A coalition of organisations in Cape Town have come together to form a united front against the City of Cape Town’s planned closure of the Good Hope Centre. These organisations now intend to mobilise and host a massive march to protest against the City’s leasing of the iconic venue to a film company which could garner revenue for the city.
This campaign has been labelled the “Raak Wys” campaign and these organisations, namely the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), the Cape Malay Choir board, the District Six Working Committee, the Bo-Kaap Civic Association and the Atlantis Concerned Commuters Forum (who was there as a support for the campaign) say that they use the Good Hope Centre as a venue on a regular basis and were only issued with a six month notice to find alternative accommodation.
According to these organisations, the City’s response to their grievances, with regards to the centre, is that the Good Hope Centre has been running at a loss and the City has a responsibility to run its facilities on a profitable basis.
“We have unconfirmed reports that the city will be receiving R200 000 a month from the film company’s lease. This means that the city will be working at a loss,” Sactwu spokesperson Fachmy Abrahams explained.
The organisations said the financial cost is an important factor, but is by no means the only one. The organisations want the city to take into account the social and cultural benefits that the Good Hope Centre provides to the community.
“The city didn’t consult any of the organisations that make use of this facility,” Abrahams added.
Recently, SACTWU and the Cape Malay Choir Board had separate protests expressing their dissatisfaction with the City’s decision.
The City has made various commitments to follow a public participation process and yet, months later, no further communication has been forthcoming from the Mayor Patricia De Lille, said the groups.
These organisations believe that the city does not respect the people of the Cape Flats and its surroundings. According to them, this campaign will make the people of Cape Town more aware of what they City’s plans are for the people.
So far these organisations do not have a new venue to host events such as the Spring Queen pageant because they say that six months was not sufficient time to find a new venue. Furthermore the organisations are planning to host protests in September to stand up against this action by the City to lease the Good Hope Centre. The protest is still in its beginning stages and an official request has not been filed with the City of Cape Town as yet. VOC (Umarah Hartley)