The Western Cape government's controversial sale of the Tafelberg property in Sea Point, Cape Town, is headed for court after discussions between Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille broke down.
The Tafelberg Remedial School site has been an issue of contention between government and activists, who wanted the land to be used for affordable housing.
According to the Mail & Guardian, Sisulu decided to take the issue to court after communications broke down, detailed in a series of letters seen by the paper.
Last month, the Western Cape provincial government approved the sale of the land, initially earmarked for affordable housing, to a private school for development.
According to Eye Witness News, in April, National Treasury also raised concerns about the sale, saying that the sale flew in the face of the provincial government's own commitment to providing housing to poor and working class people.
The Western Cape Provincial MEC for Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela, told EWN that the provincial cabinet had to strike a balance between the need to provide housing and the need to find revenue for the provincial fiscus.
"We need to strike that balance and if we don't, we run the risk of failing to fund the commitments we've made as government," he reportedly said.
The site was eventually sold to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135-million.
On Friday, the Mail & Guardian reported that Sisulu had initially declared a dispute between the two spheres of government.
Sisulu was quoted by the paper as saying:
"I'm just appalled that a government that purports to be working in the interests of everybody – and they throw in the phrase poor people, black people, all of these good phrases... when in fact they are working directly in contradiction to the interests of the poor, and especially people of colour."
A spokesperson for Zille, Michael Mpofu, told the Mail & Guardian that Zille would write to Sisulu to get clarity about her reasons for intervening.
He reportedly said Sisulu had no legal basis for intervening, and said Sisulu had not explained why she had legal standing to declare a dispute between the two spheres of government, as required by relevant legislation.
"We intend to indicate to Minister Sisulu in a letter today that she would need to set out the reasons why she asserts that the Tafelberg decision is unlawful (as opposed to her simple disagreement with it) and why she has an entitlement to take a view on it," Mpofu told the paper.