Fathima Meer’s 80th Birthday




13h00 at the Lotus Primary School, Westcliff, Chatsworth, Unit 3.

On Sunday, August 10, the Centre for Civil Society joins the Westcliff & Bayview Flat Residents Associations to celebrate Prof Fatima Meer and her role in ‘Chatsworth: 10 Years of Struggle’.


We will be honouring the work of Professor Fatima Meer and contributing to her 80th Birthday Celebration, and applauding the roles of many other women (and men) in organising for social justice in the Chatsworth community.

The program includes a live band and traditional dance groups, and an awards ceremony. The event begins at 13h00 at the Lotus Primary School, Westcliff, Chatsworth, Unit 3.

Please join us!

Fatima Meer opinion on …

Where the ANC vote is going to:
“The ANC in the past 14 years made a great contribution to our country, but it is a party that is fractured with dissension, and a party that has lost the capacity for leadership that it had during the liberation phase. Consequently, the people in general, not just Indians and coloureds, have become disillusioned. So my observation is that the ANC will still win the next election because there is no other party to replace it, but it will win the election by a reduced vote.”

Women in SA today:
“They are doing invaluable work, adding to their own self-respect and becoming worthy to their families and community in which they live and work. They’re giving back to the community and it’s wonderful the different things women are doing to help develop the country and its people. We must help, support and encourage them.”

Whether the youth of today take their freedom and opportunities for for granted:
“Every age group has its space and they do the best they can in that space. Young people are the same. They are also finding ways and means of improving society, and there are many youth doing great work. But there are many young people who don’t have opportunities or they have been misled into wrong ways. One has to understand that those youth are in need of help.”

Whether what you fought for during the liberation struggle has been achieved:
“No, it hasn’t. I aspired and still aspire to have a society where all South Africans will be equal to each other. We have a big task ahead of us to eliminate poverty because that is a major cause of inequality. We have too much disease, and lack of opportunities. Many people are miserable in our democracy and so we must strive not just to have a democracy, but to have a happy democracy, and remove misery.”

Whether you are tired of talking politics:
“No. I just don’t like to be asked about my feelings on personalities.”

What people do not know about you:
“That I love to paint and I’m actually good at it. I tried to paint the other day, though, but it doesn’t work so well when you can only use one hand.”


May 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

eThekwini: drought hits the poors

The Mercury
Eye on Civil Society column
3 July 2007

eThekwini: drought hits the poors

by Orlean Naidoo, Dudu Khumalo and Patrick Bond

Is Durban a model for South Africa and the world?

In the field of water, some say yes. National Geographic magazine
awarded chief water official Neil MacLeod global recognition a few years
ago, and the city won South African recognition as best metro in 2006.

In three ways, we disagree:
• the municipality’s new system of ‘debt relief’ is hurting people
living in Council Flats, as well as shackdwellers without proper supplies;
• in rural parts of eThekwini, water and sanitation are substandard; and
• for those hooked up to the eThekwini grid who pay their water bills
regularly, poor people are suffering while the rich hardly notice price

First, city officials Derek Naidoo and Michael Singh met Chatsworth
council flatdwellers last month to explain the new ‘indigent package’: a
conditional housing transfer, a minimalist 50kWh/household/month supply
of Free Basic Electricity – but only for a few tens of thousands of
households who consume less than 150kWh/month (not the hundreds of
thousands who most need the promised free services) – and water debt

Sadly, the majority of poor people living in shacks are getting services
worse than urban residents did during apartheid.

Westcliff residents argue that a universal entitlement is preferable to
an indigence policy, because the latter divides poor from working
people: a violation of constitutional equity.

For poor people labeled indigent, the water service includes a new kind
of flow restrictor that stops your water after a certain point.

But what if you are holding a funeral or wedding? You have to pay
another R300 to have a different meter installed, which may take days.

As for arrears, they will be capitalised, repaid by siphoning off 20% of
each bill. Yet the Free Basic Water is still just 6000 liters per
household per month, which is not enough, as argued in an ongoing court
case by activists in Soweto. (MacLeod filed testimony on behalf of
Johannesburg Water in that case, which we think takes the debate backwards.)

Moreover, the fixed charge, water loss insurance and VAT together vastly
exceed the amount we pay for water consumed. For those with no income
who are unemployed, the arrears payments are unrealistic.

And the amount per kiloliter is up to R6.62, a vast increase over prior

Second, the problems are compounded in rural communities. Consider three
areas around the Inanda Dam, which ironically supplies Durban with most
of its water: Kwangcolosi, Mzinyathi and Maphephetheni.

After the trauma of displacement – still uncompensated – the water
system provided after the construction of Inanda Dam was welcome, but
the designs are inadequate.

Residents get either a 200 liter drum filled up by trickle each day –
which is not enough for big families, and for when there are traditional
events like weddings or funerals – or alternatively they go to
poorly-maintained community standpipes that lack a good soakaway.

Mud is caused by livestock, which cannot get to the dam for water, and
often women wait in long queues. There are still communities nearby with
no water system.

For billing, confusion reigns because some are being charged and some
are not.

As for sanitation, the Urinary Diversion system is the cause of
dissatisfaction, because of filth, leading the majority of people to use
their old pit toilets instead.

Ultimately, eThekwini policy should have service levels just as high for
rural people, so that dignity, public health and gender equity are
achieved: good, high-pressure taps inside the house, and flush toilets
with septic tanks.

Third, upper-income eThekwini residents still have the best deal. The
majority of Durban Water and Sanitation funding is raised through tariffs.

The 1997 consumption of water by the one third of the city’s residents
who have the lowest income and pay their bills regularly was 22

Shortly afterwards, MacLeod introduced ‘Free Basic Water’, but for just
the first 6 kl/hh/month, and steep increases in price for the next
blocks of water were imposed. By 2003, the (inflation-adjusted) price of
the average kiloliter of water consumed by the lowest-income third of
billed residents had doubled from R2 in 1997 to R4.

According to city official Reg Bailey, that price increase resulted in
average consumption by low-income bill-paying consumers diminishing from
22 to 15 kl/household/month during the same period, an extremely large
impact for what should be a basic need.

In contrast, for middle- and high-income consumers, the price rise was
higher, but the corresponding decline in average consumption far less.

Indeed, the United Nations Development Programme’s 2006 Human
Development Report indicates that Durban has an extremely convex-shaped
tariff curve, compared to several other Third World cities. Durban has
by far the highest prices in the 6-20 kl/month range, the range in which
many of the lowest-income people consume.

Even though this problem is now known to city officials, the 2007 budget
proposals amplify the water inequalities, by raising the price by 15%
for all residents and businesses regardless of consumption levels.
This will have a severely adverse impact on poor people, many of whom
will pay R8.22/kl for consumption in excess of 6kl/hh/month, leading to
further disconnections and to health and socio-economic crises.

Durban is feted for good performance, but during a time of HIV/AIDS,
cholera and diarrhoea epidemics, more not less water is needed.

The policy should be the same for all residents, and raise the lifeline
supply to at least 50 liters/person/day (even Johannesburg is offering
poor residents 10 kl/hh/month, 67% higher than Durban).

Otherwise the current aqua-apartheid system will generate ongoing
protests of the sort Durban has become even more famous for.

(Naidoo is a Westcliff residents leader and Khumalo is a water activist
from Inanda; both are community interns at the UKZN Centre for Civil
Society, which is directed by Bond.)

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment



SEE OUR VOICES is a photography project by the Women of the Westcliff Flats Residents Association in Chatsworth, South Africa. The exhibit, See Our Voices, was shown on December 18th, 2008 at the University of Kwazulu Natal in the Center for Civil Society during the Wolpe lecture series. The images were all taken by twleve women, one as young as 9 years old, covering a range of issues including prepaid electricity, illegal dumping, water damage, basic services and the lack of a community center for the children. The project facilitated the creation of picture stories in order to encourage the women to find expression through their visual voice and written statements. For the exhibit, the photographs were sewn into fabric, yielding a complex tapestry of mixed media to further enhance that these images are a part of the community. Below is an excerpt from the demands of the residents… “The project is a demand that our voices be heard and that our lives be made visible. With no jobs, with no work, and no efficient transportation system, we will never be able to improve our lot. The City wants to charge us for basic services and to pay arrears accumulated through unscrupulous service delivery policy. The City is trying to profit off the poors… We are now being charged exorbitant rates for the very essentials of human existence. We have a right to be alive; a right to shelter, water, electricity, and food. But the government has undermined any chance for a viable economy in our community. We need support, and instead, the City calls us criminals. SEE OUR VOICES demands that you recognize us, that you hear the voices and see the images of real women living in a real place. The legacy of apartheid has left us with only a struggle. We are not a revenue source for the City. We need programs that work, and we need them now. We cannot wait any longer.”

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hello world!

April 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment