Amandla is Still Awethu – Statement on the Slums Act Judgment


Durban High Court, 27 January 2009
Case no. 1874/08 Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA.

Abahlali baseMjondolo have been to the Durban High Court this morning to hear the judgment being handed dawn by the KwaZulu-Natal President, Judge Vuka Shabalala. On the 6 November 2008 the Movement had applied to the Durban High Court for the KwaZulu- Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act 2007 to be declared unconstitutional. Full details of the Act, and the reasons for our opposition to it, and can be found on the Movement’s website at

The Judge President had decided that the judgment would be handed down today at 9:30 am; however the judge did not come himself and sent another judge to give his judgment.

The judge has dismissed the Movement’s Application arguing that:

“The province of KwaZulu-Natal must be applauded for attempting to deal with the problem of slums and slum conditions. This is the first province to have adopted legislation such as the Slums Act. The Slums Act makes things more orderly in this province and the Act must be given a chance to show off its potential to help deal with problem of slums and slum conditions. This Court can not strike the Act down before it has even being (sic) properly implemented.”

Our view is that shack settlements are communities to be developed and not slums to be eradicated. Our view is that the Slums Act is a clear return to colonial and apartheid style attempts to turn poverty into a security problem instead of a question of justice. Our view is that this Act is a clear attack on the poor and on our right to access the cities. Our view is that this Act is an attempt to develop the country in the interests of the rich by banishing the poor from the cities instead of doing the right thing which is to democratize the cities.

We are not alone in our views.

Our comrades in the Poor People’s Alliance have expressed their deep concern about this Act. The United Nations have expressed their concern about this Act. The international human rights organizations have expressed their concern about this Act. Progressive NGOs and academics have expressed their concern about this Act.

When we first decided to oppose this Act in the courts we were well aware that his matter would be resolved in the Constitutional Court. Our approach to the Durban High Court was just the first step in the journey to the Constitutional Court. We respect the judicial process and have already instructed our lawyers to prepare our appeal of this judgment. We are ready to take the next step on our journey to the Constitutional Court.

However we do fear that those in government who seek to complete the removal of the poor from the cities, those who wish to sentence us to the prisons known as ‘transit camps’, will take this judgment as a greenlight for massive evictions – like those planned for Joe Slovo in Cape Town which are currently being contested in the Constitutional Court, and the smaller and better hidden evictions, like those in Siyanda here in Durban, that will now be contested in the Durban High Court on Friday.

The Movement still believes that Amandla is still Awethu and that there is no one that can take that away from us. We will continue to protest against the government’s ongoing attacks on the poor, against evictions called ‘delivery’, against government shacks called ‘transit camps’, against rural human dumping grounds called ‘housing opportunities’, against the failure to provide services to settlements resulting in fires, endless water queues, sickness and attacks in dark nights. We will continue to encourage discussion of these issues at all levels of our society. We will continue to form alliances to take our struggle on these issues forward.

Now that this judgment is out we can take the next step in the journey to the Constitutional Court. We are confident that the Constitutional Court will protect the rights of shack dwellers, rural and farm dwellers and the poor in general. We are confident that the Constitutional Court will give us a judgment prepared with elegance and grace.

We thank the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and all those who have supported us in the struggle against the Slums Act for their living solidarity.

It is the Movement’s mandate to fight for the right to the cities. This is why we exist. The order that we are living under does not accept our humanity. it does not accept our precence in the cities. It does not accept our presence in discussions about the future of the country or even in discussions about our own future. Therefore we are determined to create a new order from below. We realize that this makes us out of this order. We accepted that long ago when we determined to be out of any order that excludes us from discussions about our future and evicts us from the cities. Aluta continua.

Contact people:

S’bu. Zikode – 083 547 0474
Zodwa Nsibande – 082 830 2707
Louise Motha – 078 072 0499
Bongo Dlamini -074 875 6264