Residents March to Demand Housing and Basic Services for All


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On 2 December 2020 a group of community organisations and community activists mainly based in the areas south of Johannesburg marched to the office of the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, demanding housing and basic services among other demands. These organisations include: Rivoningo Women’s Forum Inner City Resource Centre, Robertsham Tenants Association, Booysens Informal Settlement, Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee, and Fight Inequality Alliance.

More than 100 people attended the march, which started at Peter Roos Park in Parktown (Johannesburg), and ended at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown, where the march handed over a memorandum to the Office of the Premier.

“Residents, the unemployed, street traders, workers, and pensioners of Johannesburg and its surrounding areas demand houses and electricity,” said Nthabiseng Mokgoka, one of the activists who delivered the memorandum to the Gauteng Premier’s office.

Mokgoka said; “We find ourselves risking infection to once again gather in our numbers to come here to the office of the Premier to hand over this memorandum.”

“For the past 27 years residents have been marching, protesting, and submitting memorandums to this high office under previous administrators,” said Mokgoka. People are not satisfied with the way the issues of housing are being treated by the City Council, particularly housing in the inner city and surrounding areas. Johannesburg authorities are still failing to make sufficient plans for the needs of its residents, she said.

A woman, who is 60 years old and did not want to be named, said that she applied for Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing in 1996 and is still waiting.

Rebecca Chauke, an activist from Rivoningo Women’s Forum, said that protestors are tired of ESKOM switching off their electricity; they are tired of living in shacks with no water or electricity.

Chauke further said that there are daily reports of rampant maladministration, inadequate financial management, and a pandemic of corruption and self-enrichment by those holding public office.

The protestors said that in light of their demands, they call for Premier David Makhura, as head of the Provincial Government, to convene a meeting with relevant decision-makers responsible for housing and service delivery, and with representatives of all residents.

Though some residents wanted to hand the memorandum only to the Premier himself, the memo was handed over to Mr Mthuthuzeli Sibasa of the Rapid Response Team. The marchers dispersed peacefully.

The demands of the protestors are:

1. 1. The immediate cessation of evictions of the poor and the working class residents of Johannesburg.
2. In-situ provision of sufficient water and sanitation services to the most marginalised residents of the city and province.
3. The recognition that dilapidated buildings in the inner-city are as deserving of development as informal settlements around Johannesburg and the province of Gauteng.
4. A full review of the Social Housing sector: including ownership models, rental arrangements, and affordability, especially for working class families.
5. The provision of decent housing to all informal settlement and backyard dwellers, with immediate effect.
6. Implementation by government, of the Rapid Land Release Programme, after conducting a full audit of all land owned by Gauteng municipalities.
7. The improvement in the physical integrity of neglected buildings to create more dignified living spaces.
8. The Housing Department to facilitate the occupation of vacant buildings in the city so as to benefit the poor; failing which protestors will occupy such buildings themselves.
9. A housing indaba to discuss the challenges faced by those in social housing, informal settlements, and dilapidated buildings, as well as by backyard dwellers and transitional housing communities.
10. Meaningful engagement with affected communities to find local solutions to housing problems.

This article was submitted on 3 December 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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