What kind of city are we build­ing and whose in­ter­ests are be­ing served?

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION - DEVEL­OP­MENT AC­TION GROUP Cape Town

THE District Six com­mit­tee’s court vic­tory and the vi­o­lence re­lat­ing to Bo Kaap protests are in­di­ca­tors of three key things that aren’t work­ing in the ur­ban devel­op­ment sec­tor at the mo­ment.

Firstly, the City of Cape Town is the cus­to­dian of all de­vel­op­ments in the city. It ul­ti­mately grants all rights for devel­op­ment, which in turn shape the fu­ture devel­op­ment of neigh­bour­hoods through zon­ing schemes.

Given the cur­rent leg­isla­tive frame­works, why is the state re­spond­ing with vi­o­lence? Why is the City not me­di­at­ing and tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for its role in grant­ing devel­op­ment rights? While gov­er­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion can­not in­flu­ence in­ter­dicts, they can foster a di­a­logue through coun­cil­lors and ad­min­is­tra­tors.

The need for en­gage­ment can­not be re­placed by polic­ing and the use of force.

The fact that law en­force­ment agents in­tro­duced bru­tal force against res­i­dents can­not be con­doned. It is unac­cept­able.

Se­condly, this might sound like a bro­ken record, but the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the City of Cape Town and civics has been com­pletely frac­tured.

In Bo Kaap, this is not the first lit­i­ga­tion or re­sis­tance, which clearly high­lights that the City of Cape Town has failed to ad­dress the grow­ing con­cerns the com­mu­nity has about larger scale ex­clu­sion­ary de­vel­op­ments which are es­ca­lat­ing prop­erty prices and erod­ing the rich so­cio-cul­tural her­itage of the neigh­bour­hood.

The City is not tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, as it has done in many other in­ner-city neigh­bour­hoods, by sim­ply let­ting the mar­ket dic­tate.

Lastly, this frac­ture be­tween state and cit­i­zen is lead­ing civics to­wards lit­i­ga­tion.

Over the last year, Bo Kaap is one of eight civics that are cur­rently con­sid­er­ing tak­ing the City to court.

One needs to un­der­stand that civics with lim­ited re­sources only use lit­i­ga­tion and protests as a last re­sort. A court judg­ment will only be of use if the ad­min­is­tra­tion is ready to abide by it both in spirit and ac­tion.

This raises key ques­tions about what sort of city we are build­ing. Will the City of Cape Town, and all other spheres of gov­ern­ment demon­strate new ways of en­gag­ing with re­gards to ur­ban devel­op­ment?

Given the leg­isla­tive en­vi­ron­ment, are the civics pre­pared to en­gage or will civics be forced to use lit­i­ga­tion for ev­ery devel­op­ment process?

Look­ing for­ward, this dis­con­tent about cur­rent devel­op­ment pat­terns will only en­cour­age more sol­i­dar­ity in civil so­ci­ety and build stronger coali­tions of civics.

The civic coali­tion re­sponse to bet­ter gov­er­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion will be un­prece­dented and far-reach­ing.

| HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

Bo Kaap res­i­dents protest de­vel­op­ments that put their spa­tial her­itage at risk.

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