Zimbabwe


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By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat

One of the key challenges of urban poverty is to find people-driven solutions to housing finance. An innovation of many federations in the SDI network has been to develop what are known as “urban poor funds.” All federations in the alliance practice daily savings as a means for community organization. These savings can often be used for various kinds of micro-credit as well, though their primary purpose is, as a general rule, to bind communities together, get them to unite around their own problems and their own resources.

But any member of a saving scheme can withdraw their savings at any time. There is nothing keep that person in a saving scheme except their own ties to their community and their specific scheme. The money always remains theirs. Federations that have been around for some time — what is known in the SDI lingo as a “mature” federation — soon realize that in order to develop at any kind of scale, they need to search for ways to come up with a committed, revolving finance facility: the urban poor fund.

Though an urban poor fund operates in different ways in different countries, the basic idea is the same. Each federation member commits a non-refundable amount of money that will initiate the fund. In South Africa, just to give one example, this commitment has a value of approximately US$100. The idea is that these funds that come from organized communities of the urban poor will attract more from outside sources like governments, donors and the private sector. Then, the fund can begin giving out loans to federation members to build houses, start businesses, buy land, and install services. If the loans are repaid then the fund “revolves,” meaning that the money can be loaned out again to someone else. For an excellent summary and analysis of the different kinds of urban poor funds that exist within the SDI alliance, a paper by Diana Mitlin, our colleague at the International Institute for Environment and Development, is a worthwhile guide: “Urban Poor Funds: development by the people for the people” (pdf).

It is a powerful tool for development that really puts organized communities of the urban poor at the center of their own development. So what happens when the fund essentially vanishes — nearly overnight? Sounds devastating. But this is exactly what the Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation experienced when their fund, called the Gungano Fund, fell prey to the cruelties of hyperinflation that wrecked the Zimbabwean economy in 2008.

Federation members were determined to keep it going. Still anxious to continue repaying outstanding loans, members developed a system they called dombo-to-dombo (stone-for-stone), where instead of repaying in money, they repaid in material supplies for which they calculated an approximate worth.

With the introduction of the US dollar and South African rand as replacement currencies for the Zimbabwean dollar, the federation is now looking to restore the Gungano fund. I had the privilege of being part of a two-day reflection meeting that the Zimbabwean federation held in Harare at the end of January to discuss how to take the fund forward. My colleague Louise Cobbett and I have a full report of this meeting up at the main SDI website which goes through all of the issues raised and resolved around the fund and how it ties into the greater work of the federation.

It takes the kind of unity forged through savings, information gathering, and — in the case of the Zimbabwean federation — the common traumas of economic hardship, disease, and state-directed violence, to address such a difficult, innovative facility like the urban poor fund with the creativity and seriousness I saw at this meeting. With “urban poor funds,” “community development funds,” and similar terms becoming buzz words in the so-called “urban development sector,” the urban poor themselves are providing some of the most creative, effective examples of how these can actually operate.

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Beyond the tragic earthquake in Haiti, we are taking note of a couple of other items of news affecting our partners in various parts of the world:

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Earlier this month, traders in the large open market in Kumasi, Ghana faced difficulties when a section of the trading zone burned down in a fire. No official cause has been determined for the fire. It is the second such event in the past year, and authorities have expressed a desire to redevelop the site.

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Last week, Zimbabwean National Minister of Housing, Fidelis Mhashu expressed anger and shock at the news that the Victoria Falls city council had authorized the destruction of a hundred houses in an informal settlement in the resort town.

Victoria Falls mayor Nkosilathi Jiyane was unrepentant for the destructive evictions. “As you are aware that Victoria Falls is a resort town, cleanliness is supposed to be maintained so that when foreigners come they are not discouraged by some funny houses. Besides we want to build a good image of our country,” he said.

An article in The Zimbabwean reported that Mhashu invoked 2005’s Operation Murabatsvina (translation: “clean out the trash”) nation-wide eviction campaign that affected 2.4 million people, according to a UN estimate.

[Mhashu] said the era of Murambatsvina lapsed in 2005 and no one has the authority to continue destroying residents’ houses because of their appearance.

“The policy is clear, if there are any houses that are below required standards, the responsible authorities should first build proper ones and then allocate them to the needy residents before destroying their shelter,” he said.

Mhashu also noted the folly of using the issue of sending a message to foreigners in justifying the evictions in Victoria Falls.

“You will remember that there was a housing convention held in Victoria Falls. So when the town council starts destroying houses, a negative message is going to be sent to foreigners who will start thinking that Zimbabwe is not a safe place to visit,” said Mhashu.

Alright, I think I’ll begin cross-posting some of my writings in my new-ish job. Most of them will be from the Shack Dwellers International blog, but I will point out longer writings that may or may not be linked on the blog, as the case may be.

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This article also contains a link to another article I wrote about the Zimbabwe National Housing Convention in October 2009.

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and here is the article about the convention

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The Zimbabwean Homeless People’s Federation put on a real show at October’s National Housing Convention in Victoria Falls with an eye-catching double-storey housing model, and song and dance inside the conference room. But big news was happening behind the scenes.

During last month’s SDI Council meeting, I caught up with Patience Mudimu, a project coordinator at Dialogue on Shelter, an NGO supporting the activities of the ZHPF. She told me that the Federation and Dialogue held a number of meetings with local government authorities during the convention. “For possibly the first time, we were getting directors to queue up to have appointments with us,” she said.

There have been follow-up engagements with authorities from five different cities — Harare, Masvingo, Chiredzi, Mutare, and Bindura. The plans under discussion in all of these places reveal a lot of the challenges and possibilities of local administration and urban housing in Zimbabwe.

In Harare, Dialogue on Shelter is talking with Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda about a partnership between the ZHPF and local government to renovate hostels in four settlements. Though town planners are often responsible for much of the implementation process of policy, mayoral will is key, Mudimu told me, to give political clout to a project like this.

In Masvingo, the Federation is facilitating exchanges of local ministers between different cities. As part of the exchange program that they agreed to at the housing convention in October, Mayor Femias Chakabuda wants to bring Federation members in Masvingo to visit the Federation-built settlement in Victoria Falls. According to Mudimu, Chakabuda was particularly impressed by his visit to the settlement.

The Chiredzi local authorities invited Dialogue on Shelter and the Federation to give a presentation to the full town council. They gave this presentation in early November about the difficulties that homeless people have in obtaining land.

The authorities in Mutare had given land to the Federation to build boreholes, a project being funded by SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International (UPFI). As part of the negotiations at the housing convention, the Mutare authorities gave a verbal go-ahead, but there is still no written agreement on the issue.

Finally, Bindura authorities have offered space to the Federation to build a community resource center.

As Mudimu noted to me, while it can be tough to achieve much publicly at these big housing conventions, the public show can serve as a good backdrop for successful negotiations and partnerships behind-the-scenes.

In my first full year out of an academic environment, I tried to make sure that I kept up a steady diet of reading. My friend Brian, who graduated a year before I did, wrote on his blog earlier this year, that he felt that his reading patterns were relatively scattershot shortly after graduating, but were tending to become more focused around specific subject areas. So over the next few days, I’m going to try to think out loud about some of the books I’ve read this year, and see what kinds of trends may or may not be developing.

I find that people with a heavy interest in public policy and related fields tend to view fiction as a bit of a diversion. Literary public policy types may view fiction as a necessary diversion, but ultimately, still a diversion from the more concrete stringency of policy, political history, etc, that dominates bookstores in places like Washington, DC. Though I work in what may be most clearly seen as the “non-fiction world” — a mix of journalism, policy, and advocacy — I have tried to keep my personal reading grounded in a more intentionally balanced mix of fiction, non-fiction, and books centered around the inquiry into ideas. As a not entirely unrelated aside, the one place I am sorely lacking is women’s voices. Almost time for some New Year’s resolutions on this score.

South African fiction

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that this was a year in which I moved to South Africa, much of my reading in all three areas was focused on this general area of the world. I read a collection of short stories and articles from Drum magazine in the 1950s. Drum symbolized a period of intellectual and artistic vibrancy in the Sophiatown neighborhood in Johannesburg. The stories in The Drum Decade, edited by Michael Chapman, are concerned with the grit, life and music of that place and time, held by many to have been a golden age of black life in the city.

Es’kia Mphahlele wrote for Drum and went on to a storied career as an educator and writer in South Africa, in exile, and upon his return home towards the end of his life. Down 2nd Avenue gets at a lot of the troubles of impermanence and harshness of growing up as a young black man in the urban centers of present-day Gauteng province. Mphahlele’s sympathetic eye for his own emotions and those of others is a good lesson for writers and readers anywhere. His description of his decision to go into exile illuminates the dilemmas faced by many South African writers and artists especially during the 1950s and 1960s. I think this may be a set work in most South African schools, but if you’re in a new place, sometimes you have to start with the basics!

Niq Mhlongo’s Dog Eat Dog was a fun, insightful look into the mind of a student at Wits in Braamfontein, the neighborhood just north of the Johannesburg city center that is also home to my office. My impression is that some of the discussions about race relations in the immediate aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s elections have become more complicated and perhaps not such an obsession fifteen years later. On the other hand, universities in South Africa still have a lot of old white men (and women) running the show. I can imagine the opening scene between Dingz — the main protagonist — and a stodgy white lady in the university bursary office to be just as likely today.

Mandla Langa’s The Lost Colours Of The Chameleon is an unabashedly political novel. But it comes at the psyche of dictatorship, corruption, and the crumbling of a family dynasty from a highly personal level. More insightful than the pop-psychoanalysis of an actual, non-fictional leader like Thabo Mbeki that Mark Gevisser did in his A Dream Deferred last year (published in the USA in 2009 as A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki And The Future Of The South African Dream). And yes, I did read the full version of the Gevisser book — none of this “abridged” nonsense!

Elsewhere in Africa

Dambudzo Marechera’s Black Sunlight was republished this year. The Zimbabwean “enfant terrible of African literature” lived up to such a billing. The novel really gets inside the madness of an unnamed city under seige. Avoids being hyper-politicized by including a spoonful of sexual desire on the part of the narrator.

I didn’t know until recently that Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene also published books during his prolific life. I recently finished a collection of two novellas, White Genesis and The Money Order (no link — I bought it used and I think it is out of print). The first is about the societal effects of polygamy and male dominance in traditional Senegalese society, the second about the intersection of inept, low-level bureaucracy, migration, and urban poverty in Dakar.

United States

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee is not really fiction, but it is so experimental in terms of form that I think it is alright to include it here. I read this as part of a long-term syllabus I am crafting for myself for writing about poverty. Perhaps we can excuse this as being of its time, but I don’t think a writer from a position of privilege need ever spend so much time emoting about his own guilt if he aims to really engage with the circumstances of his subject. Crass sympathy (“oh, poor them”) is not a good substitute for truly engaged empathy. Still, this was well worth reading and I’m happy I didn’t do it as part of a college course, as many American students do. It demands a more unconventional kind of reading for which there is rarely time in college.

Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Evening Redness In The West was by far the bloodiest, most violent book that I have ever read. I will always be down with McCarthy’s totally morbid vision of human nature and the particularities of how that plays out in the American context.

Outsider Europe

I read a couple of Russians this year basically on a whim and my feeling that I have a natural affinity for 19th century Russian literature, even though I have not read so much of it. A friend gave me The Brute and Other Farces by Anton Chekhov just before I left for South Africa in March. A good read for a year of farces encountered both personally and throughout the world.

Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls has a lot of farcical aspects to it as well. A crazy traveling entrepreneur laughs in the face of landowners throughout the Russian countryside. Good stuff.

Finally, this would have been a great year in fiction reading if only because my favorite writer of all time, Orhan Pamuk, finally came out with his new masterpiece, The Museum Of Innocence. An incredibly obsessive character portrait of a self-described “anthropologist” of his own life. Turns out this means that the main character, Kemal, constantly feeds his obsession for his almost-there love, Fusun, and the city where he suffers, hates, and loves: Istanbul. Also, before I left the United States, I picked up Pamuk’s collection of essays, Other Colors. It was great to read him find fragments of his city, his book collection, and his own novels.

Quick quiz question: 2006, 2008, 2009 — What do these three years have in common in South Africa?

These were years when the public at-large, the middle classes, the bourgeoisie, the media, the establishment, or whatever else you might call it, started paying attention, if momentarily to poor people. In those three years major instances of often violent protests erupted in townships and slums throughout the country.

Unfortunately for poor people, and for the greater understanding of everyone involved, the reasons for these demonstrations have often gotten lost in a fiery haze. In 2008, the protests took the form of xenophobic attacks on foreign-born store owners and other migrants living in South Africa.

Such violence was clearly reprehensible. It also gave middle classes an excuse to ignore the valid frustrations of poor people whose frustrations boiled over in a particularly disgusting way. Instead of being ashamed in its complicity with a system that deprives the poor, toiling in sewage-ridden, shack-filled, unsafe and unfit slums, the middle class could rest on its outraged high horse. How dare South Africans attack others simply for not being South African?

Such sentiments are all well and good, but they also smack of willful ignorance. The violence in places like Alexandra last year was not fundamentally about hatred of foreigners. The acts of hatred were symptomatic of a greater frustration with the lack of progress in many townships. Based on my interviews with a number of shack-dwelling residents of Alex over the past four months (and I will grant the limits of this kind of anecdotal evidence), a discussion of foreigners is always accompanied by the larger issue of the general state of living in the township. “How can all these foreigners come here when things are already so out of control?” “We can’t get any jobs. Why can they get jobs?”

The frustration is not so much with foreigners, as the overall state of living. So witness the protests in Thokoza and Balfour this past week as the latest example of protests that appear to have hit closer to the mark in terms of public perception. This, despite worrying instances of xenophobic attacks attached to the demonstrations. “Service delivery” is once again the name of the game.

I interviewed Udesh Pillay, an expert on “service delivery” at the Human Sciences Research Council. He points out that the ongoing protests have their roots not in xenophobia, but in the more fundamental struggle for human dignity in the 1980s against apartheid. Many of the protests of this time focused on specific issues like rent prices and utility services, while aiming to “render ungovernable” townships throughout the country.

In the case of apartheid, the government could not respond because it was born of a system that was inherently illegitimate. Now, the government has been elected through legitimate means, but does not have the structures that will allow for constructive engagement with communities. Democracy does not end with elections. Community engagement with elected officials is the real nuts and bolts of democracy, a way for the will of the people to be heard and developed in the public sphere.

“Service delivery,” Pillay told me, is then a stand-in phrase for the greater lack of accountability that currently exists in slum governance. I would argue that it is this lack of accountability that is totally anathema to the middle-class-driven public debate on this issue. The assumption is much more cynical, and anti-democratic. They elected Zuma and the ANC. This is what they get. Why are they so violent and xenophobic? Why are their leaders so incompetent?

In order to move forward, such questions need to be replaced by those informed by a more democratic point of view. How can communities engage consistently and constructively with local government? This is an issue that has never been practiced well in South Africa. The apartheid government enacted policies concerning the overwhelmingly black poor without consultation, and in the democratic era little has changed in many townships.

Currently up for debate is why the government is not implementing their policies properly. Instead the questions need to be about how the policies are developed in the first place. The likelihood of proper implementation would then be much closer behind.

There is little both as hip and worrying to people interested in international affairs as China’s relationship to Africa. Beyond a fly-by-night visit by Barack Obama, it’s one of the only reasons the rest of the world will pay any attention to the continent.

Of course, the reasons for the African interest among Chinese businesses and government officials boils down to the same reasons most non-Africans have always cared about Africa: money and resources.

Foreign Policy‘s Elizabeth Dickinson notes that Africa’s resources are not only in vogue among the Chinese, but perhaps more broadly among the BRIC countries. Those BRIC countries that have managed to navigate the current economic crisis relatively well (of the four countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — Russia is almost definitely suffering the most) boast of decoupling from the developed world’s economies, and the opportunities their independence allows:

With aid and investment drying up from Europe and the West, it’s wise of the BRICs to fill the void. More than good business, it’s proof of the BRICs claim that they’re in Africa for the long haul. Guess who wins that game?

Still, most of the attention is coming from China — who else is going in deep enough to bail out Zimbabwe when no one else will? This has led to a lot of speculation in English-language press that there’s basically just a new colonial boss in town. Nothing encapsulated this view better than French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s chilly reception at a funeral for Gabon’s president Omar Bongo. Bongo was the quintessential French colonial stooge in the “post-colonial” African setting, the “epitome of françafrique,” writes The Economist. He even managed to arrange for the firing of one of Sarkozy’s ministers, overseas aid minister Jean-Marie Bockel, who had dared to call for the end of the excesses and patronage relationships of françafrique.

As France and other western states muddle along in trying to fashion a post-colonial world order that still affords enough of the practical benefits of colonialism, China the basically the only contender for the top of the heap of this world order. The attractiveness of China to Africans is partly a matter of the fact that the Chinese are just not the West, writes William Wallis in the Financial Times:

Europe still sees Africa as a burden. The Chinese, Brazilians, Indians and others see it as an opportunity.”We have a competitive advantage,” says Gu Xiaojie, China’s ambassador to Ethiopia, with a certain amount of glee.

“My own experience is that they [African governments] are uncomfortable dealing with developed countries. They think they [Europeans] want to impose their own ideas and they have a long [mutual] history that is violent and bitter.”

But China’s star shines brightly beyond the fact of who it is not. Quite plainly, it is often the only major economic power that seems to give a damn. Shortly before I left Philadelphia for Johannesburg, I had a discussion with my former professor in Chinese history during which I mentioned that the Chinese may be running roughshod over African workers and communities in the course of their projects in the continent. Her response was simple and, honestly, hard to refute: Who else is paying attention?

Howard French notes that both political and financial attention from China is in easy supply. Top political leaders visit the continent every year, including a visit by Hu Jintao concurrent to my discussion with my professor in late February / early March. Moreover,

from Angola and Congo and from Nigeria and Mozambique, the big news in Africa has recently been measured in big business deals, and this story could almost be summed up as all China, all the time.

A Shanghai-based housing developer argues that Africa is a key plank in China’s grander geopolitical strategy in China Safari, a new book on China’s role in the continent written by two French journalists, Serge Michel and Michel Beuret.

“I’m going to be honest with you, China is using Africa to get where the United States is now, and surpass it.”

This may be overstating the case. While the view from Africa may make this plausible, the view from China may look quite different.

Jeune Afrique recently had a large report on China in Africa, and took a much more skeptical view than most of the writing from English-language publications, perhaps reflecting a greater overall disillusionment with outside influence in Africa among those in the francophone world. In an interview with He Wenping, director of African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, reporter Pascal Auaralt asks if there might be a lack of knowledge about Africa among many Chinese. He does not exactly defend her countrymen and women. She points out that there are only 20 students in her program, the largest African studies program in the country.

Two (related) ways that township life reflects the day’s headlines = two of my recent video reports for The Times:

Expectations for a Zuma presidency in Alex

Continuing horror of last year’s xenophobic attacks

The announcement a couple of weeks ago that the Home Affairs department was issuing a moratorium on deportation of Zimbabwean refugees was a positive sign to those Zimbabweans languishing in the limbo of undetermined status here. The moratorium was supposed to be in place while Home Affairs figured out how to implement the distribution of temporary six month residence permits to Zimbabweans who did not have another kind of permit.

Things aren’t looking good on that front. In the border town of Musina, SAPA is reporting that police are continuing with deportations despite the Home Affairs order. One of the problems with immigration policy is that there’s too much of an incentive for border police to behave in an extortionary way, instead of focusing on enforcing actual border policy. I would not be surprised if demands for money and / or sex are going right along with the deportations that SAPA is reporting. A mere order from Home Affairs is not likely to do much without increased attention paid to the everyday practices and lives of those implementing the policy on the ground.

Closer to me in Johannesburg, UNHCR seems to have finally begun moving some of the migrants staying at the Central Methodist Church to the building in Rossetenville about which I reported two weeks ago. Still, these problems seem far from a resolution:

Godfrey Charamba, chairman of the Methodist Refugee Community, told The Zimbabwe Times Sunday that following uncertainty over their continued stay at the new places, most refugees especially economic immigrants who fled their country’s decade-long economic crisis, now had “second thoughts” about remaining in South Africa.

“This relocation issue has affected us badly,” said Charamba in an interview.

“We have not been told on what will happen to us at the expiry of the lease period in those shelters, meaning that our chances of remaining there after that three months period are very slim.”

Charamba said that most refugees had already made it known to both the church authorities, Gauteng Local Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that they now wished to return to Zimbabwe.

“A team comprising UNHCR, the mayor’s office and local government officials came here last week and asked whether we wanted to be relocated locally or to be taken back to Zimbabwe,” said Charamba. “Most people said that they wanted to return home.

“In fact, more than 800 refugees have said they prefer to be repatriated and now we are waiting for that to happen, because our stay in the new shelters will be short-lived.”

Charamba, who also attended that meeting, added that besides the three-month lease at some of the shelters, rentals there were so expensive that it would be unsustainable for the refugees to remain there.

Allow me to get back to something I let fly before I got caught up in the final dash of the campaign. The Daily Sun might be the most relevant newspaper in South Africa.

I’ve made this claim to academics, journalist colleagues, and — perhaps misguidedly — to editors of other South African newspapers. The first uniform response is a hearty chuckle followed by a “you can’t be serious” rejoinder. Oh, but I am.

To most upper/middle-class literate, educated South Africans, the Daily Sun is known for its fantastic tales of schoolgirls overtaken by evil spirits, tokoloshes, sensational revenge murders, and other sordid tales common to the tabloid newspaper genre. And when I say “tabloid” I’m not just talking about the size of the page on which these stories are printed.

So why do I find myself paying the two rand for a copy usually at least twice a week? Because the Daily Sun has stories about the real lived experience of the working-class and poor in this country that are often invisible to the rest of the country. I realized this first hand when the situation of refugees overflowing out of the Central Methodist Church hit the pages of the Sun a full day before it was picked up by any of the other newspapers. Page through the classifieds, and you can see that the sexual preoccupations of many blue collar South Africans — documented in Jonny Steinberg’s absolutely essential Three Letter Plague — are alive and well. The daily feature called “Home Affairs Horrors” documents how chronic mismanagement of home affairs offices has left many South Africans without the means to pursue basic employment and education. It also exposes a greater preoccupation with the bureaucratic machinery of delivery that dominates the lives of South Africa’s working-class. Mention allocation of RDP houses to a resident of Alexandra, for instance, and I near guarantee that this worry lies beneath whatever response you will receive.

Perhaps the greatest example of the Daily Sun‘s relevance as a voice for the poor is its coverage of the xenophobic riots last year. For those with any familiarity with the Sun’s coverage of that ugly episode, you might be apopleptic at this point. WHAT?! Isn’t the Sun the same newspaper that stoked xenophobic anger as the violence raged on?

To that I answer, “Yes, but.”

Wits journalism professor Anton Harber shows how the situation is much more complex than it may at first seem. In an essay eventually printed in a fantastic collection of essays about the riots, he compares the coverage of the affair in both the Sun and the Star. When I bring up this essay, most people tend to point to the fact that Harber notes that the Sun had rather inflammatory coverage while the violence was going on. I think this misses Harber’s greater point, which is that if you had been reading the Sun before the outbreak of violence, what eventually transpired would have been no surprise at all. Frustrations about immigrants taking jobs and houses away from South African citizens living in townships were clear for weeks leading up to the riots, as were the violent rumblings themselves.

The Sun is far and away the most popular newspaper in South Africa. It sells hundreds of thousands more papers than its nearest competitor. The vast majority of this consumer public is much poorer than readers of probably any other newspaper in the country (the Sowetan is probably the only other paper that can shake a stick at the Sun‘s demographics). It’s worth recognizing, then, that while perceived “low,” mass cultural productions may be flawed in terms of a given prescribed notion of social development, it is also important to cultivate those productions that give a voice to people who may otherwise be voiceless. The Sun contains a lot of sensationalist nonsense. At the same time, it expresses a viewpoint that has great currency among often hidden, and rather large swathes of the South African population. Put plainly, to dismiss a publication like the Sun is to do so at your own peril if you care at all to find out what is really going on in this highly complex country.

From an article of mine published today by The Times:

Confusion reigns at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg CBD, as there has been little progress in arrangements to move the estimated 2,840 primarily Zimbabwean migrants staying at the church.

Frustrated residents said that they were told that the move would begin last week. Once that passed without any action, they had expected to move this week.

Local government, in collaboration with the UN High Commission on Refugees, decided this week to postpone any planned move until better communication could be established with those staying at the church, said local government spokesperson Lebo Tladinyane.

Read the rest here (and watch a related video here).

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