APF and Landless Peoples Movement housing march
Thursday 14 September 2006
March to demand land & housing for the poor and the end to evictions in our communities
The APF together with the Landless People Movement (Protea South Branch) will be marching to the Gauteng Legislature Office in Simmonds Street, Gauteng Department of Housing in Sauer Street and to Braampark Offices on Wednesday 20th September 2006.
The marchers will be protesting against a poor delivery rate of government housing and the recent increase in the number of evictions in different communities. The march will gather at Park Station at 10H00 as most of the protestors will be using the train. It will then proceed to offices of the Gauteng Premier Mbazima Shilowa where the residents of Protea South will deliver a memorandum. Subsequent to that the procession will go to the offices of the MEC for Housing Nomvula Mokonyane. The marchers will be demanding that the MEC halt the evictions in Protea South and Gauteng. The memorandum will also speak to national demands for housing and basic services.
The APF is calling upon all communities to support this march for housing. The campaign for housing is part of the APF’s ongoing campaigns for access to basic services such as water, electricity, health services and education. The APF has long raised concerns around low-cost housing projects like the ‘RDP Housing Schemes’ and the ‘Peoples Housing Process’. There is lack of transparency and access to information about the approved housing subsidies or applications and there is no consultation with the communities. These programmes represent a divide-and-rule strategy, as they discriminate amongst residents because of the corruption of local councilors who charge residents different amounts even if they have qualified for a housing subsidy.
More than 50% of South Africans are surviving on less than R20.00 a day. Many more survive on social grants because they are unemployed. This makes it difficult for people to pay for housing. Since 1996 many of the unemployed members of the APF and working class communities have applied for a housing subsidy but the response from the state has been appalling. They have built “houses” which are worse than those that were built by the apartheid regime. What is even worse is that many people are homeless because of a lack of delivery by the state. GEAR and the new policy called ASGISA have worsened the situation.
The legacy of apartheid and the backlog of building decent low-cost housing under the African National Congress government in the Eastrand, Soweto, inner-city Johannesburg, and Sedibeng or Vaal Triangles have forced many people to resort into being shack-dwellers with no access to basic services. This has being a national crisis worsened by the government’s attitude to HIV/AIDS and unemployment as many orphans are being evicted out of their homes by the corrupt councilors. Recently there were sparks in Orange Farm where residents blockaded the Golden Highway in protest against the relocation of the residents and the slow delivery of basic services.
Safety and Security There is ample evidence that most of the housing projects in communities have been a dismal failure due to the partisan system used in employing workers, workers who are also being exploited by the sub-contractors appointed by the local councillors. The role of police in evictions is also a serious concern as they are not protecting (but attacking) the community and are being used to serve the interests of private developers and corrupt councillors. On numerous occasions, police have used excessive force in stand-offs with protesting residents who resist evictions and have shot/injured and arrested many residents and community activists. Police brutality has to be stopped and we are calling for an inquest into the incidents where police have violated constitutional rights when it comes to housing protests.
Banks and Estate Agents The recent increase in number of evictions in the communities by the profit making cooperates have further dented the efforts of the government in the delivery of houses. These institutions (banks and estate agents) continue to enjoy protection from the government as its neo-liberal policies allow them to evict people without following proper procedures and listening to the problems of the community. In a context of high unemployment, the MEC of Housing, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, has in recent meetings made a call to a monotorium on evictions but areas like Soweto and Sedibeng have being hard hit by evictions in the past four months.
The APF Housing Platform says:
1. The State takes very little direct responsibility to provide places to live. Instead the construction and money for this is in the hands of capitalists who profit from the State’s housing policies.
2. We can never solve the housing crisis without adequate access to land but land is protected by private ownership:
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.
3. When you need a house you must pay your money upfront. 4. There is widespread corruption and you find different prices for different people.
1. Redirect all state housing resources away from the capitalists and their profits towards state owned housing projects which are under workers control and under a plan developed by those who need and build the housing. 2. These should employ the unemployed at decent wages. They should offer security against eviction, forced removal and rightsizing: where the security of a decent home is your right and not a question of ownership. 3. To make this possible:
Expropriate the infrastructure and means to build homes (the large cement, brick and construction companies, etc).
Expropriate land to meet need. End the private ownership of land. 4. Government must provide enough housing on a mass scale, free and on a subsidized rental basis. (Our homes need to built to:
Ensure proper and healthy living conditions,
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. 5. 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.
Phansi Ngama Evictions Phansi!
For further information contact: SILUMKO RADEBE (APF Organiser) on 072 173-7268 or on (011) 339-4121