Friday, June 30, 2006

The ANC's eviction plans in Durban

At the recent World Urban Forum, I asked Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa's Housing Minister, about forced evictions in Durban. In case some readers of this blog can't believe that the African National Congress government engages in such tactics, so reminiscent of Apartheid, here's a press release from Abahlali baseMjondolo, a squatter organizing group that has emerged as one of the most exciting bottom-up social movements in the country. Abahlali says that, despite fine words in favor of squatters, the ANC, at least on the local level, is pushing a policy of "mass evictions and forced removals under its 'slum clearance' programme."


Two hundred families in the Motala Height Settlement are facing eviction at the hands of the eThekwini Municipality [the official name for the government of the city of Durban]. Legal experts have declared that the planned evictions are both unconstitutional and illegal. The Motala Heights community has declared that it will resist all attempts at eviction in the courts and by mass mobilisation.

After Ward Councillor Derek Dimba arrived at the settlement on 17 June 2006 with police and private security to mark out the homes slated for destruction the community quickly mobilised and won a promise that the process will stopped until a meeting with Dimba.

But yesterday Officer Pillay of the SAPS [the South African Police Service] returned to the settlement with police and private security back up and tried to continue the process of identifying homes for demolition. The community stopped the process. Pillay promised to return and break down the shacks. The Motala Heights Development Committee told him that "This is the land where we belong. This is not the land where you belong. Don't come back without our permission."

The Motala Heights settlement lies amongst the gum tress on the hill behind Motala Heights suburb which is, in turn, just behind the many factories in Pinetown's industrial area. It was founded in 1994 and the residents mostly come from Zululand, the Eastern Cape and Ixopo although some are from as far away as the Free State. Almost everyone came here to work or to reunite families divided by migrant labour. Most of the men in the settlement work in the factories and most of the women work in the houses in the adjacent suburb. There are almost 300 shacks in the settlement. The land is owned by local tycoon Ricky Govender and he is aiming to extend the suburb up the hill in a large private development after the shack dwellers have been evicted.


e-tat said...

You start out by mentioning Sisulu. What was the response to your question?

rn said...

She said that it is the policy of the S. African government not to engage in forced evictions and that, though she wasn't directly up on the situation in Durban, she was sure it had to be a based on a misunderstanding.

Sadly, it's hard to give that credence, as Abahlali members have been beaten by the police, on orders from local ANC officials, simply for holding rallies and marches--activities that are protected under the S. Afican constitution.

Anonymous said...

typical for parlamentarists. As soon as they are in power, they betray it all. Just think about the ANC and the mines. Did 'comrade' Nelson not alsways state that ground resources would be nationalized in a 'free' southafrica?

The MST spokesperson said, once Lula was elected in Brazil, that there was no reason to rejoice as all governements tend to be the same in the end. The MST was proven right.

and the constitution? do mot make me laugh! the laws protect the rich and powerfull against the poor.

stand up now, you noble diggers

Africannabis said...

Sadly - it would appear Lindiwe Sisulu went all the way to Canada to attend the WUF3 and she learnt NOTHING.

Our Safety & Security minister has a warrant for his arrest out for contempt of court for bashing down shacks...

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