a Word from our Chair

Dear Obs residents

I am writing to give you a quick update on matters to do with the River Club and circulate an invitation to sign another petition:

  1. The application for heritage grading of the Two Rivers Urban Park by HWC, submitted in early 2020 by a coalition of over 60 First Nation groups, Civic associations and environmental NGOs remains in limbo. The CEO for HWC resigned and there is an acting CEO who has not responded to our queries. We will continue to pressure HWC to act.
  2. We have not heard further about the HIA as part of the TR-LSDF which was rejected by HWCs last year. Basically, that Local Spatial Development Plan is key to deciding the future of the whole area. The City and Province tried to rush through a plan which would change the rules to enable the River Club approvals to sail through, but they have failed to get HWC approval.
  3. The Department of Public Works and Transport in the WC have gone to the high court to take on review the findings of the Heritage Appeal Tribunal on the matter of the Provisional Protection Order over the River Club issued in 2018. The final Directive, released in April 2020, dismissed the appeals by the developers, the City and two provincial department but also criticised government departments playing politics and attempting to divide and rule. No clearer evidence that government is hell bent on getting the River Club approved. Now DPWT is taking that finding on review. Why are we not surprised?
  4. The Minister for Environment and Development Planning (Bredell) appears to be dancing on egg shells trying to find a way to get the Environmental Authorisation through the appeal. He has written to HWC asking for more comments (how much more does he need???) and appears to be using the DPWT high court review to rescind evidence showing the EA decision was biased.

But I am writing to alert you to another petition that OCA is running, which is linked to the River Club.

The Cape Town City Football Club received a lease from the City in 2017 without any public participation for two fields at Harleyvale and Malta Park. In doing so, the decision displaced amateur clubs who were using those fields. The fields which had been open to the public (zoned as public open space and as community use, respectively) were suddenly fenced off and locked, and Malta Park B field converted to astroturf.

The lease ran for just under three years and came to an end in December 2020.

If the lease had run for three years or more, regulations mandate a public participation process, so it’s clear the City did its best to give Cape Town City Football club a hand up without any public objections. Also, the rental that Cape Town City were expected to pay was laughably low – about 10 fold lower than what the City charges the OCA to run the local parking lot as a social enterprise. So, public funds were used to subsidise a commercial football club without any public engagement.

We have asked for answer many times but have been stalled by a City which refused to be transparent about their plans. Why is this the case? Have they agreed again to some deal out of the public eye and contrary to regulations on how public assets should be managed?

We are running a petition to protest any future renewal of the lease without a public participation process.

Why is this relevant to the River Club?

Because the investors in the Cape Town City FC share an interest in the River Club development and the commercialisation of a future stadium on Hartleyvale (one of John Comitis’ plans) will fit with the Mixed Use development planned across the road in the floodplain.

But the City are not playing open cards (forgive the mixed metaphors here).

OCA and partners, including FC Kapstadt, the main amateur club affected, are demanding a transparent participation process as per the law. Nothing exceptional, no favour, just asking the City to follow the law and not find loopholes to let John Comitis get away again with a backroom agreement that no-one has seen.

If you feel you wish to support our campaign, please do so at https://obs.org.za/please-sign-our-petition-objecting-to-the-extension-of-a-lease-at-malta-park-to-ct-city-football-club/

Leslie London – OCA Chair