Legal: Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

8 01 2009
Excerpt on South Africa
South African Constitutional Court
Various Occupiers v. City of Johannesburg and others, CCT 24/07
South African Constitutional Court

Facts: The City of Johannesburg has carried out forced evictions in the inner city in the context of the Johannesburg Inner City Regeneration Strategy (ICRS), aimed at creating an ‘African World Class City’ and attracting investment. The strategy includes the clearance of an estimated 235 ‘bad buildings’, which are regarded as being at the centre of developmental ‘sinkholes’. The Johannesburg City Council has obtained urgent eviction orders under the pretence of being concerned for the health and safety of residents. However, evictions have been carried out in the middle of the night and without notice. While conditions in many of the buildings are appalling, the procedures used by the municipality are grossly unfair, including the use of Apartheid-era laws and regulations. In addition, people are not consulted or offered any viable alternatives. In the name of safety and health in the buildings, residents have been made homeless and left on the streets to fend for themselves. The strategy affects approximately 67 000 residents of ‘bad buildings’. Read the rest of this entry »

Legal: The right to basic services in informal settlements

15 12 2008

Notes on Harry Gwala High Court hearing 12 December 2008

Harry Gwala is an informal settlement of some 800 households occupying mainly municipal land adjacent to Wattville in Ekurhuleni. Currently it has no refuse removal, no lighting, only inadequate home-made pit latrines as toilets, and only 6 communal taps. Read the rest of this entry »

Media: Developments need to be based on partnerships

20 11 2008
Without government and communities working together, even the best-intentioned projects can do more harm than good
November 19, 2008 Edition 1
Imraan Buccus - The Mercury

NATIONAL attention remains fixed on the unlovely aftermath of Polokwane and the new political party, Congress of the People (Cope). Read the rest of this entry »

Media: Cape Town the most unequal city in the world

21 10 2008

Why inequality prevails in Cape Town

October 21 2008 at 10:25AM
By David McDonald (Opinion)
Source: Cape Times
Related Article: Ash Monday

I have been conducting research on the city of Cape Town for the past 15 years. My work has focused primarily on inequality in the city, particularly with regards to basic municipal services such as water, sanitation and electricity.

By some indicators, inequality in Cape Town has improved. There are more people with access to houses, water, healthcare, education and other important amenities - even with a rapidly growing population.

But the story is far from rosy, with Cape Town having one of the worst urban Gini coefficients in the world (a measure that compares income differentials of the richest and poorest). Read the rest of this entry »

COHRE report on housing rights in Durban

6 10 2008

The full text of the report (’Business as Usual’) is available in pdf here or on the .

COHRE Press Statement

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, based in Geneva, today released a report on housing rights in Durban. While recognizing the efforts of the eThekwini Municipality to build a considerable number of houses each year, the report concludes that the houses being built are often located so far out of town as to make them unviable for many people due to unaffordable transport costs to work, schools, and hospitals. The report also expresses serious concern about the size and quality of the houses that are being built and over the failure to provide adequate levels of basic services to shack dwellers while they wait for formal housing. In some instances levels of basic services in shack settlements are inadequate to the point of being life threatening according to COHRE’s research. Read the rest of this entry »

Politics at stake: a note on stakeholder analysis

23 07 2008
July 2008
Mark Butler and David Ntseng

People in government, business, and political and civil society organisations routinely talk about ’stakeholders’. They do exercises in stakeholder analysis to inform their ’strategic planning’. Invariably they use the stakeholder language to advertise claims about the inclusivity of their thinking, their processes, and their practice. The organisation we work with was asked recently to prepare an input for a ’stakeholder analysis’ for a collegial NGO and this forced us to reflect on why we were so uncomfortable with the very idea. We presented some of our thinking as the basis for discussions at the NGO meeting. It was good that there was a mix of people there including grassroots militants as well as civil society employees. The note below includes some thoughts we had prepared, as well as things we learned from people at the meeting. It outlines why we conclude that the stakeholder discourse, and the practices that go along with it, are in fact part of an order that functions to exclude and silence. For those at the meeting who came from grassroots formations, it was clear that this approach fitted very much with their analysis and experience. Summarising their key points, it was said that the stakeholder approaches exclude, enslave, silence and demobilise. The combined effect is to try and reduce their struggles to what can be managed within the terms set by the rich and powerful.

Stakeholders = those who count. Emancipatory Politics = made by the uncounted.

Read the rest of this entry »