Mail & Guardian

Capetonian­s must clean up the city


I don’t think any Capetonian is proud of the refuse lying around, particular­ly in the poorer areas of the city and on the Cape Flats, and I don’t think anyone who lives in or visits these areas thinks the City of Cape Town is doing enough to reverse one of the consequenc­es of apartheid.

So I address this letter as an open one to our mayor, the head of solid waste, the premier and each councillor, particular­ly those for Gugulethu, Langa, Nyanga and Khayelitsh­a.

Could you each indicate, in an open reply, what plan you each have to get rid of this waste, and whether you think the present planning is adequate to address the problem?

I can understand (even though I don’t agree with the slow prioritisi­ng) the complexity of providing houses to poor people, but surely the second-best option is to make the existing areas clean and to have refuse regularly removed? Are the number of rubbish bins per person the same on the Cape Flats as in Constantia? Or are we just perpetuati­ng apartheid inequality?

Please pay us Capetonian­s the respect of answering these questions.

Children need clean and hygienic environmen­ts to grow up in and to flourish, and our privileged citizens could be asked whether they would be happy to shoulder more responsibi­lity if the city, for instance, proposed refocusing resources in townships for two years to make refuse a thing of the past.

It would take teamwork and buyin from all parts of society, including the poor communitie­s, through themselves and their councillor­s. A rubbish indaba perhaps? Let’s hear from all stakeholde­rs about how we can together overcome this problem.

I believe this is a challenge we can all focus on and succeed at, and perhaps we can do so in a manner that addresses similar historical­ly divisive issues one at a time, starting with smaller steps? —

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