Townships came into existence under the apartheid regime, and black people were forced to live in them. Services to the townships were appalling, under apartheid most never even had electricity. Housing and schooling was also deliberately bad. This all formed part of the racist apartheid capitalist system that was built to exploit black people as extremely cheap labour.
Little has changed in the townships since 1994. This is because township residents are still exploited. All that has happened is that a small group of powerful black people have joined the white capitalists in the ruling class to exploit the majority of people. So everyday the rich and politicians steal from us and take our money by making us work as wage slaves, by selling us electricity and water, and by turning basic services and houses into products to make money out of us. Thus, society is not geared to meeting our needs but rather exploiting us – all of this madness is part of the capitalist and state system.
In Khayelitsha water, which is needed to live, is now sold to make money. The City, under both the DA and ANC, have cut peoples’ water off when the free lifeline is finished. This means no money, no water! But you need water to live! The same applies to Eskom and electricity. We have to pay for this, or we get cut-off. The result, people who can’t pay have to use paraffin to cook etc., which is dangerous and results in shack fires and death. But do the rich and politicians care? NO they don’t. All they do is use capitalism and the state to try steal from us and smash us when we complain.
Public spaces within our townships are also being privatised. You have to pay for things like community halls, which if they are meant for us, should be free. Developments in townships are for the local elite to use to make money from us. Local business people chose to build malls – for companies like Shoprite, Spar, FNB, Standard Bank – instead of using it to build the things we need like houses. When developments do come to our townships, no-one asks whether we want them. They never even ask us what we actually want! We are treated like mindless children – the rich and politicians make decisions and tell us what to do and force things on us whether we want them or not.
Housing too has become privatized. If you want a house you need money and loans from the banks. You spend your whole life paying these off – working to make the banks rich. Even the RDP houses are used by local business people, through local construction companies, to make profits. To cut costs they build poor quality houses that end up cracking and falling apart. Housing should be something that everyone should have; not something to make money from or for only people who can afford it. Thus we live in houses that are no better, and in some cases even worse, than under apartheid.
It is the politicians, the rich and the state that do these things to us. Under capitalism and the state system, we make the rich and politicians rich. In the end we die poor, and for long as the state and capitalism exist this won’t change. We have to fight against these if we are not going to die silent and poor. We need water, electricity, housing and spaces where we can express ourselves freely – these are the basics of a decent life. We, therefore, have to take all these things back – and workers and the poor have to take control of the economy directly to meet everyone’s needs. We also need to get rid of the state, and run society based on direct democracy. Only when this happens will we be truly free and only then will things like homelessness, cut-offs, evictions, crime, poverty, racism, sexism, frustration and misery end – only then will our townships stop being apartheid style hellholes.