May 15 2009 at 07:22AM
By Bonile Ngqiyaza
Source: The Star
A provincial law that apparently seeks to eliminate slums in KwaZulu-Natal has got even far-flung parts of the country in a huff.
The bill with a burdensome title – the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act – has not even been implemented yet, but already between 300 and 500 activists from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have been in the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein, Joburg, to demonstrate their opposition.Clad in red T-shirts, the activists expressed their dissatisfaction, mostly by singing protest songs outside the Constitutional Court.
There were also church leaders from different denominations who attended the hearing to show support for those who might be affected by the intended act’s provisions.
The Land Affairs Department has joined KwaZulu-Natal MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu as respondents in the case.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shackdwellers’ movement – whose membership includes more than 20 000 residents of informal settlements in the Durban area alone – has been spearheading the attack on the bill, which is intended as a model for all provinces.
Advocate Wim Trengove, for Abahlali baseMjondolo, argued that the law seemed to be in conflict with the National Housing Act and national housing policy, as well as with certain provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke remarked that while the act’s aims were to improve the living conditions of communities, it carried no detailed plans to ensure that this happened.
Also, the phrase dealing with improving the living conditions of communities came only at the end.
Lawyers for the government responded that the act had not yet been implemented and it was therefore premature to challenge it.
o This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on May 15, 2009