The 12th annual World Toilet Summit gets underway in Durban today. However, ordinary men and women on the streets say they do not know what the summit will be about. The three day conference is expected to attract over a thousand delegates and exhibitors and is expected to focus on human rights, health and hygiene.
The main summit theme is African sanitation: Scaling up dignity for all. Spokesperson for the South African shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, Sibusiso Zikode says the summit will be another talk shop as the people who do not have access to water and sanitation are not part of the conference. Zikode says communities without proper toilets were never invited to participate in the conference.
He says, “The summit is one of those talk shops because it does not include the people who are actually in need of toilets. In fact it is unacceptable for such conferences to be held without inviting the people who are in need of water and sanitation. The very same trend continues that so many people want to speak for the poor and about the poor, but very few who will want to speak directly to them. It is true that in South Africa like in many informal settlements there is hardly any water and sanitation.”
Meanwhile, other residents outside Durban say they are still using pit toilets and had no idea what the toilets summit will be discussing in Durban. They say they want government to provide them flushing toilets which will result in their community being clean. The current ground toilets are said to be unsafe for children.
President Jacob Zuma has urged government to speed up the process to provide them with proper toilets.
Shack dwellers honour their leader December 16 2009 , 6:12:00
Anglican Bishop Rubin Philip has called on South African politicians to uphold the principle of democracy. Philip was addressing more than 200 Abahlali baseMjondolo (shack dwellers movement) at a function to honour their leader in Durban.
The church honoured S’bu Zikode with the Order of the Holy Nativity for his distinguished leadership. Zikode is in the forefront in the fight for the rights of people living in the informal settlement of Kennedy Road in the city.
Bishop Philip says Abahlali baseMjondlo always put people’s interest first before their individual interest. “I urge people to put their focus, resources and energy to those in need” says Phillip.
Abahlali baseMjondolo is a South African shack-dwellers’ movement that grew out of a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in early 2005 and now also operates in the cities of Pietermaritzburg and in Cape Town.
It is the largest shack dweller’s organization in South Africa and campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people and to democratize society from below. The movement refuses party politics and boycotts elections. The words Abahlali baseMjondolo are isiZulu for ‘Shack dwellers’.
A former anti-apartheid activist, New Zealander John Minto, has been approached by the Durban-based shack-dwellers’ organisation, Abahlali baseMjondolo to help shack-dwellers in South Africa by talking to the government on their behalf, according to the SABC news website.
Minto attended Abahlali’s meeting in Durban at the weekend.
The organisation invited Minto to witness the plight of shack-dwellers and use his international clout to assist them in getting proper houses.
Abahlali chairman Sbu Zikode said Minto had been asked to use tactics that were used by New Zealanders to put pressure on the apartheid regime to abandon the system.
Minto had been roped in to intervene since the government “had a tendency to engage better with international dignitaries”, Zikode said.
Minto has said he wants to see first-hand what the experience of South African shack-dwellers is after 15 years of democracy. He said many people in New Zealand were disappointed with South Africa because during apartheid the quest was for freedom, but in post-apartheid only a few had enriched themselves.
About the request by Abahlali to use apartheid era tactics in helping their cause, Minto said he would have to consult his fellow countrymen.
Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Housing Department said it respected Minto for the role he played in the demise of apartheid, but his comments had limitations.
Spokesman Lennox Mabaso said it would have been impossible for the government to eradicate the damage that took 350 years to create.
He also criticised Minto’s comments, saying it was premature for him to make comments about housing progress having only been in the country for less than a week.
30 shacks destroyed in E Cape blaze
August 12, 2008, 18:45
Thirty shacks have been destroyed by fire in the Chris Hani township in the Nelson Mandela Metro. Fire fighters are battling to control fires there and in the KwaNoxolo townships, as well as several veld fires on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth.
Further east along the coast, fire fighters are battling blazes in Kenton-on-Sea, where several shacks and houses are threatened by flames. It’s believed that the dry and hot windy conditions and burning cigarette butts thrown from car windows contribute to the spread of the fires.
Meanwhile, a four-year-old boy has been killed and a 28-year-old man hospitalised in separate fire incidents in the Johannesburg area. The child apparently died of smoke inhalation when the flat he was sleeping in caught fire in Fordsburg.
In the other incident, a 28-year-old man was taken to hospital, also for smoke inhalation, after several shacks burnt down in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg. Emergency Services spokesperson Percy Morokane says seven shacks burned to the ground in 15th Avenue, north of Johannesburg. A team from the city’s disaster management is determining the needs of the displaced and will render the necessary humanitarian assistance. At this stage the cause of the fire is unknown.
The Cape Town woman, who made headlines eight years ago when she went to the Constitutional Court to fight for housing rights for herself and other squatters, is still living in a shack.
Irene Grootboom (39) of the historic Grootboom Judgment by the Constitutional Court in 2000, brought an application to court on behalf of children and adults living in Wallacedene on the basis of rights to housing and children’s rights. She won the case, and now nearly 300 people received houses over the weekend. Almost eight years after the judgment the housing department handed over 277 houses to the Wallacedene community.
Grootboom has stayed in a shack since 1989 and even now was not among those who benefited. Richard Dyantyi, Western Cape Housing Minister, says she is happy that other people are getting houses that she fought for. But, Grootboom, who is sick and in bed, says although she’s joyful that some now have houses, she’s unhappy that she could not get a house after playing a leading role in the Grootboom Constitutional Court application.
Dyantyi says the beneficiaries are people who have organised themselves into groups. The minister said the next two projects would start next month and Grootboom would definitely be one of the beneficiaries.