Unfair to Ignore Huge Strides ANC Has Made in Housing

Cape Times (South Africa), September 22, 2010 | Go to article overview

Unfair to Ignore Huge Strides ANC Has Made in Housing


Richard Pithouse's article, "Sexwale fails with housing delivery", September 20, refers.

The ANC has built more houses than the apartheid state did. This is a respectable achievement, but not a magnificent one since nobody would call the apartheid state compassionate.

The ANC's construction programme had many flaws - underfunded, lacked proper planning, and was often hampered by corruption - all good grounds for criticism.

Pretending - as Pithouse did - that apartheid townships were superior to post-apartheid townships is mere pandering to white supremacists.

Pithouse's problem is that he cannot acknowledge any positive elements to the ANC state (because his political fantasy depends on the people overthrowing the state) and cannot acknowledge any unpleasant aspects to a squatter camp (because his political fantasy depends on shack-dwellers providing the spark for the revolution).

The first part of Pithouse's piece is devoted to proclaiming that the desire to eliminate shacklands is destructive.

Since people prefer to live in homes with solid walls, indoor plumbing, reliable electricity and locks on the doors, something of that kind ought to be provided. Ergo, shacklands ought to be eliminated. Nobody ought to live under conditions they do not desire, even if the conditions are a political convenience to Pithouse.

One can rightly say there is more to a community than a scattering of houses, and that the government should provide more. One can also criticise the government for not providing enough houses to keep up with informal immigration and mass urbanisation.

Above all, one can argue that municipalities are not in touch with what people in shackland communities want (which, if true, is a serious problem, although there is not enough proof). …

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