For the Alliance a key approach is building pragmatic partnerships with government at all tiers and a variety of other actors.
The nature of partnerships entered into always includes urban poor communities as central actors, and as equals who hold expert knowledge: engaging as central role-players in community mobilisation, identifying of development priorities, government interactions and project preparation and implementation.
The rationale for pragmatic partnership building dates back to the early 1990s, when FEDUP (then known as the South African Homeless People’s Federation) engaged with Indian slum dwellers:
“[In India] we heard a story that…Indians had voted for their democratic government and expected honey and milk to flow on the street. However, after 40 years what they got was a queue of 800 people waiting for one toilet…We realised, even if we get democracy in South Africa, if poor people are not organised, government will work for them and not with them.
” Rose Molokoane, FEDUP Coordinator and SDI Vice President
For the South African Federation, it was clear, therefore, that grassroots movements of the urban poor needed to be rebuilt, engaging both the state and the market. In order to do this but remain autonomous, movements needed to organise around their own knowledge and resources and not around demands for constitutional “entitlements”.