Minister 'Aunty Pat' in position to make 'Good' on election promise of spatial justice

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Patricia de Lille takes her oath of office as the new public works and infrastructure minister. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)
Patricia de Lille takes her oath of office as the new public works and infrastructure minister. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

As Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Good party leader Patricia de Lille will be perfectly placed to make good on one of the central tenets of her party's manifesto – spatial transformation.

The news of her surprise Cabinet inclusion had barely sunk in, when a request to talk shop about land was made by former DA colleague and new Western Cape premier Alan Winde.

He said he was looking forward to discussions with her about transferring large tracts of land owned by the national government for housing. "When she was mayor of Cape Town, she led the call for national land to be freed up for housing and we trust that now that she is minister, she will immediately start the transfer process," Winde said in a statement on Thursday morning.

He said there are five mega-properties owned by the national government at Culemborg, Ysterplaat, Wingfield, Youngsfield and Denel – properties that could yield up to 100 000 housing units which would be enough to meet half of the affordable housing demand on Cape Town’s database.

READ: 'I have no plans to give up fighting' - Minister Patricia de Lille

The department of which De Lille will be the political head, is the custodian of all fixed property the state owns – including land and buildings that legislation does not hold another department or institution responsible for.

"This includes the determination of accommodation requirements, rendering expert built environment services to client departments, the acquisition, maintenance and disposal of such assets," according to the department's website.

The department's responsibilities include the upkeep of state-owned buildings for instance, the buildings of Parliament, regulating the building and construction sector and leading the Expanded Public Works Programme – a government job creation programme.

'Time to stop talking and start doing'

After her party won two seats in the National Assembly, she said in a statement: "We continue to occupy towns and cities characterised by radical spatial injustice, as if we have accepted that apartheid separation is normal… as if it is normal for the poorest people to live furthest from their places of employment and pay the highest commuting costs… as if it is normal that all desirable land in all desirable neighbourhoods should be considered 'unsuitable' to house poor people of colour… as if societal integration is not of fundamental importance."

"It is time to stop talking and start doing," she said.

In a statement on its Facebook-page the Good party said a "central pillar of the Good manifesto 'A GOOD Plan to #FIXSA' and our policy suite is the urgent need to address the apartheid spatial plan and spatial justice".

"We have used a simple message that public land should be used for public good and not be sold off to the highest bidder," the statement said. 

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