AbM Western Cape: Power to the Poor

Statement in solidarity after the Foreman Road fire

Power to the Poor

Even if our whole settlement burns down, the reality is the land on which our community lives will remain our home. A fire, like the devastating one yesterday at Foreman Rd, will not change the way we view our homes. No matter how disadvantaged our communities are, we will not allow individuals who are on power to label our homes as slums because once we allow that they’ll will want to eliminate our homes and throw us in unsuitable asbestos filled temporary relocation areas.

These unnecessary fires can be prevented if our government was caring and democratic. But this government is only democratic and caring about issues that matter to their pocket book. Whatever we, as shack-dwellers, say to them does not matter. Only our votes matter so that they can attain more power and enrich themselves further.

But there is one thing politicians know how to do very well: they know how to sit in local, provincial and national government offices and talk about us instead of to us. Then, later on, they will claim that they have delivered services. In reality, however, the only thing they are able to do from their offices is to deliver corrupt tenders to their political friends in the private sector.

Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape says Aluta Continua, where there is a will there’s a way. Let us not be threatened by these shack fires and allow tsotsi developers to steal our land so that they can build shopping centers and unaffordable bond houses. We’ve already seen them stealing the land of abahlali (residents) from informal settlements such as Joe Slovo in Cape Town, pushing them out of well located areas to unlivable dumping sites such as Delft. Property developers, with their allies in government, are making business off of our land and entering into partnership with big monopolies in order to push the poor out of the cities.

Still, even though we are poor we are not stupid. Let us not allow this corrupt government to shift the blame about shack fires away from themselves. They want to discredit our communities instead of developing them; they want to force us to condemn ourselves for the poverty they have created; they want to create division in our communities so that they will be able to enter in between us and pit us against one another.

ABM WC supports the demands of ABM KZN:

1. The South African Government must prevent fires in our communities by electrifying all the informal settlements at South Africa.
2. We also call on the South African Government to release the land which is occupied by Abahlali living informally so that the land can be managed and owned by our communities. We need to be recognised as legal occupants of the land so that we can develop our own communities.

Along with the Anti-Eviction Campaign and the Joe Slovo Task Team, ABM WC will be attending the first ever City Wide Shack Fire Summit on Monday 22 September 2008 to find new ways of preventing fires in our communities.

In solidarity,

ABM Western Cape

For futher details call Mzonke Poni (ABM WC chairperson) at 073 2562 036