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Operation Murambatsvina comes to KZN:
The notorious elimination & prevention of re-emergence of Slums Bill

Abahlali BaseMjondolo

21 June 2007

SARPN acknowledges Abahlali BaseMjondolo as the source of this document:
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Today the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination & Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Bill will be discussed in the provincial parliament. Abahlali baseMjondolo have discussed this Bill very carefully in many meetings. We have heard Housing MEC Mike Mabuyakulu say that we must not worry because it is aimed at slumlords and shack farming. We have heard Ranjith Purshotum from the Legal Resources Centre say that "Instead of saying that people will be evicted from slums after permanent accommodation is secured, we have a situation where people are being removed from a slum, and sent to another slum. Only this time it is a government-approved slum and is called a transit area. This is the twisted logic of the drafters of the legislation". We have heard Marie Huchzermeyer from Wits University say that this Bill uses the language of apartheid, is anti-poor and is in direct contradiction with the national housing policy Breaking New Ground. Lawyers have told us that this Bill is unconstitutional.

It is very clear to us that this Bill is an attempt to mount a legal attack on the poor. Already the poor, shack dwellers and street traders, are under illegal and violent attack by Municipalities. This Bill is an attempt to legalize the attacks on the poor. We know about Operation Murambatsvina. Last year one of our members visited Harare and last week we hosted two people from Harare. This Bill is an attempt to legalize a KZN Operation Murambatsvina before the World Cup in 2010. We will fight it all the way.

Aim of the bill

The Bill says that its main aims are to:

  • Eliminate 'slums' in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Prevent new 'slums' from developing
  • Upgrade and control existing 'slums'
  • Monitor the performance of departments and municipalities in the elimination of 'slums' and the prevention of new 'slums' from developing.
It has detailed plans to make sure that all of this really happens. The Bill also says that it aims to 'improve the living conditions of communities' but it has no detailed plans to make sure that this really happens. It is therefore clear that its real purpose is to get rid of 'slums' rather than to improve the conditions in which people live. Mabuyakulu says that we shouldn't worry because the real targets are slum lords and shack farming but this is not what the Bill says and, anyway, there are no slum lords in Abahlali settlements. Abahlali members have been to Nairobi. We have seen how the slum lords rule the Nairobi settlements and we are strongly against slum lordism. But we do not live in Nairobi. All Abahlali settlements are democratic communities and many other settlements in KZN are also not run by slum lords.

The Bill does not aim to:

  • Force local and provincial government to deal with the conditions that force people to leave their homes and move to shack settlements.
  • Force local and provincial government to immediately provide basic services to shack settlements like toilets, electricity, water, drainage, paths and speed bumps while they wait for upgrades or relocations.
  • Force local and provincial government to follow the laws that prevent evictions without a court order, the laws that prevent people from being made homeless in an eviction or to follow the Breaking New Ground Policy that aims to upgrade settlements in situ (where people are already living) instead of relocating people so far from work and schools that they have to leave their low cost houses and come straight back to shacks.
  • Force local and provincial government to make their plans for shack dwellers with shack dwellers to avoid the bad planning that undermines development (such relocating people so far away from work that they have to move back to shacks).
We do not need this Bill. The first thing that we need is for government (local, provincial and national) to begin to follow the existing laws and polices that protect against evictions, forced relocations and which recommend in situ upgrades instead of relocations. After that we need laws that break the power that the very rich have over land in the cities and we need laws to compel municipalities to provide services to shack settlements while people wait for houses to be built.

This Bill is not for shack dwellers. It is to protect the rich, by protecting their property prices.

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