Letter to President Thabo Mbeki regarding Joe Slovo Community: forceful removals from UDM President (27 March 2008)

Your Excellency,

The above matter has reference.

Yesterday the 26th March 2008, I was invited by the community of Joe Slovo informal settlement situated next to the N2 Highway in Cape Town. They express their dissatisfaction with the manner in which they have been forcefully removed from the places they stayed in before the inception of the present government in 1994.

The history of this area is that when their shacks were burnt down, they were temporarily housed in tents provided by government and other institutions pending the final construction of flats to which they would be moved in on completion thereof. Instead they were forcefully removed to Delft without any consultation. The flats that were built for them were instead rented out to people who are not even residing in the Joe Slovo area. They also feel that government is taking advantage of their poor levels of income. They find it difficult to reconcile this with the current integration policy of people into inner cities. The proximity of Joe Slovo to their work places is a great factor that is worthy of consideration based on their low income range.

It is therefore their considered opinion that despite the fact that, they have lost the case, they are going to appeal against a government they have voted to power which reneged its duty to provide for the poor but instead exacerbate the pain suffered for decades. They feel that although your government preaches to be fighting for the poor, there is still a prevalence of class distinction tendencies, a feature that was characteristic of the apartheid regime under the Group Areas Act. They feel that the difference on harassments is done by people disguised under implacable struggle credentials. Please also note that ninety percent (90%) of people at Joe Slovo voted for the African National Congress (ANC) as reflected in the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voted results.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) now calls upon your government to review its approach in this case which is considered to be too arbitrary especially looking at the history of the ANC as a liberation movement. It is clear that the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) in the province and the National Minister of Housing did not fully apply their minds but instead gave directives which are in contrast with the culture and policies of the present government. Equally so, it emerged that people on the ground have lost confidence in the Western Cape present leadership of the ANC both outside and inside government because they failed to listen to them and are only used as voting cattle.

The truth of the matter is that the informal settlements in the Western Cape were never developed due to neglect by both the ANC National and Provincial governments and the Local government of the Democratic Alliance (DA) which did not have concrete programs to ameliorate the situation.

Yes, Mr President, the scars of apartheid welcome you as you enter Cape Town and it is clear that there seems to be no concrete programs or perhaps lack of political will to address the imbalance of the past as it has been done in other provinces.

In light of the problems alluded to here-above, we call for your urgent intervention, perhaps reviewing the strategy on housing in the Western Cape and also that, in order to avoid a situation to be viewed as a political football, I suggest that the Secretary General of the ANC should pay a visit especially that there is a lack of confidence from structures.

The ANC still has the mandate to govern until 2009. After such a visit, all role players should sit down and come up with a decision on how to accelerate housing delivery without resorting to heavy handed and costly tactics.

Your usual co-operation is appreciated.

Yours sincerely

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