If the shoe fits

Mandy da Matta, chairperson of the Table View Rateayers’ Association

Please note that our response to Ian Neilson’s letter contains comments garnered from our fellow ratepayers’ and residents’ associations on the western seaboard.

When council holds itself above the needs of the residents, like a self-appointed aristocracy, and does not deliver on basic services and infrastructure, it is time to hold the council responsible.

We have officials dictating to their residents, with their greed for salary increases.

Ratepayers’ and residents’ associations remain ignored, yet you have no problem responding through the press. This is arrogant and disrespectful to the residents, to say the very least. May we ask if we hit a nerve?

Your claims that you, and by implication, the rest of the City of Cape Town’s councillors are cognizant of the plight and financial hardship experienced by the residents of this fair city due to the pandemic of Convid-19 lockdown, are both trite and inconsequential because of the inaccuracies in your letter.

Our initial comment was made in response to the City’s refusal – as noted in a Business Day article of March 29 – to offer any form of relief packages, such as those offered by the DA-run Stellenbosch municipality.

It is to be noted that a letter from the City was sent to every ratepayer demanding that all rates and taxes be paid for April.

On April 7, the City’s management was only “considering implementing” some financial relief measures. A Cape Argus article noted that: “Calls are mounting for the City to offer some relief to taxpayers and residents struggling because of Covid-19 and the resultant lockdown.”

Our comments appeared on April 8 in Tabletalk. What relief packages were on offer on that date? Nothing. Nada. Niks.

The City’ first financial relief package was only announced on April 11. Maybe our comments stirred a response?

A small one: the City adjusted the processes of its indigent, disabled, and pensioner rebate applications down to one month’s income

On April 13 it was announced that a property owner, who does not qualify for indigent or pensioner rebates but whose account is getting into arrears, can make a payment arrangement to pay off the rates over an agreed number of months (no difference to the normal arrangements offered by the City).

No payment holidays or rebates were offered, only no interest on overdue amounts, while on a payment plan.

On April 19 guest houses and B&Bs were told they could change their status back to ordinary residences. No mention that an exchange of your business rights (to lower the rates bill) would lead to increased water charges applying.

What’s more, once the lockdown is over and the business can resume trading they won’t be able to without reapplying for a licence and bearing the associated costs.

Why not offer registered B&Bs and guest houses a payment holiday or the reduced residential rates for the period of lockdown, when they are not permitted to trade at all?

All landlords who have commercial or industrial properties where their tenants cannot take beneficial occupation of the premises, should be offered payment holidays or reduced rates for the period.

The City should not expect the landlords to shoulder all the expenses for the properties that cannot raise an income.

Your letter speaks about taking care of the welfare of the residents. Why then are the City’s waste water treatment plants failing and why are these same failing waste water treatment plants, pushing unlawful amounts of E.coli into our estuaries and river systems? Why have these treatment plants not been upgraded in the last 10 years, pre -Covid-19 lockdown? Why has council not ensured that all council members earning in excess of R50 000 per month immediately take salary cuts of 30% for the next six months?

Is there a moratorium on salary increases for the next two years that residents are not aware of? Does the City wish to get blood from a stone from the residents?

The current budget under review proposes salary increases of up to 53%. This is deplorable when there are people who are starving due to the lockdown.

It would appear that the entire mayoral committee and City of Cape Town councillors have made themselves immune to the plight of the masses.

Trying to get political mileage for feeding the hungry? Who is going to carry the financial burden of the Strandfontein closure due to inhumane conditions? Who is going to be held accountable for wasting ratepayers’ money?

Letters sent to Mayco members/councillors requesting information on service delivery matters remain unanswered (a plethora of emails exist). In closing, we would just like to say, “If the shoe fits…”