Friday, November 02, 2007

The Market NOT Needs

Heavily armed police officers in trucks then moved in and as tensions escalated officers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to try to disperse hundreds of residents refusing to move from their shacks near South Africa's capital , according to the BBC .

The residents of Diepsloot near Pretoria say they would prefer better houses and clean water where they already live. In recent months, the country has been hit by a number of such demonstrations over a lack of new homes and services. The residents in Diepsloot, like in several other black townships across the country, are deeply unhappy with their living conditions.

An estimated 7.5 million lack access to adequate housing .


Thousands of the poorest residents in Cape Town, South Africa, are facing eviction from an informal settlement to make way for a government housing project , according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs .

About 20,000 residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement near Langa, a township about 15km from Cape Town along the N2, the main access road to and from the airport, are opposing their forced removal to Delft, about 20km northeast of the city, because they say it would reduce their standard of living further and make it difficult and more expensive to travel to the city for work.

"In May of last year we were all told we had to move to Delft because the government was going to build us affordable houses where our shacks were. But these new houses will be bonded and rented houses and people must earn between R3,500 (US$500) and R7,000 (US$1,000) per month to qualify to get a home. Most people who live in Joe Slovo earn less than R1,500 (US$214) per month, so they are automatically excluded: they are evicting the poorest people in society as part of their plans to eradicate informal settlements and waiting lists [for low-cost housing]," explained the co-ordinator of Joe Slovo's anti-eviction task team, Mzwanele Zulu

Members of the Joe Slovo anti-eviction task team believe the real reason behind the government's about-turn on providing the poor with affordable housing is the booming property market. Cape Town's property prices are among the highest in the country because the city is an international tourist destination, which has resulted in an influx of foreign investors paying high prices for housing, often well beyond what most South Africans can afford. The land occupied by some of the city's informal settlements has become extremely valuable in recent times and, rather than make it available to the country's poorest residents, politicians and the private sector want to cash in on its potential, said anti-eviction task team co-ordinator Zulu.

"The bonded houses in the N2 Gateway project will cost between R150,000 (US$21,500) and R250,000 (US$35,700) and private sector banks will make loans available to people who can afford the repayments - which is not the residents of Joe Slovo."

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