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Official logo of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is a popular movement made up of poor and oppressed communities in Cape Town, South Africa. It was formed on November 2000 with the aim of fighting evictions, water cut-offs and poor health services, obtaining free electricity, securing decent housing, and opposing police brutality. It has been able to successfully mobilise against the recent xenophobic attacks in the areas where it is strong.

The movement is the oldest of the first generation of so-called 'new social movements' to spring up after the end of apartheid and is known for its direct action style militancy, its refusal of all forms of vanguardism, including NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) authoritarianism and its networked or hydra style mode of organization.[1] The movement has publicly refused to work with some local NGOs[2] and insist that the middle class left respect the autonomy and internal democracy of grassroots movements.

The AEC is a founding member of The Poor People's Alliance and, along with the other members of the alliance, refuses all electoral politics and encourages the development of popular power rather than voting for political parties.[3]

Contents

Communities

Anti-Eviction Campaign Chairperson, Ashraf Cassiem, Speaking Outside the Constitutional Court, 14 May 2009

The AEC is currently an umbrella body for over 15 community organizations[4], crisis committees, and concerned residents movements who have come together to organise and demand their rights to basic services. The organisations that make up the AEC include but are not limited to:

  • Concerned QQ Section Residents (Khayelitsha)
  • Talefsig Anti-Eviction Campaign (Mitchell's Plain)
  • Athlone Anti-Eviction Campaign (Athlone)
  • Gugulethu Backyard Dwellers (Gugulethu)
  • Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign (Hanover Park)
  • Gympie Street Residents Committee (Woodstock)
  • Leiden Anti-Eviction Campaign (Delft)
  • Delft Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign (Delft)
  • Eastridge Anti Eviction Campaign (Mitchell's Plain)
  • Wesbank Anti-Eviction Campaign (Blue Downs)
  • Old Crossroads Anti-Eviction Campaign (Nyanga)

Affiliated movements and committees in the Western Cape:

  • Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape
  • Sikhula Sonke Women Farmworkers Union
  • Joe Slovo Liberative Residents (Langa)
  • KTC Concerned Residents Movement (Nyanga)
  • Hangberg Solution Seekers Association (Hout Bay)
  • Tafelsig People’s Forum (Mitchell's Plain)
  • Mandela Park Youth Solidarity Forum (Khayelitsha)
  • Mitchell’s Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (Mitchell's Plain)
  • Gugulethu Informal Traders (Gugulethu)
  • Gatesville Informal Traders Association (Athlone)[4]

Coordinators

The AEC has a highly democratic federated structure. Its leaders are mandated by the community movements it works with. For that reason, the leaders are called coordinators. As one AEC activist put it: “As coordinators of the anti-eviction campaign, we are not leaders in the traditional authoritarian sense. Instead, we are like a set of cutlery. We are the tools that are there to be used by poor communities fighting against the cruel and oppressive conditions of South African society.”

Activities

The AEC is fighting evictions and water and electricity cut-offs on many different levels. Its current activities range from direct action demonstrations against evictions and cut-offs. Activities range from legal actions that challenge the constitutionality of evictions, to mass mobilisation and popular education initiatives, to creative organisation and capacity building programs. Some of its current activities are as follows:

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Direct action

Aside from organising mass marches and demonstrations against evictions, the AEC directly challenges evictions as they are taking place. The AEC protects families from being evicted primarily by staging sit-ins and demonstrations aimed at turning away government and privatised security forces that come to evict families. For those families who have already been evicted, the AEC often responds by moving them and their belongings back into their homes. Should these tactics prove unsuccessful in waving off evictions and in instances where the government is determined to move forward with evictions, the AEC has at times responded by rendering the contested property unliveable, saying if the people cannot have the land, then no one will.

Legal challenges

The AEC’s Legal Aid Team, with the support of the Legal Aid Clinic and Women’s Legal Centre at the University of the Western Cape, is in the process of legally challenging the constitutionality of evictions. In response to the AEC’s marches, demonstrations, memorandums, legal challenges, press statements, etc, the Provincial government has taken up a commission to look into the illegality of evictions. Although the AEC is pressuring the government for their release, government has yet to make the finding of this commission public. Currently, the AEC in continuing both with its impending court cases and with its pressure on the government to publicise the commission’s report.

Mass mobilisation and popular education

The AEC is currently involved in a wide spread mobilisation campaign to get communities from all around the Western Cape involved with the AEC. Via mass public meetings and more targeted activists workshops, the AEC has engaged in popular education initiatives around the issues of evictions, and water and electricity cut-offs. Through its popular education activities, the AEC works to make the linkages between people’s concrete experiences with evictions and cut-offs, the government’s macro economic strategy GEAR and its privatisation policies. By mobilising the communities around these issues, the AEC hopes to build a mass political base from which to challenge evictions, one that the government will be forced to listen to and think about before continuing with its eviction policies.

Organisation capacity building

The AEC is currently embarking on various activities geared toward building the strength and capacity of the Campaign. In an effort to develop the capacity of its Legal Aid Team, the AEC has taken part (and continues to take part) in a legal research training courses offered by a number of organisations. The skills learned in these courses are used in order to help community members in dealing with legal documents and procedures relating to evictions and cut-offs. They also to facilitate the strength and number of the legal challenges against evictions. By building up the skills of our members, we are able to also conduct research on the socio-economic effects of evictions and water and electricity cut-offs. This research is used not only to give empirical evidence to the Campaign’s counter arguments against GEAR and privatisation, but is also used to take the Campaign forward in terms of developing concrete alternatives to such policies.

Democratising communities

The Anti-Eviction Campaign works to democratise the internal governance of poor communities as they attempt to mobilise and stand up for their rights.

Campaigns

Since its inception, the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) has called for an end to all evictions and cut-offs of basic services in the Western Cape.[5] In 2001, the AEC achieved a 6-month moratorium on all evictions in the Cape Town Unicity.[6][7] Even though the DA had declared the moratorium, illegal evictions continued.[8]

In recent months the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign has been closely involved in supporting opposition to the government's planned forced removals of thousands of people from the Joe Slovo settlement before the 2010 World Cup.[9]

In recent months the movement has strongly supported the struggle for the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers to resist forced removal to a transit camp and to demand access to decent housing.

No Land! No House! No Vote! is the name of a civil society campaign boycotting the vote and against party politics and vote banking in South Africa. In 2009, the Poor People's Alliance voted to boycott the national elections under the No Land! No House! No Vote! Banner.[10][11]

The 2010 FIFA World Cup has been connected to a large number of evictions in South Africa which many claim are meant to 'beautify the city'.[12][13] The WC-AEC has begun a campaign against all evictions caused by the event. The campaign's hotspots include the anti-gentrification issues in Gympie Street and other parts of Woodstock[14][15], the national N2 Gateway housing project and its evictions in Joe Slovo and Delft[16], Sea Point evictions[17], the upgrades and pending evictions in Q-Town next to Athlone Stadium.

The movement is committed to opposing xenophobia and has been particularly active in this regard in Gugulethu[18] where it has set up a forum[19] for these issues to be discussed. According to both the media[20] and the local police[21] the forum has had considerable success in reducing xenophobic hostility.

Poor People's Alliance

In September 2008 the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, together with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement and the Rural Network (Abahlali baseplasini) formed the Poor People's Alliance.[22][23] The poor people's alliance refuses electoral politics under the banner 'No Land! No House! No Vote!'.[24]

Influence

Take Back the Land[25] in Miami and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign[26] have both stated that their work in inspired by that of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ African movements continue their fights against NGO authoritarianism | WOMBLES
  2. ^ South African Grassroots Movements Rebel Against NGO Authoritarianism
  3. ^ See the article 'Anti Eviction Campaign urges poor to boycott elections' by Aziz Hartley in the Cape Times, January 05, 2009
  4. ^ a b About Us: Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
  5. ^ "Stop Forced Removals & Evictions! Stop Privatisation!". Land Research Action Network. http://www.landaction.org/display.php?article=67. 
  6. ^ Subjectivity, Politics and Neoliberalism in Post-apartheid Cape Town
  7. ^ "Fighting Foreclosure in South Africa". The Nation Magazine. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090420/western_cape. 
  8. ^ "WESTERN CAPE ANTI-EVICTION COMMITTEE PRESS STATEMENT". http://www.queensu.ca/msp/pages/In_The_News/2001/June/wc.htm. 
  9. ^ South Africa: a new Crossroads? | WOMBLES
  10. ^ "“No Vote” Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy". Mail and Guardian. http://www.abahlali.org/node/865. 
  11. ^ "Anti Eviction Campaign urges poor to boycott elections". Cape Times. http://www.capetimes.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4780755. 
  12. ^ "In South Africa, evicted residents struggle". Bay State Banner. http://baystatebanner.com/world19-2008-07-10. 
  13. ^ Le Monde Diplomatique
  14. ^ "Cornwall Evictions in Woodstock for 2010 World Cup". Anti-Eviction Campaign. http://antieviction.org.za/2009/02/16/cornwall-evictions-in-woodstock-for-2010-world-cup/. 
  15. ^ "This is not a game!". Anti-Eviction Campaign. http://antieviction.org.za/2009/05/22/this-is-not-a-game/. 
  16. ^ "Call to demonstrat at constitutional court". Joe Slovo Task Team. http://antieviction.org.za/2008/08/17/call-to-demonstrate-at-constitutional-court-21-august-against-joe-slovo-eviction/. 
  17. ^ Last Poor People in Sea Point Face Eviction Ahead of 2010
  18. ^ 'Xenophobia Still Smouldering' by Mandisi Majavu, IPS, 19 June 2009
  19. ^ Gugulethu, traders to hold follow-up meeting, Cape Times, 7 July 2009
  20. ^ 'Xenophobic tensions in Gugulethu calm down', Anna Majavu, The Sowetan, 5 June 2009
  21. ^ Independent Online, 'You could see the anger in their eyes', Caryn Dolley, 15 June 2009
  22. ^ The Struggle for Land & Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, Left Turn, January 2009
  23. ^ 'Participatory Society: Urban Space & Freedom', by Chris Spannos, Z-Net, 29 May 2009
  24. ^ The alliance, and its position on electoral politics, is mentioned in the speech by S'bu Zikode at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415682.html
  25. ^ Take Back the Land in South Africa
  26. ^ Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

References

  • Rowley, Rick (Director). (2003). Fourth World War [Documentary]. United States: Big Noise Films
  • Pointer, Rebecca. Questioning the Representation of South Africa’s ‘New Social Movements’: A Case Study of the Mandela Park Anti-Eviction Campaign. In Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 39, No. 4, 271-294 (2004). DOI: 10.1177/0021909604051183
  • Desai, Ashwin and Pithouse, Richard. A Reply to Rebecca Pointer: In Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 39, No. 4, 295-324 (2004). DOI: 10.1177/0021909604051183
  • Oldfields, Sophie and Stokke Christian. Building unity in diversity: Social movement activism in the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign. Research report prepared for Centre for Civil Society, …, 2004
  • Desai, Ashwin and Pithouse, Richard. "What stank in the past is the present's perfume": Dispossession, Resistance, and Repression in Mandela Park. In South Atlantic Quarterly 2004 103(4):841-875; DOI:10.1215/00382876-103-4-841
  • Miraftab, Faranak. "Insurgent Citizenship and Informal Politics: the Case of South African Anti-eviction Movement" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA,, Aug 14, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-03-04 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109771_index.html>
  • Ballard, Richard, et al. Voices of Protest: Social Movements in Post-apartheid South Africa. UKZN Press (2006).
  • Lier, David Maximum and Stokke, Kristian. Working Class Unity? Challenges to Local Social Movement Unionism in Cape Town. In Antipode, Volume 38 Issue 4, Pages 802 - 824. Published Online: 4 Aug 2006
  • Pieterse, Edgar. Building with Ruins and Dreams: Some Thoughts on Realising Integrated Urban Development in South Africa through Crisis. In Urban Studies, Vol. 43, No. 2, 285-304 (2006) DOI: 10.1080/00420980500404020
  • Kleider, Alexander (Director) and Michel, Daniela (Director). (2009). When the Mountain Meets its Shadow [Documentary]. Germany: DOK-WERK film cooperative.

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