A New Group Areas Act

Vol 23 No 1

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The Bromwell Street struggle for decent housing in Woodstock reflects once again the ruthlessness of the capitalists and their flagrant disregard for the working class. These residents face imminent eviction by the City of Cape Town and relocation to a desolate area far removed from either their current jobs or job opportunities closer to the city. Destitute communities and so-called backyard dwellers are all too familiar with the now common practice by the DA-led Western Cape government of relocating poor residents to glorified shanty towns that are far removed from major economic hubs and decent amenities.

In the past, black disenfranchised communities were forcibly removed from prime property earmarked for white residential or commercial development. The oppressed fought bravely against this form of tyranny and many heroically lost their lives in a relentless pursuit of justice and equality. Then came 1994 and ex-president, Nelson Mandela, boldly declared that SA would never again tolerate the oppression of one human being by another. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Private property (including majority ownership of large corporations) remained firmly in the hands of white monopoly capital, now shared by a tiny minority black bourgeois class. This wholesale betrayal of working class interests by a self-serving ruling class, ensured that prime property still remains in mostly rich white hands. But these capitalists and their lackeys are not satisfied. In addition to state capture by corporates and large-scale corruption by government officials, the latest deception is a new group areas act, not based on skin colour, but people’s economic status in life.

People are relocated to areas that their new oppressors deem fit for them. So much for integrated communities! Today, the Blikkiesdorpe and pathetic RDP human settlements where people languish in abject poverty and face endless service delivery problems, bear shocking testimony to the exploitative and dehumanising nature of capitalism. In the case of Bromwell Street, it is a desolate piece of land called Wolwerivier nearly 30 km from the CBD and job opportunities. Ironically, through an insidious process of gentrification, areas like Woodstock are beautified and housing units are rented or sold at exorbitant prices; this by the self-same investors who benefited from Apartheid and who have now co-opted their spineless black lackeys. The inequalities in landownership and property relations can only be resolved by a government which promotes the interests of the working class and landless peasantry. Capitalism is incapable of doing this as it puts profit before people and the planet