The Landless People’s Movement at a Publiic Participation Meeting in Lenasia, 10 march 2010

Kgopotso Khumalo on the LPM & Public Participation in Johannesburg

Kgopotso Khumalo

Landlessness and access to basic services in South Africa remains a pipe-dream for many poor communities who remain marginalised by leaders who are meant to protect them.

When one takes a closer look at Protea South, an informal settlement area in the core of Soweto, one is met by a large number of unemployed residents, many of which are the youth. Lack of electricity, water and sanitation services have also rendered the area both smelly and unliveable. But this is the place where most communities are unified through struggle for land, housing and basic services.

It is the 10th of March, 2010 and many residents from near-by informal Settlements including Thembalihle, Protea South, Loli and Precast, attend a meeting held in Lenasia. The meeting is hosted by the City of Johannesburg together with the Municipalities. A total of 200-250 people attend in order to submit proposals and give grievances to the City of Johannesburg regarding the appalling conditions they live in.

A City Of Johannesburg representative starts of the meeting by informing the public that the meeting is not about them airing their grievances, rather about plans to built a new mall as well as discussions about discussing the new Bus Transit System . The Communities become disgruntled and begin to shout these people are playing with our time. How can they tell us about malls when all we want is decent houses and for them to deliver services .

The meeting is adjourned and people are told by representatives from the City of Johannesburg that they should return to their communities because they don t want to listen! .

Interviews done with community members, including those from Protea South and the Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) prove that poor, black communities remain marginalised and without access to land. And that instead of the government listening to the grievances of the people to ensure better service delivery, the poor are only used by government officials to further their own interests and protect white privilege.

Where to from now I ask the Community….I am told that the community might decide to take to the streets and barricade roads because action is the only language that the government understands! .

I wait in anticipation as the struggle continues….aluta continua!