What we do
Ndifuna Ukwazi is an activist organisation and law centre that promotes the realisation of Constitutional Rights and Social Justice – through legal, research and organising support to working class people, communities and social movements. We work to advance urban land justice – that is the protection and promotion of access to affordable, well located housing in Cape Town; building inclusive and sustainable mixed use and mixed income communities; and supporting tenant rights and security of tenure in both private and public housing. We also specialise in community based social auditing of service delivery; access to information and procurement monitoring at the local government level; budget analysis and advocacy; and activist education.
Urban Land Justice
Over the next two decades, struggle for equality will be fought in cities. It is our cities that have the greatest potential to enable poor and working class people to advance economically and socially.
However, elite land capture, construction and successive waves of inner city regeneration and gentrification, have accrued significant wealth for a few while excluding or displacing poor and working class people to ghettoes, slums and informal settlements.
The historic legacy of colonial and apartheid era racialised urban planning and spatial segregation has been reinforced by successive post-apartheid governments.
Since 1994, the value of well located land and property has increased exponentially.
Despite progressive legislation and policy requiring redress, inclusion, densification, sustainability, redistribution and regulation, governments have followed a de fact policy of asset stripping to build government housing on the periphery.
This spatial segregation, exclusion and discrimination has a direct impact on interrelated rights to security, healthcare, basic services and education as well as household income and access to decent work.
In Cape Town, a new wave of economic forces and government indifference is preventing the expansion of affordable housing in the CBD while the City brutally suppresses land occupation by the homeless and removes the most vulnerable who are evicted by the state or the private sector to vast temporary relocation areas.
As a result, Cape Town remains one of the most segregated cities in the world. Coloured and Black people living on the Coloured Cape Flats and in the Black townships of Langa, Nyanga, Guguletu and Khayelitsha face the highest crime rates in the country.
This perpetuates historical divides and excludes the majority of the population from integrating productively and regularly into the city’s economic and social life.
Attempts to address inequality by focusing on the lives of people living in the periphery are necessary, but do little to engage the structures and systems, which replicate this.
Addressing Cape Town’s spatial inequality can only be achieved by protecting and expanding access to well-located affordable housing through public and private developments.
This will require that the City and Province meet their obligations to stop selling public land and build or subsidise affordable well located housing; institute progressive policy on land banking and inclusive zoning, regulate private development to include mixed income and social housing; regulate the private rental market; and move to unlock, acquire or expropriate underused land and property.
This will not be easy – powerful class and corporate interests will be threatened.
This can only be done by building a broad political movement of mostly young working class people who are employed in the CBD, from domestic workers to students, shop assistants and call centre workers to waiters and car parking attendants.
Despite Cape Town’s rich history of local organising around housing injustice, there are no organisations currently working to both develop evidence-based policy and legal interventions, support communities in struggle, and organise politically for radical change.