Dear Mandela

Dear Mandela shows the lives of South Africans who live in informal settlements. These informal settlements were developed by the ANC after informal settlementapartheid, to ensure even poor people had houses. These settlements are supposed to be temporary while the government builds better houses for these people, however, there seems to be no progress with these new housing developments.

A woman talks about how numbers are put on the shacks to count the amount in the settlement before every election. This way they know how many houses need to be built, but each year they come back and put a new number on the shack. Houses were promised to be built within 30 days; some people have lived in these informal settlements for over five years.

The conditions in these settlements are not good. The houses in these settlements are put together poorly, and are very small. There is a lot of disease, including HIV/AIDS, little food and water, and poor hygiene. To make the conditions worse, the government sends the “red ants” to demolish homes as a way of eviction.

red antI don’t think it is right to show up at someone’s home and demolish it without warning, but I noticed that most of the “red ants,” or people who demolished the houses were also black. The red ants have a job, which is very hard to find in South Africa. They need this job to provide for themselves and their families, so I understand why they do it.

The KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act (Slums Act) allowed for these evictions. Its goal was to eradicate informal settlements and prevent new slums to arise. It gives more power to municipalities and forced more landlords to evict. The Slums Act was brought to court, and after several months, the verdict was that section 16 of the act was unconstitutional, and houses could not be demolished.

This video confused me in the sense of the ANC’s role in the Slums Act and their empty promises. I feel that each documentary I watch tells a different story of the ANC and I don’t know what to believe. I realize that there is so much to change after apartheid and it will not happen overnight, but I don’t understand why they would demolish their own people’s homes. I also don’t understand why they would try to suppress the Abahlali group. The Abahlali group fought against the Slums Act and continues to fight for better housing. Isn’t this what the ANC did during apartheid? Aren’t these individuals fighting for their rights and a voice like the ANC did itself? So why is the government not listening? The confusion I feel watching these movies shows the disorder and extent of the situation with government still presuming in South Africa to this day.

Abahlali group

Abahlali group protesting


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