I managed to see a bit of the country, giving myself lots of time to get to the gates.
Last week, Malcolm and I went to Pietermaritzburg and Durban to visit two Social Housing Institutions (SHIs). Both of these are in the process of significant expansion, in some case more than doubling in size over the next year or two. The meetings were to assess how NASHO might help with training, mentorship or even direct technical assistance.
It was nice to go east, towards the warm Indian Ocean. My sinuses got some relief, if only for 36 hours!
Malcolm and I parted ways in Durban, he headed to Cape Town (his home) and I went back to Joburg.
I was picked up at the airport by Pam, one of my new best friends who is a driver for Cabs for Women, an all-woman cab company. http://www.cabsforwomen.co.za There are 12 drivers and I now know at least half by now (Thuli, Thobile, Pam, etc). They have been taking me to/from work and are all excellent drivers (fast and confident is the MO in Joburg). We talk about their kids & grandkids, my work, weather and traffic. And I get to practice my Isizulu!
Yebo, ngiyafunda Isizulu:
Yes, I’m taking some Zulu lessons. The clicks are hard, but apparently I’m doing quite well. My teacher, Cynthia, comes to my cottage on Saturday mornings and we run through some basic stuff and also talk politics, language, movies and books (that part in English, tho). By the time I leave, I plan to be singing The Click Song along with Miriam Makeba (of course, that’s in Xhosa, which is not Zulu, but same Nguni family). Give a listen:
Further South this past Wednesday:
Down to Port Elizabeth, which is almost at the confluents of the Indian and South Atlantic oceans.
I travelled down with Jacus Pienaar, a long time NASHO advisor on development issues. He was meeting with a new group that was trying to get their application in with a very short turn around time. I was meeting (on my own, big girl-like) with Imizi, a very impressive SHI. I came out of that meeting thinking they have somehow gotten all of it right from the start.
Very young SHI, only 2 years old, but their capacity to handle rapid growth and pay attention to operations means they have a smooth running organization. Their GM, Anthony Ngcezula, is obviously the right guy at the right place and time. I was so chuffed when he said that Community Development is his personal “baby” and he was talking about expanding their reach to the communities surrounding their buildings! After our meeting, we took a drive to their two properties and then had a lovely lunch at an outside restaurant. Tony Lloyd, their CFO , came along.
One thing I’ve noticed in my visits is that most SHI’s prefer to do new builds in greenfield areas. Well, no surprise, as we well know the pitfalls of acquisition/rehab (Stirling Tavern? Putman?, St. Elijah’s?). But the issue of “spatial inequality” is part of what the Social Housing sector is supposed to address, so the idea of adding to the affordable housing stock in built up areas where there are jobs/transport/services is losing ground now. Also, way too much land is allocated to unused parking!!! I talked up community gardens and I’m gonna keep at it!.
Imizi has made it part of their mission to have projects reflect the racial diversity of their city. Unlike most other SHI buildings, where I’ve really only seen black people, Imizi’s make up is 66% black and 44% coloured or white. I noticed white, Afrikaans-speaking clients in their site offices, and hanging out laundry in the courtyards. When I asked Anthony how they achieved this diversity, he said they have done targeted marketing to certain areas and it has paid off.
He has also introduced a modest kind of rent scale based on income. This is not the way most SHIs interpret the Social Housing Act, but Imizi has decided to stick to their guns. Apparently, the SHRA is not disagreeing with them and it allows more flexibility for their tenants.
Marikana,two years ago
On August 16, 34 miners were shot down at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, about 125 kms from Joburg. They had been peacefully demonstrating for some days, wanting to speak to management about their working conditions. They had lost some trust in the union, and so were striking out on their own, so to speak.
It happened just one month after I returned from our Rooftops Study Tour and it shocked me at the time, it was like a snapshot from 30 years ago, except this time, the police were black! This is still a huge source of contention and there is a Commission of Inquiry still ongoing. Of course, the government is getting a pass so far. Zuma and his cohorts did not make any comment last week, on the 2nd anniversary of the massacre. And, no surprise, the opposition parties are having a heyday with it (and other ANC scandals, of which there are many).
If you have a chance to see this documentary, please do. It is chilling.
Port Elizabeth is also called “the friendly city” And here are some of the friendly folks I met on a lovely drive by the sea with Jacus
That’s it for today, folks!