Petition calls for vote of no confidence in PMF

Members of the Hangberg community gathered at the sports and recreation centre on Tuesday to give their insights on Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lilles proposals.

A meeting this week to report back on proposals made by Mayor Patricia de Lille in respect of the way forward for Hangberg resulted in a decision to start a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in the Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF).

In addition, the petition, which seeks to gather 5 100 signatures from Hangberg residents – half the number of people living in the area – would mandate lawyers to act on behalf of residents in future negotiations with the City of Cape Town and look at ways of amending the Hangberg Peace Accord.

Tempers have flared in Hangberg over the make-up of the PMF and a failure of housing projects to get off the ground, and a residents’ group has sought to compel the City to provide answers.

This comes after the residents’ group, which has now been recognised by the City, met with the mayor, several of her mayoral committee members and departmental heads at her offices on Thursday March 15.

During this meeting, the mayor made several proposals, which the residents’ group in turn then presented to the broader community at the Hangberg sports and recreational centre on Tuesday March 20.

These include:

* Ms De Lille will personally oversee the transfer of SANParks land to the City for the purposes of development in Hangberg;

* That new formal housing sites – one near Sentinel Primary and the other on the existing temporary relocation area – would be developed; and

* The City has come up with a “Plan B” to negate issues surrounding the stalled transfer of land from SANParks and the roll-out of the long-overdue Hangberg Informal Development Area (HiDA) project. Access to the area for construction purposes would now be created through the section of land already belonging to the City, and roads and pathways would be built in this sector.

The Hangberg residents’ group has enlisted the services of a legal team to assist them, and presented Ms De Lille with a document suggesting that all role players – City, provincial government, SANParks, PMF and concerned residents – meet within 30 days to discuss a motion to amend the High Court order of 2011 which stipulates how Hangberg would be administered in the wake of the 2010 riots.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, members of the residents’ group took the community through each of these points, welcoming any feedback they might have.

They were at pains to explain to the audience that they were merely reporting back on the mayor’s proposals, and it required the buy-in of the entire community before anything was agreed to.

Resident Maria Ann Brown insisted that whatever plans were established in respect of housing, only the Hangberg community should benefit, as people were tired of “outsiders” coming in and taking advantage of opportunities.

The audience also had concerns about the City’s proposed Plan B for the HiDA project, and what would happen to residents once construction got under way, and whether they would have to be temporarily relocated.

Conroy Meter, of the residents’ group, said it was just such a question they would be taking back to the City. “We are here bringing feedback from the City, not answers,” he said.

Another residents’ group member, Neil Williams, implored the audience to understand that the sooner new leadership was elected for Hangberg, the better it would be for the community.

“We are not going to do things like they’ve been done in the past. The HiDA is the biggest obstacle to this community, and we need a leadership to go out and get it right,” he said.

To this end, the residents’ group has mooted the establishment of what is being called the Hout Bay Development Forum – an umbrella body comprising political and civic organisations, religious and sports bodies. This would include representatives of the PMF.

Residents’ group member Roscoe Jacobs said two representatives of each organisation would sit on the forum. They would also look at ways of including people who did not belong to any particular organisation.

One audience member raised a concern that as long as the PMF was represented, nothing would be achieved.

The residents’ group’s Lee Smith said it was a “reality” that the PMF’s constitution was structured in such a way that its leadership did not need a mandate from the community.

“The Hout Bay Development Forum is the only way we can think of to get opportunities for all the people of Hangberg. With so many representatives from different organisations, the PMF will essentially be knocked into second place in any decision-making processes,” he said.

His sentiments were shared by Mr Meter. “Very little can be done to change them (PMF) internally. But with the forum, the PMF will be held accountable by 15 other organisations.”

After consultation with the audience, it was decided that a petition would go out to the community calling for 5 100 signatures to make a quorum, which express no confidence in the PMF, mandate the residents’ group’s lawyers to act on the community’s behalf and pave the way for the establishment of the Hout Bay Development Forum.