APF Local Government Platform
Thursday 29 June 2006 by Dale
ANTI-PRIVATISATION FORUM LOCAL GOVERNMENT PLATFORM
The APF is an organisation rooted in the struggles of poor communities for human dignity, socio-economic justice and equality. The Local Government Platform is our perspective on the key problems that exist at a local government level and our vision of the changes that need to be made to meet the needs of the people. This Platform is a tool for community mobilising and organising and brings together the views and struggles of communities.
Elections and People’s Power The APF understands that elections are simply one of many ways in which the voices of ordinary people can be heard. Participation in elections is a tactic. There are many ways in which working and poor people exercise direct democratic power. Yes, elections can be used to send a strong message of dissatisfaction with current political representatives through participation or through boycotting. And yes, they can also be used to try and elect new representatives (or even a new government) that are closer to the people and more accountable to those who elected them. However, the APF believes that real power in society is not going to be achieved through casting votes in elections but only through building, mobilising and struggling for independent and democratic mass working class organisation, in both the community and in the workplace. It is through such direct participation and action that we can achieve real people’s power to defeat the corruption, greed and oppression of capitalism and change our society to reflect the democratic will of the people.
The Role of Local Government under Capitalism The APF understands that in present-day South Africa, we live under a capitalist system. All levels of government under capitalism are institutional expressions of the characteristics and interests of the dominant capitalist class. Delivery of basic services to the poor majority only happens after the capitalists have made their profits and those who cooperate with them have been paid off. At local government level we experience firsthand the arrogance, corruption, greed, non-delivery and lack of accountability of those who supposedly represent and lead our communities. Local Government delivers to those who are rich and well-connected while the basic needs of the poor majority continue to be ignored. This represents class-based delivery, delivery for the rich classes. It is no surprise then, that over the last several years poor communities across the country have risen-up in protest and struggle against local government representatives and bureaucrats who do not have the interests of the majority of our communities at heart. For the APF, the role of local government can never be to replace those struggles simply by electing and putting ‘better’ people into office/government. But, what we can, and must, do is to force local government (through whatever means we may choose, including elections) to respond more directly and actively to the needs and demands of our communities.
People’s Assemblies Struggles and activities of the communities that make up the APF have allowed us, and millions of others, to see clearly that there is a real lack of direct democracy at the local government level. Most local councillors pay little or no attention to the needs and voices of the poor majority of people in our communities. The bureaucrats who run local government act as if that majority does not even exist. It is not good enough for us to simply say that we are going to elect new local councillors or that all we need to do is to just organise more protest marches to the local council offices. What we need are new ways to build direct local democracy. Direct democracy that involves the poor, working class majority in meaningful community control over local government and development. The APF proposes People’s Assemblies as an important tool in carrying out direct democracy. People’s Assemblies are popular and regular meetings of community residents. Matters of local governance and social, political and economic issues of direct concern to the community are openly discussed and acted upon. All community residents, workers, clubs should participate and collectively decide on what actions to take. It is in this way, that the real power of the people can be organised and directed towards making local government a tool to serve the community.
DEMOCRACY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Problems The problems of democracy at the local government level are directly linked to the more general crisis of democracy that exists under capitalism. In South Africa there is the rapid centralisation of power that has taken place since 1994.This power rests in the hands of a new political elite in the ANC that now effectively controls and manages the national state as well as an old white (and rising new black) economic elite that controls and manages our country’s economy. The national state is gradually becoming the ‘public’ arm of the capitalist private sector, acting in ways that facilitate and strengthen the interests of the capitalist class, both within and outside of the government. This means that as the majority of South Africans, who are part of the broad working class, we are left out of the so-called ‘democracy’. We are being reduced to acting as voting fodder every few years.
Within this so-called democracy the executive arm of government largely controls the lower levels of government: • The unilateral appointment of Mayors by the Executive level of national government. • The decisions on allocations and the setting of budgets for local government being taken by a select few without any meaningful participation from the people themselves. • The adoption of economic policies such as privatisation and corporatisation of basic services that are opposed by the vast majority of South Africans.
When it comes to the practice of ‘democracy’ at the local government level, we can see the results: • Local councils/municipalities are run like businesses and this shifts democratic ownership and decision-making away from elected representatives and into the hands of the bureaucratic and economic elites. These elites are more interested in making money and exercising unaccountable power over poor communities. • The drawing up of local budgets and IDP’s become highly technical processes that take place behind closed doors. This results in ordinary local residents being excluded from any real participation/influence. • Most local councillors become rubber stamps for the key decisions affecting people’s lives that are made by higher-ranking bureaucrats and executive structures. Local councillors often become alienated from the interests of their own constituencies and end up serving their own selfish interests in whatever way they can.
Demands We want a local government that is close to the people. We want democracy by, and of, the people. This means real participation and not simply representation (through elections and institutions). We want to make sure that local government institutions and elected representatives are accountable to those in whose name they govern.
For this to become possible we demand: • The right to recall local government representatives who are not carrying out the mandate of the people. This will be done through a people’s referendum in the relevant area/ward. • An immediate halt to the harassment, intimidation and criminalisation of community organisations, that are not part of the ruling party and/or any of its allies, by local government and ANC structures as well as by local councillors. The right to assembly, to demonstrate and to propagate ideas must be protected without bias and without resort to arrests and detention. • The acceptance and integration of people’s assemblies and independent community organisations as part and parcel of community mobilisation and public participation at the local government level. • No floor-crossing of elected representatives. If local councilors want to change their political and/or organisational affiliation then they must resign and stand under their new banner. • All public facilities such as community halls must be made available on an equal and non-discriminatory basis, regardless of political/organisational affiliation. • Local Council meetings must be held in each relevant community on a regular basis.
WATER AND SANITATION
Problems Water is life! Without it, no living being can survive and without effective delivery of adequate water, there can be no decent sanitation. With the introduction of neo-liberal policies of cost-recovery, outsourcing, corporatism and making profits from basic services, water has become a commodity, like a cool drink, to be bought and sold on the capitalist market. What this means is that those who are poor and do not have the money to pay for adequate supplies of water, simply go without.The same people also have inadequate sanitation facilities. This is outrageous and cannot be allowed to continue. Access to adequate amounts of water has been written into International Law as well as into the Constitution of South Africa. It is the government, who has been given an overwhelming mandate by the people, that has the responsibility to deliver water and sanitation facilities, regardless of one’s ability to pay and regardless of where one lives. Water is a right and not a privilege! The government’s adoption of neo-liberal policies and thus its failure to deliver adequate water and sanitation to those most in need, has led to many other problems:
• We acknowledge that water is a scarce resource in a country like South Africa and that people cannot just treat water as an unlimited resource. • The agricultural, industrial and mining capitalists are the biggest users of water. • There is massive wastage of water due to the government’s failure to invest in, and maintain, adequate water infrastructure (e.g., pipes, pumping stations and sewer treatment works). This undermines delivery to meet basic water and sanitation needs, especially for those who live in informal urban settlements and rural areas. • Government’s introduction of 6000 litres of water free to every household per month is inadequate. Not only are millions of poor South Africans still not receiving even this free amount, but the amount itself is based on a serious under-estimation of the average number of people living in poor households. • Because of government’s policies of privatisation and cost recovery, a system of pre-paid water meters has been introduced in poor communities. Pre-paid meters mean that after the 6000 free litres, water supply (and thus sanitation) is cut-off automatically until people buy more water on their meter card - if you don’t have money then you don’t get any more water. Those who have struggled against prepaid meters have been met with the full force of the state (army, police, courts and jails). • The lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities (in many poor communities the bucket-system still exists) has led to an increase in illnesses amongst poor communities - e.g.,TB, dysentery, cholera and typhoid - and has made life for those with HIV-AIDs much more difficult. It has also impacted negatively on the ability of people in poor communities to engage in important community/cultural practices such as weddings and funerals, water food gardens and has meant that emergencies such as fires cannot be dealt with. • Inadequate supplies of, and lack of access to,water and sanitation facilities has impacted most negatively on women, who continue to bear the brunt of water-related work and who have specific safety and health concerns in relation to sanitation.
Demands In order for the universal and human right to water and sanitation to become a reality for all, and for the practical delivery of adequate and accessible water/sanitation in poor communities to be realised, we believe that the following demands must be met: • The government must do away with its policies of privatisation, corporatisation and outsourcing of water and sanitation utilities, management and delivery. • Government needs to ensure that all water/sanitation service utilities (such as Johannesburg Water) are publicly owned and managed on a not-for-profit basis. • Government needs to consistently work with communities to seek collective solutions to addressing problem areas. • The cutting-off of water supplies to poor households, as well as to entire communities, must be abolished - it is both inhumane and unlawful. The same applies to the installation of trickler systems, which are designed to forcibly restrict flows of water. • The prepaid meter programme must be immediately stopped and all households must be provided with a full-credit meter that allows enough water to meet human needs and hygiene. Where people grow food for survival there must be sufficient water to maintain their gardens. • Institutions such as public schools, community halls, public clinics, public swimming pools and public recreational grounds must be exempted from all water and sanitation fees. • Immediately do away with the bucket system. Any community that still has the bucket system must be prioritised by government for the immediate implementation of a modern sanitation system. • Additionally, an infrastructural programme to allow for the installation of a flush toilet in every household in poor communities (whether urban or rural) must be rolled-out by government. In the interim, the government must immediately embark on the building of sufficient public toilets in every poor community. • Ensure that there is proper maintenance of water quality and supply to avoid the spread of disease such as occurred recently in Delmas. • The government must institute a system of luxury taxes on water consumption for wealthier households with private swimming pools and large gardens. Additionally government must set maximum water consumption amounts for high-volume private water-users such as mines and large agri-business and institute steep fines, charged proportionate to extra block amounts used, when exceeded. • The criminalisation of access to water, where there is no alternative, must stop immediately.
HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT
Problems As with adequate water and sanitation, good health is a pre-requisite for living. Under GEAR there is not adequate provision of health care. A healthy environment has been compromised by government’s failure to crackdown on corporations that abuse the environment in order to make more profits. Even though there are public clinics and hospitals, it is the private healthcare system that dominates (both in quantity and quality) and only services those who have the money to pay.The result is that accessible, quality healthcare for millions of poor people is simply out of reach. Healthcare has become a class-specific service and the ability to enjoy a healthy environment has, likewise, become a function of which class one belongs to. This state of affairs is totally unacceptable. It is a crime when tens of thousands have to suffer from preventable illnesses, die from diseases that are treatable and suffer from abuse of the environment for no other reason than that they are poor and/or have to rely on selling their labour to the capitalists to survive. Other problems include:
• Government’s neo-liberal policies have meant that spending on health services, especially at the local community level, has declined over the years. This has resulted in inadequate numbers of public facilities trying to service an expanding and geographically dispersed population. Too many sick people, especially those with HIV-AIDs, are being given inadequate treatment and/or turned away. • Private healthcare institutions are rapidly becoming the preferred ‘provider’ of health services, with poor people spending what little they have to receive the better healthcare that they offer. Not surprisingly, their profits have increased substantially. • Public clinics and hospitals are woefully under-staffed, with workers in these institutions being seriously over-worked and underpaid. One of the results of this is that public-sector healthcare workers have increasingly become demoralised and often take their frustrations out on patients. • Those same clinics and hospitals are also lacking proper medical equipment and supplies (particularly to deal with those who have HIV-AIDs), suffer from infrastructural back-logs and often operate in unhygienic and dirty conditions - all of which have negative consequences for quality public healthcare in poor communities. • Government unwillingness to enforce strict environmental regulations and laws has meant that private business has been free to ignore workplace conditions, pollute the surrounding environment almost at will and ignore the negative health consequences on affected communities and workers. • Government’s continued denialism of the extent, character and consequences of the HIV-AIDs epidemic, combined with its confusing messages around use of traditional medicines has allowed the government to shirk its healthcare responsibilities. • The power and influence of large multi-national pharmaceutical companies who only produce to increase their profits.
Demands Quality, accessible and free public healthcare as well as a healthy environment (in both community and workplace) are necessities for any meaningful development of our society. It is the responsibility of government, working hand-in-hand with ordinary people where they live and work, to deliver these necessities. But, to do so will require radical changes in government thinking and practice. We believe the demands below can lay the foundation for such a change:
• A properly resourced national and publicly owned healthcare system must be at the centre of a better healthcare programme that provides quality medical care. It would have to incorporate privately owned health resources. Private health care provision must be phased out and taken over by the public sector. • All healthcare services and medicines at public institutions must be provided free of charge to all. End the ownership, power and control of the large pharmaceutical companies. • Government must embark on a programme to ensure that there is a fully staffed and resourced public clinic for every 20 000 people, that has the capacity to dispense a range of healthcare services (including basic dentistry, paediatric and eye care). Clinics must be in operation 7 days a week. This must be complemented by a sustainable and regular mobile clinic service to those areas not immediately serviced and/or in which full clinics are widely dispersed. • No person must be turned away from a public healthcare facility and the practice of referral letters must be stopped (except in cases where non-emergency surgery is needed). • A fully-equipped and sustainable ambulance service must be deployed at every public clinic and hospital and must be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and must cover all areas under the relevant jurisdiction. • Public healthcare workers must be treated equally, paid a living wage and provided with decent accommodation, travel subsidies and social/recreational facilities. All sub-contracting of healthcare work must stop immediately. • Government must embark on a public hospital building and capacitation programme alongside the implementation of a holistic healthcare service plan for hospitals that includes counselling (with a special emphasis on victims of rape and those suffering from HIV-AIDs), services for the physically and mentally disabled as well as full-scale paediatric, dental and eye care. • Anti-retrovirals must be provided free to anyone who is HIV-positive, alongside supplementary support in the form of food parcels. Government should extend the provision of grants to people even if their CD4 count is above 200. • A comprehensive community healthcare workers system must be implemented that focuses on preventative measures and health education in poor communities and seriously strengthens homecare. • Government must immediately implement and enforce existing environmental and workplace safety legislation and introduce new, tougher air, soil and water pollution/contamination legislation aimed at big business. Those businesses that flout regulations/legislation must be heavily fined and if violations continue, must be shut down. Any healthcare services required by those who have suffered as a result of environmental and workplace safety violations must be paid for by the offending business/entity. • A nationwide public programme of tree planting, especially in poor rural and urban communities must be implemented and which involves work opportunities (with decent wages and conditions of work) for those community members who are formally unemployed.
Problems The enjoyment of free, quality and equitable public education remains a distant dream for millions of poor South Africans. Despite South Africa having more than adequate resources to turn that dream into a reality, the educational system in our country continues to reflect both past and present class and racial inequalities - a direct result of government’s implementation of GEAR-inspired education policies that seek to privatise the provision of education by handing over increasing responsibility to ‘private’ communities, through so-called ‘decentralisation’. Practically, this has produced a serious crisis in the system of public education in poor communities whose simply do not have the material or human resources to fill the ‘gap’, something that wealthier communities can easily take on. Some of the key problems that result from this crisis are:
• An enforced migration of children from poor communities to those public (and sometimes private schools) in wealthier areas that parents know offer a better education than the public schools in their own communities.The financial burden placed on the parents who choose this option most often results in serious hardship and sacrifice. • In most poor communities, a lack of government support for public schooling has resulted in over-crowded classrooms, weakening or non-existent infrastructure and an increasing decline of morale in schools and their surrounding communities. In turn, this feeds into a widespread lack of performance, bad school management practices and abusive behaviour by educational officials and teachers as well as disinterest from parents. • The absence of adequate and quality provision of basic services such as water and electricity due to a either a lack of necessary infrastructure or, where there is infrastructure, to the privatization of delivery (including the installation of prepaid meters) leading to unaffordability in poor communities. • The introduction of user fees (for things such as transport, uniforms and school supplies) has meant that many children from poor communities are being denied access to any kind of education because either they or their parents have little or no income and thus cannot afford such fees. Additionally, school authorities often use this failure to pay as an excuse to de-certify learners from attending school. • In order to make-up for the loss of government support, school authorities regularly enforce ‘voluntary work’ from those parents who cannot pay fees, resulting in unfair discrimination against poor parents and their children. In such circumstances, the community character of the school is severely weakened and it turns into a private ‘space’ where access to education, like other basic services, becomes commodified. • The unilateral implementation of age-restriction policies has meant the exclusion of older learners, leading to increased levels of illiteracy and hopelessness that often leads such older learners to turn to crime in order to survive. • A situation in which education officials and school authorities in poor communities turn to the private sector for assistance and consequently adapt curricula to the needs of the capitalist market as opposed to the needs of society. • An almost complete lack of government support for pre-school education in poor communities, resulting in the youngest learners facing a serious disadvantage when entering formal primary school. Quality pre-school education has become the preserve of those who can afford to pay for private schools. • A serious lack of sports/recreational facilities and equipment for learners in poor communities that often leads to the unproductive use of after-school time which in turn, contributes to boredom and anti-social behaviour. • The unavailability of public transport for learners and teachers (to/from school as well as for extra-curricular activities) results in high levels of absenteeism and tiredness and only serves to place further financial burdens on poor families and learners that they simply cannot meet.
Demands Without a free, quality and equitable public education system, poor communities will forever be trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and desperation. Despite some improvements in our education system since the fall of apartheid, government has failed dismally to deliver on its educational mandate. We believe the implementation of the following demands can begin to realise that mandate:
• There must be free, quality and equitable public education provided for all, from pre-school to the tertiary level as well as for adult basic education. • Government must implement an urgent and systematic nationwide infrastructural programme to build and rehabilitate schools, with priority given to the poorest communities • All user fees must be immediately scrapped and all learner and teacher materials/needs provided and produced by the government, and where feasible in partnership with school communities, free of charge. These would include, daily and quality meals for learners, uniforms, textbooks (delivered on time), sports equipment and kits, lab/computer equipment, regular learner support materials as well as public transportation for all school activities • All public schools must have access to free basic services such as water and electricity and any existing prepaid meters must be taken out of schools immediately • All enforced ‘voluntary work’ must be scrapped and adequate maintenance and security staff employed by the government for every school • No learner can be excluded from receiving an education on the basis of age restriction or as a result of failure. Special educational programmes (including ABET) must be provided in the same manner as above, to cater for older and special needs learners. The facilities in all public schools must be adequately equipped for, and open to, such learners and government must provide ABET training centres where they do not exist. • All permanent teachers in public schools must be employed by government, be paid a living wage and enjoy non-discriminatory working conditions. Those teachers who are presently ‘employed’ as volunteers must be given full employment under the same conditions as permanent teachers. • All immigrants residing in South Africa must enjoy access to education in the same manner as South African citizens. • The educational curricula in public schools must reflect the needs and aspirations of the majority of people in our society, not the needs and demands of the private (capitalist) sector. • Public schools and their curriculum should be separate from religion (secular) without any discrimination against particular religious dress codes.
Problems • Electricity like other basic services gets delivered within a framework of cost-recovery including pre-paid meters and cut-offs, inadequate free amounts, tariffs that favour capitalists and the rich and increasing reliance on the private sector involvement (who profit). • Eskom calculations suggest that an average working class family uses 400 to 600 kWh of electricity per month; this is over 10 times the current amount of free electricity that government provides. • There is class discrimination in delivery and service. Pre-paid meters are generally installed in working class communities and not in wealthier middle and upper-class suburbs. When there is a blackout in towns affecting capitalist production or shops these are always fixed quicker than the problems faced in townships which suffer long delays. Those who are rich even have special "customer care," including special managers and electricity cables that serve them whilst the working class has to wait in long queues. • There is a general lack of infrastructure in working class communities and a serious backlog in electricity connections - people are forced to ‘illegally reconnect’ just in order to access a service. • Many working class communities have inferior cables and lower powered connections (ampage). When a lot of electrical appliances are used at the same time, this causes the electricity to trip and can cause damage to domestic appliances without any compensation. • Women and children in particular suffer immensely from the lack of electricity as they are most often shouldered with the responsibility for running the household, doing the cooking, etc. • The government’s plan for electricity restructuring, including Regional Electricity Distribution (REDs) will accelerate the problems outlined above. Amongst other things it will: a) Commercialise and privatise the electricity industry, including privatising a third of electricity generation (power stations); b) The REDs will operate like private companies and compete with each other to give the cheapest prices to big business. Retailing electricity is likely to be completely privatised; c) Prices of electricity will increase as much as 50% for domestic consumers, but fall by 16% for industry (excluding inflation). Capitalists are the ones that will benefit the most. There will be far less cross-subsidisation of the poor; d) The wealthy will profit from the vast bulk of the R93 billion that government will spend on electricity. Capitalists involved in the construction and banking sectors will be the biggest beneficiaries. e) Municipalities will lose money they get from electricity sales now, which they use to fund other services. It is not clear where this money will now come from and so other services will also suffer; f ) Workers will be retrenched, work harder and have lower wages and benefits imposed on them. g) The plan is to further serve capitalists through supplying electricity in Southern Africa and owning stakes in electricity in a number of African countries (eventually to sell electricity to the profitable European market).
Demands • An end to all cut-offs and the banning of pre-paid meters • A halt to the criminalisation of community members who are forced to reconnect their electricity in order to receive a service. • Adequate amounts of free electricity to meet our needs. • Put up of street lights in every township and working class community as one part of a programme to increase safety for these communities and provide greater protection, especially against the rape of women and children. • Halt the ANC government’s plan to restructure electricity, including privatisation and the REDs that will result in job loss, competition, privatisation and higher prices for poor and working class communities whilst increasing the power and profits of capitalists and financial institutions.
EMPLOYMENT & WORKER RIGHTS
Problems • In our present society, jobs are only created if the capitalists can make a profit and those profits are always and everywhere placed above our needs. • Privatisation and commercialisation of services undermines the delivery of basic quality services as well as decent quality employment. • Unemployed people face the pain and suffering of insufficient income to meet their needs for food, travel and living. • Casualisation, labour broking and subcontracting increase, benefiting the profits of large companies. This leads to very low wages in small companies and the exploitation of vulnerable workers like those from other countries. Tenders for contracts lead to widespread corruption including corrupt councillors. • The SETA training from companies is ineffective. • The unions are not uniting vulnerable casual, contract and foreign workers. This results in workers working long hours, including overtime and 12-hour shifts, at low pay. There is no clear programme of struggle against capital and government to answer this and our need for income and useful work. • The Government Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) cannot deal with the problems of unemployment in the country. The programme promises a million jobs over 5 years. But the vast majority of the jobs are short-term and unskilled construction jobs. This cannot reduce unemployment or provide workers with real skills. Permanent” municipal jobs and jobs in other sectors are undermined. Even the gains workers won under apartheid are stolen under the EPWP. You: a) Get starvation wages, no more than the maximum average unskilled rate for similar work in the area. b) Can be dismissed without an enquiry. c) Have no access to unemployment insurance or retrenchment packages. d) Get no pay for public holidays unless you work. No pay if bosses cancel work on 24-hours notice and no overtime pay. e) Will be encouraged to do task work where you are paid per meter of ditch that you dig, working a maximum 55-hour week without overtime.
Demands • A well-funded public works programme based on plans developed by working class constituencies and the workers that build them, that provide sustained employment on decent wages. Experience should not prevent anyone from getting a job. • The state must provide opportunities and resources for collective employment activities in the community that take account of environmental concerns. • The first priority for any contracts and tenders must be given to the public sector and/or to public works initiatives. No outsourcing to the private sector. • All and any contracts made by councils should only be with companies employing a unionised workforce. Terminate all other contracts. • End employment of casual labour and labour broking in councils, and ensure expanded and useful permanent work where the working class needs services. The only section of municipal labour that seems to increase is casuals and the police force (to protect the interests of the bosses). • End the dual labour market that undermines our gains of past struggles. • As a first step immediately re-instate all stolen worker rights under the Expanded Public Works Programme, including: 40hour week, overtime and payment for public holidays. • Councillors should build support for trade union and community struggles that take forward the worker struggle against capitalists and the ANC as employer, including providing material and other assistance to strengthen them and using council platforms to announce support. • For an active state programme that en-skills people with the skills we need to provide for working class needs. These should be collective and breakdown divisions between those few who plan, think and command and the majority who carry out these plans - i.e., the division between mental and manual labour. • Entrench the right to work in the constitution and through labour laws. • Every unemployed person should have an income allowance of R780; government must take responsibility for mass unemployment caused by the brutality and inhumanness of the capitalist system.
DECENT PLACES TO LIVE
Problems • The State takes very little direct responsibility to provide places to live. Instead the construction and money for this is in the hands of those who own the wealth and who thus profit from the State’s housing policies. • We can never solve the housing crisis without adequate access to land but land is protected by private (capitalist) ownership. • There’s a national accommodation crisis: Millions live in shacks, backyards and matchboxes too small for our needs. RDP houses are small, undignified and defective. They are built far away from jobs, schools, clinics and accessible transport. We face regular attacks of evictions, rightsizing and forced removals in areas from Sebokeng to Pretoria and from Soweto to Katlehong because we do not have enough money When we fight back, the Councils call the police to viciously attack us, charge us with resistance and trespass and sometimes jail us. When we have company housing they take it back when we are retrenched, or force us to use our pensions to pay for them. • When you need a house you must pay your money upfront. • There is widespread corruption and you find different prices for different people.
Demands • Redirect all state housing resources away from the capitalists and their profits and towards state owned housing projects which are under worker and community control and under a plan developed by those who need and build the housing. • These should employ the unemployed at decent wages. They should offer security against eviction, forced removal and right sizing: where the security of a decent home is your right and not a question of ownership. • To make this possible:• Expropriate the infrastructure and means to build homes (the large cement, brick and construction companies, etc); Expropriate land to meet this need. End the private ownership of land. • Government must provide enough housing on a mass scale, free and on a subsidised rental basis. • Government must provide enough housing on a mass scale, free and on a subsidised rental basis. Housing for those living in squatter camps and overcrowded conditions must be prioritised. Just like there is a timetable to produce stadiums for 2010 we need a detailed timetable for the delivery of houses wherever there are communities that need them. • Our homes need to be built to: Ensure proper and healthy living conditions. They should be of a reasonable size and nature to accommodate our living patterns with a reasonable and comfortable yard; Have a sustainable environment (e.g. facing the home in the right direction to catch natural light and heat, using vegetation); Have increased community control over design and building process; and to build up communities and not disperse them, including the provision of adequate public spaces such as parks, schools and crèches. • We need immediate laws and protection: To stop evictions and forced removals; Where people are unable to pay bonds, we reject the rightsizing of working class families from big to smaller houses so that banks profit; Direct state resources at turning all appropriate abandoned and empty buildings into decent homes, not new sources of profits for landlords; Immediately introduce rent control and protection for tenants against large landlords, including the state; Transfer company housing to workers free of charge.
TRANSPORT & ROADS
Problems • The State continues to privatise public transport and roads. This leads to high prices, inadequate provision and a collapse of infrastructure. Where it spends money it is directed firstly to capitalists and their profits. For example it intends spending billions on subsidising private taxi owners with new taxis and it is estimated that the private owners of the new Gautrain (which is for the rich) will get over R500m every year to boost their profits. At the same time it tries all the time to cut subsidies to municipal bus services and trains. • Even highways and roads are privatised so that the bosses can make profits. The increased expenditure on railways and roads is largely to serve bosses that want to export their production in line with the neo-liberal GEAR programme. In this way government subsidises big business even as they destroy the roads with their trucks. • Township roads are in a terrible condition; during rainy days people are unable to use our roads. There is discriminatory spending and the rich who live in places like Sandton continue to have the best services compared to poor communities like Alexandra. Police and ambulances are unable to access and serve our areas because of the conditions of our roads. • Public transport is not only unaffordable but inaccessible and dangerous, specially to children and women. Commuters are forced to rely on the dangerous and expensive taxi industry and they often fall victim to fights between the private taxi owners. • The taxi ranks do not have proper facilities: no lights, toilets and shelter, which can make them dangerous and uncomfortable places to be, especially for women. The trains run late without adequate infrastructure. They have especially decayed since transport privatisation, and there is a massive problem of safety, which exposes both their failure and the failure of capitalism.
Demands • A properly integrated publicly owned and managed public transport system run with worker control and the involvement and control of the communities that use it. • Expropriate all private transport infrastructure (taxis, trains and buses) • Ensure that there is a functioning public transport system that runs 24 hours, seven days a week; a) That the vehicles used for public transport are environmentally sustainable and that there are mechanisms to force the use of public transport such as special roads and areas where cars are not allowed; b) Is comfortable and runs regularly; c) Is affordable including free transport to the unemployed, pensioners, disabled members of communities, school and tertiary students. d) Provides decent well-paid jobs.
• On roads, we demand that: a) All toll roads to be re-nationalised, so that we once again can enjoy public roads for all. b) All main roads and streets that lead to public places such as religious institutions, clinics, hospitals, and graveyards are tarred and paved. c) The provision of adequate drainage and the maintenance of drainage systems and roads in residential areas, especially in poor communities. d) Proper attention to safety that includes proper lighting for roads and adequate, working traffic signals, as these result in death and injury for pedestrians and passengers in transport. • Funding for the above must come through taxes levied on big business.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING
Problems There is money available but the capitalist class owns this wealth. The policies of GEAR have strengthened this class, their control over wealth and has increased their profits through privatisation, lower taxes and other methods. Local government has to raise 93% of their funds locally. At present, there is no delivery to the poor without government first ensuring that the bosses get their profits. Top managers in local government pay themselves huge salaries, and everywhere councillors look for ways to become capitalists themselves. Our purpose is to take back and redistribute this stolen wealth. Our demands must aim to make the capitalist class pay more - and therefore to increase state capacity to fund local service delivery needs.
Demands • Community and worker control of local government finances, income sources and expenditure priorities through a people’s budget process involving people’s assemblies. • National government must increase the amount of money it provides to local government. These transfers need to be democratically decided. • Set maximum salary levels for city managers, mayors, councillors and senior local government officials. • To strengthen housing, public health and transport we need a programme to expropriate privately owned public transport, private healthcare and privately owned infrastructure that is used to produce houses, under the control of the users and the workers that produce these services and goods. • Immediately scrap the policy of cost-recovery in the provision of basic services. • Through rising block tariffs ensure that high users of services like water, waste and electricity pay more so that the extra money can be used to cross-subsidise those who cannot afford to pay. • Redirect public spending towards socially productive uses to provide basic services and infrastructure at local level. • Pass a law forcing all investors to invest a reasonable portion into people’s needs. • Tax the rich and halt and reverse lower personal and corporate taxes. Increase corporate taxes and end VAT on all basic goods and services. Increase tax on profits and fat-cat salaries. • Tax company and individual money that is invested overseas. • Scrap apartheid debts. • Pass laws that force pension funds to invest in public and productive use under a democratically decided plan (prescribed assets). • Parastatals like the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the South African Development Bank should focus on industrial development, job creation and decent services to meet needs instead of using public money to fund private business, privatisation and cost-recovery from the poor - all under the democratic and participatory control of workers and communities.