Activists speak out against golf club lease

King David Mowbray Golf Club.

It would be wrong for the City, in the face of a public-housing crisis, to lease a site the size of 50 rugby fields to a golf club for R11 500 a year, say housing activists.

Ndifuna Ukwazi says the City’s plan to renew the King David Mowbray Golf Club’s lease shows the City is chipping away at reserves of well-located public land – land that could be better used to reverse the City’s apartheid legacy.

Ndifuna Ukwazi researcher Michael Clark says this decision comes after the City’s announcement earlier this year that it plans to lease 45.99 hectares of prime public land to the Rondebosch Golf Club.

“This is some of the best public land in the City.

“It’s close to the best hospitals, top-performing schools in the province and public transport including two train stations and taxi routes which makes it perfect for the development of affordable housing,” he said.

The City of Cape Town first advertised its plans to renew the Mowbray golf club’s lease, on 49.5 ha, on Friday July 24 and invited comments and objections by Tuesday August 25.

But then in an about-turn the City said in an unsigned statement that it had placed the advertisement prematurely and the issue would first go before council for authority to advertise because the asset was worth more than R10 million and the lease could run beyond three years.

Mr Clarke said it was an acknowledgement by the City that it had failed to comply with the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations and the Municipal Finance Management Act and raised serious questions about its ability to manage public land properly.

The end of the Mowbray golf club’s current lease, Mr Clarke said, offered the City a chance to act on a new vision for a just and more equal Cape Town.

“If the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has taught us anything it is that we need to radically re-imagine our society and our cities,” he said.

Adi Kumar, the executive director of Development Action Group (DAG), said they also opposed the renewal of a long-term lease on public land to a private entity.

The City, now more than ever, had a responsibility to use public assets in the best interest of the public and meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable citizens, he said.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the City continued to assess municipal land, including suitable land in and near the Cape Town CBD and other urban centres, to determine whether some of it could be developed for affordable housing.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said recreation and sport were important in the lives of citizens.

“The City will always promote active lifestyles and healthy living through recreation and sport within the context of other challenges such as health, education and housing,” he said.

Ndifuna Ukwazi says its petition against the renewing the golf club’s lease has 1500 signatures.

The Tatler made numerous attempts by phone, email and WhatsApp to seek comment from the King David Mowbray Golf Club, but it did not respond by the time this edition went to print.