News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Zille to face ghosts of the past

Patrick Burnett

When it comes to the ghosts said to haunt the official residence of the Western Cape’s top politician, former ANC premier Lynne Brown recommends that her DA replacement Helen Zille play music to keep away the noises in the night.

Legend has it that Leeuwenhof, the Western Cape premier’s official residence which dates back to the earliest days of Cape settlement, is haunted by the ghost of a young woman who died after being left heartbroken when her family disapproved of her lover.

A.J.B. De Klerk in his 1954 book Leeuwenhof: Die Kronieke van ‘n Kaapse Herehuis, writes that the ghost of the woman can sometimes be seen in the house.

Brown caused a stir in February when her comments about the haunted home were widely reported.

“I’d been told about the spirits’ presence before I took up residence. I was nervous at first but have gotten used to it,” Independent Newspapers quoted her as saying.

Although it’s not yet clear whether Zille will move into Leeuwenhof, the Cape’s colonial legacy presents her with haunting challenges.

A post-election analysis by Idasa stated that despite massive gains in the Western Cape, the party had “again failed to make an impact where it mattered, among poor black South Africans”.

The appointment of six white males to her provincial cabinet of ten announced on Friday is unlikely to impress this constituency.

Zille faces a massive housing crisis, with a backlog of 400,000 in Cape Town alone.

In dealing with this, she will have to interface with national government in implementing housing projects such as the N2 Gateway Project, which has been the subject of controversy due to the refusal of communities to move to make way for the project and disputes over who should benefit from houses delivered under the project.

Service delivery protests, taxi industry resistance to a planned transport system and a drug problem that has shattered the social fabric of many communities are other haunting problems.

Speaking to City Press after Zille was sworn in as premier on Wednesday, Brown described the Western Cape as “very complex”, a “divided society”, with “no easy solutions”.

Zille’s biggest challenge was housing, followed by public transport and crime, she said.

A hallmark of Zille’s administration in addressing these challenges would be a commitment to open governance, she told the Western Cape Provincial Legislature after being sworn in as premier on Wednesday.

“A commitment to the truth requires open, accountable and transparent government. This is the best way to counter corruption, which has become a cancer in our society,” she said.

But she also made clear that her administration would expect citizens to accept their responsibilities.
In the City of Cape Town, she said the government spent more than half the allocated capital budget – R2 out of every R3 – on repairs to vandalised infrastructure.
This meant that “fewer than half the number of people get the services that should have been their right, had others fulfilled their constitutional duty of responsible citizenship”.

In this context, she outlined drug abuse and teenage pregnancy as “perhaps the most serious inhibitors of opportunity and rights” , with police estimating that up to 80% of crime in the province was linked to substance abuse.

The daunting challenges that Zille’s Western Cape administration face could come back to haunt her. But if she can overcome them, she will have a far stronger hand to play at the next elections in 2014.
— West Cape News

Tags: ANC, DA, zille

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