Government Ignores Central Questions in Abahlali’s Legal Request

Since the eThekwini Municipality decided to commit itself to a ‘slum clearance programme the City has responded to requests from shack dwellers for information about its plans to the shack settlements with startling authoritarianism and paranoia. For months last year, rumours circulated that the shackdwellers in the Kennedy Road settlement, and other nearby areas in Clare Estate, would be relocated to a R10 billion housing development. Indeed, such rumours were corroborated by the government in < href="">English and < href="">isiZulu. In that announcement made by Mayor Mlaba at a big media event in November 2005 it was claimed that by the end of 2006, shackdwellers would be moving into their new homes with first priority going to Kennedy Road. No further information came despite promises for extensive consultation. It is now the end of 2006. The shackdwellers have heard not a word.

In September 2006, Abahlali submitted to the council a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), demanding to know what plans the government had in store for shackdwellers, clearly indicating a desire to find out more about the R10bn housing development.

On 6 November 2006, the government replied, with the documents attached below. They have ignored, utterly, the request for information about the proposed housing development, choosing instead to comply with the legal order by sending generic and uninformative records instead. It is a travesty both that the movement had to resort to legal action to get these scraps of information, and that the government continues its arrogant and dismissive attitude to those on whose behalf it purports to govern. Moreover it is clear that Mlaba was, to put it bluntly, simply lying when he made is big announcement about homes for the poor on Moreland land.