Cape Town project inspired by Turkey’s bread company

Cape Town project inspired by Turkey’s bread company

Emine Kart CAPE TOWN - Hürriyet Daily News
Cape Town project inspired by Turkey’s bread company

‘I’ll deal with the fight when we I get there,’ says Lille, who expects producers to resent her new public bread project, which was based by the Turkish model. AFP photo

The mayor of Cape Town is quite sure that she will arouse the anger of some residents of the city when she launches a new service inspired by a company operating in Istanbul, Turkey. Nonetheless, she is determined to implement the project which is already in the pipes for providing cheap bread to millions of residents of the South African city who have been suffering from discrepancies, mainly stemming from unemployment.

“Of course, we will be undercutting the prices of the bread cartels in our country, but I’ll deal with that fight when I get there; we will start this bakery before the end of end of the year,” Cape Town’s Mayor Patricia de Lille told a group of journalists from Turkey on Oct. 3, as she was explaining the municipality’s engagement in various kinds of collaborations with the municipalities of Istanbul, İzmir, and Bursa.

The idea of building a company similar to Istanbul’s municipality-owned bread producer and seller firm Halk Ekmek emerged during a meeting between De Lille and Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş when the former visited the city.

 “It is the only country that I’ve visited twice in a year; I was so excited that in September 2012 we went back to Istanbul,” said de Ville, without hiding neither her sympathy for Turkey nor her excitement over cooperation with municipalities of Turkey which she believes will serve for the good of her people.

“We met with Kadir Topbaş [in April 2012]; we started talking about an item that today we are still working on. Istanbul has got a municipal bakery which supplies millions of loaves of bread a day. It is very good, nutritional bread and they also have a very good distribution method for distributing the bread. We talked with the mayor about starting something similar in Cape Town,” de Ville explained.

Afterwards, a delegation from Topbaş’s office came to Cape Town in order to brief their colleagues, concerning the concept and the recipe, including all the nutritious vitamins.

“Before the end of this year, we will launch a Cape Town Municipal Bakery with the help of Istanbul. Of course with all methodology, we will also import the first machine from Turkey. What the city of Cape Town has done is that we have provided the land to build the factory and we will also assist with opening the distribution points. The idea is, later on that we will try to buy farmland for the production of organic corn in order to create more jobs,” she elaborated, with glittering eyes reflecting her enthusiasm.

Four decades of politics

The humbleness of this 62-year-old lady, who does not at all hesitate to listen to any kind of advice or travel thousands of miles away in order to explore useful models of service for her people, may be misleading for those who are not familiar with her background, and that she is a central figure in the national level of politics in South Africa as well.

Serving as the mayor of Cape Town since being elected in the 2011 local government elections, de Lille has actually been involved in politics for almost four decades, mainly as a trade unionist in the long struggle for equality and democracy in the once-ruled-by-apartheid-country. She apparently has both the sufficient energy and appetite to serve her people for many years to come. The launching of direct flights between Istanbul and Cape Town, as it is the case between Johannesburg and Istanbul; having Istanbul, İzmir, and Bursa as sister-cities of Cape Town; and engaging in joint projects with Turkey’s state-run housing agency, the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) working under the Prime Ministry, are only a few of the many ideas on which Cape Town and related bodies in Turkey have agreed in principle and are getting ready to take the next step to realizing these ideas. These projects will hopefully help reach her top goal of eliminating unemployment in her city and country via turning the city into an attractive spot of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Calling Turkey “a strategic partner for Cape Town,” de Lille argued that the roles of national government have become far less important and the role of cities in the 21st century as driving economic change and will drive an interaction between countries. “I’m looking forward to my next visit to Turkey. But this time, as a holiday I hope,” de Lille also said.