Protest against Councillor Baig – 14 September 2005

March on Baig
Ward 25 Press Release: 14 September 2005


Giya! Giya!
Bathengisa Ngathi

WHY: To demand land, housing, basic services, democratic development and respect and to give Baig two weeks notice. See the attached memorandum for our full demands.

ORGANISERS: The Kennedy Road Development Committee in alliance with other democratic structures in informal settlements on the Clare Estate including Burnwood Road, Foreman Road, Jadhu Place, Lacey Road, Palmiet Road, Puntan s Hill as well as Sydenham Heights and the Jimmy Carter Housing project in Sherwood.

SUPPORTERS: This march is also supported by, and will include representatives from organisations outside of ward 25 including the Banana City Informal Settlement Area Committee; the Bayview Flats Residents’ Association (Chatsworth); the Combined Staff Association (UKZN); Eastwood Community Forum (‘Martizburg); Groundwork; the Mandela Park Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); the Marianridge Civic Organisation; the ‘Martizburg Social Forum; Quarry Road Informal Settlement Civic; the Right to Work Campaign; the Socialist Students’ Movement (UKZN); the Taflesig Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); the Wentworth Development Forum and the Westcliff Flat Residents’ Association (Chatsworth).

FOR COMMENT AND FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jerome Bhengu 0724390843; Ms. Nonhlanhla Mzobe on 0826892606; Ms. Zelda Norris on 0312077575; Mr. Anton Zamisa on 0720327739 or Mr. S bu Zikode on 0835470474.

On 13 May this year 5 000 people marched on Councilor Yacoob Baig to demand land and housing and the immediate resignation of Baig. Baig’s only public response has been to slander our entirely legal and peaceful exercise of popular democracy as criminal in the May edition of Al Qalam newspaper and again on Radio Al Ansaar on the 5th July. Now we have been threatened with forced removals to the rural periphery of the Municipality. The poor of Ward 25 have no confidence in Baig and we have no confidence that his superiors will hold him to account. So, now, we will give him two weeks to resign.

In the two weeks leading up to this march many meetings have been held across ward 25 and in other wards too. The march on Baig is the culmination of two weeks of intensive, inclusive and democratic discussion, reflection and action. We are taking our lives and our future into our own hands. We can trust no one else. We will not be moved out of the city. We demand land and housing in Clare Estate.

A Memorandum of Demands
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We the people of Ward 25, democrats and loyal citizens of the Republic of South Africa, note that this country is rich because of the theft of our land and because of our work in the farms, mines, factories, kitchens and laundries of the rich. We can not and will not continue to suffer the way that we do and so we unite behind the following demands:

For too long our communities have survived in substandard and informal housing, and for too long we have been promised land, only to be betrayed. Therefore, we demand adequate land and housing to live in safety, health and dignity.

We are threatened with forced removals to the rural periphery of the Municipality. This would take as away from opportunities to access infrastructure, health care, work and education. Therefore, we demand land for housing within the city.

Our communities are ravaged by poverty, and we demand that the government create the jobs that we so desperately need. Therefore, we demand the creation of well-paying and dignified jobs.

Those of us in municipal flats find that n addition to providing substandard housing, the council charges rents way in excess of our community’s ability to pay. Therefore, we demand the writing-off of all rental arrears.

The government treats us with contempt, believing that because we are not rich, we have not earned their respect. Therefore, we demand participation in genuinely democratic processes of consultation and citizenship.

Our communities are affected by crime, police racism and serious environmental hazards. Therefore, we demand safe and secure environments in which we can work, play and live.

Many in our communities suffer from illness, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS affects us all. Therefore, we demand well-resourced and staffed health facilities.

Our young people are the future of our community, yet they have very few choices. Therefore, we demand attention to the needs of our communities’ youth. The exclusion of the poor from school and other opportunities for educational must stop.

Those of us in municipal flats find that the council charges unaffordable rates. Therefore, we demand lower rates in municipal flat buildings.

Amongst those of us who are connected to water and electricity many can not afford the costs of these services and face disconnection. Therefore, we demand that these services be made free for the poor.

We are entitled to decent social services in our communities. Therefore we demand these services, including proper sanitation, refuse collection, community gardens for our poor, and support for orphans especially those in child headed households

Furthermore, just as people from around the city and the country are uniting in support of our struggle we express our support for our comrades elsewhere. We have stood with, and will continue to stand with our comrades in Chatsworth, Crossmoor, Marianridge, Merebank , Shallcross and Wentworth in their fight against the Ethekwini Municipality’s attempts to evict them from their municipal flats and to dump them in the rural periphery of the city. We will also continue to stand with the people of South Durban in their struggle against environmental racism; with poor students facing exclusion from technikons and universities and with comrades all over the country fighting for land, housing, work, education, healthcare, safety and democratic development. At this time we note with particular concern the threats directed Fred Wagner of the Eastwood Community Forum in ‘Maritzburg and declare our full support for Fred and for everyone who is persecuted for standing up for the rights of the poor. We also express our full support for the Western Cape Anti-eviction Campaign before their mass rally in Khayelitsha on 17 September. We affirm that their struggle to resist eviction from their homes and to win basic services is just. We stand with them against the repression of their legitimate struggle.

Finally, for his failure to work with his constituents to meet our basic needs, for putting local business interests ahead of those of the poor and for treating the poor and popular democracy with contempt, we therefore demand that Councillor Yacoob Baig, a career-politician with a history of working for apartheid, announce his resignation within two weeks. We further demand that if Baig does not resign we, ourselves, will declare that Ward 25 does not have a councillor.

Quarry Road Informal Settlement, Ward 23
Press Release: 14 September 2005


Sifuna izindlu esamhlala la Clare Estate!
Asivoti ngoba asiboni ntuthuko!
Phansi ngobachu ngoba akasisebenseli!
Siyahlukunyezwa ngabomthetho amaphoyisa!

ORGANISERS OF THIS MARCH: The Kennedy Road Development Committee in alliance with other democratic structures in informal settlements in wards 23 and 35 on the Clare Estate including Banana City Burnwood Road, Foreman Road, Jadhu Place, Lacey Road, Palmiet Road, Puntan s Hill and Quarry Road as well as Sydenham Heights and the Jimmy Carter Housing project in Sherwood.

SUPPORTERS OF THIS MARCH: This march is also supported by, and will include representatives from organisations outside of wards 23 and 25 including the Bayview Flats Residents’ Association (Chatsworth); the Combined Staff Association (UKZN); Eastwood Community Forum (‘Martizburg); Groundwork; the Mandela Park Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); the Marianridge Civic Organisation; the ‘Martizburg Social Forum; the Right to Work Campaign; the Socialist Students’ Movement (UKZN); the Taflesig Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); the Wentworth Development Forum and the Westcliff Flat Residents’ Association (Chatsworth).

COMMENT FROM QUARRY ROAD: William Bobore on 0733803026 or Angelina Mosiea on 0762921833.

On 13 May this year 5 000 people from ward 25 marched on Yacoob Baig to demand his immediate resignation. Baig’s only public response was to slander this entirely legal and peaceful exercise of popular democracy as criminal. The poor of Ward 25 have no confidence in Baig and have no confidence that his superiors will hold him to account. On 14 September they will march to give him two weeks to resign and to demand land and housing in Clare Estate.

We in Quarry Road West in Ward 23 also need houses to be built in Clare Estate. Some of us have lived here for 20 years. But the council is trying to force us out. Even our toilets are being taken away by Councillor Bachu and the municipality. We need them back very soon! We will not vote if our toilets do not come back. Down with Councillor Bachu down!

Sikhalela izindlu!
Phansi amaphoyisa shaya abantu!


Giya! Giya!
Bathengisa Ngathi

NINI: Ngehora lesishayagalombili ekuseni, ngolwesithathu, zingu 14 September 2005.

KUPHI: Ukubhikisha kwabantu kuzosuka ehholo lomphakathi kuKennedy Road ose 286 Kennedy Road, nase Clare Estate. Ukubhikisha kuyophelela emahhovisini akhe umnumzane Baig elisekhoneni lika Randles no Spark’s Road eSydenham.

NGOBANI: Lezinkulungwane zifuna imihlaba, izindlu, izidingo zomphakathi ezibalulekile kanye nenhlonipho, baphinde bamnikeza amaviki amabili okushiya esikhundleni umnumzane Baig. (Ungafunda encwadini yezikhalazo engezansi ukubona izidingo zethu eziphelele).

ABAHLELI: Abahleli balombhikisho iKennedy Road Development Committee. Bazobe besebenzisana nezinye izinhlangano ezihambelana nentando yeningi, lezi hlangano zihlanganise amanye amalunga omphakathi owasezindaweni ezingekho emthethweni (informal settlements) eClaire Estate, Burnwood Road, Foreman Road, Jadhu Place, Lacey Road, Palmiet Road, Puntan’s hill naseSydenham Heights neJimmy Carter Housing project eseSherwood.

ABALANDELI: Lombhikisho uzobe uhlanganise nabantu abaphuma kwezinye izinhlangano ezingaphandle kweWard 25. Abanye abazobe bekhona, iBayview Flat Residents’ Association; Combined Staff Association (UKZN); Eastwood Community Forum; Groundwork; Mandela Park Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); Maritzburg Social Forum; Right to Work Campaign; Socialist Students’ Movement (UKZN); Wentworth Development Forum; kanye ne Westcliff Flat Residents’ Association.

UMA UDINGA ULWAZI NOMA UDINGA UKUBEKA UMBONO UNGATHINTANA NALABA: Mnu. Jerome Bhengu ku 072 4390843; Nkkzn. Nonhlanhla Mzobe ku 082 6892606; Nkkzn. Zelda Norris ku 031 2077575; Mnu. Anton Zamisa ku 072 0327739 noma Mnu. S’bu Zikode ku 083 5470474.

Ngomhlaka 13 May 2005, abantu abangu 5 000 babebhikisha futhi bephikisana nomphathi wesigcawu uYacoob Baig, befuna ukuthi ashiye isikhundla ngaleso sikhathi. Umbono ka Baig uwukuthi uzimisele ngokusinciphisela ukuthula emizameni yethu yekuqhubeza ukukhululeka kwabantu bonkhe, yena ukwenza kubonakale sengathi kuwubugebengu, loku kutholakale ephephandabeni iA1 Qalam lango May nakumsasazo iA1 Ansaar ngomhlaka 5 July. Sesatshelwa ukuthi umnumzane Baig unikeze umuyalezo wokuthi sinqatshelwe esasithenjiswe kona, kanye nokuthi kufanele sikhokhele ukufakwa kukagesi njengenhlawulo. Kwala ngisho noma abaphathi benhlangano kamnumzane Baig bemutshela ukuthi ahlangabezane nezidingo zalabo abampofu emphakathini, kodwa wenqaba. Siyazi ukuthi abantu abanje ngo mnumzane Bheki Sibaya sebezame behluleka ukumthola enecala umnumzane Baig. Manje asazi noma ukubhikisha kwezinkulungwane kuyowenza yini umehluko noma kuyoshaywa indiva nje kuphela. Kanti kufanele kuze kube njani ukuze izikhalazo, nokuhlupheka kwethu kunakwe. Abampofu base Ward 25 abazithembi ngomnumzane Baig, futhi nathi asethembi ukuthi abaphathi bakhe bazomuthola enecala. Kepha, manje, nathi simunikeza amaviki amabili ukuthi ashiye esikhundleni.

Silindele isibalo zabantu abaphindwe kabili kulaba ababhikisha ngokwendlule, ekuphikisaneni nomnumzane Baig. Kulamaviki amabili ngaphambi kokubhikisha kuzobanjwa imihlangano kulemiphakathi ebumbene ngokuphikisa umnumzane Baig. Sizithathela, izimpilo zethu kanye nekusasa lethu ezandleni zethu. Asikwazi ukuthi singathembela komunye umuntu.

Obani bengathinta amabhubhesi?

Excerpt from Our Struggle is Thought, on the Ground, Running available on the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo page.

Another legal march was planned for 14 September 2005. Then, on 7 September 2005, the big boys rolled in under the confident leadership of Deputy City Manager Derek Naidoo. ‘We are here’, he announced, ‘to avert the march’. Then, after a long (and of course technicist) ramble about budgets and policies – punctuated by an interlude where people were berated for allowing the settlement, which he spoke of as if it were a disease, to grow from 716 shacks in 2002 to 2 666 in 2005 (‘This growth is unacceptable!’) – he made his offer. Council wanted a partnership with the leadership of the community. The council would build two toilet blocks in the settlement and the leadership would run these toilet blocks by charging ‘10 cents and 20 cents a time’ (10 cents for a piss and 20 cents for a shit? no one was sure) and using this money to employ a cleaner and to cover the maintenance costs. Toilets are not a small issue in Kennedy Road. But Naidoo s offer of two pay per use toilet blocks was greeted with fury. Cold fury in some cases. Hot in others. But fury all round.

People asked about the nearby land that had been promised to the community for years. They asked about the housing they had been consistently promised in every election campaign and in numerous meeting. When pressed Naidoo told the truth about the City s plan for the poor. In his exact words ‘The City s plan is to move you to the periphery’.

He came under sustained attack. Where will we work? Where will our children school? What clinics are there? How will we live? His answer basically came down to the claim that the city would enable ‘entrepreneurship’ in its rural periphery. People will be dumped in the bush and given training to start businesses. Naidoo was told that there was no infrastructure in rural areas. He agreed and said that people must understand that it is too expensive to build it there and that the development focus was the 25km circumference radiating out from the nodal point of the city centre.

It was put to Naidoo that this was the same as apartheid – black people were being pushed out of the city. It was put to Naidoo that this sounded like a slower and more considered version of Mugabe s attack on the poor in Harare. Naidoo said that if people didn t like it ‘they should go to the constitutional court’. This is, he observed, a democracy.

Naidoo kept saying that there was no land. Chazumuzi Ngcobo pointed out that there was in fact plenty of land around. Examples were cited. Naidoo said that the land belongs to a private company – Moreland. From this moment on the struggle has included a demand for the expropriation of land for housing from Moreland.

Naidoo was told that the march would be averted if he promised 2 500 houses in the city in writing. He said ‘No, this place has been identified and prioritised for relocation. It is ringfenced for slum clearance’. He was asked if he would put his offer of a partnership around the toilets in writing. He said ‘No. The city is extending their hand. This is participatory democracy’. Naidoo was told that people wouldn t be voting in the local elections. He berated them for ‘not respecting democracy’. Naidoo was told that the march on the 14th was going ahead and that if it didn t get results there would be further road blockades.

S bu Zikode declared the meeting closed. He spoke about all the people who had lied – Councillor Yakoob Baig, City official S’bu Gumede and others. He told Naidoo ‘You have lied, you are lying and it seems you will continue to lie. We ll put thousands on the streets’.

Naidoo and his entourage left. The intense discussions about strategy continued into the night.

The political process in the two weeks leading up to the march was extraordinary. There were nightly meetings in nearby settlements as well as the Sydenham Heights municipal flats and the Jimmy Carter Housing Project in Sherwood. The meetings began with a screening of Kennedy Road and the Councillor and then moved into open discussion. O’Sullivan’s film gives a short overview of the Kennedy Road struggle from March to June 2005. Interviews are often in Zulu and the film takes the lived experience and intelligence of its subjects seriously (as opposed to the altogether more common practice of distorting the reality of African struggles to make them appear to conform to the expectation of Northern NGOs, Northern academic networks or fashionable Northern theories). Against the often raced and gendered and always classed documentary convention in which analysis comes via an ‘expert’ the film allows the people who suffer and resist to theorise their own experiences. It begins with the sanitation crisis and broken promises around toilets before moving into broken promises around land and housing in Clare Estate. But, crucially, it includes the articulation of an Abahlali baseMjondolo political identity and a direct contestation with the stereotypes that seek to objectify shack dwellers as stupid, dirty, lazy, criminal and dangerous. At every screening people cheered as Nonhlanhla Mzobe says (in translation) ‘We are not animals. We are human beings that feel and want nice things. We think. People must understand that we think’. It was the first time that hlonipa for shackdwellers had hit the big screen.

Thousands of people saw o’Sullivan’s film and were part of intense political discussions during these two weeks. Each community confronts a situation with its own singularities and so each meeting had its own character, dynamics, and tensions, not least in the breaking with the local ANC structures. At the last minute, local ANC structures were informed that any member joining the march would be expelled from the party, the IFP front smear was resuscitated and people were told that when delivery came communities that had supported the march would be left out. Sherwood and the Lacey Road settlement dropped out altogether and support dropped significantly in the Foreman and Jadhu Place settlements. But on the morning of the 14th well more than 5 000 people (some put the number as high as 8 000) set off up Kennedy Road to fire their councillor.

The shack dwellers were joined by a bus load of people from the flatlands of South Durban mobilised by the inimitable Des D’sa and various other supporters including a group of young white boys with signs saying something about toilets in bad Zulu. Young white boys with shaven heads and the look of poverty have a whiff of fascism to the refined noses of the middle class left and ‘out of context’ can look like rent-a-mob. I asked them, trying to disguise my suspicion, who they were. Turns out they were from a Pretoria orphanage. They have an annual coastal camping holiday in nearby ugly industrial Pinetown and have got to know the campsite caretaker well over the years. He lives in Kennedy Road. So they walked into town and caught the taxi to Clare Estate with him. Such is the beauty of struggle. Such are the ways in which we learn how fucked-up we are.

The councillor came to meet ‘his people’ in an armoured riot control vehicle from which he, at times visibly shaking with fear, watched a performance of his funeral. The sombre priest (Danger Dlamini) and wailing mother (Nonhlanhla Mzobe) asked the impassive heavens who would replace the late Councillor Baig. Who would lie as he had lied? Who would show the contempt that he had shown? Who would leave them to shit in plastic bags? Who would switch off his phone when they pleaded with him to intercede with the fire brigade when their homes were burning? Who would stand, gingerly, at the edge of the settlements dishing out breyani when they wanted an honest and open conversation? When the carnival was over Yakoob Baig was forced out of the armoured vehicle to receive a memorandum from a gentle man who works at a petrol station and lives with his family in a home made of mud and sticks. The councillor was not metaphorically buried merely as a deficient instance of councillorhood. It was the whole idea of a top down party structure stretching down to ordinary people through councillors that was being buried. Back in Kennedy Road brandy was spilt for the amadlozi and the march was celebrated as a major triumph.

The march was on national radio and television that night and the next day the national tabloid, The Citizen, led with a banner headline screaming ‘6 THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE TO USE 6 TOILETS’ and the Durban morning newspaper, The Mercury, led with the march and reported that S’bu Zikode, had affirmed that ‘if there was no progress soon the protests would be intensified. He said people would begin taking services by force, beginning with Operation Khanyisa which was taking electricity by force’. The media interest rolled on through the weekend and a scandal broke about City Manager Mike Sutcliffe, a master of self promoting spin and media manipulation, earning more than the president while the poor suffered. Sutcliffe was panicking. In an hysterical rant at Fazel Khan (an academic who had become part of the movement) in a university parking lot he screamed that the marchers were all being ‘used’ by a white Marxist academic who should ‘pay for the toilets’ himself. There was a rip, small but clear, in the carefully and expensively manufactured consent for the city’s casino and theme-park led development policy. In the following months there was more organising, marches and the movement spread rapidly. At each march a memorandum was delivered, and each time, its recipient was more senior within the government hierarchy. After Baig a memorandum was addressed to Mayor Obed Mlaba. He first responded by sending junior officials to meetings, then by promising a R10 billion land deal involving his former employers, Moreland. When he failed to honour subsequent promises to disclose any further details about this deal, the shackdwellers decided to address their grievances to the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, S’bu Ndebele.