'Power to the Poor People':The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and struggles against Neoliberalism in Cape Town,South Africa

While the end of Apartheid policies in South Africa brought about a
reorganization of municipal governance and a formal integration of
city life, the implementation of neoliberal reform over the past
fifteen years have done much to deepen the country's racial and class
inequalities. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cape Town, arguably
the most unequal and spatially segregated city in the world. Yet just
as evictions, privatization, and cost recovery have continued to
squeeze the city's poor majority, these pressures have also helped to
spur the growth of popular resistance. This
presentation will focus on the ways in which these points of
resistance have coalesced in the growth of the Western Cape
Anti-Eviction Campaign, a social movement bringing together over 15
community organizations, crisis committees, and concerned residents'
groups to organize for and realize their right to housing, basic
services, and democratic decision-making. In particular, this
presentation will focus on the ways in which the AEC has sought to
craft a common political identity of the city's poor as it has
organized across a range of residential sectors, from squatter
settlements to bank-financed housing schemes. As part of either a
formal panel or an open discussion, this presentation will examine the
ways in which the AEC has employed a range of lawful and unlawful
tactics to stop evictions and ensure the right to housing enshrined in
South Africa's 1996 Constitution. In examining the tangible successes
of the AEC's eviction blockades, legal activism, and land occupations
as well as its organizational failures, this presentation should offer
fertile ground from which to draw lessons for other struggles for the
reclamation of the urban environment.