eThekwini Municipality Archives - SASDI Alliance

PRESS STATEMENT: Signing of a MoA with eThekwini Municipality

By News, Partnerships, Press No Comments


4 September 2018

The South African Slum/Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SA SDI Alliance) enters into an agreement with Ethekwini Municipality

The SA SDI Aliiance (an alliance of 2 social movements and 2 support NGOs, namely the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and uTshani Fund), is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Durban metro going back over 20 years.  But this Memorandum of Agreement represents a major step upwards for this partnership giving it the basis for significantly scaling our work and improving the lives of tens of thousands of poor households.

We will endeavor to deliver on our side of the agreement across the city. However we must place it on record that we do not have a presence in all informal settlements in Ethekwini Metro. In many of these settlements we will have to work with other Community Based Organisations and networks. We welcome this – besides our international experience tells us that in order to upgrade settlements and build inclusive cities you need inclusive partnerships.

As the UN asserted in relation to the SDGs – we must leave no one behind. Not one single person. Not one family. Not one settlement and not one Organisation.

Issued by SA SDI Alliance
Kwanda Lande
Website: https://sasdialliance.org.za/
Email: research@corc.co.za
Facebook: South African SDI Alliance || Twitter: @SASDIAlliance

Women Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, Partnerships, SDI, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Skye Dobson (On behalf of SA SDI Alliance and SDI Secretariat. Original post here)


As the Black Panther movie continues to smash box office records and enthrall the world with fearless female African superheroes, a meeting in eThekwini last week suggests we brace ourselves for Women Transformers – coming to a city near you.

The words stretch out across her bosom: Women transforming the slums of our cities, the jet-black shirt and white lettering convey the same no-nonsense, bold authenticity as the woman with the sky-blue doek (headscarf) and thick wooden walking stick. Sitting at the shiny boardroom table in the Mayor’s parlor of the eThekwini Municipal Council offices, wiping the sweat from her brow, she looks decidedly like someone who understands that transformation is not a development cliché, but an overdue national imperative.

Mama Mkhabela, (full name, Nombulelo Anna Estevao) joined the shack dwellers federation (now called FEDUP) 30 years and one month ago. She recalls the first time she sat in on a savings group meeting in Lindelani informal settlement and heard women from the settlement talking about the need to come together to solve their problems. She says the women were telling each other that poor people can’t wait for government to give them things, but must start making change themselves. Shy and quiet back then, she recalls sitting back and listening to figure out what was going on. She soon joined the Sophumelela Savings Group and quickly gained the trust and respect of her fellow savers.

At first her husband was suspicious of her work with the federation. She recalls him secretly following her to a meeting in another community one time. The meeting lasted so long that he had to stay the night and help everyone get back to their places the following day. “From then on, he stopped fighting with me. He saw that I wasn’t up to any trouble and we were just working!” she says with a chuckle. The Sophumelela Savings Group secured housing loans from Utshani Fund – a part of the South Africa SDI Alliance – in 1999 and the women in the group set about building their own houses. Mama Mkhabela managed the loan repayments and moved from a bookkeeper to a treasurer and is now the regional leader of FEDUP in Kwa Zulu Natal. The region has 70 savings groups with 9,672 members and has built over 2,500 houses.

Mama Mkhabela had not come alone to see her mayor. Two comrades from FEDUP, Rose Molokoane and Emily Moholo, accompanied her. The three women have been engaged in the struggle to transform the lives of the poor for decades.

When apartheid ended and commitments were made to house the poor, there was a sense in many communities that the battle was won. Of course, it was soon painfully clear to communities living in shacks that the structure of society rather than the lack of houses was the true cause of their deepening poverty and exclusion. FEDUP and SDI supported communities in KZN to understand the need to shape policy and practice in the city – to support people-driven housing as well as informal settlement upgrading, improved livelihoods and savings, and better access to land and tenure security. “When we started”, says Mama Mkhabela, “there were very few women in city council. The officials were all men and they were very, very difficult. Only the late Patrick (former leader in FEDUP and the Informal Settlements Network) could penetrate the city.”

But times are changing.

Rose Molokoane, President of FEDUP and the Coordinator of SDI, grew up in an informal settlement called Oukasie in the South African town of Brits. Today Rose sits on a plethora of national and international bodies tasked with shaping land, housing, and urban policy and practice. Last year she was elected Chair of the World Urban Campaign where she champions the role of grassroots communities and local government partnership for implementing global agendas. On the international stage, eThekwini’s leadership frequently encounters Rose and other SDI community leaders. SDI’s unique local to global presence has slowly but surely convinced the city of the need to partner with shack dwellers in eThekwini and has quite literally secured these women a seat at the mayor’s table.

Emily Moholo, meanwhile, was born in Mafikeng and is a member of Ithuseng Savings Group. She is a regional leader of FEDUP in the Free State and chairperson of the provincial joint working group on partnerships between the municipality, provincial government, and the Federation. She is also a member of the SDI Management Committee, and supports the SDI affiliates throughout the Southern Africa region to build strong slum dweller federations and partnerships with local government.

Mama Mkhabela, Rose and Emily invited one of the Directors of the SDI Secretariat (a woman) and the Chief Executive Officer of Global Infrastructure Basil (another woman) to accompany them. The women’s joint mission was to: a) update the Mayor on the South African SDI Alliance’s work, b) request that their MOA with eThekwini Municipality’s Human Settlements Department be expedited and signed before the close of the financial year, c) request that the Know Your City campaign be recognized by the city as an important strategy for collaborative informal settlement action to build resilience and guide climate-friendly investment in infrastructure and upgrading, d) introduce the city to GIB and share an update on the SDI/GIB partnership, and e) to demonstrate SDI and the SA Alliance’s intention to increase support to city efforts to become a leader in inclusive climate and resilience informal settlement action and to accelerate implementation of commitments made in the New Urban Agenda towards the SDGs.

“We don’t come to the mayor looking for handouts” says Rose. “We’re bringing ideas, partners the city needs, and we’re ready to work.”

From the City’s side, there were three strong women at the table. Mayor Zandile Gumede is among a growing cadre of female mayors leading global discussions to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable urban citizens are at the center of climate change responses. She currently serves as the Chair of C40 Africa where she advocates this approach. Globally, the number of women mayors is rising rapidly, which many believe bodes well for inclusive resilience planning and implementation. Indeed, the Resilience Strategy of eThekwini Municipality, formally adopted by the eThekwini Municipality Council in August 2017, is spearheaded by an all-female team comprising Debra Roberts (award-winning global climate change leader), Jo Douwes, and Manisha Hassan, is a product of a four-year consultative process with a broad and diverse group of Durban’s stakeholders. The SA SDI Alliance provided critical inputs to one of the two critical Resilience Building Options of the Strategy, namely: collaborative informal settlement action.

The Mayor said that it was refreshing indeed to engage with groups so clearly seeking positive change. She expressed confidence in the Human Settlements team’s ability to get the MOA signed quickly to ensure stronger communication and implementation at greater speed. She recommended that implementation of the MOA involve the convening of administrative and political officials in order to strengthen leadership capacity at all levels. She highlighted the need to work together to advance the city’s 5 year agenda and to ensure eThekwini, the SA SDI Alliance, and SDI continue to collaborate at the local and global level to showcase the power of community-government partnership for implementation of global urban and climate agendas.

Chairing the meeting was former Head of Department for Human Settlements at eThekwini Municipality, and recently appointed Deputy City Manager for Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Transport, Beryl Mphakathi. Beryl has been a tireless champion of the partnership and MOA between the SA SDI Alliance and the Human Settlements Department. At the request of the team, she committed herself to ensuring the MOA is signed before the end of the current financial year. Beryl explained that the MOA is necessary to “formalize our partnership…to pull all our efforts together and to commit our capacity and time.” Beryl invited the Acting Head of Department for Human Settlements to attend the meeting and ensure the MOA is tabled in time.

When Mama Mkhabela speaks of Beryl she says, “Truly speaking I’m so happy. We are very lucky to have a woman in that position. I can say, she respects me. I respect her. She took a while to understand the federation, but when she did she started to call me her mother. Even if I call her at night she has to respond. If she can’t answer your question right away, she will call you back. We work hand in hand.” When women can forge authentic, humble, thoughtful relationships such as these, institutional partnerships between the city and communities that are based on respect and practical action emerge. Such partnerships have the potential to mitigate the overinflated egos, political turf battles, short-sighted and self-serving approaches that have characterized male-dominated city politics in eThekwini and beyond.

While the centrality of women’s social relationships as a critical resource in community-based political mobilization has long been recognized in South Africa and abroad, city decision making remains dominated by males. If the walls of the Mayoral Boardroom could talk they would have countless tales of hustlers hustling on behalf of their own personal interests. But these women are hustlers acting in the interest of their community. Women transformers from the community, the city, and the international development sector have the opportunity to generate practical collaborations and partnerships to shift the status quo through new models of leadership and pragmatic action aimed at improving the lives of communities. Critically, women transformers from the community must not devalue the power within themselves by elevating leaders or partners – male or female – above the grassroots collectives from which they emerged.

Let’s keep an eye on eThekwini’s community, professional, and government Women Transformers and see if, indeed, they can transform city governance and the slums of their cities as the t-shirt promises.


SDI is often asked, What about the men? Of course, men are an integral part of the SDI movement and the struggle for inclusive and resilient cities. In the meeting described, there were inspiring and committed male leaders and professionals: namely, Jeff Thomas from Utshani Fund, Ndodeni Dengo from Informal Settlement Network (ISN), and Arnotte Payne from CORC (all part of the SA SDI Alliance). These men toil hand-in-hand, day-in and day-out with the women mentioned in this blog. As a leader from SNCC (Civil Rights Movement in the USA) once said of working with strong women leadership, “you come to realize that manhood isn’t the ability to knock someone down but finding your own humanity.” Jeff, Ndodeni, and Arnotte embody this viewpoint and understand that it is not heroic individuals but committed organizers that will sustain a movement and transform the status quo.

Alliance at Human Settlements Learning Exchange in Durban

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Jeff Thomas (on behalf of CORC)

A SA SDI Alliance team comprising FEDUP and ISN community leaders, regional co-ordinators and CORC representatives was invited to attend the International Human Settlements Learning Exchange in eThekwini Municipality from 15-17 April 2015.

The exchange, a first of its kind, was hosted by the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) in partnership with eThekwini’s Human Settlements Department and the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI). It included about 200 local, national and provincial government officials, eThekwini Municipality councillors, private sector housing, NGO and academic representatives.  

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It aimed to “share different organisation’s perspectives and experiences within the human settlements sector to improve housing service delivery” (Reference). The exchange focussed on new funding models for affordable housing finance, effective new housing typologies and guidance for establishing socially inclusive and responsive housing settlements.  For the Alliance it was an opportunity to share concrete experiences in community participation that move beyond infrastructural approaches to human settlements development.The event was billed as an international exchange in that the keynote speaker, Professor Jeremy Gorelick, is a globally acclaimed expert in the area of alternative, more-sustainable funding models for housing finance. Among other things, he is the Managing Director of Capital Markets for the USA-based Affordable Housing Institute, a non-profit and tax exempt pro-poor consulting and research firm which operates in 43 countries.
Community-Based Implementation at Alliance's Namibia Stop 8 Housing Project in eThekwini Municipality

Community-Based Implementation at Alliance’s Namibia Stop 8 Housing Project in eThekwini Municipality

Examining Sustainable Funding Models 

His presentation on the first day examined factors relating to the opportunities and challenges of financing housing development in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by a brief exploration of “Public-Private Partnerships” and “Municipal Development Funds”. The day also involved presentations by KZN MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, SALGA’s Sustainable Human Settlements Specialist and the Treasury’s DDG who spoke on the South African Model of Human Settlements Finance. Seated around tables in the audience, participants were given the opportunity to discuss the presentations and share feedback on these at a plenary session.

SA SDI Alliance Team at Exchange

SA SDI Alliance Team at Exchange

Visiting Cornubia housing project 

While the first day focused on a sustainable funding model, the second day comprised two key parts: presentations and a field trip.  The presentations related to a series of existing and proposed human settlement projects while the field trip took us to two of them: KwaMashu Centre where a multi-storey 1000-unit social housing development is planned and Cornubia, a 25000-unit housing project and associated social and light industrial precinct to the north of Durban. At both these projects participants were afforded an opportunity to engage in a question and answer session with municipal officials leading the visit.

Cornubia Housing Project,

Cornubia Housing Project, eThekwini Municipality


Cornubia, eThekwini Municipality

Cornubia, eThekwini Municipality

Community-Centred Human Settlement Development

The third day’s focus shifted to issues of community participation in human settlements development discussed by the Project Preparation Trust, the SA SDI Alliance and Habitat for Humanity South Africa. The CEO of Project Preparation Trust examined the meaning of ‘people-centred development’ and its relationship to infrastructural development’. He shared 8 actions that South African cities need to take in order to become more people-centred. Key amongst these were

  • the need to understand local communities and circumstances
  • approaching participation as ‘negotiation’
  • focusing on partnership and trust-building
  • asset not deficit-based thinking
  • understanding informality by working with it not against it
  • and most importantly, focussing on improving livelihoods and quality of life

The SA SDI Alliance team shared its experience in pioneering people-centred development initiatives since 1991. The presentation focussed on the Alliance’s experience in community-driven human settlement upgrading in relation to ‘project preparation’ and ‘project implementation’. While project preparation was explained as comprising community-based savings, data-collection (profiling & enumerations) and planning, implementation looked at upgrading in terms of improved services, re-blocking and housing.

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The emphasis in both regards was on how the Alliance approach provides opportunities for people to participate in and drive their own development, leading to self-pride and greater sense of ownership of the final product. It also emphasised the central role of women in driving the process and the need for partnerships between poor communities and government. A series of quotes about the Alliance process from significant national human settlements ministers concluded the presentation, clearly communicating that,

“It’s only a fool who cannot support this process”

(Derek Hanekom, SA Human Settlements Minister, 1999)

Habitat for Humanity SA’s final presentation shared its new strategic direction since 2012 and its use of the 4P model: People-Public-Private Partnerships. Habitat shared its approach to leadership capacity-building workshops, the role of asset-mapping and sustainable livelihoods analysis, the artisan audit towards providing appropriate skills training which is part of a social scoping exercise run in communities that participate in their own development programs.


Discussions aimed to broaden thinking and practice by municipal officials and sector practitioners alike. As a result of the presentations and discussion on community-centred participation on Day 3, the concept of ‘Public-Private Partnerships’ introduced on the first day had been broadened out to include People-Public-Private Partnerships, in which communities become central role-players in project preparation (community driven savings, data collection and planning) as well as implementation. As the Alliance continues to seek out a partnership the municipality, the exchange indicated a growing awareness concerning the significance of community-driven process and collaborative partnership between stakeholder sectors.