On 6 April 2018, SERI researcher, Tiffany Ebrahim, gave a presentation on the use of provincial and local conditional grants on the upgrading of the Slovo Park Informal Settlement (Slovo Park). The presentation fell on the second day of a two-day Budget Training workshop hosted by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Johannesburg.
Informal settlements are a response to the lack of affordable housing near cities. More than 1.3 million households in South Africa live in informal settlements to more easily access employment opportunities and basic services. More than 10,000 people live in the Slovo Park Informal Settlement, alone. The residents of Slovo Park have been embroiled in a legal battle to have the City of Johannesburg take the necessary steps to upgrade the settlement in terms of the Upgrading Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) for more than a decade.
Tiffany presented on the in situ upgrading of the Settlement as prescribed under the UISP and the funding that has been allocated to implement the policy, specifically the Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) and the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG). She highlighted the fact that the drastic underspending of the USDG conditional grant made available specifically for the implementation of the UISP in places such as Slovo Park, has led to slow implementation of court ordered upgrades. Tiffany’s presentation also emphasised the importance of having a Slovo Park “Task Team”, which includes community organisations and state representatives as key stakeholders, working to forge an effective and sustainable plan for development.
Tiffany Ebrahim is the key researcher on the forthcoming paper detailing the Slovo Park Upgrade Process which will be released later this year.
The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review which has been tasked by Parliament to review section 25 of the Constitution will, in April be embarking on a public participation process to consider views on the issue of expropriation without compensation. This is in accordance with a vote taken by Parliament in February to consider ammending the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
SERI has considered the motion and made a submission to the constitutional review committee in accordance with the public consultation process. SERI’s submission considers expropriation as a policy tool for the implementation of land reform and highlights the potential that it has to assist the state in unlocking speculatively held or abandoned land. It further argues that expropriation can enable the state to acquire vacant land and buildings which could then be used for the provision of permanent housing.
The submission further considers expropriation in relation to the Constitution and existing law and conclude that the state may, within existing laws, take a much more proactive approach to expropriation, by employing the existing instruments at its disposal to bring about meaningful land reform. Only once those efforts have been tested and found wanting will it be possible to consider whether constitutional and statutory amendments are necessary or desirable.
SERI is delighted to welcome Maanda Makwarela to our research and advocacy team as a senior researcher. Prior to joining SERI, her work focused on the development of civil society, public housing law, and refuge and asylum law. Maanda most recently worked with the Legal Aid Forum in Rwanda where she focused on work on improving access to justice, refugee rights, and the rights of detainees.
She holds a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia, and Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Political Science with a concurrent focus on French Literature from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada).
We look forward to Maanda's contribution to our work.
On 22 March, SERI launches its latest working paper entitled, “Turning Off the Tap: Discontinuing Universal Access to Free Basic Water in the City of Johannesburg”. The paper looks at the City of Johannesburg’s March 2017 decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water and its implications for the poor and their right of access to sufficient water. Since July 2017 only households registered as indigent can access 6 kilolitres of free basic water per month, the basic minimum as stipulated in national policy and legislation.
The paper reviews policy and legislation regarding the provision of free basic water services in South Africa and summarises international lessons about narrow versus universal provision of social benefits. The paper concludes that the City should reconsider its decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water as it constitutes an unreasonable, regressive step in the realisation of the right to sufficient water.
On Wednesday SERI participated in the Knowledge Hub which forms part of the Understanding Poverty and Inequality in South Africa course offered by UCT’s Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP).
The course was attended by 22 participants representing various government departments including; Social Development (National and Eastern Cape), Health, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Small Business Development amongst others.
The course seeks to provide senior government officials and policy makers with information on current debates within the poverty and inequality discourse. SERI was represented by Edward Molopi and Daiyaan Halim who interacted with the participants about SERI's work.