Saturday, November 20, 2010
Cape Town: The Politics of Free Housing (part II)
As the government has built homes, the politics of who gets homes, where and when have resulted in anger and even violence. The N2 gateway project, shown above, was built when settlers living in shacks on the edge of the black township of Langa, in an area called Joe Slovo, were removed in exchange for the promise of homes. When the homes were complete, those who had been displaced were told that the price of the homes would be far higher than promised - a price no shack-dwelling family could afford - and so they remained in the "temporary" settlement they had been removed to, 20 kilometers from friends and family, 20 kilometers further from potential jobs in Cape Town, and in the arid desert flats. When the remaining inhabitants of Joe Slovo protested by marching 30,000 people into the adjacent highway to stop traffic, they were repeatedly teargassed and shot with rubber bullets and their shacks were destroyed. But they stayed, and many court cases and 2 years later, the government has said these houses are for the people of Joe Slovo, but the bank who owns them, still gets to recoup its money - so there is a stalemate. People without adequate housing live around the edges of beautiful new homes they can't afford, but no one else is allowed, while the bank continues to lose money, and the government continues to lose credibility. How is this good for anyone?