The Left in the slum : the rise of a shack dwellers’ movement in Durban, South Africa
On 9 November 1993 the African National Congress issued a press statement condemning the “housing crisis in South Africa” as “a matter which falls squarely at the door of the National Party regime and its surrogates”. It went on to describe conditions in the ‘informal settlements’ as “indecent” and announced that: Nelson Mandela will be hosting a People’s Forum on Saturday morning in Inanda to hear the views of residents in informal settlements…The ANC calls on all people living in informal settlements to make their voices heard! “Your problems are My Problems. Your solution is My Solution.” says President
One of the settlements specifically mentioned was Kennedy Road in the formerly Indian suburb of Clare Estate in Durban. Seven months later the ANC swept to power in the national parliament.
On 4 June 1999 the ANC greeted news of their first victory over the Inkatha Freedom Party in the provincial election in KwaZulu-Natal with a euphoric press statement. They promised, that, as their first priority, “The ANC will together with our people address the concerns of the poorest of the poor living in squatter camps like Kennedy Road, Lusaka and Mbambayi.”6 Their power, including their power to demobilise popular militancy and to speak for its traditions, was justified first and foremost in the name of the poorest – people in ‘squatter camps’ like Kennedy Road. In both elections Kennedy Road voted solidly ANC and the votes from the settlements won the ward for the ANC in local government elections.