Expropriating land without compensation: shack-dwellers have their say
Nowongile Swebe left her rural village in the Eastern Cape in 1989 to settle in Cape Town. She was hoping for better living conditions and more economic opportunities.
She settled at what was then the Frankdale informal settlement on the periphery of the Visserhok landfill site, about 20km north of the city centre.
In June 2015 the City of Cape Town needed to expand the landfill site. The residents of Frankdale, including Swebe, were moved to Wolwerivier, about 5km further north and further away from the city centre. Wolwerivier falls under ward 104 which includes Dunoon.
Here, Swebe lives with her five children and seven grandchildren in a one-room house, she says. She has used a cupboard to divide the room.
Back home, she says, her father owns a big piece of rural land, which he shares with his three wives and children.
Even though she was looking for improved living conditions, her dreams of achieving this faded over the years as she still lives in an overcrowded home.
Swebe and other people shared their stories with several community leaders from Dunoon, Doornbach informal settlement and Wolwerivier on Saturday. They had gathered at the Dunoon Nasqshbandi Muhammadi Mosque where the Claremont Main Road Mosque was holding workshop on land expropriation without compensation, in conjunction with the Institute for Healing of Memories. The workshop follows a spate of land occupations in the area.
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Workers’ power not bureaucrats power: lessons from Argentina
Around the world the ruling class (capitalists, politicians and state managers) is trying to restore its profits by making the working class pay for the economic crisis. One way capitalists do this is by retrenching workers and making the remaining workers work harder to meet production targets, as well as by attacking wages, working conditions and benefits. States help capitalists do this, among other things, by increasing interest rates while giving corporations tax cuts, commercialising and privatising state owned enterprises and outsourcing the provision of basic services. States also help capitalists by undermining workers’ rights, such as the right to strike, in order to make it more difficult for workers to resist these attacks.
Unions have failed to defend workers from the immediate threat of these attacks (by preventing dismissals and defending jobs, wages and conditions), as well as to mount an effective resistance that can prevent further attacks and begin to roll back the devastating effects of neoliberalism. Moreover, union bureaucrats are often complicit in these attacks through deals they make with governments and bosses. A recent example in South Africa is the National Minimum Wage and amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Amendment Bill – all of which represent an attack on workers yet were agreed to at Nedlac by the leaders of the three main federations: Nactu, Fedusa and Cosatu.
Read more: Workers’ power not bureaucrats power: lessons from Argentina