Cape Town, South Africa: Western Cape communities uniting against lack of service delivery and housing

Khayelitsha, Cape Town, 17 September 2005 – Decent Housing For All – Now!

The mass rally to demand housing for all that kicked off on the 17 September revealed mainly two things: the amount of anger and frustration over present housing policies, and the need to seriously start planning a concrete way forward.

Around 1 000 people from townships and squatter camps from around Cape Town came to the Oliver Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha to discuss the local elections, the problems they face in their communities, and to adopt a way forward. The Anti-Eviction Campaign from several communities where there, as were the Anti-Privatisation Forum, the Treatment Action Campaign, the Vrygrond Action Committee and many others.

Starting with report-backs from the various organisations, it was clear that there is much to fight for. Speaker after speaker described poor housing quality, evictions, the indignity of the bucket system, corruption in the delivery of houses and services, and the anger with elected councillors. No housing – no vote! was a common slogan from the platform, as was the vow to continue the struggle.

The mobilisation of such a big number of people, the speeches and the lively toy-toying and singing at the rally showed that there is certainly a willingness and a need amongst people to take action against housing policies and service delivery that leave the poor in a hopeless situation. Unfortunately, no real plans for such action were made at this rally. While there were difficulties with the meeting itself – which started a few hours late and never made it to the point of drafting a memorandum – the reports from the different groups concentrated on the problems they have rather than what they are actually doing to overcome them in their communities. But at this point, we are all very aware of what is wrong in our communities. We know all too well how the houses are falling apart, how people suffer when their water and electricity get cut off, how pensioners fall sick when they are evicted during rainy Cape Town winters.

What we need to do is to get together and talk about what we can do to stop this, and to hear from each other what is already being done. Shall we march more? What is happening in the areas where people are marching? Shall we build our own houses? Shall we start a boycott or a strike? What happened when communities took the City of Cape Town to court? Should we go to court again? These are only a few ideas activists and communities could discuss. To plan a way forward, to think of strategies and use each other’s experiences to strengthen ourselves is crucial today to build a strong movement for decent housing for all – now!

Read the press release
Indymedia South Africa for the rally and hear an audio report.