Proposed budget ‘doesn’t consider poor’

Bo-Kaap residents protest against the development in Lion Street.

Bo-Kaap residents took to the streets on Thursday April 19 to show their unhappiness over the City of Cape Town’s draft budget and the development in Lion Street in the Bo-Kaap.

Placards, on which were written “We reject City of Cape Town Maladministration”, could be seen flying around as cars passing in Wale Street hooted and some drivers cheered the protesters.

This comes after Mayor Patricia de Lille tabled the R49.1 billion draft budget which has proposed tariff hikes on municipal services such as water, electricity, sanitation, rates and refuse collection.

“The City claims that the building on Lion street will be affordable for residents but the cheapest apartment is R1.5 million, but they say it’s affordable housing,” said Hardie Dolly, a Bo-Kaap resident.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA) held a meeting on Tuesday April 17 where a number of these issues were discussed.

“The meeting noted with concern the anti-poor stance of the City and their determination to impoverish our community and we reject it,” said Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the BKCRA.

Mr Shaboodien said the development in Lion Street is monstrous and will have disastrous effects on the surrounding roads, homes and the environment.

He further questioned how the City could pass heritage, traffic and environment plans for the development.

On the issue of the proposed tariff increases, the BKCRA said the hikes will affect the people who are already struggling to make ends meet. “Why must we be punished for the City’s maladministration? asked Mr Shaboodien.

A resident in Bo-Kaap, Noor Osman, said the proposed hikes are “ridiculous and unacceptable” and there is no way that people will be able to afford them.

“There’s no consideration for the poor, the houses may look nice and bright in Bo-Kaap, but the bottom line is that these are people with low incomes,” he said.

“We are extremely angry, the Bo-Kaap community is angry at the way they have treated us and now they’re allowing massive buildings to go up and they do this without consideration for the input of the residents,” said Mr Osman.

He said the City drafted what they call the Heritage Protection Overlay zone (HPOz) and they have not even instituted it even though it’s been more than three years now.

“When it comes to rates, the City of Cape Town is now treating the Bo-Kaap residents the same way as the people from Europe with a lot of money and it’s very unjust,” said Bo-Kaap resident, Ismail Achmat.

The residents said they feel like they are slowly but surely being removed out of Bo-Kaap.

“This is the same thing as the Group Areas Act during apartheid years, except that they are now using money instead of the colour of one’s skin,” said one resident.