Speaker, councillors, city officials, members of the public, and media, let me welcome you to this final council meeting for 2019.
And let me start off today with the most important message we have had for almost two years – water saving. The latest rainfall data has shown that we are still in a drought. Next year’s rainfall is unlikely going to be any better. Our dams are at decent levels, and this is because Cape Town is the world’s number one water saving city.
Between residents making necessary lifestyle changes, and City staff managing water pressure and looking after our pipe network, we are a dream team. I want to say a big thank you and congratulations to our residents and dedicated staff.
There are cities in other provinces that have completely run out of water. Day Zero is upon them. But here in Cape Town, by working together, we have kept the taps on.
It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been successful and our residents should be proud of what they achieved. So thank you, and please continue to work with us and be water smart, because we are not out of the drought yet.
At the City of Cape Town, we believe in action, not talk shops, which is why we now have a cutting-edge Water Strategy, and which is already being implemented.
While 2018 was all about adapting to the new normal in terms of our water usage, 2019 was about getting back to business. Over the past year we attracted R2,7 billion worth of investment into Cape Town, which created thousands of jobs, ensuring that Cape Town remains the metro with the lowest unemployment in the country.
But, this doesn’t just happen. It requires a concerted effort from our officials, our partners, our residents, and making sure we have the right infrastructure and environment for business to flourish. So I want to say thank you to the Mayoral Committee member for Economic Opportunities, Alderman James Vos, and all the officials involved for their hard work.
And just to top it off, tonight, I have been invited to open an extension of the Boomerang call centre business, which will see them doubling their employment opportunities from 200 to 400. The demand for these services in Cape Town, by both local and international businesses has seen this company aim to employ 1 000 full time employees by the end of next year.
By investing in the Business Processing Outsource sector (BPO), through our Strategic Business Partner BPESA WC, we have generated an investment of over R4,7 billion in our local economy for the last five years. The sector currently employs 59 000 people across the province.
Cape Town continues to grow and our economy is performing much better than in other areas of the country, but we are still hamstrung by the collapsing rail service, a function of national government that we have no operational control over. Just last week another 18 train carriages were burned in a suspected arson attack, bringing the total number to around 160 train carriages burned in three years. If we can achieve so much else in the areas under our control, imagine what we could do if we could run the rail service too? I have asked my Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Alderman Felicity Purchase to provide me with regular updates on the business plans to take over the rail service. We cannot allow our residents to continually be neglected by the failing PRASA and Metrorail services.
Cape Town is a beautiful city, and one that is a top destination for hundreds of thousands of international tourists year after year. We were just voted Best City in the World by the United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph newspaper for the seventh year in a row. This is an accolade bestowed on us by an international audience and I am very proud to see that the rest of the world views Cape Town in such high regard. We work hard to make this an attractive destination, as those tourists bring significant investment with them, which results in more job creation and skills development opportunities for our residents. We are clearly doing something right, because when asked if they would like to return to Cape Town after visiting our beautiful shores, an overwhelming 73% of tourists said ‘yes.’
I have also been informed of the great work our officials are doing to position Cape Town as the top destination for business and leisure travel by placing beautiful branding in OR Tambo International and that they are looking at placing branding in other African airports and beyond. Just yesterday the City shared that we are looking at an 8% increase in international tourists to Cape Town for the summer, based on current bookings. This is great news for our hospitality sector and in particular for the backpacking sector which can expect more than 6% growth in occupancy numbers.
Making it even easier for tourists and business people to visit our beautiful city will be the brand new direct flight between Cape Town and New York landing here on the 16th of December. I will be on the tarmac to welcome our first guests and look forward to seeing many more visitors, thanks to our Air Access team’s hard work to bring more direct flights to Cape Town. With world class hotels and fine dining restaurants that can beat the best in any country, I know our new visitors will also be saying ‘yes’ when asked if they want to come back.
And just before that flight lands, we’ll be hosting over fifty thousand sports fans for the Cape Town leg of the HSBC World Sevens Tournament at our world class Cape Town Stadium. This event has grown from contributing R539 million to our GDP in 2017 to R765 million in 2018.
Next year we’ll be hosting the world’s biggest tennis match at Cape Town Stadium. Forgive me for repeating myself today but I just want to once again say thank you to our officials for making these events possible. They are safe, they are professional, and they are packed to the brim with fans. Our Events team can compete with the best in the world and I am very proud that they are ‘our’ Events team, so thank you for all your hard work.
Speaking of how proud I am of this city, last week we hosted the annual City Awards where we acknowledge those City officials deserving of some special recognition. It is truly wonderful to see all the hardworking, dedicated and passionate people that keep this City functioning.
2020 is around the corner and I know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us. I have been out many times this year on my ‘Keep Cape Town Clean’ campaign and I’m not yet happy with the level of cleanliness in some areas. This is also not the role of our officials alone – it is not our officials who are doing the illegal dumping and littering. They cannot be everywhere at all times, and the fact of the matter is, it is our residents who are doing the dumping. A selfish few are turning our neighbourhoods into unsightly and unhygienic dump sites.
I want to make a call to our residents to please report illegal dumping, and when you see someone littering, pick it up and give it back to them, tell them to put it in a bin, because we provide plenty of those. Our cleansing staff work day in and day out, but they cannot keep up with the disrespect shown to our environment by some residents.
And related to the state of cleanliness, let me add that we have by-laws that are there to protect our residents and help look after them, and we will not be prevented from implementing these by-laws by organisations with ulterior motives. Nobody can be exempt from the law. We all abide by the same set of laws in this city. I am encouraged to see that the National Government has in recent weeks compelled the City of Cape Town to ensure its by-laws are enforced and that the ‘erection of makeshift shelters, washing of clothes and cooking of food on the street or pavements’, which is fully regulated by municipal by-laws must not be allowed.
I am also concerned about a housing development in Morningstar in Durbanville that we have been unable to hand over to residents for over a year due to a disagreement over the beneficiary allocation of 13 out of 166 units.
As a City we are spending over R110 000 a month on security to protect this property, while no residents get to enjoy their new homes. The selfish behaviour of those challenging the City on this matter are preventing 166 families from enjoying their brand new homes, but, we respect the rule of the law, and we will go through the processes to make sure we deal with any challenges and that those who should be moving in will get to do so.
We have a wonderful, vibrant, friendly, highly functional, diverse and attractive city. Let us continue to work towards keeping it this way, doing what we can to make it safer for everyone, and going out of our way to be polite to each other. As one of the friendliest cities in the world, I think we should strive to keep this status.
We are still in the middle of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. This is not a 16-day campaign, it is a 365-day campaign, and as we enter the festive season I want to call on the men in society to be respectful of women and to protect our women and children. We shouldn’t tolerate anything less.
May you all have a safe, restful, and fun festive season with your friends, families and loved ones. I wish you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Our metro police, law enforcement and traffic enforcement will be working with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors.
We will have a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving, so please be safe on our roads, beaches and wherever you celebrate this month. I want to see you all back here, safe and sound in the new year!