SINGLING out Cape Town as the most unequal and segregated city in SA is unfair and misleading, according to Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.
Speaking at the Cape Town press club on Monday about the coming municipal elections, De Lille also said it was unfair to say the municipality spent on the rich and neglected the poor.
Segregation and allegations of racism are common themes in political debates in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and this is likely to intensify ahead of the August local government elections.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the ANC in the Cape Town council often point fingers at the DA, accusing the party of advancing the interests of rich, white communities at the expense of the poor in the city.
“We treat rich and poor people the same … to single out Cape Town as the most unequal and segregated city is a lie,” she said. “Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, for example, are more segregated…. We are growing in a nonracial way, (but) you cannot deal with apartheid spatial planning overnight,” De Lille said.
According to a series of maps produced recently by Statistics SA (Stats SA), Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, is the most segregated of the six largest municipalities‚ followed by eThekwini‚ Cape Town, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. Johannesburg is the least racially segregated city.
The maps were produced using data from Census 2011‚ which is the latest data set providing demographic data down to street-block level for the entire country.
Stats SA said municipalities had become less racially segregated between 1996 and 2011. Of SA’s 234 municipalities, 218 had become more racially integrated between 1996 and 2011, while only 16 municipalities had become more segregated.
De Lille said the Constitution made it a requirement to build integrated communities. Cape Town would be using open spaces closer to the central business district to build integrated communities, but this required co-operation with all interested parties.
On the local government elections, De Lille — who is seeking re-election as mayor — said she wanted to be judged on her record in the past five years.
“I am asking the voters to judge me on my record, and assess that record in the light of my detailed policy platform…. My vision is to unlock the incredible power of this city — the power of the millions of people who live here now and who will live here in the future to have a better life,” she said.
De Lille took a swipe at the ANC in the city and its leader, Tony Ehrenreich, saying it had “failed as an opposition — they just do not understand what local government is about”.
Ehrenreich dismissed De Lille’s accusations of the ANC failing as opposition, and that Cape Town was less segregated than other cities in SA. “The mayor is more popular with the people of Camps Bay who she lunches with as she approved their developments. But when she visits the Cape Flats, she wears a gas mask. It’s clear who she serves,” he said.