Gauteng: Landless People’s Movement. Position on the National Housing Summit. Why we chose to picket!

19.Nov.03    Análisis y Noticias

19 - 20 November 2003, Midrand

We, the Landless People’s Movement (LPM), a national movement of poor and landless people struggling for land, houses, jobs and dignity for the poor and excluded, hereby wish to express our anger and disappointment at being over-looked, ignored, abused and excluded from processes which affect us directly by the government we have voted for. The National Housing Summit is but one example of the treatment we have come to expect from the government and its officials. The LPM received an invitation three weeks back. Since then we have been trying to understand what the objectives of the Summit are and what our role is expected to be. We asked whether we would be given an opportunity to SPEAK! The organizers of the Summit never responded. Only this morning did we manage to get a copy of the programme. And the LPM, a major national movement that is talking to the problems of land and housing, has not been offered a platform to SPEAK! More than that we do not feel that the Summit will address our issues and problems!
We are again being ignored! We are being brutalized! We are excluded!
Two weeks ago the LPM marched to President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria. We told him about our pain:
We said to the president:
“We must everyday face off a government that wants to remove us from our land and homes! We must everyday endure the hardships of living without adequate housing and basic services that every human being must have to survive! And this from a government that has promised “a better life for all.”…
We reminded the President that:
“… We struggled against apartheid in the hope and belief that life would be better for us! We had hoped that in the new South Africa we would have land and houses! We believed that the apartheid-created hardships and indignity would end with a new government! And after all of our struggles we are told that the communities we have built over many decades must make way for government priorities of shopping malls, cemeteries and sports fields.”

We also told the President that:
“… it is the government that we struggled for that is forcibly removing us from the land that we fought for and won! It is our government that is forcibly taking us away from our jobs, our schools, our clinics and our crèches! It is the government that has promised the masses a better life that is uprooting and destroying our communities. We say: NO! Enough is enough!”
We also said:
“We are here today to tell you that instead of building a better life for all, you are undertaking apartheid-like forced removals. These removals you say are happening in the name of ‘development’. We ask why is development brought to us through guns and the terror of the Red Ants (Wozani Security)?”
These are the words we told Mr Mbeki.
We see in the programme of the National Housing Summit that MEC Paul Mashatile is giving an input. This is the very same person who has been telling our communities that they are going to be moved by force. This is the very same person who has ignored all our attempts to get our demands met. So Paul Mashatile will address the housing summit that excludes the poor and the landless. And we are told this summit “will be the conclusion of a comprehensive consultation on the housing policy and strategy and will provide the opportunity for all involved and affected by the National Housing Programme to air their views”.
The LPM was not consulted on this process, and we are homeless and landless! We were excluded during the “consultation phase” and we are excluded as government concludes the process.
For the past two years, the Gauteng LPM has been struggling against the illegal efforts of the government to forcibly remove almost a million people from their homes in informal settlements around Joburg. The Joburg Metro Council has targeted 100 informal settlements for removal. The government says that these are “voluntary relocations”, but we say this is a lie! The poor and the landless are being forced off the land and out of their houses at gunpoint.
We have not embarked on the call for ‘No land! No vote!’ lightly. We have been forced to this position by government’s lack of response to our problems. We have marched many times to the Joburg Mayor, to the Premier of Gauteng and to various MECs in the Province. We have handed over many memorandums, we have written many letters, we have had many meetings, but to no avail! In all our actions we have called on the government to end these brutal forced removals. We have not been listened to. We have spent monies we do not have fighting these evictions in the courts.

This summit has nothing to offer the poor, the landless and the homeless of South Africa.
Our demands have been made many times over to the Premier of Gauteng, to the MECs Mary Metcalfe, Paul Mashatile and Trevor Fowler. All these people have not cared to respond to us. We sent the same demands to the President Mr. Thabo Mbeki. We have not heard from him too.

We demand:
1. The immediate reversal of the decision of the Joburg Metro to forcefully remove about 1-million people from informal settlements.
2. A moratorium on all farm evictions.
3. That land must be redistributed to the landless for settlement and production.
4. Houses for the homeless!
5. Jobs for the jobless!
6. A meeting between the LPM and government to discuss our problems!

No Land! No Vote!
For more information: Maureen Mnisi 084 7051388