Land 'is inextricably linked to dignity' - Social Justice Coalition
22 March 2018
Cape Town – The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and a number of other social movements marched on Wednesday calling for the land issue to be addressed.
The SJC, Ndifuna Ukwazi, Reclaim the City, and The District 6 Working Committee handed over a memorandum to City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Ministers Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Nomaindia Mfeketo from rural development and land reform and human settlements respectively.
"2018 marks 105 years since the Native Land Act was passed and 68 years since the Group Areas Act became law in South Africa. Both these oppressive laws were designed to deprive the Black majority of this country of our land and dignity," the SJC said.
"When we speak of land in South Africa, it is inextricably linked to dignity. The challenges today faced by many people who were dispossessed of land are as a result of the failure of our government over the years in undoing the injustices of the past."
The memorandum demanded land tenure security and the upgrading of informal settlements. The SJC said in 1994 there were about 300 informal settlements throughout South Africa, but that number was now over 2700.
"The dire living conditions of poor people, and the challenges with the existing housing crisis, have not seen any significant improvement despite numerous policies that have attempted to address these issues."
The SJC said Cape Town’s housing backlog of 345 000 homes would take decades to be sorted out.
The memorandum further called for an "urgent" change in politicians’ thinking and attitudes towards informal settlements.
"The undignified conditions that are the norm in informal settlements, and the undignified manner in which informal settlement residents are treated, needs to change. We will no longer quietly accept discomfort, indignity, insecurity and silence."
Selling to developers
The memorandum said land was not just about a plot or property, but symbolic "of a history and legacy of dispossession".
"The selling of well-located land to big property developers for profit rather than to house people… is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that places which were declared whites-only through the Group Areas Act remain largely white,” the group said.
The memorandum demanded that the recipients commit within 21 days to develop a city-wide plan to upgrading all informal settlements in Cape Town, prioritise it in future budgets, the City of Cape Town withdraw its high court appeal to buy or expropriate land in Marikana and Philippi, and review all public land.
It further demanded that national government fast-track the restitution processes for District Six claimants and others, and unlock well-located land, among others.