By Lee-Yandra Paulsen
Cape Town and Johannesburg, two of South Africa’s most prominent cities, were witness to a significant display of activism as housing and land movements took to the streets, on Wednesday (23 August 2023). The marches were to the President’s Home in Rondebosch, Cape Town while Johannesburg was to the Sandton Convention Centre. The purpose of their unified march was to demand immediate action in the form of State Land Disposal to alleviate the enduring suffering and oppression wrought by land dispossession, displacement, housing shortages, and land tenure insecurity.
The issue of land insecurity in South Africa, especially among the most vulnerable populations, demands a swift and flexible response. It is the State Land Disposal Act that holds the key to such a response. Under this act, the President of the Republic possesses the authority to donate, sell, lease, or exchange public land across the country.
“We call on the President to exercise his powers and grant land and abandoned state-owned buildings to those who have fought tirelessly for access to land and housing,” emphasized Karen Hendricks of Reclaim the City. Hendricks noted that for far too long, the majority of impoverished and working-class women in Cape Town have not had the opportunity to own a home, land, or property.
The housing movements have declared that citizens have languished on an endless and elusive housing waiting list for an extended period. They further lamented that communities have had to take matters into their own hands to provide land and housing solutions.
The movements, representing a diverse range of citizens, are now fervently urging the government to furnish its people with the resources necessary for safe, habitable, and secure housing. The overarching goal is to address the systemic issues of land insecurity and housing shortages that have plagued the nation for decades.