READ PDF PRESS STATEMENT HERE: 29 Mar 2023 Military Land Press statement
Military land for homes not weapons!
Weak intergovernmental collaboration and a lack of urgency are entrenching the housing crisis. The national government owns enough vacant and underutilised land in Cape Town to deliver hundreds of thousands of homes and materially reduce the housing backlog. For instance, a joint civil society submission to the the presidency, building on decades of activism from a diverse range of groups, has demonstrated that 67,000 homes could be built on the Ysterplaat, Wingfield and Youngsfield Military Bases alone. Instead, what initially looked like encouraging progress on the release of underutilised public land for affordable housing over the last few years has seemingly been hamstrung by the failure of different government departments and entities to work together.
Perhaps the most shocking failure of intergovernmental collaboration in this regard is that 668 hectares of high-potential land in Cape Town are sitting largely vacant and underutilised under the custodianship of the Department of Defence. If they were developed instead of sitting practically empty, these sites would have a major impact on Cape Town’s housing and segregation crises. The Department of Defence argues that it still needs the entirety of Youngsfield Military Base, Wingfield Military Base and the Ysterplaat Airforce Base for its own operations. This is a bold claim, as anyone who has ever driven past or visited these sites will
tell you. Much of the land on which these sites sit was granted to the military by the Graaf Trust around the second and first world wars during a period when almost no consideration was given to the housing needs of the majority. We now live in a democracy. Quite simply, having four military bases sprawled across desperately needed public land in the centre of Cape Town in the midst of a major housing crisis makes no sense at all. If there was genuine commitment and urgency that matched the scale and intensity of our housing crisis, different government departments would come together and develop a solution that puts the land to better use.
– How much of the land discussed above has actually been released to the HDA
– What the timeframes for feasibility studies and development plans are
- We urgently call on the Department of Human Settlements to:
– Furnish the public with information about if, how and when the sites will be developed.
– Urgently make use of this exceptional opportunity to fundamentally reshape Cape Town and other South African cities into places that are more fair and more just.
– Actively and meaningfully involve communities in the development of these sites, building on the considerable work of civil society to offer concrete proposals for how these sites could be developed.
We also call on the new Minister of Public Works, Sihle Zikalala, to urgently pick up on the land release work initiated by his predecessor so that it can be seen
through to completion.
If the government is serious about addressing our worsening housing crisis, it will take this chance to fundamentally reshape our cities and address apartheid’s
enduring spatial legacy.
Issued on behalf of Ndifuna Ukwazi, Development Action Group, Community Organising Resource Centre and the Legal Resources Centre.
Late Prof Vanessa Watson was one of key partners and proponents for this
– Annexure 1: Civil society presidential submission on the release of well-located state land in Cape Town
– Annexure 2: Images of the development proposal for the Ysterplaat Airforce Base from the presidential submission
– Annexure 3: Meeting summary and report from a Select Committee Meeting on the release of public land
– Annexure 4: Letter from civil society coalition to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
– Annexure 5: Letter from former Minister of Public Works to civil society coalition
– Annexure 6: Letter from civil society coalition to the Department of Human Settlements and the Housing Development Agency