Upgrading of Informal Settlements (Don’t destroy it upgrade it)


Upgrading of Informal Settlements
(Don’t destroy it upgrade it)

This is a very good concept, and ABM WC support the concept, because:

1. It house people where they have established them selves

2. It gives them legal status

3. It gives people security of tenure

4. It does not remove people where they are performing their daily economic activities

As much as we support the concept, there are few problem or challenges regard to this that still need to be addressed such as;

1. De-densifying; as this approach exclude people from the process and it also break the social link that people have established and it also take people away from where they are performing their daily economic activities.

2. Relocating; it is not a good view to relocate people in order them to make a way for construction, as this process complicate people people’s life and it also affect their jobs. When this approach of relocation is being carried government must compensate people as this process impact at their livelihood, when doing so individual circumstances must be considered not a silver bullet approach or one size fits all, here we are talking about the lives of poor people not the lives of animals and that need to be taken seriously and be respected.

3. The top down approach: When this process took place people who are going to benefit must be recognized and they must play a vital role in the process especially when it comes to decision making, because this decisions affects them not anybody else therefore their view matters and need to be respected.

4. Politics/politicians: Government and community leaders need to stop mixing politics and development, here we need to be clear when talking about peoples living conditions we are talking about the desperation and peoples lives. People have been living under appalling conditions at informal settlements for years others have been living more than 20 years without toilet, water and electricity because of that our people become vulnerable to corrupt leaders.

5. Single plot one house: This approach is out of fashion now and this approach forces lot of people out of the area, and few will benefit and it also incite division in our communities and it make it easier for politicians and corrupt leaders to take advantage of our people at their communities. With this approach instead of people focusing on alternatives or on how they can share the piece of land that they are occupying, they spend lot of their time fighting among them selves on who must benefit and who must not benefit, because of this corrupt community leaders take advantage of the process and sell plots to outsiders and accept bribes from desperate people within the community.

6. No community participation = no accountability: If developments excludes peoples participation and is not people driven or people centered then such process will be faced with lot of problem, and it is likely possible that such process will delay and over spend because is politically driven and will be politically challenged.

Our Stand Point

1. We call for transparency, before the project of upgrading the informal settlement people must be educated of pre processes, time line and the budget or cost of the projects, If this process is clear from the beginning it will help people to participate meaning fully in the process, if people does don’t have enough information about the project and where the money comes from, they’ll not be able to participate meaningfully, but if people are clear of the fact that the money that will develop the area in which they are staying at it is their subsidy money and no one is doing favour for them, then it became easier for people to voice their views freely because they are clear of the process, but if people are under the impression that government is doing favours for them when upgrading their areas then people will accept that easier because they are under the impression that half of a loaf is better than nothing and in reality it is better than nothing only if you don’t have a choice but when you have a choice you need to exercise that right.

2. Transfer of land ownership: This is a major problem with housing in South Africa, and the question of housing will not be solved now or within ten years it will take between 40 to 60+ years before is sorted as long as people does not have a security f tenure, which makes it difficult for people to take control of their situations, or play vital role on developing their communities. We believe that if first government can transfer the ownership of land to people who occupied the area it makes easier for people to engage on their housing approach, even before that they can engage on how they’ll own and manage the land collectively and this process create meaning full community participation because everyone become a role player and every ones decision will be respected and this with this approach it will be very difficult for people to be left out of the project, because when people take decision on what types of houses they need they’ll take into consideration two things

2.1. They’ll not want to leave any body out side/ they’ll need to make sure that everybody will benefit from the project, vital decisions will not be taken through voting but through consensus.

3. Community Participation; If people are in charge of their development, and are controlling it there will be no need for people to relocate or for de-densification, as long as decisions are made on a community level irrespective of which housing approach will be carried, if the process is community owned people will be able to way a way for construction to take place for first phase and the are number of options that people can look at instead of relocation and this options will be painless and will not have a major impact on their livelihood as long as they are in charge of the process is community based.

Temporal relocation Area (TRA’s)

TRA’s are not only unsuitable but also a waste of tax payers money’s, instead of government identifying land to relocate people to other areas, what we are saying is:

1. They are wasting lot of money on the top structure of these TRA’s, instead of doing that after identifying the piece of land they must build houses for people that are nearby the area and backyard dwellers must be prioritized as a tool to upgrade them as well where they are and people who are on the waiting to that particular must also be prioritized instead of inciting division to the poor and make them fight about the piece of land.

2. Relocation is not democratic, should be opposed at all corners and should not be tolerated, people them selves need to establish zero tolerance policies at their communities for relocation to the dumping sites.

3. People need to relocate them selves where it is suitable for them, by occupying available land within towns, unused buildings or centers and empty hotels.

Land Invasions

Government is trying by all means to come up with zero tolerance policies against land invasion and they are setting up land invasion unite, hire ring bidders to demolish people’s structures that are invading land.

1. We are saying if government can not build enough houses for people, when people create their own communities should be allowed, and they need to be supported by government by immediately providing services for them, and immediately recognize them as legal occupants, lastly transfer the ownership of land to them

2. This process of invading land is people centered and it must be respected, because is democratic, based on the fact that a decision to invade come from people and a decision on where to invade it also comes from people as well it’s unlike the forced relocation where people will be forced out of well located piece of land to the dumping site,

Human Settlement

This is also a good view as well and need to be supported, in terms of cutting across division, in terms or race, gender and class in our communities and create future communities, but when this takes place poor should not be taken advantage of in the process, why government must forced poor people out of the own communities, then after build houses that people will not even qualify for?


When upgrading the area who must government enter into partnership with, there’s poor people that are currently living in the area and the are big monopolies?

ABM Western Cape condemns this capitalist partnership of public private partnership and calls for public public partnership.

We are saying when upgrading the area the first and the last partners are people who occupied the land irrespective of the financial circumstances and a house shouldn’t be made a privilege for the poor, this is the basic fundamental right and need to be respected.

Physical intervention

The rate of poverty at our community is very high based on the fact that most people at our communities are unemployed therefore we call on government when upgrading the area people from the area which is being upgraded they must be involved so that the process can create employment for unemployed people and people will need to trained and this can be done through skills development programs.

If this process can be respected it will create accountability because people are involved and participating at each and every step of the process and it become very difficult for corrupt leaders and governmental officials to manipulate the process and it also prevent corrupt construction companies to build poor houses or ghost houses.

This article is written by Mzonke Poni, Chairperson of ABM Western Cape