Featured Image: The De Waal Drive flats in Cape Town. Photo: David Harrison/M&G
By BO Staff Writer
On Saturday June 11 the residents of Woodstock and Salt River held a meeting under the campaign, “We Are Not Going Anywhere” to engage, discuss and consolidate ideas in response to the evictions they face from their homes by the City of Cape Town. A follow up meeting will be convened shortly where a way forward will be developed. The organizing slogan of the campaign was “resisting gentrification”. Woodstock and Salt River are low and predominantly no income, overcrowded and under serviced areas.
Residents are objecting to the commercial developments in their areas (via gentrification) that have proceeded for a decade now under the guise of urban regeneration in a bid to ultimately get ownership of the said properties. To this end the urban regeneration program of the government results in increased rentals, rates and property prices which can’t be afforded by the residents who are in turn evicted or forced to move due to non payments of such rentals, rates and property prices. Gentrification in Salt River and Woodstock – just like in Bo Kaap, De Waal Drive Flats and Zonnebloem – is being pursued in the interests of white capital.
It is evident that the City of Cape Town led by the Democratic Alliance (DA), in the context of an African National Congress (ANC) led national government, has adopted a very aggressive stance against the poor on the questions of land and housing. The contradiction between white supremacy and black oppression finds clear manifestation in the wicked and criminal tactics used by the DA led Western Cape Government to evict the urban poor. Twenty-two years into so-called democracy, affordable housing for the poor in Cape Town’s CBD remains elusive.
What is happening is that the City of Cape Town, in cahoots with white capital, has identified Salt River and Woodstock as investment hubs. Consequently big business is establishing and entrenching itself in these areas. To free the space for white capital to thrive the apartheid method of removing people via direct and open state violence has taken on another more sophisticated form being forced removals via unaffordable increased rates, rental and property prices. Many families have consequently lost their homes in these areas and have been banished to Blikkies Dorp where conditions are manyfold worse.
New commercial buildings are mushrooming all over Woodstock and Salt River. Whites are buying out the property in these areas. The development of the white owned “Old Biscuit Mill” in Albert Road, Woodstock – where expensive food and other stuff are sold – has not amounted to any benefits for the residents. Moreover it is frequented mostly by whites and other tourists.
It is incumbent upon the ANC government to immediately declare a stop to all evictions. The ANC government has a duty to serve and protect the poor and the power to end all evictions. It is obliged to decolonize Cape Town, to decolonize South Africa. President Zuma is urged to declare a moratorium on all evictions nationally. The poor have a right to land and housing.
The policy that guides the resolution of the housing question must be driven by the principle of anti-racism. Nothing must reflect the racist past and everything must put the people first!
Heed the voices of Woodstock and Salt River residents – “We Are Not Going Anywhere!”
End all evictions Now!