Floods, Destruction And Despair In The Shacks
Monday, 28 November 2011 Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Release
Abahlali welcomes the world in our country, our province and in our city. We also welcome progressive delegates to our homes, our settlements and our flooded shacks.
Last night after heavy rain some of our shack settlements were flooded leaving shack dwellers, stranded, hopeless and with all their belonging swept away through floods. We have had enough shack fires already. We have had enough rat bites. We have had enough electricity disconnection. We have had enough of being excluded from the rest of our society and today the storm, the full force of what extreme weather does to the poor, proves itself to the world during the first day of the Conference of the Parties.
Whose interests will this Conference of the Parties serve if the poor are outside busy dealing with effect of the floods which are the direct result of our vulnerability to bad weather in the shacks? How can the world begin these talks without going and experiencing the effect and the reality of how the change in climate will affect the people in Durban whose lives are already most precarious? This morning the rich woke up in their houses dry and safe while many poor people faced more disaster. Today it is clear that these talks will take us no where if they ignores the reality that those who will suffer the consequences of the change in climate the most are the poor. So, excluding the poor in these talks will not help any of us.
The Quarry Road West settlement (kwaMamsuthu) in the Clare Hills, Clare Estate, is the shack community that has been most affected by the floods. Residents did not sleep last night having to watch how far the water level reached. It was unbearable to hear people screaming for help helplessly. At least around 300 people are busy searching for the remains of their belongings, clothing, furniture, food and even important documents that went flooded. Witnessing this was a heart sore. In Kennedy Road some of the shacks were flooded down at the little river in between the settlement. Abahlali fear that this rain may return in its full force and that this may only be a warning.
We are appealing to businesses, churches, NGOs and individuals who can lend their hand of support. Although Abahlali warns that this is not a minor issue that has only to do with charity. We have been struggling for years not to see such disasters not only in our life time but for our future generation. We are calling for the state and eThekwini Municipality to immediately start taking Abahlali seriously before it is to late, before they can regret.
For how many years must we keep saying that human beings cannot live in fire and floods, amongst giant rats and in the mud? For how many years must we keep saying that we are being forced to live in life threatening conditions everyday while millions and millions are spent on stadiums, airports, conferences and incredible salaries for the super-rich? For how long will our demand for our humanity to be recognised by treated as criminal and treasonous?
The rich have caused and are causing climate change but it is us, the poor, who will pay the greatest price. The rich, in South Africa and around the world, have to be called to order. Our safety depends on this.
For more information on the flooding in the Quarry Road settlement last night contact Mr Thulani Myeni on 072 8867544 or Mr Jali on 078 3675855.
For more information on flooding in the Kennedy Road settlement contact Miss Ma Felubala Maluleka on 073 2344281 or Busisiwe Gogo 078 1913021.
The Poor People's Alliance: Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with with Landless People's Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People's Alliance - a unfunded national network of democratic membership based poor people's movements.