SERI is delighted to welcome Thato Masiangoako to the team as a new researcher. Prior to joining SERI she served as a policy analyst at the Centre for Development and Enterprise and worked with the Constitution Hill Education Project. She holds a MA in Politics (with distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand and a MSc in African Politics (with Merit) from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She also received her Bachelor of Arts Joint Honours degree (Politics and International Relations) from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Thato’s latest research explores the place of the law in society. She is interested in the ways in which the law can be used as tool for good but also understanding the ways in which it is often weaponised against the most marginal and vulnerable groups in society.
On Wednesday, 27 February 2019, Ground up published an article written by Zoë Postman, on the current developments to declare s1 (1)(b) of the Intimidation Act of 1982 unconstitutional, on the basis that it unjustly limits the right to freedom of expression.
The section in dispute states that a person will be guilty of an offence if they act in a manner or utter words that have the effect, or might reasonably be expected to have the effect that another person fears for their own safety, the safety of their property or that of a third party.
SERI and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) represented General Alfred Moyo, a resident of the Makause informal settlement, who was arrested in 2012 amidst the planning for a protest against police brutality.
Stuart Wilson, on behalf of SERI argued that the broad wording of this section is unconstitutional, as an accused could be convicted under the act if their conduct or utterances merely had the potential to create fear in another. This section could be open to incorrect interpretation even in cases of legitimate and peaceful protests and for this reason should be struck down.
Judgement was reserved.
On Thursday 21 February 2019, SERI participated in a round-table hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform entitled, “Grassroots Voices on Urban and Rural Land Reform”. The Expert Panel was appointed in late 2018 and is tasked with gathering stakeholder feedback on land reform in South Africa and presenting a report on their findings to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and to the President. The report will be finalised at the end of March 2019.
The round-table was convened to provide a platform for community organisations, grassroots organisations, and activists to discuss their experiences with the land reform process and to share any recommendations to be included in the forthcoming report. This engagement covered both past measures of land redistribution as well as the potential impact of the new Draft Expropriation Bill, which was published in December 2018.
The 25 participants included, among others, representatives from the Inner City Federation, Abahlali baseMjondolo, Slovo Park Community Development Forum (SPCDF), Ndifuna Ukwazi, Reclaim the City and the South African Cities Network as facilitators. The conversation highlighted a number of issues including the negative impact of the lack of tenure security and the negative impact it has on people’s overall quality of life. Other issues discussed included the need for a fair, gender-inclusive redistribution process and the need for transparency from government on who the beneficiaries of expropriated land are going to be.
On 21 December 2018, the Minister of Public Works published an invitation for interested parties to comment on the draft Expropriation Bill, 2019. SERI has considered the draft Bill and made a submission to the Minister in accordance with the public consultation process.
The Expropriation Bill is a welcome affirmation of the state’s role in unlocking land for developmental and redistributive purposes. However, SERI considers that more could be done to ensure that the Bill is situated within a more thoroughly worked-out programme of urban land reform that has appropriate regard to the wealth of already existing regulatory instruments and opportunities to use expropriation to facilitate pro-poor land reform.
SERI’s comments highlighted a number of gaps in the proposed in the draft Expropriation Bill.
SERI’s primary concerns relate to the exclusion of individuals from being able to initiate the expropriation process; limitations on the ability to expropriate state-owned land; the location of the draft Bill in relation to existing legislation; the expropriation of state-subsidised property for nil compensation; the limitations on the ability for citizens to monitor the implementation of the expropriation process; and the definition of “purely speculative purposes”.
"The world has come to accept the unacceptable. It is a human rights imperative that informal settlements be upgraded to meet the basic standards of human dignity." Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing.
SERI’s Alana Potter and the Social Justice Coalition’s Axolile Notywala co-convened a session on informal settlement sanitation in the sub-theme “Sanitation and the SDGs - Leave No One Behind” on 19 February 2019. They joined the approximately 1,300 mostly international NGOs, donors, academics and practitioners who participated in AfricaSan, which was co-hosted for the first time by the fifth Faecal Sludge Management Conference.
AfricaSan has grown from a conference to a movement that blends political, technical and knowledge exchange streams. From its inception in 2002 linked to the formation of the African Ministers’ Council for Water (AMCOW) during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) with just 13 ministers present, AfricaSan now includes political representatives from more than 60 African countries. AfricaSan continues to set and learn from progress (or lack of progress) against regional and national sanitation and hygiene commitments; to generate evidence to prioritise and invest in sanitation and hygiene, and develop strategies to improve sector performance.
The first commitment in the N’gor Declaration, signed by African Ministers at AfricaSan IV in Dakar Senegal in 2015 states: “Focus on the poorest, most marginalised and unserved aimed at progressively eliminating inequalities in access and use and implement national and local strategies with an emphasis on equity and sustainability”.
The commitment to not only ‘leave no one behind’ but to actively prioritise sanitation services in order to eliminate inequalities, is one of least progress across countries. SDG and N’gor monitoring shows marked inequality in sanitation provision across African countries. As demonstrated by WASHCost research in five countries over five years, the poor pay more for poorer quality WASH services across the world.
SERI shared findings from informal settlement action research in Marikana (Cape Town), Ratanang (Klerksdorp) and Siyanda (eThekwini) to be launched in Johannesburg in April 2019. SJC discussed their campaign for dignified sanitation services in informal settlements in Cape Town, noting clearly that 66% of informal settlement latrines are temporary, pose safety risks, are culturally and socially inappropriate and are neither private nor dignified. In Khayelitsha, 83% of informal settlements were established over 15 years ago.
SERI also facilitated a session for the World Health Organisation (WHO) UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-water (GLAAS) on Effective National Sanitation Policies: Learning from Five Countries. SERI’s sub-theme focused on issues to be resolved in sanitation policies in order to enable equitable access to services. Outcomes will be fed into sanitation policy guidelines be published by the African Ministers Council for Water (AMCOW).
10 Key messages: