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Cablegate: Democratic Alliance Launches New Housing Policy

DE RUEHTN #0201 2521610
P 091610Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (U) On September 8, Poloff attended the launch of the Democratic
Alliance's (DA) new national housing policy. Party leader and
Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, DA Shadow Minister for

Human Settlements, Butch Steyn and DA Deputy Shadow Minister for
Human Settlements, Archibold Figlan presented the plan at the DA's
Parliamentary offices in Cape Town. Premier Zille was quick to
point out that this housing plan is what the DA intends to do "when"
the DA wins the national election. Zille also stated, "in all my
years in government nothing is more complex than formulating housing
policy." Zille also said she prefers spreading limited resources to
a wide group of beneficiaries, and "would rather see a lot of people
get a little than a few people get a lot."

2. (U) The DA outlined the current housing crises saying that more
than seven million South Africans live in desperate circumstances in
shacks, backyards, derelict buildings or on the streets. Zille
highlighted the failures of government to provide adequate housing
for its citizens and said the reality is that the ANC cannot meet
this need without empowering people and communities to make key
decisions on housing for themselves. She stressed that formal
housing remains a core component of the DA housing policy, but
rather than offering one lump sum subsidy, the DA will introduce
three possible subsidy vouchers which will allow people to choose
the alternative which most closely suits their personal
circumstances. The three options the DA proposes are: 1) a plot of
land with installed basic services, 2) a plot of land with a state
provided house already built, or 3) a rental subsidy.

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3. (U) The DA also laid out its plan for inclusionary housing zones
as part of its aim to increase opportunities for the poor. Around
the world well-conceived inclusionary housing zones have been shown
to create more integrated neighbourhoods without negatively
affecting property values. On the question of integrated housing
projects, Steyn said that it made no sense to place low-cost housing
alongside million rand properties. He added that the DA was not
opposed to integrated housing, but that a proper consultation
process was needed before integration could take place. He said that
no one benefits from a sudden devaluation of property due to low
cost housing moving in to the area. He stated that the DA found
there has been very little consultation with host communities
leading to ill feelings and distrust among the existing neighborhood
and the newcomers. Steyn reiterated that the government could not
meet its housing obligations unless it empowered its citizens to
make their own decisions regarding which housing option is best
suited for them.

4. (U) Although most of the presentation was geared towards the DA's
national housing policy, Zille did give a few examples of housing
problems in the Western Cape. She said there are currently 250
informal settlements on unsecured land as a result of land invasion
in the Western Cape. The cost of servicing this land would be 30
billion rand, which is more than the province can afford. As an
example, the city of Cape Town's budget is only 3 billion rand per
year. Zille will be meeting with President Zuma on September 16 to
discuss service delivery to the Western Cape.

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