Chair’s Report June 2019

from Tauriq Jenkins – A Civic…It’s a curious place of broad representation, a magical place of meaning, placemaking, and for the OCA in particular – heritage protection and the protection of the vulnerable. We fight the bullies. The civic is a space for the community. 

The subway project has been a wonderful community initiative that reclaiming a space of trauma into an artistic place of renovation. Thank you to all the artists and members of the community who are participating in this!

The issues around Malta Park brought to the CoCT last year remain unresolved. The fencing of Malta Park remains a tense issue among residents. The building of the Astroturf without an answer to the question of a hydrology report remains unanswered. 

A PAIA request was submitted to CoCT asking for clarity on the Circus, as well as, whether the City has precinct plans for the area. Issues around the circus include health and sanitation, the Circus tent, as well as if any eviction process is underway. The City has responded to our requests claiming the issue is subjudicae. 

Although we have asked for the legal verification of this, our PAIA asking for legal documents as proof was declined.

I have copied extracts of the response by A MNGQINYA, the DEPUTY INFORŇATION OFFICER (Designated in terms of section 1711) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000) from the City below regarding this :

Dear Sir

We refer to the above matter and your request for access to information in this regard.
Your request for the records was referred amongst others, to the City of Cape Town’s (City’s) Corporate Advisory Services, a unit in the City’s Legal Services Department; Horticulture recreation and parks, Community Services and Health; Urban development management and contracts. We were subsequently advised by the office of the City of Cape Town’s Recreation and Parks Department and the legal services department that all the information/ records requested as they relate to the above-mentioned premises form part of a process that is not yet finalized. According to the Legal services department, one of the legal documents that relate to the above-mentioned premises is still in the draft format. The City of Cape Town has, therefore, not finalized any process relating to the above-mentioned premises.

The PAIA application response further states:
We, therefore, regret to advise that your request for access to information is hereby refused in terms of sections 44(1) and 44 (2) of the Act. Your request is refused on the basis that it is reasonably expected that the disclosure of this information will frustrate the deliberative process. Further to this, discussions and meetings between the relevant parties and officials in various departments of the City of Cape Town are still ongoing for the purpose of reaching finality regarding the issue of the tenants on the premises under discussion. If you are not satisfied with this decision, you have a right of internal appeal in terms of section 74 (1) of the Act. Your appeal may be lodged with the relevant authority, the Speaker, within 60 days after receipt thereof.

Suffice to say that we are unsatisfied with this response, and will be appealing this.

DAG and Social Justice Coalition are engaging the social issues surrounding the Circus, the current occupancy, and the various challenges affecting the site. They will provide feedback on their assessments when the reports are completed.

Brought to our attention has been a correspondence between a Mayco member and residents regarding the Circus, suggesting that groups in the community are delaying it being sorted out. The OCA is asking the City for clarity on this. This is synonymous to various accounts of the Ward Councillor sending messages to residents with facts that are not facts, fueling much conjecture regarding the Circus. We have requested the City on numerous occasions for information regarding any local spatial development plans on the Circus precinct. 

The ‘possible application’ in ‘draft form’ for the demolition of the tent (which has since collapsed) at this stage seems to be the ‘legal action’ as it stands. 

On Friday the tent succumbed to the South Easter, and in its falling caused some infrastructural damage to the front patio of the building. Two layers of low brick walls were smashed during the collapse of the tent. Fortunately, no injuries were incurred. There is no doubt that the velocity of the fall would have killed or maimed someone. Prior to this incident, the OCA (initiated by our head of comms, Edwin Angless) had sent emails urging the City to respond urgently to the concerns.

HPOZ Violations
The Anson remains a contentious issue with its extra floor currently being built. A violation of the HPOZ had been approved by both the MPT and Council. The OCA has asked Cllr Chapple to provide an affidavit in this matter to assist the Observatory committee and the OCA in restoring this violation. This request remains unfulfilled. 

Our Community Centre
The Observatory Community Centre is currently running into problems because of the unclarity surrounding the City’s relationship to the OCC. The OCC at the moment sports a number of constitutions which have either not been signed properly or have evidence of their adoption at a ratified SGM. The MOU with the City is expired. Most concerning is that a constitutional change occurred with no evidence of an SGM. The changes include removing the OCA and the Business Forum from the board, reducing Obs residents representation,as well as, taking away custodianship of the Village Green. OCA and the existing board have agreed to rectify this, and have formed an interim committee and are committed to reinstating the original constitution. The interim board agreed to hold an AGM this month but sadly this has been halted due to information by our Ward Councillor stating a new policy for community centre buildings is in the process of adoption by the City. We are unclear as to how long this adoption process will take. 

The Two Rivers Urban Park and the River Club remain critical concerns. I asked in the previous Ward Forum meeting that SubCouncil 16 Chair, Cllr Kempthorne please provide clarity on who ordered the hiring of Adv Peter Kantor to act on the City’s behalf at the Ministerial Heritage Tribunal on the River Club. The City of Cape Town was in support of the withdrawal of provisional protection of TRUP, and in support of the River Club development. Currently, the River Club application to the Municipal Planning Tribunal for rezoning has been paused. The most recent report is that only once the HIA and EIA reports have been approved, the rezoning application will recommence. We would like to know what is the City’s position with regards to heritage protection of TRUP? It must be noted that Malta Park, Hartleyvale, and Circus and swimming pool all fall within the Two Rivers Urban Park and hence are protected under the current status recently re invoked by Heritage Western Cape Council. 

State Capture and TRUP
On behalf of the OCA, I have submitted a request to the Zondo Commission to investigate the sale of the publicly owned (PRASA) land on which the River Club is situated. The recently re invoked protections of TRUP by the special Council of HWC is a major victory for us and it goes without saying that any precinct plans are required to go through a legitimate public consultation process. In a post 1994 South African society, we live in an environment that demands restorative justice. I believe Observatory stands on the right side of history.

The OCA is in the process of implementing improvements to the current constitution. A public meeting was held this month on the proposed draft. We encourage all OCA members to read the new draft and comment. 

With your support, and encouragement, the Obs Civic continues to hold the line. 

Chair, OCA