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South Africa: Water struggles from Johannesburg and beyond

By Dale T. McKinley

It’s been five years since residents of the poor community of Phiri (Soweto) were first confronted with the practical consequences of the City of Johannesburg’s corporatisation and commodification (read: privatisation) of water delivery. That was when Phiri was chosen as the first community in the Johannesburg Metro to ``benefit'' from the implementation of its Operation Gcin’amanzi. What subsequently happened has now been well documented many times over: the surreptitious and forcible installation of pre-paid water meters under the pretext of fixing ageing infrastructure; the victimisation and cutting-off of supply to those who refused; and, sustained resistance pitting community residents – organised through the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and the newly formed Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) -- against an ``unholy alliance'' of Johannesburg Water, the City of Johannesburg, state prosecutors, the South African Police Services and private security firms.

Given such an overwhelmingly uneven contest of power/resources, the resistance forces were never going to halt Operation Gcin’amanzi (the first of its kind in post-apartheid South Africa) in its tracks and gain an outright victory in their struggle for accessible/sufficient free water and human dignity. Those on the left who at the time (and have since) argued for continuous physical resistance were and are not the ones on the receiving end of what was arguably the most sustained, sophisticated, resourced and vicious attack by combined state-corporate forces on one poor community in South Africa since 1994. Many Phiri residents paid an enormous personal price for physically resisting and standing up for their rights and dignity.

Besides helping to re-invigorate the tactic of re-appropriation of a public resource turned into a privatised commodity (through destroying and/or by-passing pre-paid water meters), the battle of Phiri marked another new watershed in post-1994 water struggles. It served to not only further focus South African and international (critical) attention on the practical character and consequence of the African National Congress (ANC) government’s neoliberal (water) policy onslaught, but also opened the door to testing the stated water service delivery commitments of relevant state policies/ legislation and South Africa’s constitution.

For left/anti-capitalist activists, it is never an easy thing to adopt tactics that do not appear to fit into pre-configured, historically located understandings and approaches to such struggle (although it deserves mention that this does not, historically, apply in equal measure to those whom such activists claim to represent/struggle with). And so, it was in 2005-2006, with a great deal of trepidation and initial half-heartedness, that the APF and CAWP (with the assistance first of the Freedom of Expression Institute and subsequently the Centre for Applied Legal Studies) entered into the institutional-legal terrain of class struggle, assisting five representative Phiri residents to prepare and file a case in the Johannesburg High Court challenging the legality and constitutionality of Operation Gcin’amanzi’s limitation of the free-basic supply of water and the installation of pre-paid water meters.

The case was seen as a tactic, part of a larger, long-term strategy seeking to use all means available to ensure that water itself is seen and treated as a public resource, that water service providers remain publicly owned, managed and run and that water service delivery provides adequate, accessible and quality water to all through an in-built redistributive framework.

An excerpt from the founding affidavit of one of the applicants, Lindiwe Mazibuko, reveals the dire material and human situation that is the lot of so many Phiri residents and which is also representative of millions of other poor households across the country:

“Of the 20 people who are part of our household, one is a pensioner, 3 are small babies and six go to school. I suffer from arthritis and high blood pressure. My mother suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and has a history of cardiac arrest. My sister … suffers from a stroke. She moved in with us with her four children for us to take care of them. My mother is retired and receives a pension grant of R820 per month. The rest of us are unemployed.”

Other applicants tell the story of what it has meant to live without adequate and accessible amounts of the most basic of all needs in life - water – simply because they are poor. Jennifer Makoatsane describes the burden of washing nappies for her new-born baby, of trying to clean her father's gangrenous foot and of running out of water during the funeral for her father. Sophia Malekutu reveals the immense technical difficulties she has had with the pre-paid water meter, paying various monies to get it fixed without receiving water. And, Vusimuzi Paki relates the tragic experience of how, when a backyard shack on his property burnt down, he was unable to put out the fire because the water ran out (from the pre-paid meter). As a result, two young children – two-year old Katleho Tamane and nine-year old Dimpho Tamane – burnt to death inside the shack. Such have been the ``benefits'' of Operation Gcin’amanzi and its cynical propaganda of ‘water conservation’ for the benefit of ``the people''.

The case was filed in July 2006 and eventually heard – over three days – before Johannesburg High Court Judge M.P. Tsoka, in early December 2007. Over four months later, on 30th April 2008, in a historic and ground-breaking judgement, Judge Tsoka declared that the City of Johannesburg’s forcible installation of prepaid water meters in Phiri is both unlawful and unconstitutional. The judge ordered that the limitation of free basic water to the present 6 kilolitres per household per month, be set aside and that the City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg Water must supply Phiri residents with 50 litres per person per day. Furthermore, the court declared that the choice given to residents of either a prepaid meter or a standpipe for water provision in Phiri is also unlawful and directed the city to provide residents of Phiri the option of an ordinary credit metered water supply. The City of Johannesburg was also ordered to bear all the legal costs of the applicants since 2006.

The judgement ranks as one of post-apartheid South Africa’s most important legal victories for poor communities and all those who have been struggling against unilateral and profit-driven neoliberal basic service policies. As CALS stated soon after the judgement, this is the first time, “in which the constitutional right to water has explicitly been raised”. Judge Tsoka however, went beyond the legal points, recognising the racial, class, administrative and gender-based discrimination underlying the City of Johannesburg’s water policy. The judge explicitly rejected the arguments for restricting the water usage of poor communities: “… to expect the applicants to restrict their water usage, to compromise their health, by limiting the number of toilet flushes in order to save water is to deny them the rights to health and to lead a dignified lifestyle.” The judge labelled the so-called ``consultation'' with the Phiri community as, “more of a publicity stunt than consultation” and criticised the city’s “big brother approach”.

The greatest credit for this extraordinary legal victory must go to the residents of Phiri that resisted the installation of the pre-paid meters, and to all the other residents of poor communities, both in Johannesburg and across the country, who have been fighting for accessible, affordable and sufficient water provision/delivery. While the judgement has already been appealed by the respondents, and will most probably go all the way to the Constitutional Court, this does not detract from the political and social significance of this victory. It is a case which does not only have applicability to South Africa but which, by its very character, enjoins the attention and direct interest of billions of poor people around the world who are suffering under neo-liberally inspired water policies, alongside the governments that are implementing such policies and their corporate allies who seek to turn water into nothing less than another profit-making stock market option.

The CAWP and its allies are confident that the High Court judgement will be upheld and that water provision will now no longer be delivered in a discriminatory, patronising and inhumane manner. While legal avenues of redress are inherently slow and the ‘justice system’ rarely provides any meaningful justice to the poor, it is important to make use of the legal space to expand, advance (and even further clarify) the base struggles on the ground.

In the meantime, the struggle against all forms of water privatisation continues. Numerous mass actions (pickets, marches, door-to-door campaigns etc.) have been undertaken over the last year by various community structures allied to the APF and CAWP. In Kliptown, the struggle against the continuation of the bucket system, suspect water quality (attributable to a death by cholera just last week) and lack of infrastructural development has intensified. In the informal shack settlement of Boiketlong (in the Vaal) the community has been on the offensive against an almost complete lack of water and sanitation infrastructure, a struggle that is slowly but surely forcing the municipality to concretely respond. In nearby Sebokeng (Zone 20), residents have begun to mobilise the community and make their demands heard, despite heavy police repression which has already resulted in the death of a community activist last seen in the company of the police. And earlier this year, action by residents of the Kwa-Masiza Hostel, under the banner of CAWP, who had been without water since 2001, succeeded in forcing the water service provider – Metsi A Lekoa – to restore water supplies to the hostel.

Outside of Gauteng, the CAWP and APF remain actively involved in organising, mobilising and assisting communities in both water and other basic service struggles in Rammolutsi (Northern Free State), Khutsong (North West) and in and around Queenstown (Eastern Cape). Besides South Africa-specific work and activism, the CAWP has also been central in the formation and ongoing work of the newly formed African Water Network and its activists have participated in numerous regional and international social fora and meetings with allied movements and progressive NGOs.

The collective impact of various forms of water privatisation on the majority of South Africans continues to wreak havoc and misery. Occasional cholera outbreaks/deaths persist, inadequate hygiene and ‘self-serve’ sanitation systems lead to continuous exposure (especially for children) to various preventable diseases and uncontrolled effluent discharges and scarcity of water for food production intensifies environmental pollution and degradation. The human dignity of entire communities continues to be ripped apart, as the right to adequate, accessible free water is sacrificed at the altar of commodified privilege and profit.

Yet despite this, the struggles against water privatisation have already achieved advances for the poor and have begun to place increasing socio-political-legal pressure on government. Crucially, these struggles continue to plant the seeds of an alternative, seeds that can be found in the organised ability of poor communities to both politically and physically undermine privatised delivery at the point of ‘consumption’. Not only is this an act of self-empowerment at the most basic level of reproductive life, but provides the foundation upon which the majority of South Africans can pursue the demands for policy and structural changes in the ownership, management and distribution of water and other basic services essential to life.

(Dale McKinley is an activist with the Anti-Privatisation Forum and the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, and an independent writer, researcher and lecturer. A version was published in the current issue of the left-wing South African magazine Amandla.)

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Freedom Charter and the people of Kliptown

The African National Congress retraces its roots to the signing of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown on the 26th June 1955 while betraying the people who live there

By the Anti-Privatisation Forum and Kliptown Concerned Residents

June 25, 2008 -- The African National Congress (ANC) retraces its roots to the signing of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown on the June 26, 1955, while betraying the people who live there.

Empty Promises of the Kliptown People's Convention

The Freedom Charter (adopted on 26th June, 1955 in Kliptown) says:

``We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people; - that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; - that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities; - that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthrights without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief; And therefore, we the people of South Africa, black and white together - equals, countrymen and brothers - adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes set out here have been won.''

Many of the leaders of the ANC are embarking on a downward mission of visiting the informal settlements of Kliptown to listen to the voices of the poor. This is a political mission to reclaim the confidence of the people of Kliptown as they have failed to deliver services for the people since they took power in 1994. What is important about this visit is that it coincides with the historic signing of the Freedom Charter on the 26th of June 1955 in Kliptown, the day that symbolises the dream and aspirations of a non-racial, free South Africa. This was an historic achievement by the oppressed people of the country under the violent and brutal force that created a system of separate development.

Today we see the political leaders of the ANC (Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo and ANC President Jacob Zuma) coming down to the people of Kliptown to repeat what they declared almost 58 years ago. Mayor Masondo was invited by the community of Kliptown on the 6th February 2008 to a People's Inspection but he failed to come down to the people, yet he still had the indecency to tell the media that he didn't receive an invitation. He was also invited on several occasions to receive a community petition on the vote of no confidence in the local ward councillors but he never responded. On the 18th June 2008, to the amazement of the people, he visited Kliptown accompanied by the Greater Kliptown Development Forum (GKDF) in a grand tour around Kliptown.

Crisis of housing

Many of the residents demanded that the mayor fasttrack the process of the development of houses in the area while making it clear that the people of Kliptown are not willing to be relocated to another area. Some of the residents have been living in the area since the early 1940s when their parents settled there and whose children today face the similar danger of not getting proper houses. One woman indicated in the meeting that her shack burnt down on the previous day and no official responded to her plight. She is now living with her neighbours who have given her and her eight-month old baby girl temporary accommodation.

The Kliptown residents also told the mayor on his grand tour of Kliptown that they want to be given ownership of the houses that are built on the old Pimville golf course. The mayor's response was that people who have been on the 1996 housing waiting list would be given priority for occupation. He also reported that the City has budgeted more than R710-million for the development of housing in Kliptown and that the City is committed to service delivery. The mayor indicated that the people should be involved in the Integrated Development Programmed (IDP) at their local level as it outlines the city's plan in terms of development in the area. The current IDP implementation period is from June 2008 until June 2012 with a housing allocation of R10 million for all the wards in Kliptown. Mayor Amos Masondo could only say what the city is planning to do but he failed to state when the plans will be implemented -– just as many other politicians (Premier Sam Shilowa, MEC for Housing Nomvula Mokonyane, MMC for Housing Strike Ralekgoma, MEC for Department Social and Welfare Zola Skweyiya) have done in years past. The community is impatient with the situation of immobility that prevails, and will mobilise for their rights to decent housing and basic services.

Water and sanitation

There was an outbreak of cholera in April but the City of Johannesburg together with Johannesburg Water continue to claim that the drinking water is 100% safe. Yet, Johannesburg Water embarked on a mission to distribute water purifying bleach in the area, advising people to boil their drinking water. They will not admit the water is contaminated because they will then be culpable for the deaths of two residents. Residents have for many years said that there needs to be proper infrastructure for the development of the area. The real situation is that 45,000 families are allocated more or less thirty communal taps in the area. The Mayor of Johannesburg and the Premier of Gauteng have both declared that eradicating the bucket system in the province, and in Kliptown particularly, would be dealt with as a priority. But what has been done so far is the deployment of the very VIP toilets that the community is opposing. We all have to remember that Mayor Amos Masondo opposed the recent High Court ruling on prepaid water meters. Judge M.P. Tsoka ordered that the residents be given freedom of choice about what type of water delivery system they want.

Political games

The main reason that the ANC leaders are coming to Kliptown is that the national elections are around the corner in 2009 and they want to reassure the people that the ANC is a caring organisation. Currently, the city is spending more than R10 million in building basement parking at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication (WSSD) next to the R41 million Soweto Holiday Inn. The speaker of the Johannesburg Council Chamber, Nkele Ntingane, visited Kliptown on the 18th of June 2008 to respond to a memorandum that was sent by the Kliptown branch of the South Africa National Civic Organisation (SANCO). But it is not surprising that Madame Speaker Nkele is the Gauteng national chairperson of SANCO and that SANCO's memorandum was not as controversial as the one that the residents submitted. On the 14th August 2007, the residents of Kliptown marched to the Region D/G offices in Eldorado Park to deliver their memorandum including a petition that was calling for the resignation of the three local ward councilors (Ward 17- Patience Peterson, Ward 19- Mandla Mtshali and Ward 37- Zodwa Nxumalo). It was delivered to the late Shimi Mogale who then took it to the relevant authorities including the City of Johannesburg Council but there was no answer from that chamber until the Madame speaker Nkele visited Kliptown to resolve the SANCO memorandum, ignoring other memorandums that were sent to her office from Kliptown residents.

Mass action

It is clear that the visit by African National Congress President Jacob Zuma on the 26th of June 2008 will be another parade of the empty promises by the ANC as his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, had done in his address on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Freedom Charter in 2005. The people of Kliptown remember this celebration very vividly because the government spent millions of rand in bussing people to Kliptown to enjoy the significance of the day. This year there are no big celebrations but there is a political ploy by the ruling party to be seen to be listening to the demands of the residents and committing themselves to addressing the problems.

A world giant, Nelson Mandela, will be celebrating his birthday globally in July and the President of Liberia will be in Kliptown to join the celebration. The people of Kliptown would also want to celebrate with the world the fruits of democracy and the Freedom Charter. But how can the people celebrate when many of them are living in these terrible, inhumane conditions?

The visit by the ANC to Kliptown is an occasion to mobilise the community to stand in solidarity with the eight Kliptown comrades who were arrested on the 3rd of September 2007 for public violence. These are the comrades who were fighting for service delivery in the area and were arrested because of government's failure to deliver on their empty promises. These are the objectives of the struggle of the Kliptownians, a struggle which the South African government has recognised as legitimate and as deserving international support. The residents will continue with mass action in demanding service delivery in the area and the eradication of the bucket system. It should be a day to pause and pay our respect to all those who have lost their lives in the course of the struggle and those who have been imprisoned, interned or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the ANC's neo-liberal policies that have seen the extension of the apartheid regime in further impoverishing the people.

Sekwanele! We are fed up and cold here in the tents

24 June 2008
Statement from Abahlali baseMjondolo bakuAsh Road

Sekwanele! We are fed up and cold here in the tents

We see many things planned for us, promised to us, and written about us in the newspapers but there is never our voice - always it is the words and the empty promises and the visions of the politicians, the so-called leaders, and the Municipality. It is not right for outsiders and 'leaders' who are not forced to be living in tents in the winter to be the only ones who speak and act. They tell us again and again in different ways the same thing – "be silent, be patient, we are making plans and visions for your future". For us who are living here, this makes us to see that we are treated as if we are not people. We are human beings and now we are saying No! No more of this disrespect and lying. We are fed up; the time has come for the world to know that we think, we speak, we act. Councillor Green and his family have not been living in the tents. As far as we are concerned he must therefore shut up.

When the heavy rains fell in January, we were put into these tents on the Tatham sportsground. We were told this was for three months only and we were forbidden to return and rebuild our homes. It is six months later now, and we are still here. It is the middle of winter now, and we are still here. The freezing cold, at night especially, is really killing us – one of our neighbours in the tent has already died from the cold; another one nearly died the other night from smoke from a fire that was lit to try and stop dying from the cold! We have been living so long in these tents that they are now all torn and worn-out. When it rains it is not just freezing cold but leaking so there is water inside too. This week, the municipality has also threatened that they will soon remove the few portable toilets they put here for us to use. Well this will just make our life, which is hard to bear already, even harder and unbearable for us.

We have no trust in the promises and visions that others make for us. They promise us 'temporary housing' in formal tin shacks that they will put somewhere else, and they promise houses and flats (that we do not want) somewhere else that they do not know yet. We can see now that, even if these promises eventually come, they would not be better than the housing we can build for ourselves anyway. We think there is no future for us and our children living in tents or temporary tin houses. For us it will be better to rebuild our jondolos right here on the sportsground and this is what we will do. Our mud shacks give us a better protection from freezing cold and summer's heat.

Now it is clear to us that we are the ones who can really make a better life for ourselves – definitely better than tents and empty promises! We, the people who are living in these conditions, are the ones to find a better solution. It is going to be better to leave behind all the politicians, the committees, the officials and so on and we will discuss and plan and act together as the people taking our own issues forward in the way that we decide.

ENDS

Contact: as members of Abahlali baseMjondolo we have worked together to write this statement. For reasons of security and intimidation we cannot give individual names but the following telephone numbers can be used to speak to residents from the tents and from the shack settlement: 076 657 5041 or 082 504 7866.

Annexure: for some background information from an independent housing rights organisation called the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) please read the attached report from a workshop held by COHRE at the invitation of Abahlali baseMjondolo bakuAsh Road at the Ash Road settlement on the 7th of June this year.

The report is available online in pdf at: http://abahlali.org/files/Ash%20Road%20workshop%2020080607%20(lr%20version).pdf

Kliptown residents won't celebrate Mandela's birthday

   Kliptown Concerned Residents Anti Privatisation Forum

9 July 2008

Kliptown residents won't join the world in celebrating Saint Mandela's birthday.
We want him to share our poverty with the rest of the world

The Kliptown Concerned Residents will be marching on Saturday 12th July 2008 at 10h00 to the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication to deliver a memorandum to Nelson Mandela. The community will be gathering at Battery Centre from 09h00 and proceed to Union Road at 11h00. We are protesting against poor service delivery in the area and we want the former State President to address our concerns. This follows a series of attempted engagements with various Department of Housing officials and many stakeholders within Kliptown to resolve the housing crisis in the area. The non-delivery of houses in Kliptown cannot continue and the unaccountable ward councilors who have repeatedly failed to address the needs of the community have been fired. A petition was signed by Kliptown residents and handed over to the relevant authorities on the 11th of August 2007 but there were no answers to the petition that called for the resignation of the useless ward councilors. Johannesburg mayor, Amos Masondo, came to Kliptown on the 18th June 2008 to address the community about housing development but again it was clear that the mayor came to window shop community concerns.

At a community mass meeting on the 6th July 2008, the residents took a resolution that they won't welcome Nelson Mandela when he comes to celebrate his birthday in Kliptown because of the failure of the African National Congress to deliver on its promises since 1994. Many of the residents voted for him with the hope that he would deliver the promised free housing for all. The residents are angry because they feel betrayed. Nelson Mandela was in Kliptown in June 1955 when he was running away from the racist apartheid police and he was part of the historic signing of the Freedom Charter. But when he introduced the neoliberal macro-economic policy in 1996, he sold out the people's rights to housing. The community demands that as a retired politician, he must be reminded that the people of Kliptown are still without houses and they are living in squalid conditions.

It is a great honour that he is celebrating his birthday in Kliptown but the people here have no reason to celebrate without the area being developed. There was a People's Inspection in Kliptown on the 6th February 2008 that exposed the living conditions in the community and again no executive member of government attended the meeting. The situation in Kliptown is being taken for granted and we have resolved to demonstrate that the heralded father of the nation and international celebrities has failed us. We plan a peaceful march to show that the halo on Mandela's head was placed there to bless the fact that he sold the liberation of South Africa short.

 

For further information please call Sipho Jantjies @ 073 8961 353 or Sello Tladi @ 083 8591 654 or Silumko Radebe @ 011 333 8334 or 072 1737 268

 

Anti Privatisation Forum
123 Pritchard Street (cnr Mooi)
6th floor Vogas House, Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 333-8334 Fax: (011) 333-8335
Website: www.apf.org.za

South Africa: APF protests on 24th anniversary of Vaal Uprising

ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM

 

PRESS ALERT

Tuesday 2nd September 2008

 

ASINAMALI!

 

We will fight for access to basic services and against the Privatisation of our Constitutional rights

 

Tomorrow, 3rd September 2008 marks the 24th Anniversary of the Vaal Uprising and the struggle against working class oppression by the ruling class. The Anti Privatisation Forum will embark on various community mass actions across Gauteng in protest against poor service delivery by the African National Congress government. Residents of Soshanguve in Tshwane, Meadowlands in Soweto, Tembalihle in Lens South, and Marlboro in Alexandra will be marching to their local municipal offices to deliver memoranda of grievances and those in the Vaal Triangle will be hosting a rally in Sebokeng Saul Tsotetsi Hall (see below for more specific details).

 

On Monday, 3rd September 1984, thousands of working and poor people stood up collectively to launch a campaign that marked the beginning of national boycotts of payments for rates and services (the rent boycotts).  'Asinamali' - 'We Have No Money' - became our cry against the unjust urbanisation policies of the apartheid government. Similarly today, townships of the Vaal – Boiketlong, Kanana, Boiketlong, Dunusa, Sonderwater, and Soweto: Kliptown, Protea South, Tembalihle - again cry, 'Asinamali'.  

 

Last year on this same day, the APF took to the streets in protest over poor and/or non-existent service delivery. Tragically, in Protea South, one comrade (Oupa Mputle) was killed by a delivery van as he was taking part in the service delivery protest where eight people were arrested for public violence. In the informal settlement of Kliptown (Soweto), eight more people were arrested during a protest – the case against these comrades continues until today while the local and provincial government continue in their failure to deliver basic, quality services in Kliptown. There are many other poor communities that have taken to the streets in thousands of protests since the ANC government came to power in 1994.  While the apartheid government no longer exists, the policies of privatisation that it initiated, within an overall framework of racialised planning and development, continue today. 

 

The ANC government's adoption of a neoliberal macro-economic framework has meant that policies of privatisation/commercialisation and consequent cost-recovery in the delivery of basic services have escalated. These have, over many years now, become the driving forces behind the increased anger within poor communities as they have only excacerbated apartheid's entrenched inequalities.  Combined with the overall drop in living standards of the poor due to lack of job opportunities and increases prices of all basic necessities of life, this has meant that many communities have been forced to accept standards of living worse than those imposed under apartheid.  As the ANC government has chosen to accept the rules of neoliberalism, the site-and-service schemes that we fought against in the '80s have become its preferred choice for delivery to the poor.  It is not surprising then that the townships of the Vaal (and all over the country) are rising up once again to demand the quality of life that we were fighting for in the Asinamali campaign of the '80s. 

 

As communities struggle today, it is important to remember the past struggles in an attempt to learn from them and to make them speak again in the present. In the 80s, communities argued that the poor must not pay for substandard housing and basic services, and that we would not support the racist urban planning of the apartheid government.  We demanded to know why the poor were living in 'matchbox houses' in dusty and far-removed townships while white people lived in huge mansions in beautiful, green suburbs close to the city centre.  Education was seen as an important aspect of a quality life, and so we also demanded changes in this sphere. Today, the demands being made in communities in the Vaal and across the country sound very much like our demands of the '80s.  Unaccountable local councillors, continued spatial segregation and substandard development and delivery for the poor continue to be our complaints. 

 

For more information and/or comment about the actions please call Silumko Radebe (APF Organiser) @ 072 1737 268 or 011 333 8334 or khethokuhle@gmail.com

 

 

SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON THE ACTIVITIES TOMORROW

 

 

  1. Pretoria: the Soshanguve community will gather at Soshanguve Block BB Mashimaite Garage at 09h00 in the morning and then the march will proceed at 10h00 to the Soshanguve Municipal office at block F. The main demands speak to the privatisation of electricity, electricity cut-offs, water disconnections, poor roads, non-availability of water storm drains & the high price tag on the graveyards where residents have to pay almost R850.00 for their families to be buried. Community contact is James Mfishane @ 076 857 0905

 

  1. Soweto: residents of Meadowlands under the banner of the APF affiliates – the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee and the Soweto Concerned Residents - will be gathering at Meadowlands Zone seven city park @ 10h00 and they will be marching to the Meadowlands Municipal Office in zone 2 to deliver their memorandum of grievances. The key issues are poor housing service delivery and the corruption in the housing department in issuing out housing title deeds. Community contact is Mashinini @ 078 471 3850

 

  1. Lens South: the community of Tembalihle will be gathering at Park Station in Tembalihle at 09h00 to march to the City Power Office in Lens to demand the electrification of their community. Community contact is Ghetto Gopane @ 082 269 2741

 

  1. Vaal Triangle: residents of various communities in the Vaal Triangle will be having a mass meeting at the Sebokeng Saul Tsotetsi hall where discussions around further protest action against lack of service delivery and police repression will take place. Community contact is Phineas Malapela @ 072 234 9005
Alexandra: the residents of Marlboro will be marching to the Alexandra Renewal Project Offices in Wynberg at Andries Streets. They will gather at the Marlboro Grounds at nine and then proceed to Wynberg at 10h00. The main issue is corruption in the  housing system. Community contact is Bushy @ 078 119 8327

Water usage

Desai criticises court cases as consuming energy and deflecting from mass mobilisation. But he says they also generate publicity, provide focal points for mobilisations and can help link communities similarly affected by service cuts in other areas of the country.

When the water company came to disconnect the water in another house in Bayview, in Chatsworth, the community turned up en masse and formed a human wall around the targeted houses. “The security company withdrew. There was a mood of elation and militancy… with people dancing in the cul-de-sacs between the rows of flats to music hastily improvised… This was now the fifth battle in a row they had won against those who would either evict them or cut off their water…. Chatsworth was fast becoming a theatre of defeat for the Metro Council…. The next day… an agreement was reached that the water cut-offs would be stopped… Accounts would be frozen with no further interest charged on arrears, and the water could be turned back on. On the day the Bayview water case was to be heard, 200 people from Umlazi arrived at the High Court. Their water had also been cut…. They had come to protest in solidarity.”

Struggle plumbers abound – and are not prosecuted. The council re-disconnects, and the struggle plumbers dis-re-disconnect. “The Durban Council is thus creating mass lawlessness by the sheer scale of its acts of oppression, which are bound to breed resistance.”

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