A legal showdown is reportedly looming between Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu over the sale of the controversial Tafelberg property in Sea Point, Cape Town.
The Mail & Guardian reports that Sisulu said this week she had decided to take the sale of the prime site, which was initially declared feasible for social housing, to court after communication broke down between her and Zille.
“I’m just appalled that a government that purports to be working in the interests of everybody – and they throw in the phrase, ‘poor people’, ‘black people’, all of these good phrases … when in fact they are working directly in contradiction to the interests of the poor, and especially people of colour,” Sisulu was quoted as saying.
In a series of letters between the pair, seen by the weekly, Zille apparently agreed to discuss the Tafelberg sale with the minister but later backtracked, saying she had declined to enter into further discussions with Sisulu because she had not provided reasons for declaring a dispute between the provincial and national government, as required by legislation.
Sisulu is reported to have taken legal action after she sought to implement the Intergovermental Relations Framework Act, which provides a mechanism through which disputes between spheres of government can be resolved, but the provincial government contends that the minister had no legal basis for intervening in the matter.
The Tafelberg property, part of which was once a whites-only school, was sold to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million in March. The sale has been widely criticised and led to protests by the Reclaim the City movement because of the provincial government’s previous plans for the site to be used for social housing.
Michael Mpofu, Zille’s spokesperson, told the Mail & Guardian the premier would write to Sisulu to get clarity about her reasons for intervening.
The Western Cape government would be the responded in the case, according to the report.