Afrique du Sud : derrière les violences, le Slum act
Eliminate the Slums Act – Press statement and digital archive
Eliminate the Slums Act – Press statement and digital archiveScroll down for a full archive of all Slums Bill/Act documents including the text of the Bill, comments and submissions against the Bill and an archive of media articles on the Bill. New documents are being added here regularly.
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement Thursday, 21 June 2007
Operation Murambatsvina comes to KZN: The Notorious Elimination & Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill
Today the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination & Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill will be tabled in the provincial parliament. Abahlali baseMjondolo have discussed this Bill very carefully in many meetings. We have heard Housing MEC Mike Mabuyakulu say that we must not worry because it is aimed at slumlords and shack farming. We have heard Ranjith Purshotum from the Legal Resources Centre say that “Instead of saying that people will be evicted from slums after permanent accommodation is secured, we have a situation where people are being removed from a slum, and sent to another slum. Only this time it is a government-approved slum and is called a transit area. This is the twisted logic of the drafters of the legislation”. We have heard Marie Huchzermeyer from Wits University say that this Bill uses the language of apartheid, is anti-poor and is in direct contradiction with the national housing policy Breaking New Ground. Lawyers have told us that this Bill is unconstitutional.
It is very clear to us that this Bill is an attempt to mount a legal attack on the poor. Already the poor, shack dwellers and street traders, are under illegal and violent attack by Municipalities. This Bill is an attempt to legalize the attacks on the poor. We know about Operation Murambatsvina. Last year one of our members visited Harare and last week we hosted two people from Harare. This Bill is an attempt to legalize a KZN Operation Murambatsvina before the World Cup in 2010. We will fight it all the way.
1. AIM OF THE BILL
The Bill says that its main aims are to:
• Eliminate ‘slums’ in KwaZulu-Natal
• Prevent new ‘slums’ from developing
• Upgrade and control existing ‘slums’
• Monitor the performance of departments and municipalities in the elimination of ‘slums’ and the prevention of new ‘slums’ from developing.
It has detailed plans to make sure that all of this really happens. The Bill also says that it aims to ‘improve the living conditions of communities’ but it has no detailed plans to make sure that this really happens. It is therefore clear that its real purpose is to get rid of ‘slums’ rather than to improve the conditions in which people live. Mabuyakulu says that we shouldn’t worry because the real targets are slum lords and shack farming but this is not what the Bill says and, anyway, there are no slum lords in Abahlali settlements. Abahlali members have been to Nairobi. We have seen how the slum lords rule the Nairobi settlements and we are strongly against slum lordism. But we do not live in Nairobi. All Abahlali settlements are democratic communities and many other settlements in KZN are also not run by slum lords.
The Bill does not aim to:
• Force local and provincial government to deal with the conditions that force people to leave their homes and move to shack settlements
• Force local and provincial government to immediately provide basic services to shack settlements like toilets, electricity, water, drainage, paths and speed bumps while they wait for upgrades or relocations
• Force local and provincial government to follow the laws that prevent evictions without a court order, the laws that prevent people from being made homeless in an eviction or to follow the Breaking New Ground Policy that aims to upgrade settlements in situ (where people are already living) instead of relocating people so far from work and schools that they have to leave their low cost houses and come straight back to shacks.
• Force local and provincial government to make their plans for shack dwellers with shack dwellers to avoid the bad planning that undermines development (such as relocating people so far away from work that they have to move back to shacks)
We do not need this Bill. The first thing that we need is for government (local, provincial and national) to begin to follow the existing laws and polices that protect against evictions, forced relocations and which recommend in situ upgrades instead of relocations. After that we need laws that break the power that the very rich have over land in the cities and we need laws to compel municipalities to provide services to shack settlements while people wait for houses to be built.
This Bill is not for shack dwellers. It is to protect the rich, by protecting their property prices.
2. DEFINITION OF IMIJONDOLO
In the Bill the word ‘slum’ is defined as an overcrowded piece of land or building where poor people live and where there is poor or no infrastructure or toilets.
The Bill uses the word ‘slum’ in a way that makes it sound like the places where poor people live are a problem that must be cleared away because there is something wrong with poor people. But it does not admit that the poor have been made poor but the same history of theft and exploitation that made the rich to be rich and it does not admit that places where poor people live often lack infrastructure and toilets because of the failure of landlords or the government to provide these things. The solution to the fact that we often don’t have toilets in our communities is to provide toilets where we live and not to destroy our communities and move us out of the city. In this Bill the word ‘slum’ is used to make it sound like the poor and the places where they live are the problem rather than the rich and the way in which they have made the poor to be poor and to be kept poor by a lack of development.
In America black community organizations have opposed the use of the word ‘slum’ to describe their communities because they say it makes it sound like there is something wrong with them and their places rather than the system that makes them poor and fails to develop their places. They also say that once a place is called a ‘slum’ it is easy to for the rich and governments to say that it must be ‘cleared’ or ‘eliminated’ but if a place is called a community then it is easier to say that it must be supported and developed.
There is also a problem with calling imijondolo ‘informal settlements’ because once a place is called ‘informal’ it is easy for people to say that it shouldn’t get any of the ‘formal’ services that people need for a proper life like electricity, toilets, refuse collection and so on. But many of us have lived our whole lives in ‘informal settlements’. We can’t wait until we live in ‘formal’ houses to get electricity to stop the fires, water, toilets, drainage, refuse collection and so on. We are living our lives now. We can’t wait to start living only when and if the government puts us in a ‘formal’ one roomed ‘house’ far out of town.
And we don’t like the word ‘eliminate’. This is a word that is violent and threatening, not respectful and caring. Our communities should be nurtured, not eliminated.
The people who live in the imijondolo must decide for themselves what they want their communities to be called. We must be allowed to define ourselves and to speak for ourselves.
3. SUPPORTING THE RICH AGAINST THE POOR
• The Bill makes it criminal to occupy a building or land without permission from the owner of the building or the land.
• It forces municipalities to force landowners to evict people on their land (or in their buildings).
• It forces municipalities to seek evictions if landowners fail to do so.
• It forces municipalities to make a plan to eliminate all the ‘slums’ in its area within six months of this Bill becoming law.
• It forces municipalities to give an annual report on its progress towards eliminating all ‘slums’.
• It forces the provincial Department of Housing to closely watch Municipalities and to support them to make sure that they evict people from land that they have occupied.
• It forces the Provincial Department of Housing to support ‘any project adopted by a municipality’ to ‘relocate’ people from imijondolo.
• It says that Municipalities may evict people when evictions are in the public interest.
• It forces landowners to protect their land against the poor with fences and security guards. Landowners who do not protect their land against the poor will be guilty of a criminal offence.
• It forces landowners to evict people from their land.
This Bill does not provide any protection for people who have been made poor by the same history and economy that made the rich to be rich and who have decided to occupy land or buildings that are owned by the rich but are not being used by them. In many countries the poor have a legal right to use vacant land or buildings that are owned by the rich but are not being used by them. It is like this in Turkey. There is no reason why South Africa can not also give this right to the poor.
The need of the very poor for housing in the cities near work and education should come before the needs of the very rich to have their property prices protected.
4. TRANSIT AREAS
The Bill allows Municipalities to buy or take land to accommodate people that have been evicted while they are waiting for new developments. These are called ‘transit areas’. The Bill does not give any guaranties as to where these ‘transit areas’ will be located, what services will be provided there, if communities will be kept together or broken up when people are taken to these places or how long they will have to live in these places.
We know that all through history and in many countries governments have put their political opponents, the very poor, people who were seen as ethnically, cultural and racially different, and people without I.D. books in camps. These camps are always supposed to be temporary – a ‘transit’ between one place and another. But very often these camps have become places of long and terrible suffering. That is why in the Mail & Guardian it was written that this Bill reminds people of Nazi Germany. We know that in India shackdwellers who were taken to transit camps in the 1960s are still there now.
5. EXPROPRIATION OF LAND
The Bill gives Municipalities the right to expropriate land. This means that they have the right to take land from landowners. This could be a very good thing for the poor if land was taken in the cities so that the poor could live safely and legally next to work, schools and clinics. But the Bill says nothing about which land should be taken. It only says that land can be taken to set up a ‘transit area’ or for people ‘removed or evicted from a slum’. Therefore it seems that the right to expropriate land will most be likely be used to evict the poor from the cities and to dump them in rural areas and not to defend their right to live in the cities against the interests of very rich land speculators and developers. Already shack dwellers are being taken out of Durban and dumped in ‘formal’ low cost houses in places like Park Gate. There is no guarantee that this will not continue.
6. CRIMINALISING THE POOR
This Bill makes any one who tries to stop an eviction a criminal who can be fined R20 000 or sent to prison for 5 years. Any normal person would try to stop an eviction. Which mother would stand by while her home and community is destroyed? If this law is passed it will make us all criminals. But this law says nothing about stopping the illegal and unconstitutional evictions that are perpetrated against shackdwellers all the time by the eThekwini Municipality. The Municipality breaks the law every time that it evicts us without a court order and every time it leaves people homeless but Municipal officials are never arrested. If the laws that exist now are now are not used fairly we have no guarantee that this law will be used fairly
7. WHO SHOULD PLAN THE FUTURE OF OUR CITIES?
Durban and Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg and all the cities in this province, this country and in the world were built by the work of the poor. But poor people didn’t only build our cities. They have also done a lot of the planning of the development of our cities. It was the poor who decided that black and white and rich and poor shouldn’t live separately and who took unused land so that everyone could live together in our cities. Our cities look the way that they do because of both the planning of the rich, the planning of various governments and the planning or ordinary poor people. For example it was Biko Zulu who decided to start a settlement in Jadhu Place near to the schools in Overport and the jobs in Springfield Park and not any government.
A democratic government should allow the poor to continue to be able to participate in planning the future of our cities. Planning should not only be a right for governments and the rich.
On Friday 4th May 2007 the Provincial Legislature came to the Kennedy Road community hall to introduce the “ KZN Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Bill, 2006”. The hall was overflowing with people from affiliating settlements of the Abahlali BaseMjondolo Movement. We clearly said “No land, No House – No Vote, No Bill!” We clearly told the Provincial Legislature about the illegal demolitions and evictions undertaken by the eThekwini Municipality, the failure to provide basic services to shack dwellers and the brutal criminalization of the politics of the poor by people like Supt. Glen Nayager of the Sydenham Police Station. They said that they do not know about any of this. If they do not know what is happening to shack dwellers in their own province then they must listen to shack dwellers before making laws. Listening and talking must come before deciding.
A World Class city is not a city where the poor are pushed out of the city. A World Class city is a city where the poor are treated with dignity and respect and money is spent on real needs like houses and toilets and clean water and electricity and schools and libraries rather than fancy things for the rich like stadiums and casinos that our cities can just not afford.
We will fight this Bill in the courts. We will fight this Bill in the streets. We will fight this Bill in the way we live our ordinary lives everyday. We will not be driven out of our cities as if we were rubbish.
For comment please contact:
1. Ms. Zandile Sithole, 0762270653
2. Ms. Zodwa Nsibande, 0828302707
3. Mr. Mnikelo Ndabankulu, 0735656241
4. Mr. S’bu Zikode, 0835470474
- Mabuyakulu plans for war on the poor Mail & Guardian article by Richard Pithouse
- Text of the KZN Slum Elimination Bill
- KZN Slum Elimination Bill: A Step Back Newspaper article by Marie Huchzermeyer
- Abahlali tell KZN government "No Land, No House, No Vote, No Bill!" by David Ntseng
- Outcry over slums bill Newspaper report by Fred Kockott
- A Review of the KZN Slums Bill Public Hearing Process Article by Zama Mkhize from the Centre for Public Participation
- Submission on the Slum Elimination Bill by Marie Huchzermeyer
- State’s cure for Shack Farms Newspaper report by Niren Tolsi
- Free Speach Radio Network report by Mpumi Magwaza
- ‘Laws Will Improve Horrible Lives’ Newspaper article on the Slums Bill by Greg Arde and Stephanie Saville
- Comment on the Slums Bill from activists in Cape Town
- Isolezwe: Bafuna ukuvikela imijondolo Abahlali ngoKwanele Ncalane
- Isolezwe: Imijondolo ‘izoba umlando’ KwaZulu-Natal ngoMlondi Radebe noKwanele Ncalane
- Poor people are not a threat to the social order Mercury article by Imraan Buccas
- Shack dwellers threaten mass action Daily News article by Bongani Mthembu
- Pictures of the 11 July illegal demolitions in Foreman Road
- Open Invitation to a Meeting to Discuss Legal & Political Strategies to Oppose the Slums Bill – Friday 13 July, 9:00 a.m., Kennedy Road
- Shack dwellers unhappy with act Mercury article by Sibusiso Mboto
- Letter to the KwaZulu-Natal Premier from the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
- Isolezwe: Abadilizelwe imijondolo bathi bazophinde bakhe ngenkani 2010 Phili Mjoli
- Poor ‘left out in the cold’ for 2010 Mercury article by Colleen Dardagan
- World Class Cities? World Class Slums? No place for the poor in the KwaZulu Natal’s Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill, 2006 Leap submission to AbM Meeting Against the Slums Bill
- Uplift slums, don’t destroy them Marie Huchzermeyer in the Mercury
- Minutes of the meeting called by Abahlali to build an alliance against the Slums Bill
- Plea to Premier over Slums Bill Sunday Tribune article by Chris Makhaye and Luke Reid
- Shack dwellers to oppose ‘Slums’ Bill Witness article by Thabisile Gumede
- Shack dwellers in bid to change act Mercury article by Sibusiso Mboto
- Slums bill not a Zimbabwe-style ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ Opinion piece in the Witness by Lennox Mabaso
- Come and live here, Mabaso! Front page article in the Daily Sun by Anil Singh
- Official to join the poor! Article in the Daily Sun by Anil Singh
- Official must eat his words! Front page article in the Daily Sun by Mxolisi Mngadi
- Report on Public Participation Exercises For: “The Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill” by Kerry Chance
- The Slums Act: full text August, 2007
- 2nd Meeting to Build a Coalition Against the Slums Act – 14 September 2007 (Pictures)
- Abahlali attempt to march against the Slums Act on 28 September
and are violently and illegally attacked by the notorious Sydenham Police
- Municipality & Province Justify Clearly Illegal Ongoing Evictions from the Siyathuthuka Settlement in the name of the Slums Act 5 & 7 October, 2007
- Mercury: Eradication of slums could hurt poor 5 October, 2007
- Municipality threatens Slums Act evictions in Arnett Drive 9 October, 2007 & the Legal Resources Centre sends a letter in response pointing out that the Slums Act does not supersede the PIE Act and that the City’s evictions are therefore illegal
- The African Executive: In defence of Slums A critique of the Slums Act from the right 31 October, 2007
- Basale benkemile bedilizelwa imijondolo Isolezwe, 6 November 2007 by Phili Mjoli
- Waze wanobuntu umshayeli wetekisi Isolezwe, 12 November 2007 by Mnikelo Ndabankulu
- Evicted Sea Cow Lake residents moved to what could be the first Slums Act ‘transit camp Daily News, 13 November 2007 by Heinz de Boer
- Some Evictions Followed by Successful Resistance in the Shannon Drive Settlement, (Probably Slums Act linked although the City has not replied to any demands, issued via popular mobilisation and lawyers, for explanation), December 2007
- Article on Abahlali and the Slums Act in GroundWork’s newsletter December, 2007
- Alan Gilbert, The Return of the Slums: Does Language Matter?, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2007
- Some Evictions Followed by Successful Resistance in the Arnett Drive Settlement, (The Mercury report says that the City tried to justify the evictions in terms of the Slums Act), January 2008
- Baphila kanzima emijondolo, Umbono weSolezwe, January 2008
- Umlando ngempilo nomzabalazo wabahlali basemijondolo eThekwini, David Ntseng & Richard Pithouse, February 2008
- Abahlali baseMjondolo Take the Provincial Government to Court Over the Notorious Slums Act, Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement Announcing the Court Challenge to the Act, February 2008
- Slum eradication Bill slated, Mercury article by Tania Broughton, February 2008
- Shack Dwellers Take on Slums Act, Mail & Guardian article by Niren Tolsi, February 2008
- Second look at the merits of shacks, Sunday Tribune article by Adrian Hadland, February 2008
- Dear Mandela, A six minute film by Sleeping Giant Films that includes footage of the possibly Slums Act related Shannon Driven evictions, February 2008
- Submission on Human Rights in South Africa to the Office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE), February 2008
- Abahlali Basemjondolo bayisa uHulumeni Wesifunda enkantolo ngokushaywa komthetho wokudilizwa kwemijondolo, March 2008
- Everyone Needs a Stake in Our Society, Mercury article by Imraan Buccus, March 2008
- Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing on his mission to South Africa, March 2008
- More Deeply Reactionary Legislation Looms: Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment Bill, March 2008
- Other provinces to implement their own Slums Acts…., Mercury, May 2008
- Slums law based on flawed interpretation of UN goals, article by Marie Huchzermeyer in Business Day, May 2008