Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers building a new world – one child at a time

14 04 2008

Tuesday April 14, 2008
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Greetings from the pavement of Delft-Symphony:

Over the past month, the Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers and their elected Anti-Eviction Campaign leadership have been working hand-in-hand to improve the lives of residents. While it may be an exaggeration to assume (as was reported recently in the Cape Argus) that we live here on the pavement in harmony all the time, there does exist a strong sense of camaraderie among residents and a common vision of the type of world we are fighting for.

What are we fighting for? We are fighting for housing; not only for ourselves but for everyone living in South Africa. We recognize that South Africa is a financially rich country that now has 3 billionaires according to the Forbes list and countless millionaires. This is a country that can easily afford to build decent housing for all and fulfil its constitutional mandate. We believe that the government is violating the constitution and our human rights by refusing to spend more than 2% of its budget on housing.

Still, we are not only fighting for houses, we are also fighting for ownership of the housing process. If it is true that ‘the people shall govern’, then how can we sit by and allow a few elitist government officials and their haughty friends in Thubelisha Homes define the process for us?

Yet the government believes that we are stupid; that we cannot think for ourselves; that we cannot design our own communities or construct our own houses. We denounce this arrogance and snobbery by Lindiwe Sisulu and her friends.

But, we are not just fighting for houses and for ownership of the housing process; even more significantly, we are fighting for a better world for ourselves, our children and for every single person living in South Africa. The privatisation and corporatisation of our country is building a new Apartheid that ghettoises the poor in new suburban townships where bread and electricity prices shoot through the roof and where a multi-billion Rand train project in Gauteng is creating a transportation system accessible only to tourists and the wealthy. And so, while fighting for our right to housing, we, the Pavement Dwellers of Delft-Symphony, begin (slowly and without government support) to create this new world that we are fighting for. And we begin, first and foremost, with our children.

We have recently set up a community crèche on the pavement. With the eventual arrival of a container, we expect the crèche to become a defining fixture of our community. But this is only one of the projects we have created for our children. For the past few weeks, we have been running a unique ‘pavement camp’ for kids on school holiday. This has included our soccer and netball clinics, collecting the kids for discussions on life and life-skills, and preparing for the upcoming Symphony Way Fashion Show. Everything has been run by the community and coordinated by the new Delft-Symphony Children’s Committee.

This is proof, once again, that we are not stupid; that we can think; that we can design our own communities, construct our own houses, and build a new world for our children. And we will do so without being commanded by the so-called experts in government who do not understand the human consequences of forced removals and the povertization of the population caused by persistent anti-poor economic policies.

From the pavement in the desert on the other side of Cape Town International Airport,

The Delft-Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign

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