SAPOA bosses meet Cape Town Mayor

Amelia Beattie, President of the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA), right, with Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille; and, Neil Gopal, SAPOA’s Chief Executive Officer, at SAPOA’s “Meet the Mayor” dinner in Cape Town last week. SAPOA plans to entrench its “Meet the Mayor” campaign as an annual affair around the country.

The need to strengthen dialogue and the overarching relationship between government and the private property sector has become imperative, not only for real estate players to get their projects off the ground and their voices to be heard, but to assist the public sector to bolster economic growth.

This is something the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) understands and is actively rallying behind, namely through its highly successful “Meet the Mayor” series. Last week (Thursday, 23 October 2014), SAPOA President Amelia Beattie and CEO, Neil Gopal, met the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, and her entire executive team, including Deputy Mayor and members of the Mayoral Committee, in an endeavour to entrench its “Meet the Mayor” campaign as an annual affair.

It comes a year after SAPOA hosted its first pioneering dinner dialogue with the Mayor of Cape Town, in its effort to bridge the gap between the public and private sector, as well as assist in solving some of the focal issues raised between the two parties. Like the first dinner, last week’s meeting was attended by a host of key players in the property industry who had burning questions to ask.

“When the SAPOA Board first initiated the idea in 2013 under the Presidency of Estienne de Klerk, the intention was to facilitate detailed interaction between property owners, members of SAPOA and the local government of Cape Town,” said the SAPOA President said in her opening welcome at the dinner.

“This dinner, which we hope to bring to the industry on an annual basis, started ways of improving strategic collaboration and partnerships between the private and public sectors. It has now become a blueprint for SAPOA to have similar engagements in other cities,” added Beattie.

She said SAPOA recognised that good communication with local government was essential and an imperative for the positive performance of the commercial property sector in Cape Town and in South Africa. Beattie noted that the “Meet the Mayor” series initiative now encouraged debate on the challenges facing SAPOA’s members as well as awareness on development and infrastructure expansion matters to help remove obstacles to investment.

At last week’s dinner, Mayor de Lille reiterated her comments from last year’s dinner of the need to shift expectations about Cape Town being a holiday destination only to that of a place for doing business and making investments.

Out of the plethora of the city’s initiatives and development projects, Cape Town is identifying key economic opportunities namely in public transport and transport corridor development, as well as housing plans. The city is also embarking on rolling out major fibre optic infrastructure in the effort of becoming Africa’s first digital city – a massive feat that Mayor de Lille is aiming for.

“The reality is that we as an industry and local government are inseparable, and we have to work together,” encouraged Beattie.

Mayor de Lille said the City of Cape Town valued the property sector’s business and its “user experience” of government. Without SAPOA, the city would not know what the industry’s challenges and concerns were, she added.

“Years ago the relationship between the public and private sector was strenuous. This is now changing as we begin to engage with government and the various Mayors. We thank the Mayors for their participation,” concluded SAPOA CEO, Gopal.