It was a surprise to read that the legality of the Oranjezicht City Farm market, now held on the lawns of Premier Helen Zille’s Leeuwenhof residence in Oranjezicht, is being questioned, in what smacks of political posturing by the ANC.
Resulting from a suggestion received on Twitter to help save the market from closing down whilst it was operating alongside the Oranjezicht City Farm, Premier Zille agreed to hosting the Saturday morning market in December. While she checked security and logistical arrangements, she ‘had opened Leeuwenhof to the market without following due process because state red tape would have delayed it‘, reports City Press.
Complaints re hosting the market at Premier Zille’s official residence, itself a provincial heritage site, are that a public participation process for the use of government property was not held; that the government is paying for the expenses; and that city by-laws re noise and traffic have not been adhered to. Fingers have been pointed at Premier Zille’s friendship with Sheryl Ozinsky, co-founder of the Oranjezicht City Farm and its market, implying that this friendship may have benefited the market relocation. Ozinsky responded: ‘But in these circumstances, with the notice [to Oranjezicht] served by Heritage Western Cape – which would have meant the sudden end of the market – the premier offered vendors an alternative venue so the market, its job creation and convenience to the public was not stopped by government red tape’. In a call to her last night, she talked about the success of the market, and how the number of traders has doubled since they moved to Leeuwenhof, demonstrating ‘the power of good food‘. It has an upmarket following by residents in Tamboerskloof, Oranjezicht, and Gardens, and is an outlet for the Oranjezicht City Farm produce, and creates an income for Cape Town food traders who focus on healthy and organic foods.
The market pays its water, electricity, security, cleaning, and refuse costs. It also pays for lifeguards for the swimming pool, and medical staff. Critics of the market say that additional security and lawn maintenance costs are being incurred due to the market.
The ‘power of good food‘ is evident in the support it receives from Capetonians, and the traffic stream coming down Kloof Street on Saturday mornings, making it difficult to get into the street from any side roads. Given that Ozinsky and her co-founders have given all their energy to making first the Oranjezicht City Farm and then the market such a success at no financial benefit to themselves, it is a shame that their motives in running such a successful market should be questioned. Capetonians going to the market, which is open to all at no cost, enjoy its location, the lovely vibe, and the ability to enjoy a facility which they all pay for via their rates and taxes. Ozinsky told me that the market will only operate at ‘Villa Zille’ until the end of April, whereafter they have to find a new venue.