South Africa: Housing Activists Frustrated By President Ramaphosa’s Six-Month Silence On Public Land Act

They have been demanding that government use the State Land Disposal Act of 1961 to rapidly free up land for housing

“There is a deep sense of frustration,” says Luyanda Mtamzeli, a political organiser at Ndifuna Ukwazi. This comes after six months of silence from President Cyril Ramaphosa on the use of the State Land Disposal Act of 1961.

In August 2023, we reported how several hundred land and housing activists marched to the President’s official Cape Town residence to demand that the State Land Disposal Act be used to give vacant and underutilised public land to communities who lack secure tenure.

The activists had identified 32 such parcels of land in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. They emailed the Presidency, the Western Cape Premier and several national and provincial departments.

“The complete lack of a response has left communities feeling like they have been abandoned by the government,” said Mtamzeli. “They have received no response from the President despite attempts to follow up.”

“Many people feel that the lack of response reveals a serious lack of political will and demonstrates conclusively that the government does not see land and housing as a priority at all. The only time people hear about land and housing is during elections, but otherwise they are left to fend for themselves,” he said.

“This is a major shame and missed opportunity,” said Mtamzeli.

The organisations involved include Ndifuna Ukwazi, Indibano Yabahlali, Intlungu YaseMatyotyombeni, Reclaim the City, Housing Assembly, Surplus People’s Project, Barney Malokoena section, Abahlali baseMjondolo (KZN) and Inner City Federation (JHB).