TODAY National Party Zombies came back from the dead. Wearing orange and blue, and carrying tombstones emblazoned with slogans stating “Send the poor far away,” and “Housing for the Few, Not You,” the horde descended on the Civic Centre in support of Executive Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato, who was a National Party member himself. The message was simple: bad ideas are back from the dead and #OldNats are running this city.
For fifty years, the National Party enforced segregation through racist policies and laws, dispossessed Black and Coloured people of access to land and housing in the city, and forcibly removed whole communities to townships on the edge of the city. All of that was supposed to have ended in 1994, but it didn’t.
In fact, Mayor Dan Plato and the Mayoral Committee continues to evict and threaten to evict people into homelessness. There is no plan for evictees and those who are lucky enough to secure access to the courts are offered a place in a relocation camp far away on the periphery of the city.
The City refuses to grant security of tenure to hundreds of thousands of poor Black people who have found a home in these informal settlements on public and private land. Most settlements are now decades old and there is no plan to provide better basic services, let alone upgrade informal settlements into dignified housing or redistribute the land. This is Apartheid-era logic under the guise of sensible economic and housing policy. It is horrifying but unsurprising, given the fact that Mayor Dan Plato and many of the Mayoral Committee were in fact members of the National Party during Apartheid.
Despite paying lip service to inclusion, the City has not built any new affordable public housing in well-located former White suburbs for the Black and Coloured majority. The effect is devastating as exclusive housing forces more and more poor and working class people out. Instead of reserving state land to redress apartheid spatial planning, the City is selling its best public land to the highest bidder.
Cape Town remains unequal and segregated despite the Democratic Alliance being in power for over a decade. There is simply no political will to change business as usual. The zombies arrived at the City’s doorstep today to make one thing clear: Racial and economic segregation is fundamentally inhumane and belongs in the grave.
But ultimately, we don’t need a zombie apocalypse in Cape Town. We need politicians to build the inclusive, just and equal city so many laid down their lives for.