SERI's June 2018 newsletter is out. This is SERI's last newsletter of 2018. In it we present a few highlights from our work since June this year. SERI currently has 99 active cases through which we assist communities to resist evictions and secure basic services in their homes in informal settlements and inner city buildings; to safeguard their participation; hold duty bearers to account and defend their right to work.
We have also furthered our research and advocacy work, and participated in a number of exciting civil society and government engagements. SERI engaged actively with various urban land reform processes and dialogues, including the Department of Human Settlement’s policy and strategy reform process; SALGA’s Human Settlements and Municipal Working Group; the Presidency’s Advisory Panel on Land Reform and provided inputs on a new informal settlement upgrading financing mechanism. We continued to our work in enabling the informal economy in collaboration with SALGA and foregrounded the strategies and tactics employed by inner city residents in their struggle for decent well located housing.
During thsi time, we also made a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, on which she drew in her report on informal settlements and human rights to the UN General Assembly, and contributed to a parallel report on the South African government's progress in realising socio-economic rights to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee), the international treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of socio-economic rights by states.
On Friday SERI, in partnership with the Inner City Federation, launched it’s latest publication focussing on the Inner City Federation. This publication, entitled “Inner-City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg” forms part of SERI’s on-going documentation of community-based organisations and social movements. It provides a brief background to the challenges facing low-income tenants and unlawful occupiers in inner-city Johannesburg. It also summarises the key events in the struggles of poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement; establish and maintain effective self-management structures in dilapidated inner-city buildings; collectively mobilise residents; and advocate for decent housing. The note examines the strategies and tactics of the Inner-City Federation.
On 2 December 2018, the Daily Maverick’s Ntakeko Mabasa wrote this article which provides insight on the content of the publication and sheds more light the on-going battle for affordable housing in the inner-city of Johannesburg .
On 30 November 2018 the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) will launch a new research publication, a community practice note entitled Inner City Federation: Fighting for Decent Housing in Inner-City Johannesburg, in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The community practice note documents the struggle of the Inner City Federation (the ICF), a self-organising coalition of tenants and unlawful occupiers from over 40 buildings in inner-city Johannesburg that advocates for better housing and basic services and challenges the stigma associated with low-income residents in the inner-city. The ICF is the first self-organised group of low-income residents living in Johannesburg's so-called 'bad buildings' in over a decade. It's main aim is to challenge the lack of well-located, affordable housing.
The community practice note examines the strategies and tactics used by poor inner-city residents to resist evictions, harassment and displacement; establish and maintain effective self-management structures in dilapidated buildings; collectively mobilise; and advocated for better housing.
This is the first community practice note in the Social Movements Series, a new series of community practice notes which aims to document how different social movements and community-based networks advocate for socio-economic development for poor and vulnerable people in different contexts.
The launch will include a panel discussion with activists and representatives from various social movements and community-based networks, including Siyabonga Mahlangu (Inner City Federation), Bonga Zamisa (Social Justice Coalition), and Lukhanyo Madyibi and Neziwe Cekiso (both from Reclaim the City). Edward Molopi, a researcher at SERI, will also speak.
On Tuesday, 20 November, SERI attorney, Zamantungwa Khumalo joined Salaam media’s ShaAqAttack show to discuss the right to protest and the recent Constitutional Court judgment declaring declares section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act unconstitutional.
Kgabo Senyatsi, Wits Moot Society chair and Axolile Notywala, Secretary General of Social Justice Coalition joined Zamantungwa on the show.
SERI is an amicus in the case representing the UN Special Rapporteur and made submissions based on an international law perspective. SERI’s submissions urged the court to have regard to international law standards and principles when considering the constitutionality of section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act. SERI argued that holding organisers criminally liable for failing to notify authorities about a protest is a restriction to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
“This judgment is important for communities to know that there is now one is less hurdle for them to jump to exercise their democratic rights… We have to accept that protest is part and parcel of people exercising their democratic rights and we should remove negative stereotypes and connotations leveled on protestors.“