JOHANNESBURG : JANUARY 12, 2005
The recent revelations that the Council of Cape Town has stopped all further constructions at the Waterfront is calling to question far more important issues and the supervisory role of the Minister of Public Enterprises.
The City of Cape Town objected to the Waterfront developing hotels, shopping centres and luxury residential apartment buildings outside the parameters of the zoning ordinance in related approval procedures, relying on an obsolete agreement with Transnet relating to the construction of harbour and port buildings by the shoreline. It seems obvious that no one, not even an organ of State, could go ahead and develop high rising buildings, skyscrapers and massive developments, causing much traffic, without the approval of the City Council concerned.
This debacle questions why an organ of State should be involved in developing, leasing and operating five hotels, many shopping centres, luxury residential apartment buildings and many office buildings. Government has no business in dealing with matters of this nature.
The situation is even more concerning because the Waterfront holding company is seventy six percent owned by Transnet's pension fund, which means that the pensions of hundreds of thousands of hard working people could be jeopardized. The potential liability following from the uncalled for action of the Waterfront is beyond measure. In fact, in all likelihood they could not only need to return the deposits paid by those to whom they pre-sold luxury apartments, which were under construction when the stop work order was made, but they might also need to provide some sort of indemnity to the apartment owners of all the other buildings. In fact, it follows that if the buildings under construction are violating the zoning ordinance, those already built and sold could be in the same situation, and their title could be clouded by the threat that, under the zoning laws, such buildings may now need to be demolished, or their position otherwise regularized.
There will also be substantial liabilities in respect of the seven star hotel the Waterfront undertook to build for Sol Kerzner's one and only company. One must wonder why tax payers' money and the hard earned pensions of Transnet workers be placed in jeopardy by spending in excess of six hundred million rands to build a luxury hotel for Mr Kerzner's company, which will merely lease it from the Waterfront. These are tremendous commercial risks which neither Government nor pensions funds have any business in undertaking.
We call on the Minister of Public Enterprises to rectify the situation ensuring that the Waterfront is finally privatized as was promised by Transnet's CEO, Maria Ramos.