Thursday, 27 May 2010

South Africans Resist World Cup Evictions

When I visited relatives in South Africa in September 2007, each day we drove back and forth between Cape Town and Somerset West along route N2, passing the vast Khayelitsha township in the Cape Flats, the fastest growing in the country. To the horror of my aunt, my Dad and I even made the journey together down to Cape Point via the False Bay coast road, passing Mitchell's Plain and the city's biggest informal settlements. One thing hasn't changed in the twenty years since Mandela's release - white South Africans are still terrified of the townships.

This summer South Africa hosts the 2010 World Cup and has spent 33bn rand (about £3bn) on stadiums, tourist facilities, airports and hotels, whilst millions of South Africans continue to face appalling living conditions. In informal townships across the country, whole communities are being denied access to essential public services. And next to route N2 between Cape Town and Somerset West, a massive new housing project near the airport has been speeded up to 'beautify' the city and hide informal settlements from the tourists. This has led to mass evictions of 20,000 shack dwellers from the Joe Slovo Informal Settlement and their displacement to isolated transit camps like Blikkiesdorp - whose tin huts and strict rules have been compared to the alien internment camp of the science-fiction film District 9.

Interview with Henry, a resident of Cape Town's Blikkiesdorp [source: War on Want)

This interactive map of Cape Town produced by War on Want explores in depth the issues facing the city's residents in the lead-up to the World Cup. Click on the icons below to learn more about the neighbourhoods, settlements, townships and geographic markers that define the city's landscape – as well as the expensive construction projects developed for the World Cup.

The plight of the poorest in South Africa has grown worse as the World Cup has drawn nearer - but they are fighting back, aided by social movements like the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and shackdweller organisations like Abahlali baseMjondolo.

The World Cup kicks off on 11 June and on Thursday 17 June, War on Want has organised an event on its impact on South Africa's communities:

Who’s going to win the 2010 World Cup?
7 pm – 9:30 pm
Toynbee Hall,
28 Commercial Street, London E1 6LS

Map | Facebook

A panel discussion including:
  • Ashraf Cassiem, Anti-Eviction Campaign (South Africa)
  • Phineas Malapela, Anti-Privatisation Forum (South Africa)
  • Caroline Elliot, War on Want (UK)
This will also be an opportunity to discuss the effects of other mega sporting events on host countries, including the London 2012 Olympics.


The World Development Movement has set up Who Should I Cheer For?, a website that ranks all the teams playing in the World Cup to find the most supportable on the basis of their efforts to eradicate poverty and social injustice. England are 27th out of 32...

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