The AEC is extremely concerned about provincial attempts to extend the ‘Slums Act’ to the Western Cape. This Apartheid-like legislation seeks to justify the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of shack-dwellers regardless of their own wishes. This legislation is undemocratic and unconstitutional and is reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina (aka Operation Clean up the Filth) in Zimbabwe. We, the poor residents of the Western Cape, wish to make aware to the rest of the country that we will not sit by while our communities and our livelihoods are destroyed. We will oppose the Slums Bill in every place, shape and form.
Provinces to follow KZN’s pioneering exampleBy Wendy Jasson da Costa May 5, 2008
All provinces in the country are to formulate legislation equivalent to that of the KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act, prompting threats of widespread civil unrest from community organisations in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
The announcement by housing MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu comes even though KZN’s “pioneering” legislation is the subject of a court challenge by shack dwellers under the umbrella of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement which wants the legislation scrapped.
Mabuyakhulu’s spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, recently said the decision that KZN assist other provinces in formulating legislation was made after discussions by Minmec, a committee made up of the housing minister and all provincial MECs.
He said the Western Cape was drafting its own laws assisted by KZN, and Gauteng had also started the process.
He said they hoped to prevent people from settling on land from which communities had been moved with the Eradication and Prevention of the Re-emergence of Slums Act.
He added that KwaZulu-Natal had 603 informal settlements, of which 503 were in Durban, and they hoped to eradicate most of them, if not all, by 2014.
Abahlali spokesperson Mnikelo Ndabankulu called on other provinces not to accept the South African version of Operation Murambatsvina or “clean up the filth”, referring to a campaign in Zimbabwe in which thousands of people were left homeless.
He said it was a clear sign of apartheid laws being imposed in a democratic era.
Dale McKinley, of the Gauteng-based Anti-privatisation Forum, warned that the government could be heading for a “class war” if it imposed such legislation in the province.
He cited the example of Tembelihle, in the south-west of Johannesburg, where there was a “war on the street for several days” when police tried to remove about 5 000 people who had settled on vacant land in 2002.
His organisation believed that people should be entitled to formal housing where they already lived and, if they needed to be moved, it should be to an area of economic development and activity so that they would not travel far to work.
Ashraf Cassiem, of the Western Cape-based Anti-eviction Campaign, said they had protested in support of Abahlali baseMjondolo and would continue if they were faced with a similar law.
“This legislation is like reaffirming the old (apartheid) style of doing things,” he said.
Last year, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, raised concern about the KZN legislation, although it was not officially law at the time.
Mabaso said Kothari had not had enough time during his trip to gather adequate information about the aim of the legislation, but the province had sent a response to the UN.