The South African Homeless People’s Federation Interrogating the myth of participation by Leopold Podlashuc

13 05 2013

The South African Homeless People’s Federation Interrogating the myth of participation
by Leopold Podlashuc

Click here for the full PDF of the paper by Leopold Podlashuc

This paper is an exploration of the ways in which participatory development has become
a key mechanism for both extending (globalising) and consolidating neoliberal hegemony.
The paper hinges on a case study of the South African Homeless Peoples Federation
(SAHPF) and comprises two parts. The first part maps the milieu in which this politicised
development takes place, revealing the local and global context of dispossession that
provides the backdrop to the case study. This part critically interrogates the emergence
of the participatory development paradigm. It is argued that this normatively fashionable
discourse of development has come to be dominated by three essential vectors of neoliberal
ideology: housing, microfinance and social capital. It will be revealed that participatory, (or
rather, ‘bootstrap’) development portrays itself as ostensibly anti-neoliberal, while, at the
same time, it co-opts the tools and vocabulary of the Left to carry out the economic project
of the Right. This apparent contradiction between rhetoric and outcome will be seen to
be consistent with the broad political alliance that Gramsci defined as an ‘historical bloc’,
which consolidates class differences to create hegemony.
In a hegemonic system, democracy between the ruling group and the ruled
groups exists to the extent that the development of the economy, and there-
fore of the legislation which expresses that development, holds open the
channels for the ruled to enter the ruling group. (Gramsci 1975)
In the current era, this historic bloc includes the medley of moderate, liberal and right wing
discourses that legitimise globalised neoliberalism despite their intellectual differences.
The second part of this paper traces how this consolidation of political, normative and
ideological agendas occurred through the lens of the SAHPF. Relying on interview data
collected over a seven-year period (2003–10),1 it questions how an ‘Alliance’ (a term coined
by Arjun Appadurai in 2001) of academics and development practitioners, imbued with
the political agency of neoliberal hegemony, effectively manipulated the South African
environment to manufacture a social movement of homeless black women. It clarifies how
this seeding took root so well, and how, despite its artificial insemination, the SAHPF
established itself as a grassroots movement with considerable agency and traction. The
The South African Homeless People’s Federation
Citizenship and democracy
paper then show show the SAHPF became a crucial global relay point for the spread of the
participatory development paradigm through Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI),
the transnational social movement that it helped create. Operating in at least 33 countries
across the South, SDI has become the hegemonic-actor-from-below, dominating the field of
development. Here, the tensions between SDI and SAHPF are examined, demonstrating how
the genuine and artificial motivations of the ‘participatory development’ paradigm ultimately
fragmented. The paper shows how a resolution came about for the SAHPF by amputating its
links to SDI and the lucrative funding that underpinned it. This is a dialectical tale of thesis,
antithesis and synthesis.

We are all Andries Tatane

21 04 2012
19 April 2012 – People against police brutality

What?           Interfaith Andries Tatane memorial ceremony, testimonial against police brutality, and march to Harare Police Station
When?          Sunday 22nd April 2012 at 12h30
Where?         Way of Life Church / Multi-purpose centre, Mandela Park, Khayelitsha
Directions?   Visit or contact Moza @ 0791176943 / 0213672122

We are all Andries Tatane!

There is a little bit of Andries Tatane in each and every one of us.

As he fought for service delivery for his community in Ficksburg, we fight for toilets, electricity, houses and land here in Cape Town.

As he lived in the hellish township of Meqheleng, many of us are stuck in hell-like conditions in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Delft and Manenberg.

As he was attacked, shot, beaten and ultimately killed by police for standing up for what he believed in, many of us are at times also attacked, shot, beaten and a few of us have even been killed at their hands. Read the rest of this entry »

Problems and challenges facing the new LPM Protea South structure

16 11 2011

Press Statement: Landless People’s Movement – Protea South, November 2011
Land now! Organise and Unite! Background

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Charter of Demands was adopted by more than 3000 landless delegates from communities across South Africa, and their landless allies from around the world, at the Landless People’s Assembly held in Durban on 30th August 2001 at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). Further amendments were made following the meetings of Landless Rural Women in Kimberley in October 2001.

The LPM was introduced into Protea South by Maureen Mnisi in 2002. That same year Mnisi was elected Gauteng Provincial Chairperson, and chairperson of the Protea South branch of the LPM. Between 2002 and 2011 no further elections were
held to democratically determine the LPM leadership, and Mnisi held that position for almost ten years. Read the rest of this entry »

Activists left out to dry by Housing Dept and Development Action Group

15 11 2011
WC-AEC Press Release
15 November 2011

The National Department of Human Settlements and Development Action Group, a housing NGO, had invited civil society to a housing indaba yesterday. Members of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign attended the meeting in which they promised that the participants would be given transport home.

However, after the meeting, poor participants were left stranded without transport home.

The Anti-Eviction Campaign was forced to use its own petty-cash to ensure that other poor participants were able to return to their families last night. The AEC is a movement with almost no money to its name and yet we feel obligated to make sure our comrades are taken care of when left out to dry by government and NGOs

Phantsi National Department of Human Settlements! Phantsi!
Phantsi DAG! Phantsi!

For more details please contact:

Gary @ 0723925859
Mncedisi @ 0785808646
Philidene @ 0746892922
Willy @ 0834193996

Our book helps bury our own

9 11 2011

Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers Statement
9 November 2011

Funds raised through our community’s efforts to sell our book, No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, is making it possible for Doreen Lewis to bury her son who died tragically days ago.

Last week, one of our own youth, 24 year old Leroy Van Wyk, passed away. He was taken to the local Delft Clinic with a severe ‘headache’. His symptoms were scoffed at and he was sent away with some pain tablets. (As poor people, Delft Clinic often refuses to take our health seriously and usually sends us away with Panado or Paracetamol even though we have much more serious illnesses). Read the rest of this entry »

Pavement Dwellers to speak at first ever Anarchist Book Fair

4 11 2011
Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign
Event Notice

The Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers would like to invite all its supporters and the media to the first ever Cape Town Anarchist Book Fair to be held at Cafe Ganesh in Observatory from 10am to 6pm on the 5th of November.

This is your opportunity to meet some of the authors of No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way and hear about our struggles from the horse’s mouth. Copies of our book along with copies of a sister anthology, My Dream Is To Be Bold: Our Work To End Patriarchy, will be available for purchase.

At 16h00 in the upstairs section of Ganesh, authors will do a presentation about their occupation of Symphony Way and their struggle for dignity, land and housing.

Please join us, we would love to meet you.

Contact Sarita @ 0764699843 and Jerome @ 0731438886

— —

For more information, see the book fair’s press release below…

Cape Town Anarchist Book Fair

*** Saturday 5 November 2011 *** Café Ganesh, Observatory (corner Trill Road & Lower Main Road). *** From 10am to 6pm *** Free entry


Remember, remember, the fifth of November, as this is the date when South Africa will play host to its first ever Anarchist Book Fair, taking place in Observatory, Cape Town, at Café Ganesh (corner Trill Road and Lower Main Road).

Comrades, armchair anarchists, committed revolutionaries and book lovers are invited to come and learn about this exciting philosophy and its proud history of resistance. You can swing by any time between 10am and 6pm to check out a wide range of radical literature, music, movies, talks and more. You’ll also have the chance to meet like-minded people, engage in discussions and workshops, and help to foment dissent (the ideal antidote to South Africa’s one party state).

Come and tune into an exciting moment in history. Not only have long-term dictatorships been overthrown by grassroots movements in North Africa (many of which organised along anarchist lines) but we’re also seeing a new decentralised occupation movement that started in Wall Street, New York and is now spreading across the world. People are taking to the streets and, if not directly calling for anarchism, are organising with anarchist principles such as horizontalism, decentralisation, and consensus-based decision-making.

Says one of the organisers Neil Goodwin, ‘Whenever societies descend into destruction and violence, commentators like to reach for the ‘anarchy’ label, in much the same way that colonialists once used ‘black’ to describe anything negative. This ideological hatchet job’s being going on for so long that people just accept it now. A flick through any one of hundreds of books at this bookfair will show you a completely different picture of Anarchy, a rich and vibrant set of values and social history built on co-operation, equality and ingenuity.’

There will be over 12 stalls and collectives taking part including –

The Missing Shelf, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, CrimethInc South Africa, Intsangu Clothes, Amandla! Magazine, Soundz of the South, Feminist Alternatives and Botsotso. The Sympony Way Pavement Dwellers, who will also be there showcasing their extraordinary book “No Land! No House! No Vote!”

Other talks will touch on such themes as “Anarchism, wtf? An introduction to anarchist ideas and history”…“Murdering the Queer dream: an incomplete personal critique on the liberal gay agenda in politics, in relationships, in death”…“Art & (revolutionary) Activism”

The programme will also include a feast of thought provoking films, including the South African premiere of ‘Reclaim the Streets – The Movie’, the staggering ‘Fourth World War’, a sneak preview of ‘Dear Mandela’, and that anarchist classic “Living Utopia”.
For further details, Contact Aragorn Eloef Tel: +27 (0) 82 557 3912

Email: or visit our website at and our events page on Facebook – ‘The Cape Town Anarchist Bookfair.

Two illegal evictions succesfully defended

1 11 2011

Press Statement by the Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign and AbM-WC

Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape and Gugulethu Anti-eviction successfully defended two unlawful evictions today at Gugulethu.

First evcition was carried by private property developer who claimed to have bought the house at Ngawe road Nyanga East.
The second evection was carried by ENGR INVESTMENTS, intersting both evictions were carried by the same sheriff of the court and the un identified security company was used to guard the houses, and it was the same security guys in both houses and they identified themselves as securities and during the conversation they identify themselves as police officers who do security work during their off days.

The second evection took place at NY 82 no 16 where invalid court order was used to evect the family and the order its self was not addressed to the current ocupiers of the house but it was addressed to the previous owner of the house which bought the house on auction and he (the previous owner) never occupied the house at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Urgent illegal Eviction in Gugulethu

1 11 2011

AEC/AbM Press Alert

Currently Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape with the Support of Gugulethu Anti-eviction Campaign is resisting an illegal eviction
that takes place at Gugulethu NY 82 no 16. The current owner of the house passed away last week due to stress that he suffered from this eviction threat and he (the owner of the house) was a pensioner.

He is not even buried but the the new owner of the house continues with the eviction.

for more information call Mncedisi Twalo who is currently on the scene at 078 580 8646 and Mzonke Poni at 073 2562 036 and Zimasa Lerumo at 083 4465 081

Occupy Grahamstown! Recapitalise the Poor!

13 10 2011
13 October 2011
Unemployed People’s Movement Press Statement

Occupy Grahamstown!

Recapitalise the Poor!

As a movement of the poor we have taken great inspiration from the rebellion that has spread from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Syntagma Square in Athens, the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and now Liberty Plaza in New York. Our comrades in Students for Social Justice have been just as inspired by the growing spirit of rebellion that is jumping, like a fire, from country to country.

On Saturday we will occupy Grahamstown. The students will march into town from the Botanical Gardens. We will march into town from the township and the squatter camps. We will meet on the square at the Cathedral. We will turn that square into a people’s university, a people’s kitchen and a space of people’s power. Our aim is to bring the rebellion of the poor, the rebellion that has put thousands and thousands on the streets of South Africa in recent years, into dialogue with this global rebellion. The alliance between organised students and the organised unemployed is strong in Grahamstown. Together we can build strong foundations for the struggles to come. Read the rest of this entry »

Occupational hazards: Privileged protesters or voice for the voiceless?

12 10 2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have defied many of its early critics, with tens of thousands of people still supporting those camped out at New York’s financial centre and the heart of US capitalism a month after the protests started.

LISA VAN WYK – Oct 11 2011 19:52 – Mail & Guardian

It has since spread to over 70 cities across the globe.

See a map of events around the world here.

South African “occupations” are planned to begin on October 15, with protests organised for Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, East London and Grahamstown.

The movement has been supported by many high profile activists, such as Naomi Klein and Slavoj Zizek, but has also been criticised for mainly appealling to a privileged few, given the fact that much of the activity was organised and publicised over the internet and through social networking sites. Read the rest of this entry »