Last week, Premier Helen Zille wrote an op-ed in the Daily Maverick, where she argued that "as word gets out that a piece of land is earmarked for affordable or free housing, land invasion looms" and that "it does not take long for word to get around that people who wait their turn and play by the rules are likely to lose out every time. And it does not take long for land owners, who want the state to pay top dollar for land they would otherwise have battled to sell, to encourage occupation."

SERI's Dennis Webster and Ndifuna Ukwazi's have responded to the premier today. They suggest that:

"Occupations are not simply the outcome of “word going around”. These are desperate actions, yes. But, they are equally rational responses to the structural inequality which excludes poor black people from housing opportunities. At the sharp end of these features of the economy and property market comes eviction, which leaves thousands of people with no other option but to occupy vacant land elsewhere. These features include rapid urbanisation, driven by the economic opportunities of towns and cities; private sector capture of prime land; over-population in existing informal settlements whose boundaries are violently enforced by the ALIU; a housing shortage conflated by huge yearly shortfalls in delivery; the mass unemployment borne from peripheral existence and economic exclusion from the city, coupled with inflated rental prices for the most basic backyard dwellings. These processes culminate in overcrowding and rising rents in the few available housing options (backyard shacks, for instance), which in turn results in eviction. People do not spontaneously decide to occupy land. They are coerced into it."

  • Read the full response here.
  • Read Zille's initial op-ed here.