Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign was a non-racial[1] popular movement[2] made up of poor and oppressed communities in Cape Town, South Africa.[3][4] It was formed in November 2000[5] with the aim of fighting evictions, water cut-offs and poor health services, obtaining free electricity, securing decent housing, and opposing police brutality.[6][7][8][9]

Official logo of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

The movement was the first of the first generation of so-called 'new social movements' to spring up after the end of apartheid and was known for its direct action style militancy, its refusal of all forms of vanguardism, including NGO (Non-Governmental Organisations) authoritarianism.[4][10][11][12] The movement sought to retain its autonomy from NGOs[13] and publicly refused to work with some local NGOs[14] and insisted that the middle class left respect the autonomy of grassroots movements.

The AEC was a founding member of the Poor People's Alliance and, along with the other members of the alliance, refused all electoral politics and encouraged the development of popular power rather than voting for political parties.[12][15][16][17]

The AEC mobilised against the 2008 xenophobic attacks in the areas where it was strong.[18][19][20]

The AEC opposed evictions related to the FIFA 2010 World Cup.[21]


The AEC is currently an umbrella body for over 10 community organisations,[22] crisis committees, and concerned residents movements who have come together to organise and demand their rights to basic services.[23] The organisations that make up the AEC include but are not limited to:

Affiliated movements and committees in the Western Cape:


The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is an umbrella structure with an executive committee of a chairperson, a vice chairperson, a secretary, a vice secretary, a treasurer, and five regional coordinators.[26] [27]


The AEC opposes evictions and water and electricity cut-offs[28] on many different levels.[4] Activities range from legal actions that challenge the constitutionality of evictions,[29] to mass mobilisation and popular education initiatives, to organisation and capacity building programs.[8][12] The movement has also confronted local gangs and in July 2012 one of its leading activists, Soraya Nordien, was murdered following threats from gang members.[30]


Since its inception, the Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC) has called for an end to all evictions and cut-offs of basic services in the Western Cape.[4][31] In 2001, the AEC achieved a 6-month moratorium on all evictions in the Cape Town Unicity.[32][33] Even though the DA had declared the moratorium, illegal evictions continued.[34]

The movement strongly supported the struggle for the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers to resist forced removal to the notorious Blikkiesdorp transit camp and to demand access to decent housing.[35]

No Land! No House! No Vote! is the name of a campaign by autonomous grassroots movements to boycott elections and reject party politics and vote banking in South Africa. In 2009, the Poor People's Alliance voted to boycott the national elections under the No Land! No House! No Vote! Banner.[4][36][37]

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was connected to a large number of evictions in South Africa which many claimed were meant to 'beautify the city'.[38][39][40] The WC-AEC campaigned against all evictions caused by the event. The campaign's hotspots included the anti-gentrification issues in Gympie Street and other parts of Woodstock,[41][42] the national N2 Gateway housing project and its evictions in Joe Slovo and Delft,[43] Sea Point evictions, and evictions in Q-Town next to Athlone Stadium.

The movement is committed to opposing xenophobia and has been particularly active in this regard in Gugulethu[44] where it has set up a forum[45] for these issues to be discussed. According to both the media[46] and the local police[47] the forum has had considerable success in reducing xenophobic hostility. However the movement's anti-xenophobic work has cost it some popular support and resulted in an arson attack on one of the movement's leaders.[48]

The movement produces its own media.[49]

Poor People's Alliance

In September 2008 the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, together with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement and the Rural Network (Abahlali baseplasini) formed the Poor People's Alliance.[50][51] The poor people's alliance refused electoral politics under the banner 'No Land! No House! No Vote!'.[12][52] It has been reported that "Nearly 75% of South Africans aged 20-29 did not vote in the 2011 [local government] elections" and that "South Africans in that age group were more likely to have taken part in (sic) violent street protests against the local ANC than to have voted for the ruling party".[53]


Take Back the Land[54] in Miami and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign[55][56][57][58] have both stated that their work is inspired by that of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign. The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign has used the slogan 'No House No Vote'.[59]

See also


  1. Manyi and Manuel – Why Apartheid Didn't Die, Leonard Gentle, All Africa, March 2011
  2. The flames of Phaphamani, Pedro Tabensky, Leadership Magazine, 7 March 2011
  3. Anti-eviction in South Africa, WarOnWant
  4. Fighting Foreclosure in South Africa , by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, The Nation Magazine
  5. Building unity in diversity: Social movement activism in the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Sophie Oldfield & Kristian Stokke, 2004, p.13
  6. Re-launch of the Western Cape AEC focuses on a renewed coordinated fight against evictions, water cutoffs, electricity cutoffs and for decent housing for all!, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, 6 December 2010
  7. What's the Deal With the Toyi-Toyi?, Lisa Nevitt, Cape Town Magazine, September 2010
  8. On the Other Side of the Mountain, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 23 December 2010
  9. Housing battles in post-Apartheid South Africa: The Case of Mandela Park, Khayelitsha Archived 24 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine, by Martin Legassick, South African Labour Bulletin, 2003
  10. South African Grassroots Movements Rebel Against NGO Authoritarianism, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Indymedia, 9 December 2007
  11. Rethinking Public Participation from Below , by Richard Pithouse, Critical Dialogue, 2006
  12. South Africa: A Revolution in Progress, Ceasefire, 9 January 2009
  13. Building unity in diversity: Social movement activism in the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Sophie Oldfield & Kristian Stokke, 2004
  14. South African Grassroots Movements Rebel Against NGO Authoritarianism
  15. See the article 'Anti Eviction Campaign urges poor to boycott elections' by Aziz Hartley, Cape Times, 5 January 2009
  16. Grassroots movements plan to boycott South African poll Ekklesia, 29 April 2009
  17. The DA's battle to buddy up to the everyman, Osiame Molefe, The Daily Maverick, 2 July 2012
  18. Deal aims to stop xenophobia, VOCFM, 19 August 2009
  19. AEC and stakeholders in recent anti-xenophobia negotiations head to parliament today, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, 24 August 2009
  20. Xenophobia still smoulders in Cape townships, Mandisi Majavu, Mail & Guardian, 19 June 2009
  21. South Africans fight eviction for World Cup car park, Mohammed Allie. BBC News. 2 June 2010
  22. About Us: Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
  23. Anti-eviction in South Africa
  24. Cape Town Administration Violates the Rights of the Poor, Carmen Ludwig, All Africa, 27 October 2011
  25. Jared Sacks (20 September 2018). "On Militancy, Self-reflection, and the Role of the Researcher". Politikon. 45 (3): 438–455. doi:10.1080/02589346.2018.1523349. S2CID 150093217.
  26. Re-launch of the Western Cape AEC focuses on a renewed coordinated fight against evictions, water cutoffs, electricity cutoffs and for decent housing for all!, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, 6 December 2010
  27. Contact List, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
  28. Muller, Gustav (2019). "Restoring electricity use with the spoliation remedy: A critical comment on Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd v Masinda" (PDF). Pretoria Student Law Review. 13: 1–16.
  29. Muller, Gustav (2015). "Evicting unlawful occupiers for health and safety reasons in post-apartheid South Africa". South African Law Journal. 132: 616–638.
  30. Helen Zille's Hopeless Handling of Cape Gang Violence, Anna Majavu, SACSIS, 13 July 2012
  31. "Stop Forced Removals & Evictions! Stop Privatisation!". Land Research Action Network.
  32. Subjectivity, Politics and Neoliberalism in Post-apartheid Cape Town
  33. "Fighting Foreclosure in South Africa". The Nation. United States.
  35. "Delft-Symphony Pavement Dwellers building a new world – one child at a time".
  36. ""No Vote" Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy". Mail and Guardian.
  37. "Anti Eviction Campaign urges poor to boycott elections". Cape Times.
  38. South Africa's poor complain of evictions as country prepares to host World Cup, Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post, 20 June 2010
  39. "In South Africa, evicted residents struggle". Bay State Banner. Archived from the original on 13 September 2010.
  40. Le Monde Diplomatique
  41. "Gympie Street evictions". BushRadio.
  42. "This is not a game!".
  43. "Call to demonstrate at constitutional court". Joe Slovo Task Team.
  44. 'Xenophobia Still Smouldering' by Mandisi Majavu, IPS, 19 June 2009
  45. Gugulethu, traders to hold follow-up meeting, Cape Times, 7 July 2009
  46. 'Xenophobic tensions in Gugulethu calm down', Anna Majavu, The Sowetan, 5 June 2009
  47. Independent Online, 'You could see the anger in their eyes', Caryn Dolley, 15 June 2009
  48. Chance, K. (2010) The Work of violence:a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road. School of Development Studies Research Report, 83, July 2010.
  49. Social Movement Media in Post-Apartheid South Africa, by Wendy Willems,Encyclopaedia of Social Movement Media (Ed. John D. H. Downing, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 2011)
  50. The Struggle for Land & Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, Left Turn, January 2009
  51. 'Participatory Society: Urban Space & Freedom', by Chris Spannos, Z-Net, 29 May 2009 Archived 6 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  52. The alliance, and its position on electoral politics, is mentioned in the speech by S'bu Zikode at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415682.html
  53. Deep Read: 'Born free' voters may not choose ANC, JON HERSKOVITZ, Mail & Guardian, 29 January 2013
  54. Take Back the Land in South Africa
  55. Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign
  56. Fear and loathing in Obamaland, Niren Tolsi,Mail & Guardian, 23 December 2010
  57. February "Rent Party" Fundraiser for Freedom, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign
  58. The Death and Life of Chicago By BEN AUSTEN, The New York Times, 29 May 2013
  59. Chicago Communities Demand Eviction Moratorium, by MILES KAMPF-LASSIN, In these Times, 10 August 2012

Films and Books

  • Kleider, Alexander (Director) and Michel, Daniela (Director). (2009). When the Mountain Meets its Shadow [Documentary]. Germany: DOK-WERK film cooperative.
  • No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, by the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers (2011)
  • Tin Town – Documentary
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