Meeting scrapped as key stakeholders ‘absent again’

A meeting at the Cape Town Civic Centre to discuss a number of high-level issues affecting Hangberg was abandoned last night, Wednesday May 2, due to the absence of key stakeholders whose presence had been requested.

In previous meetings, the Hangberg Concerned Residents Group has repeatedly requested that stakeholders from the City of Cape Town, SANParks, Western Cape government gather to provide concrete feedback on housing, land and service delivery issues.
On Wednesday, City councillors were called away to an urgent caucus meeting, and while departmental directors were present, the absence of SANParks, in particular, frustrated members of the Concerned Residents Group.

The transfer of land from SANParks to the City is seen as vital to the roll-out of the Hangberg Informal Development Area (HiDA) project. The State organ is also involved in aspects of the Hangberg Peace Accord, with some residents believing it has reneged on what is set out in the document.

The group has now given the City, as the facilitator, a minimum of five and a maximum of seven days to reconvene the meeting with all stakeholders present.

Group member Lee Smith told the meeting facilitator Freddie Prince, the City’s director for area based service delivery, area north, the fact that not all stakeholders present was a “slap in the face” to the Hangberg community.

“The fact of the matter is we cannot discuss the Peace Accord without all the stakeholders present. This meeting was designed so that these issues could come to a head. If the City cannot facilitate such a meeting, then tell us who we must approach.”

Mr Prince said reconvening the meeting in five days would be a challenge, as the City was having to contend with a number of protests across the metro.

City officials added that they could only invite SANParks officials to the meeting, and could not force them to attend.

However, residents group member Roscoe Jacobs pointed out that at an earlier meeting the mayor said she would take personal responsibility for the involvement of SANParks, and given her position, she was able to engage with state organs at the top level.

Mr Jacobs repeated Mr Smith’s sentiment that if the City could not bring the stakeholders together, the City should rather be honest and say it was incapable of doing so.

Another group member, Conroy Meter, questioned why the City seemed to have no problem gathering stakeholders together when it met with the Hangberg co-ordinating committee, including the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF), on Thursday April 12.

The Peace Accord and getting clarity on the election of the PMF had been placed as items on the agenda of Wednesday night’s meeting prior to it being abandoned.

With winter approaching, and thousands of Hangberg residents having to counter the cold in “inhumane conditions”, it was imperative that concrete steps were taken immediately to assist the Hangberg community, the residents group said.