Will the minister please tell the House why she's flipping and flopping on this issue that will determine the quality of life and dignity of so many Cape Town residents?" Brauteseth asked.

With a slight chuckle, De Lille said: "I will respond because I know I'm not at a primary school today. We want to see more integrated cities, we want to deal with apartheid spatial planning."

She added some of those properties were owned by the SA National Defence Force and was therefore not under the custodianship of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

She said through an act of Parliament "the Queen of England, during the colonial days … gave the military parcels of land all over the country".

"And I'm looking at that act to see how we can repeal it because I'm not here to serve the Queen of England. I'm here to serve the Constitution of this country. The land is the property of the army now."

She believed the Constitution superseded that law.

"But in the meantime, there are at least 3 000 parcels of land in the City of Cape Town that is available right now to build houses. Right now!" 

Earlier on Tuesday, Powell said in a statement the DA had written to De Lille earlier this year requesting clarity on whether her department intended on releasing six land parcels under its custodianship for housing.

"These land parcels, including a property in prime Upper Darling Street, could yield in excess of 93 000 affordable housing opportunities for low-income Cape Town residents," she added.

"Minister De Lille responded to this request in October, noting that the department has no plans to release these land parcels and properties."

De Lille's spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, said: "The DA should note that great progress has been made by the inter-ministerial committee on land reform with regard to approvals to release of land owned by the national government for human settlement.

"Various processes are underway between departments on an administrative level to make land available for human settlement and the various ministers will make announcements in due course and in a manner that will ensure that the tracts of land are not exposed to illegal land invasions ahead of planned developments for beneficiaries.

"The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is committed to the process of releasing available land under its custodianship for the public good and all efforts will be made to ensure that we do our part as quickly as possible," she said.

Last month, De Lille announced the Cabinet had approved the release of 167 portions of state-owned land amounting to 14 105 hectares.

"These parcels of land are currently in the custodianship of the department and will be released for human settlement development purposes on a gratis basis subject to various administrative processes being concluded," she said at the time.

The Western Cape will receive the highest number of these parcels, more than 40, which includes the City of Cape Town, Drakenstein, Saldanha, Stellenbosch and Theewaterskloof municipalities. 

Read more on:    da  |  patricia de ­lille  |  land

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