Whether by design or accident, Western Cape premier Helen Zille opened the door for the much-touted “sweating” of military facilities and properties as an income source for the cash-strapped Department of Defence.
In her State of the Province address to the Western Cape provincial legislature this week she pointed out “there are five very well located mega-properties in the Cape metro, that according to rough estimates could yield over 100 000 housing units in a mixed-use development context”.
Zille named the properties as being AFB Ysterplaat, “the sprawling military property adjacent to Century City”; Youngsfield, “a military property ideally nestled in the southern suburbs of Kenilworth”; Wingfield, located along the key transit artery of the Voortrekker Road; Denel, “another military property ideally situated along the coast linking Khayelitsha to Strand” and Culemborg, an inner city property across from the harbour.
Four of the five properties identified are or were used for military and defence industrial purposes. None are fully utilised and the plea for them to be released is in line with Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s announcement last year that the Department of Defence (DoD) and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would be looking at ways of “sweating” assets and facilities for them to become revenue contributors rather than drains on the defence budget.
This concept was taken further by the national defence and security acquisition agency, Armscor. Its chief executive, Kevin Wakeford, bought into the Minister’s thinking and subsequently announced construction of office accommodation at Armscor’s Gerotek facility, west of Pretoria. Indications are Defence Intelligence will move in and use the new accommodation as its headquarters.
“Our plea to the national government is to release these game-changing properties and requisite funding – and we will apply the Western Cape better living model on a scale as yet unwitnessed in South Africa. It will transform access to affordable housing and transform the legacy of our apartheid urban form,” the Western Cape premier said.