Category Archives: cornubia

M&G: Costly sports events ruin the poor, again

Kwanele Sosibo, Mail & Guardian 

In the years preceding the Fifa 2010 World Cup, Durban residents living in informal settlements adjacent to road projects and sporting facilities were removed with the promise of better accommodation.

Fast forward to 2015, and the same thing is going to happen again. With the Commonwealth Games scheduled for 2022, members of shack-dwellers’ movement Abahlali base-Mjondolo, originating in Durban, are saying that the decision to make parts of the Cornubia development a Commonwealth Games village happened without consulting the people expecting that housing. Continue reading

Kennedy Road shack settlement burns again leaving over 2000 people homeless

5 June 2014

Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement


Kennedy Road shack settlement burns again leaving over 2000 people homeless

At about 19:15pm last night Kennedy Road shacks were on a huge flame of fire which left at least more than 2000 people without shelter etc. The fire is believed to have been caused by an unattended paraffin stove. It is fortunately that there were no injuries or death reported. Women and children are the most affected by this fire. Many of them lost all their belongings inthis fire including foods, furniture, clothing (including school uniforms), IDs and building material.

We are sad that after years of our struggle this community remains in such difficult and in fact life threatening conditions. In December 2005 former eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba made a public promise to house Kennedy Road residents in Cornubia. Cornubia is a biggest new greenfield housing development in the province. Today the same Cornubia has been given to other people and the list was made at night in other settlements. We were later told that you have to be the volunteer of the ruling party in order to benefit.

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Isolezwe: Izoqala ukwakhiwa imixhaso ngase-Gateway

Izoqala ukwakhiwa imixhaso ngase-Gateway

October 16, 2008 Edition 1


KUZOQALWA ezinyangeni ezintathu ezizayo ukwakhiwa kwezindlu zomxhaso kahulumeni eCornubia ngasenxanxatheleni yezitolo iGateway eMhlanga njengoba kade kwamenyezelwa nguMkhandlu weTheku.

Lokhu kuvezwe ophethe uMnyango wezeziNdlu ngaphansi koMkhandlu weTheku, uMnuz Nigel Gumede, othe akusensuku zatshwala kufakwe ogandaganda abazokumba.

UMnuz Gumede uthe yonke into isimi ngomumo sekusele ukuthi kuqalwe kwakhiwe izindlu ezingu-25 000.

“Lena imizamo yethu yokuqeda imijondolo. Sifuna ukuthi abantu abahlala enyakatho batholelwe indawo yokubakhela imixhaso ngalapho behlala khona nabaseningizimu kanjalo.

“Asifuni ukuqhelanisa abantu nezindawo abebekade behlala kuzona kuqala ngaphambi kokuba bathole imixhaso ngoba lokho kuyabahlukumeza kakhulu ngoba abanye basuke benezingane ezifundayo abanye besebenza,” kusho uMnuz Gumede.

Uthe abantu abazofakwa kulezi zindlu abasemijondolo yaseKenville, Kennedy, Cato Crest nakwezinye izindawo uma benganeli abakulezi zindawo.

Uveze ukuthi bavele sebenabo abantu abazofakwa kulezi zindlu njengoba ukubhaliswa kwabantu abafuna izindlu zomxhaso kade kwenziwe kulezi zindawo.

Abantu abakulungele ukuthola lezi zindlu zomxhaso uthe ngabahola ngaphansi ku-R35 000 ngonyaka abe nabantu abondlayo, kube wumuntu ongakaze athole umxhaso kaHulumeni phambilini.

Ngeledlule leli dolobha lihanjelwe uNgqongqoshe wezeziNdlu kuzwelonke uLindiwe Sisulu ngesikhathi kunemiklomelo ebizwa ngamaGovan Mbeki Awards, ebibanjelwe enkabeni yedolobha kanti kulolu hambo uNgqongqoshe ubuye wabekwa esithombeni nangemisebenzi esiyenziwe nguMasipala weTheku emkhakheni wezindlu.

Mercury: Expropriation sends a negative signal

Sacrifice the poor to the almighty foreign investors….

Expropriation sends a negative signal

August 28, 2008 Edition 1

Jeff McCarthy

A 30-YEAR-OLD friend who works for a global investment bank in its London office and earns the equivalent of millions of rands per annum can’t raise a bond for a house in London today. Property is seen by banks there as an asset which is in value decline; and being a hot-shot investment banker is a job that is seen as very risky.

What does this mean for us in South Africa? That foreign investment is desirable has been a point largely beyond dispute among South African political parties. But to get more of it, we need to realistically understand why individuals and institutions invest in foreign countries.

Most of the time foreign investment has to do with expected returns on investment, interpreted within a perspective on comparative risks. For short-term investors there is of course possible currency risk (e.g. rand devaluation), but if such an investor is alert and can react early, that shouldn’t matter too much. The issue of comparative risk arises more when investments are fixed, or semi-permanent, as in property, pipelines, factories, or mines.

It is the latter that governments of developing countries (including South Africa) are usually most interested in. This investment often results in new jobs, taxes, economic innovation, and other good things, all of which may not be possible by simply relying on domestic resources or borrowings.

From the point of view of foreign investors, though, when money is tight, they look more closely at value and price in relation to risk. It’s not very different from ordinary citizens’ private behaviour. When banks are literally throwing cheap money at you (as they did in South Africa say two years ago), people are less likely to scrutinise price, value and reliability when waltzing down the shopping aisle. When one’s wallet is empty, shoppers tend to take longer in surveying their options, and become more sharp-eyed about price.

That’s also the view from the London or New York investment banker’s office window today. The two darlings of foreign investors in the past couple of years – China and India – got only about half the private equity investment in the last year than they did a year before that. The average value of shares on the Shanghai stock exchange is also less than half what they were a year ago, partly because there’s just less foreign investment money around.

Although interest in foreign investment is just picking up again, in the meantime, concerns are growing about the valuation of fixed foreign investments. In New York and London, the global financial crisis is widely understood to be the result of banks having been too lenient in assessing the underlying asset values of those to whom they lent, and too optimistic in relation to their anticipated income streams (the so-called subprime mortgage crisis in the US is one – admittedly very serious – symptom of this). To use an old-fashioned word, the bankers were imprudent.

Well, prudence is now back in fashion. And apart from looking hard at whether there really are income streams to be expected, and whether the asset is priced correctly, prudence now also means a strong interest in risks associated with more permanent foreign investments. In the words of a leading London investment lawyer cited in the Financial Times in late August, “Expropriation of foreign assets is on the rise (and now a major concern).”

Nothing quite focuses the prudent investor’s conservative sensitivities than the prospect of losing one’s investment altogether.

While London and New York bankers are now worried mainly about Russia and South America, where expropriations are on the rise, it is the generic nature of threat that counts, rather than the country. Thus for example while innovative British farm entrepreneurs are still happily investing in growing wheat on leased land in Russia, the recent BP experience in Russia is making investors much more wary about long-term, fixed investments there.

The differentiating issue in these two cases, really, is the security of property rights.

And here South Africa is unfortunately beginning to look suspicious on the global stage. Whether fairly or not, much of the foreign press perceive President Thabo Mbeki as having consistently protected Robert Mugabe, who in turn is internationally synonymous with land expropriation. The more carefully observant investors have also watched the South African government’s recent moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners, and the introduction of new, harsher expropriation laws.

Those who read the fine print notice something else: the South African constitution does not guarantee that those whose property is expropriated will be compensated at market value. Market value is just one of many (non-market) criteria that the constitution identifies. Moreover, a consistent theme in government pronouncements over the past two years is that (willing or unwilling) sellers are overvaluing their properties.

So why buy something today at price x if it could be expropriated at price x-y in years to come?

Now, for the first time in my recollection, we are also witnessing major municipalities using the threat of expropriation as an apparently legitimate tool in “negotiating” with private landowners on how to use their land (e.g. at Cornubia near Umhlanga).

It is not just expropriation terms which are shifting targets, but also interpretations of terms of sale. Recently there were reports of differences between Transnet and British and Dubai investors over the terms of sale of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Allegedly, the foreign investors believed they were sold the coast and near shore waters (as is apparently possible in Dubai) as part of their plans to develop marinas there.

But, as is now plain from South Africa’s forthcoming Integrated Coastal Management Act, giving effect to such “ownership” may be improbable, despite a R7 billion price tag. Consequently, the press is now replete with accusations and counter-accusations about possible liabilities running into billions.

Needless to say, this type of public conflict over asset definitions and asset values, and municipal threats of expropriation of thousands of hectares over minor planning differences as in Cornubia/Umhlanga, tend to increase the size of the South African “blip” on global radar screens of perceived investment risk. In a context of much reduced overall global investment capital, this is an unwelcome trend.

South Africa’s current saving grace in the international investment context, however, is its as yet successful public infrastructural efforts, as in the Gautrain project, the s occer World Cup stadia, the new Durban airport, and so on. Here, foreign investment in the fixed asset itself is not the issue. The assets will be locally owned. Rather, foreign experience is often used to build and operate, and prices for the buildings and divisions of income spoils for operating are agreed upfront. This may be the most viable model for further attractions of foreign investment.

Why entice foreign people to own South African fixed assets when the sensitivities of global investment radar systems, combined with local political trends, are flashing red for such investment types?

Every sunset brings with it the prospect of a sunrise. The evidence suggests that the way forward for South Africa, in attracting foreign investment in 2008 and 2009, will need to be different. It may be wiser in this environment to rather offer leased land options together with financial contributions to both infrastructure and superstructure development on that land, as a way to attract foreign expertise and capital and expand local jobs and taxes.

This is not very different from the model Mozambique has adopted or for that matter China. But then we will also need to demonstrate – scientifically, and with hard evidence, rather than with nationalistic bravado – that the expected returns on investment will be there for investors. This means South Africans being honest and realistic about our asset values and in our projections of future income streams.

# Prof Jeff McCarthy is a development specialist.

Mercury: The social value of land must come first

The social value of land must come first

August 27, 2008 Edition 1

Imraan Buccus

There has been considerable discussion after the announcement that the eThekwini Municipality is considering expropriating land from Tongaat-Hulett to finally move ahead with the long promised Cornubia development.

We all know that in Durban, as in cities around the country, the question of housing is the biggest source of conflict between poor people’s organisations and the state.

There have been thousands of protests since 2005, with many of them resulting in serious police violence.

In Durban, police violence against people protesting for houses has been an international scandal, with stiff letters of protest being issued to the city from the Geneva-based and United Nations-linked Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.

We are also all aware that the desperation for houses in Durban has resulted in all kinds of dubious electoral practices, with politicians in both Phoenix and Chatsworth issuing unlawful promises that party members will be rewarded with houses.

In some instances, this has taken regrettable racialised overtones. It is also the case that in Durban, as in other cities, the housing crisis was a key factor in the xenophobic violence that so shamed our country in May.

Clearly, the proposed Cornubia development is an important step forward. It will deliver houses at scale and near to jobs, schools and clinics rather than in the out-of-town developments that shack dwellers’ movements now derisively refer to as “rural human dumping grounds”.


This new development certainly doesn’t have the capacity to resolve the housing crisis in the city, but it could be a significant step forward, for which the municipality must be commended.

But while the shift to well-located, low-cost housing developments has been widely welcomed, there has been some concern about the proposal to expropriate land from Tongaat-Hulett.

This concern is misplaced. Tongaat-Hulett is the largest land owner in the city and it has profited massively from the development of gated communities, office parks and the Gateway shopping mall on the old sugar cane lands.

Its vast land holdings are a direct hangover from the colonial era, in which people were forced off their land and others brought from India to work on the sugar cane in near-slavery conditions.

The company’s debt to this society is massive, and expropriation for the purpose of building low-cost housing is an important and necessary way to have some of that debt repaid.

We should see expropriation as an entirely justified tax on a history of oppression.

We need to recognise that the interests of the poor simply have to be put before the interests of the biggest land owner in the city if we are to build a democratic, sustainable, peaceful and just city.

Moreover, well-located land is a finite commodity.

Every time there is another elite development, such as a golf course or a gated community, the prospect for the poor to be well housed diminishes.

In cities such as Sao Paulo and Bombay, it has long been recognised that the fundamental cause of urban squalor is the concentration of land ownership. People in these cities have campaigned for the collective social value of land to be put before the private commercial value of land.

Poor people’s organisations, academics, NGOs and religious organisations have worked together to assert that the social value of land should come first. It is time to build a similar consensus in Durban and other South African cities.

The real area of concern with regard to the Cornubia project is that shack dwellers have been excluded from all planning for the project, and from all discussion after the announcement. We need to be mindful of the catastrophic failure of the N2 Gateway project in Cape Town that has led to clashes between protesters and police – and expensive court battles.


The N2 Gateway project failed because shack dwellers, for whom the project was planned and to whom it was promised, were excluded from participation in the planning of the project.

In the end, the project was designed in such a way that shack dwellers simply could not afford to live there, with the result that the state had to resort to apartheid-style forced removals. If there is no democratic planning with regard to Cornubia, it will fail as badly as the N2 Gateway Project has failed.

Some planning experts in Durban continue to believe that they must promise houses to a passive population.

However, experience around the world shows that effective development is based on community organisations working collaboratively with the state.

The disastrous failure of the N2 Gateway Project in Cape Town is now used as an infamous example of the costs of top-down planning in universities around the world.

Durban needs to learn from the failure of Cape Town’s big housing project and to begin the Cornubia project on a democratic footing from the beginning.

After serious failures with regard to the bus company and the uShaka theme park, Durban really needs to get this project right.

If we do, we can pioneer a new and better way of working that will take us an important step closer towards resolving the housing crisis in Durban.

It will also inspire progress elsewhere in the country and indeed make the eThekwini Municipality one worthy of emulating.

Imraan Buccus is a university and research organisation-based researcher. He writes in his personal capacity.