News

The struggles of ordinary Malawians for a place in the city

19 May 2009 - 3:38pm

While Madonna's controversial adoption attempts have put the small and landlocked African nation in the global spotlight, the struggles of ordinary Malawians for economic survival have received much less attention. As Malawians go to the polls today, street vendors are faced with the dilemma of whether to take seriously the promises made by opposition politicians.

Two Palestinian protestors still imprisoned

18 May 2009 - 4:32pm

Two Palestinian activists who had been marking Workers' Day on 1 May by demonstrating in Ma'sara against the Separation Wall are being held in detention by the Israeli authorities.

Losing Jobs: The real impact of the Economic Crisis

18 May 2009 - 12:00am

» Original article in eGov Monitor

The world is facing economic crisis on a scale unseen for 80 years and now fears about the impact on the ‘real' economy appear to be coming true.

War on Want protests UK visit by hard-line Israeli Foreign Minister

13 May 2009 - 4:56pm

War on Want joined an emergency protest today outside Downing Street to mark the first visit to the UK by newly elected Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Lieberman is known for living in Nokdim, an illegal settlement south-east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The right-wing politician has made dangerous statements about the Palestinian people and continuously undermines their sovereignty and self determination. He was visiting London as part of a European tour to drum up political support for the upgrading of Israel's economic relations with the European Union and met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

War on Want was demonstrating to put pressure on the British government to take action over Israel's war crimes and send a strong signal to Lieberman that Israel's blockade of Gaza must end immediately. We also called on the British government to reject any upgrading of EU/Israel relations whilst Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

The protest was called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Muslim Initiative, Stop the War Coalition, CND, Palestinian Forum in Britain and was supported by War on Want.

South African shack dwellers challenge Slums Act in court

13 May 2009 - 3:48pm

As South Africa prepares for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the government has made plans to develop ‘World Class Cities' by eliminating the ‘slums' which are home to millions. This week our partner organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo is set go before the Constitutional Court to challenge the Slums Act, a law that will displace thousands from their homes.

In November 2008 Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM, literally ‘people living in shacks'), a Durban-based shack dweller movement and War on Want partner organisation, applied to the Durban High Court in order to challenge the constitutionality of the Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act. This Act, which was introduced by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in 2007, is expected to lead to a large number of evictions of shack dwellers from their homes to temporary housing in so-called ‘transit camps'. These camps are often located far away from vital services and job opportunities, and many lack decent water and sanitation facilities.

ABM challenges the slums act

Watch a video of ABM members explaining the impact of the Slums Act on their community.

While the government refers to the camps as ‘temporary', many shack dwellers fear that they will be stuck in ‘government shacks' for years. Organisations such as ABM are campaigning for an upgrading of existing shack settlements and for the right of shack dwellers to a place in the city and against being dumped on the outskirts of urban areas in ‘transit camps'.

Despite the organisation's efforts to contest the constitutionality of the Slums Act, the Durban High Court dismissed ABM's application in January 2009, arguing that the Slums Act would make "things more orderly in this province" and that "the Act must be given a chance to show off its potential to help deal with problems of slums and slum conditions". The court outcome was a big blow to poor shack dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal Province whose livelihoods in many ways depend on living near to their places of work. Workers who have been moved to the camps are forced to spend the vast bulk of their income on transport.

In order to protect the right to a place in the city, ABM has now taken the Slums Act to the Constitutional Court. On the eve of the court challenge on Thursday 14 May 2009, War on Want supports ABM's fight for shack dwellers' right to the city and its struggle for the safety, dignity and equality of the poor.

South African Diary: Attending a workers' meeting

10 May 2009 - 9:00am

In the late afternoon we headed towards a farm where a workers' meeting was being held. It was almost 7:30pm when we arrived at the unheated community hall, where about 30 workers had gathered. Union or community meetings are typically over lunch or in the evenings outside of work hours and must be authorised by the farm owner.

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South African Diary: One farm worker's story

10 May 2009 - 8:00am

We continued on our way to meet with some members of Sikhula Sonke whom we had arranged to speak with about their work. Tesco claims that its products are produced under ethical conditions. However, Kitty de Kock's story paints a very different picture. Kitty earns 325 rand a week (about £25) for 45 hours of work. She has two children and pays 330 rand a year for each child's school fees. On her wage she only provide her family with bread and coffee for breakfast and lunch and rice, potatoes and occasionally some meat for dinner. Buying new clothes, school materials and toys for her children would require a miracle.

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South African Diary: Tesco makes billions, but workers continue to suffer hardship

10 May 2009 - 12:00am

This was a busy day not only for us visitors, but also for the farm workers in the provinces of Wellington and Ceres that we met.

Wendy Pekeur, General Secretary of Sikhula Sonke, spoke to a reporter for The Guardian about evictions, one of the most pressing issues facing South African workers. 'One million farm workers, of whom 77 % are women and children, have been evicted from their homes since 1994. Of all the evictions, 99% are illegal, despite the fact that the South African constitution holds that no person can be evicted without a court order.'War on Want invited The Guardian journalist to South Africa in order to experience first hand the conditions facing thousands of workers who supply Tesco with fruit and wine.

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