Tagged: Cape Town

Here’s where Cape Town’s water is going

A YOUTUBE video posted by Adam Spires, substantiates claims that millions of gallons of drinking water are being allowed to escape, flowing downstream from a major dam, apparently to save farmers. Posted earlier this month, the video shows the sluice gates are open at a dam site outside of Cape Town, posing the question why is this happening? With Zero Day approaching, and the water crisis beginning to impact upon households, why are wealthy farmers in the country’s wine estates benefitting? Is this another case of the Stellenbosch Mafia coming first while ordinary citizens’ needs are sacrificed? Why are local media houses publishing incorrect information on water shortages?

READ: The City that ran out of water

Cape Peninsula transport plan: Here are some alternatives

CAPE TOWN has a transport framework plan, but does it work for the Cape Flats and Southern Peninsula, where daily traffic jams, and peak hour gridlock are compounded by a Metrorail service that is falling apart as we speak? Is getting across the City more difficult and expensive than getting to the CBD?

The City’s “comprehensive integrated transport plan” is anything but, offering little more than a gradual roll-out of the popular MyCiti BRT system, a system unsuitable for linking the City’s North and South corridors.

It will take years for the BRT to link the Southern Peninsula to the CBD and when it does, it is unlikely to offer “rapid transport” to downtown, but rather will act as a means of linking various transport hubs.

Current plans by the City to simply takeover Metrorail are unlikely to come to fruition, since the system is a national government competency under the aegis of PRASSA. In a sense, the system comprises several major arteries and can never be shut down, instead it limps along, as government dilly daddles on providing new rolling stock and much needed upgrades to the four major lines. Meanwhile Cape Town is booming, and is fast becoming a Mega-City with a growing population (4.3 million) and geographical footprint reaching from Atlantis to Sir Lowry’s Pass, an area the size of Los Angeles.

Radical interventions by public and private enterprise are therefore needed.

I list some of the visionary possibilities below, to bring Capetonians and transport closer. Together we can make these ideas more than just a dream.

North-South M5 Monorail

Lagos and Singapore has one, why not Cape Town? A monorail (pictured below) would transport passengers from Mitchell’s Plain and Muizenberg along Prince George Drive reaching Maitland, Milnerton and Montague Gardens, and acting as a conduit to Century City. Gliding along a centre rail, and able to go from one end of the City to the other in less than 8 minutes, the high-tech solution would use existing infrastructure, requiring modest upgrades along the route of the highway. As a premium service it would take pressure off the Metrorail, eventually allowing the railway to be shutdown for major repairs.

Waterfront Light Rail System

Like the UK’s Dockside Light Rail, the system could link Green and Sea Point to the Waterfront and beyond and carry routes to Signal Hill, Table Mountain and Robben Island. Obviously a Robben Island route would require an undersea tunnel, but with the latest boring technology underground tunnels are becoming increasingly more feasible and economical. Cape Town used to have a similar light rail system known as the Tramway, reaching as far as Camps Bay, and any project which reduces the traffic going over Kloof Neck would be more than welcome.

Newlands – Devils Peak – Vredehoek Commuter Tunnel

Simply cutting out a major obstacle for commuters entering the CBD, and as experienced by residents of the suburbs of Constantia, Wynberg and Newlands, each and every day, and vice versa, all those living in the City Bowl wanting to travel South, would bring the City and its citizens a lot closer, while removing pressure on Philip Kgosana Drive (formerly De Waal Drive), a sad place to be in rush hour traffic.

Noordhoek – Silvermine – Tokai Commuter Tunnel

Anyone who experiences the tragedy of morning traffic and gridlock from Kommetjie, and places further afield, will appreciate a shorter commute brought about by new technology. Boring a tunnel under Ou Kaapse Weg and, chopping some 50km off the route would be a godsend. Again, the decrease in the cost of boring technology would make such a tunnel more feasible, but is likely to upset conservationists.

Other Commuter Tunnels to consider

A Bo Kaap -Signal Hill – Sea Point Tunnel, and an Oranjezicht- Table Mountain – Bakoven Tunnel both cutting through their respective mountains, would all act to remove morning and afternoon gridlock in the City, while reducing the gated community effect which makes such places seem out of reach of ordinary people.

Table Bay Hydrofoil and Hovercraft

Novel ocean-going interventions across Table Bay such as a hydrofoil boat or a hovercraft could all act to bring the true Northern Suburbs (not those to the East of the City) closer to the CBD, whilst boosting tourism. Think of spending just 20 minutes on a boat instead of 45 minutes in traffic from Tableview and Blouberg and you have the picture. Besides faster oversea links, the undersea links (as already suggested, the initial tunnel from the Waterfront to Robben Island), might also create a branch off to Table View in the distant future, making it possible to simply ride a bicycle into town from Atlantis.

False Bay Inter-Links

Similar oversea tech and underwater tunnel solutions linking the City’s False Bay coastal suburbs, for example, Simon’s Town with Strand, Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els and beyond all offer benefits. A further route to Hermanus would carry major economic value, as would short hop air solutions linking smaller towns such as Caledon and Paarl. Imagine flying ships like some of the new air dirigibles being built in the USA, cutting down travel time in the Cape and allowing for a better quality of life to those wanting to escape the slums.

Cape Flats Canalisation

Building canals is an ancient means of creating transport across land. With a low water table, there are plenty of opportunities to connect the Cape Flats without building more roads. One plan already mooted would simply join the two oceans, but saltwater is problematic for aquifers. With a little thought one can imagine a system of locks and canals providing “waterfront” to residents of Manenberg and Mitchell’s Plain. In fact there are already several Vleis where transport opportunities have not been given much attention and could be better utilised.




TRC Unfinished Business Fundraiser

Dear Friend, Colleague, Supporter and Associate.

As the publisher of Medialternatives, you will no doubt have been following my postings. You may also know me as an anti-apartheid activist and journalist — I happen to have worked for several banned publications during the freedom struggle, including South Press, Grassroots & New Nation. 

South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held special hearings into the role played by the media, 15 – 17 September 1997. Naspers Pty Ltd, a company instrumental in the creation of the apartheid state did not attend. Instead it sent the commission a copy of its corporate history “Oor Grense Heen”.

The company was found guilty.

Volume 4 of the TRC Final report (pg 180) observes: “The history concedes that Die Burger, for instance, promoted Verwoerd’s ideals of bantustans from an early stage and that, after Sharpville, the same newspaper advised that all positive aspects be speeded up. Occasionally, doubts about apartheid do surface but, in the main, the book reflects a total lack of concern for the company’s support of the racist system”

In 2006, Naspers attempted to gag me from speaking out about race segregation and race profiling at its community newspapers division. A lengthy labour case ensued with a decision handed down in 2010. The result was that the TRC Report was trashed, and I was found guilty of harbouring a vendetta against the company, and excoriated because of my exposé of the company’s failure to come clean at the commission. A number of spurious ecclesiastical charges, and other trumped up charges, were also brought against me in the counter-case lodged by the company attacking my Jewish identity and professional conduct.

To make matters worse, I was also thrown in jail for complaining to one of the company’s business partners, Kagiso who it turned out are part of a wider cartel active in the media alongside Naspers, and controlled by several Afrikaner businessmen. The labour judge turned out to also be in business with Kagiso, who are invested in his client Naspers.

After failing to raise sufficient funds to approach South Africa’s Constitutional Court, I lodged a case at the Equality Court of South Africa (EC19/2015), seeking to have the TRC Report upheld by a court of law, and also exposing the deception by Naspers director Ton Vosloo, who has sought to post fact amend the outcome of the report.

I am now appealing to the international community to please assist me in covering my legal expenses, including a cost order against me, in a collateral case at the Equality Court involving the appointment of Ashraf Mahomed, the President of the Cape Law Society, as representative for Naspers,  whilst he is acting justice and also on the executive of a body controlling the legal profession of South Africa, — this while I myself do not possess an attorney in a matter affecting the life of the TRC Final Report.

Please assist me in gaining access to justice. Defend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report!

If you wish to donate, or contribute to the campaign for justice, please follow this link to the FundRazr funding appeal.


Chicken wars, Animal Rights and Black Lives Matter

IF THE idea of a sudden influx of cheap chicken wings from the USA wasn’t enough to disturb South Africans, who up until now hadn’t given much thought to how our local chickens fare, then I guess the threat of arsenic in imported US chicken marks a turning point in environmentalism. The FDA admitted this week that 70% of U.S. Chickens contain cancer-causing arsenic.

The privileged amongst us have always been weary of what we eat, but seeing social media taking up the mantra of free range, grain-fed, “organic Chicken” in the aftermath of the announcement, it occurred to me that many of those posting about this issue, are amongst South Africa’s emerging black empowered middle-class, eager to link colonialism and the politics of food.

It was thus with some bemusement that I also witnessed the reactionary attacks on social media this week by Adam Haupt and Gillian Schutte et al, who seem to be of the opinion that an “Animal Lives Matter” poster put up at UCT was nothing less than a hidden agenda for white supremacists. (see my earlier criticism of this agenda-setting here)

“Keep your animal rights out of black rights” screamed Schutte.

So far as Haupt, who appears to be a “Professor at the Centre for Film and Media Studies“, was concerned, the innocuous phrase “Animal Rights Matter” was assuredly a ‘racist intertextual reference’, one that “denigrates black lives and presents the human and animal rights as mutually exclusive.”

Haupt went on to retort “in short, the poster is divisive in this context and provides a binary response to black students and staff’s attempts to address bigotry.”

I have no doubt that he would also say the exact same thing of a “Queer rights Matter” poster, or a “Women’s Rights Matter” pamphlet.

Both readings would be an unnecessary distortion and removal of context, and historically incorrect. For all the academic blather, (surely a case of cookie-cutter theory and hammer-head ideology), the criticism is undoubtedly misplaced and unfounded.

Environmentalism like queerdom, has a long history of co-existance with the struggle against racism and apartheid in this country. In ‘Do You have to be White to be Green’, an article written by Albie Sachs and published by Kagenna Press back in the 90s, Sachs answered the same question with an emphatic No.

As one of the persons responsible for linking apartheid and the environment, and having unleashed considerable criticism, of what was then, a movement dominated by persons classified as white, I can only concur with Sachs, and suggest that the movement has now come full circle. The renaming of the Wildlife Society of South Africa is a case in point, as is the inclusion of environmental rights in our Constitution.

Humans are an integral part of the environment, and thus issues such as water, housing, sanitation, exist alongside the Save the Rhino campaign.

As an aside, it wasn’t simply these linkages between apartheid and the environment that were important, (so far as the struggle against apartheid was concerned), it was also the linkages between apartheid and the animals in the environment.

Wildlife battling the apartheid regime was a new front in the struggle, as my articles published in the anti-apartheid weekly, South, demonstrate, and thus exposing General Magnus Malan’s trophy hunting expeditions attest — directing readers to pictures and images of ‘Bokkie and the War’, painted in the public’s mind, images one could never forget.

The bloody, ripped, lifeless, gemsbok, antelope, kudu and Mother Nature herself, killed in the name of the Botha, Malan and Vlok war machine made for effective propaganda. If the racist bigots couldn’t make an emotional connection with similar images emanating from the townships on a daily basis — in which human beings had been reduced to the status of mere objects — then exposing the continuum of pain that included wildlife, and the basis for our existence on Planet Earth, was surely a resounding success.

This is the kind of thing that often gets one thrown out of shareholder meetings — the sight of bloodied fur and animal rights demonstrators –all part of the emergence of the first phase of green consciousness, so crucial to any debate on patriarchy and capitalism, and which lead to the inclusion of Post-Brundland values in our constitution, alongside “ecological sustainable development” and the “right to adequate housing”