17 February 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Abahlali to Hold Assembly to Strategise on Democratic and Participatory Development in Advance of Negotiations with the Municipality
This year we will be persuing Operation Siyakhisana. We have successfully resisted evictions and we have successfully occupied land. We have recently won the provision of important infrastructure in some settlements like electricity and ablution blocks. Now is the time to build, to plan and develop from below. We are beginning negotiations with the eThekwini Municipality on this programme as well as other matters like free access to sanitary pads and uniforms for our kids, as well as justice and respect for settlements that have experienced repression and brutality from the Municipality in places like Clare Estate, KwaNdengezi, Cato Crest, eKuphumeleleni and Lamontville.
We have always supported participatory in-situ upgrades from shack settlements to formal housing in which community members are fully involved in planning their own development. We have been struggling for a democratic and participatory form of development.
Tomorrow we will hold a conversation on in-situ upgrading at the Prince Edward Hall on Saturday the 18th February 2017 at 08:00 am. The event will be attended by more than 200 leaders from all 34 branches of the movement in Kwazulu-Natal.
Experts in the development of shack settlement will be presenting ideas and comparative experiences on possibilities for democratic and participatory forms of development with a focus on in-situ upgrading. We aim to equip our members with all the relevant knowledge to inform our discussions and to prepare us for the negotiations.
Now that we are facing a a less hostile attitude from the KZN government and the eThekwini Municipality we want to push for the maximum advantage of the impoverished, the people whose lives are taken as rubbish and whose dignity is always vandalised.
In the past 11 years of the movement’s existence the relationship between the state and Abahlali was very tense. This resulted in the killing of some of our leaders. Others had to go to flee their homes and communities as a result of the slander, torture and threats that were directed to them by the state.
Our struggle against the injustices directed to shack dwellers has gone a long way. The land that we have occupied and fought so hard for has finally being won. We are now settled. It is time to develop the land. Hence the negotiations with the municipality in eThekwini on how we as a movement can work together in order to improve the living conditions in our settlement. We have Occupied. We have Resisted. Now it is time to Develop the land that we have successfully occupied. We want to speak development – participatory development.
As we move from one phase of our struggle to another we have decided that we must not leave our people behind. We want to all be part of developing our lives. In most cases when development is brought to our communities it is imposed on the people. Houses that are built are not decent, they are not in good condition and corrupt officials and politicians sell these houses that are meant for the poor. Hence we say “Nothing about us without us”. People’s real participation in the development of their lives and full transparency at all points in the process will ensure that corruption does not take place. It will ensure that no building materials are sold and that the houses that are built are in good condition. We also wish to participate in designing the houses and other infrastructure.
We enter in this chapter knowing very well that we have scars. Some of our comrades today are living with bullets in their body. Some have lost their lives in the struggle. As we progress we dare not forget the role that they have played in the realisation of these negations. We are here today because of them. They risked their lives for the struggle for dignity and justice.
Thapelo Mohapi 062 892 5323
Mzwakhe Mdlalose 079 365 7912
Zandile Nsibande 074 767 5706