Double standards: one for the rich, one for the poor

2013-11-26 17:32

It’s hard to imagine a more hypocritical bunch of bastards than the people who are presently in charge of Durban.

I know that sounds harsh, but the truth is that the crew in City Hall have two sets of eyes. And two sets of standards: one for the rich and one for the poor.

It’s late 2009, the city decides to extend the Umlazi Stadium for the World Cup. Fair enough. Not that any World Cup fixtures were being played there, but it’s cool to have a decent stadium.

So what does the city do? It decides that Fifa president Sepp Blatter won’t like to see shacks. Sepp would prefer to look at female footballers in short skirts, he’s progressive like that.

So the city bulldozes their homes, promises them new ones and hauls them off to a transit camp at Isipingo. It basically dumps their asses there with a “Merry Christmas and thanks for the votes in May’’ message.

Fast-forward to November 2013. Guess who’s still living in a transit camp in Isipingo on the eve of the season of goodwill four years later?

Back to 2009. Working class families in Phoenix are desperate for houses. Councillors are punting a city rent-to-buy housing project in the area.

It sounds good: pay your deposit, pay your monthly rent and after a couple of years you’ll own your house. It’s a marvellous idea. The city is empowering working class people, helping them own property and breaking the chains of wage slavery. Doing more together ... and all that.

The families sign up, pay their deposits and move into the houses. Then their dreams turn to shit.

Their forms come back stamped by Woodglaze Trading. Woodglaze is owned by Jay Singh. Remember him? Mister Half-a-Billion-in-City-Housing-Contracts himself.

The cat who ran the city’s bus service into the ground and got paid R333 million to do so.

The city has quietly sold the land – and them – to Singh. Like slaves. Or goats. They’re tenants, not owners in the making. The houses are falling apart. They complain and start asking questions.

The city can’t help – they’re tenants of a private owner. They go to court. The city throws more of its millions into beating them down.

Back to 2013: homeless people build shacks at Cato Crest this time. The city calls in the bulldozers. And the heavies. No court order necessary. The residents go to court, win an order stopping evictions four times but the city keeps bulldozing them anyway.

Still in 2013: Jay Singh builds a shopping centre with no plans. The city sticks a stop-work order on his gate, but Singh carries on. The city sticks another couple of stop orders on the gate, but he carries on. There’s no bulldozers, no blackjacks, no cops.

The centre collapses and kills Zakithi Nxumalo and Zwelibanzi Masuku.

The city then calls a press conference. Everybody’s very sorry. Singh is a terrible individual. Nobody could do anything to stop him. The city couldn’t bulldoze him. Nobody knows why he got all the tenders, or why he’s got many more millions despite being nailed by the Manase Report.

The city fathers are all looking bashful, wringing their hands and blaming the previous council, forgetting that most of them sat on its exco. And simply shuffled the deck chairs, like on the Titanic.

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