A city unequal along racial lines is neither desirable nor sustainable, says GOOD's Brett Herron

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GOOD mayoral candidate for Cape Town addressed the Cape Town Press Club.
GOOD mayoral candidate for Cape Town addressed the Cape Town Press Club.
Jan Gerber
  • GOOD Cape Town mayoral candidate Brett Herron said the election was an opportunity to choose the "future trajectory" for the city.
  • He was speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday.
  • "A city that juxtaposes wealth and poverty along racial lines, arguably more starkly than anywhere else on earth, is neither desirable nor sustainable," he said.

For GOOD Cape Town mayoral candidate Brett Herron, the 1 November polls is an opportunity to choose the "future trajectory" for the city and break the "binary social, economic, spatial and environmental injustices in which we are trapped".

Herron addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday.

"We are living in the most extraordinary times since apartheid. Our foundations feel shaky. The extent of poverty and unemployment, and the level of inequality, threaten our sustainability, and many have lost faith in our politicians or institutions to fix things," he said.

He said we are hopefully exiting the most devastating period of Covid-19, which would allow people to rebuild the city and their lives, but it left residents with an existential question.

"That question is, what kind of city do we want to rebuild? Are we hoping to go back to the way things were? Or, are we reaching for something better? Perhaps something more inclusive, kinder, and resilient to the future shocks we anticipate - but have failed to do enough to adapt to."

READ | Brett Herron is GOOD's candidate for Cape Town mayor

He said the coming elections presented a "rare opportunity for synchronicity".

"As voters, we get to make choices about the future trajectory of our beautiful city at exactly the point in time when very difficult and profound decisions about that future need to be made."

Herron said: 

It is an alignment of opportunity. We are running out of time to bridge divides. We are running out of time to grasp the prosperity that's within reach. We are running out of time to future-proof our city in ways that are just and sustainable.

Herron said while he had been told not to fight with the media, some "gentle chiding" for its role in "perpetuating the narrative that Cape Town is the most fabulous, best-run city to live in" was called for.

OPINION |  Brett Herron: Green Point and Greenpoint - A tale of two cities

"It depends where you sit. Sure, we have suburbs that rival any in the world, but we also have dire slums. People who live with raw sewerage trickling down the street battle to equate their circumstances with this so-called world-class city. People who spend half their income on a broken public transport system to get to work will likewise struggle to see the glory."

Herron told how he met Capetonians from all walks of life while on the campaign trail.

"These people have more in common than most of them think, or most political parties allow. Regardless of their bank balances, they depend on each other to develop an environment conducive to human development, dignity, security and prosperity." 

He said: 

They may not interact much, but it is just as much in the interests of the people of Bishopscourt that Bishop Lavis is properly serviced and developed as it is in the interests of the people of Bishop Lavis, themselves. And the same goes for everywhere else.

He said local government's role was to provide the physical infrastructure on which the economy could thrive, ensure that the playing field was as fair as possible so that nobody got left behind and, if they did, that there was protection.

"Providing for peoples' basic needs is not just a matter of conscience, but also of necessity if we are to avoid large-scale social unrest and revolt in future. A city that juxtaposes wealth and poverty along racial lines, arguably more starkly than anywhere else on earth, is neither desirable nor sustainable."

READ | Elections 2021: Tit-for-tat as DA's links to C Town property developers heats up News24's first Town Hall

He said GOOD's policy was based on four pillars: spatial justice, economic justice, social justice and environmental justice.

Their policy proposals included restructuring water and electricity tariffs to make them more affordable.

They would also implement participatory budgeting, which would allow residents to choose the spending priorities of a government and issues like how a local government raised funds through rates and taxes through a collaborative process.

"Climate change is no longer a long-term risk. It is happening now, and the way in which we respond will shape our socio-economic future," Herron said.

GOOD supporters pictured in Cape Town in the run up to the elections.
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

"We must make Cape Town South Africa's leading destination for what is a growing wealth of green capital."

He said this must begin with energy – the sector that contributed the most to global emissions.

He said national government had finally allowed municipalities to procure its own power, after GOOD leader Patricia de Lille won a court case to that effect during her term as Cape Town mayor.

"GOOD will use this opportunity to radically reshape Cape Town's energy mix - rejecting coal and moving to a position where all of our electricity is generated with sustainable materials.

"Private sector investment will be welcomed, and regulatory priority with be granted to these projects."

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