The Aim of AEC
The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign was formed on November 2000 with the aim of fighting evictions, water cut-offs and poor health services, obtaining free electricity, securing decent housing, and opposing police brutality.
The AEC is currently an umbrella body for over 15 community organizations, crisis committees, and concerned residents movements who have come together to organise and demand their rights to basic services. The organisations that make up the AEC, include:
- Concerned QQ Section Residents (Khayelitsha)
- Tafelsig Anti-Eviction Campaign (Mitchell’s Plain)
- Silvertown Anti-Eviction Campaign (Athlone)
- Gugulethu Backyard Dwellers (Gugulethu)
- Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign (Hanover Park)
- Gympie Street Residents Committee (Woodstock)
- Leiden Anti-Eviction Campaign (Delft)
- Delft Symphony Anti-Eviction Campaign (Delft)
- Eastridge Anti Eviction Campaign
- Wesbank Anti-Eviction Campaign
Affiliated movements and committees we have worked with in Cape Town:
- Joe Slovo Liberative Residents (Langa)
- Hangberg Solution Seekers Association (Hout Bay)
- Mandela Park Youth Solidarity Forum (Khayelitsha)
- Tafelsig People’s Forum (Mitchell’s Plain)
- KTC Concerned Residents Movement (KTC)
- Mitchell’s Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (Mitchell’s Plain)
- Gugulethu Informal Traders (Gugulethu)
- Gatesville Informal Traders Association (Athlone)
The Poor People’s Alliance
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, together with with Landless People’s Movement, the Rural Network and the Abahlali baseMjondolo, is part of the Poor People’s Alliance – a network of radical poor people’s movements.
Role of AEC Coordinators
As one AEC activist put it: “As coordinators of the anti-eviction campaign, we are not leaders in the traditional authoritarian sense. Instead, we are like a set of cutlery. We are the tools that are there to be used by poor communities fighting against the cruel and oppressive conditions of South African society. Power to the poor people!”
AEC Current Activities
The AEC is fighting evictions and water and electricity cut-offs on many different levels. Its current activities range from direct action demonstrations against evictions and cut-offs. Activities range from legal actions that challenge the constitutionality of evictions, to mass mobilisation and popular education initiatives, to creative organisation and capacity building programs. Some of its current activities are as follows:
- Direct Action. Aside from organising mass marches and demonstrations against evictions, the AEC directly challenges evictions as they are taking place. The AEC protects families from being evicted primarily by staging sit-ins and demonstrations aimed at turning away government and privatised security forces that come to evict families. For those families who have already been evicted, the AEC often responds by moving them and their belongings back into their homes. Should these tactics prove unsuccessful in waving off evictions and in instances where the government is determined to move forward with evictions, the AEC has at times responded by rendering the contested property unliveable, saying if the people cannot have the land, then no one will.
- Legal Challenges. The AEC’s Legal Aid Team provides much needed free legal advice to all those affected by the possibilities of evictions and forced removals.
- Mass Mobilisation and Popular Education. The AEC is currently involved in a wide spread mobilisation campaign to get communities from all around the Western Cape involved with the AEC. Via mass public meetings and more targeted activists workshops, the AEC has engaged in popular education initiatives around the issues of evictions, and water and electricity cut-offs. Through it’s popular education activities, the AEC works to make the linkages between people’s concrete experiences with evictions and cut-offs, the government’s macro economic strategy GEAR and its privatisation policies. By mobilising the communities around these issues, the AEC hopes to build a mass political base from which to challenge evictions, one that the government will be forced to listen to and think about before continuing with its eviction policies.
- Organisation Capacity Building. The AEC is currently embarking on various activities geared toward building the strength and capacity of the Campaign. In an effort to develop the capacity of its Legal Aid Team, the AEC has taken part (and continues to take part) in a legal research training courses offered by a number of organisations. The skills learned in these courses are used in order to help community members in dealing with legal documents and procedures relating to evictions and cut-offs. They also to facilitate the strength and number of the legal challenges against evictions. By building up the skills of our members, we are able to also conduct research on the socio-economic affects of evictions and water and electricity cut-offs. This research is used not only to give empirical evidence to the Campaign’s counter arguments against GEAR and privatisation, but is also used to take the Campaign forward in terms of developing concrete alternatives to such policies.
- Democratising Communities. The Anti-Eviction Campaign works to democratise the internal governance of poor communities as they attempt to mobilise and stand up for their rights. We assist communities in setting up participatory platforms whereby all residents are able to challenge their elected leaders and hold them accountable.