We have detected that the browser you are using is no longer supported. As a result, some content may not display correctly.
We suggest that you upgrade to the latest version of any of the following browsers:
Source: The Presidency
Title: Mbeki: Opening of Brickfields Housing Development
Address by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the
opening of the Brickfields Housing Development, at the Newtown
Cultural Precinct, Johannesburg
Honourable Minister of Housing, Lindiwe Sisulu,
Honourable Premier of Gauteng, Mbhazima Shilowa,
Your Worship, Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Amos
MEC for Housing, Nomvula Mokonyane, Chairperson of the Johannesburg
Housing Company, Murphy Morobe,
Chief Executive Officer of the Johannesburg Housing Company, Taffy
Chief Executive Officer, Gauteng Partnership Fund, Elize
Chairperson of the NHFC, Eric Molobi,
Chief Executive Officer, Barclays/ABSA Group, Steve Booysen,
Chief Executive Officer, Anglo American South Africa, Lazarus
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am very happy to be afforded this privilege of opening the
Brickfields Housing Development, which is part of the integrated
housing programmes that were agreed on at the Presidential Job
Summit in 1998. This is indeed one of the concrete results of the
commitment to the resolutions of the Job Summit.
I wish to thank and pay tribute to all the important players, both
public and private, who have collaborated to ensure that through
this housing programme, our people have the opportunity to realise
one of the central demands of the Freedom Charter that 'all shall
have housing, security and comfort'.
In particular, we are thankful to the Johannesburg Housing Company
which has worked hard to provide housing for mixed income groups
and to people, especially black people, who for the best part of
their lives could only access housing in the townships and rural
areas. Clearly, we need more of these types of initiatives so that
we have an increased possibility to advance the important
injunction of the Freedom Charter that our people should access
better and decent housing.
I think we will all agree that the history of Brickfields is a
story still to be told, because it represents many aspects of where
we come from as South Africans and where we are going. As those who
know the history of this place will tell us, that Brickfields,
which emerged as a dormitory of the mining industry in the 19th
century and which was a multicultural slum area by 1890, united
immigrants from Europe, those from China and India, the Cape Malays
and local Africans. Already at that time, Brickfields represented a
nascent non-racial society, whose demand was to be a central
driving force of our liberation struggle for almost the whole of
the 20th century. Unfortunately, like many such communities
throughout our country, this place was destroyed in 1905 when
Africans were forcibly removed and through this act, an indelible
blow struck against the possibility of a non-racial society.
In time, this place became a wasteland as both the apartheid
government and the mining bosses refused to regard as their
responsibility the provision of proper housing and security and
comfort to their workers.
Today, we are indeed very happy that through the collaboration of
the National Department of Housing, the Gauteng Provincial
Government, the Johannesburg City Council and the Brickfields
Housing Development with all the private sector partners, we have
been able to resurrect what was clearly becoming a wasteland into a
place of hope, a place that inspires confidence into the future, a
place that brings back hope where there could have been
TS Eliot's says in his poem, The Wasteland:
"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken
images, where the sun beats And the dead tree gives no shelter, the
cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.
Only there is shadow under the red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either.
Your shadow at morning striding behind you Or your shadow at
evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
(Kermode, F. and Hollander, J., The Oxford Anthology of English
Vol II (OUP, New York: 1975, pp. 1406-7)
Indeed, as the dream of a non-racial community died under the load
of colonial and apartheid laws, it seemed as if Brickfields will
forever represent 'the heap of broken images, where the sun beats
and the dead tree gives no shelter' and where 'the cricket' or any
sporting activity offered 'no relief'.
Today, we are here to transform the dust and the wasteland of
Fordsburg Spruit and to exorcise the apartheid ghosts of the slums
of the Brickfields Estate. No longer shall the spectre of the
shadows of apartheid, colonial subjugation, forced removals of
vibrant communities and bull-dozers haunt us.
For the Fordsburg Spruit has come alive as the eternal fountain and
spring of hope and prosperity, as the golden roots and branches of
new families creating new safe spaces and new opportunities amidst
the sturdy rock and clay.
No longer do we see dusty streets or a cloud of a handful of dust.
For in the hidden splendour of the golden dust, arises something
different - a new city of prosperity, of healthy communities, of
decent housing, of security and comfort.
The Brickfields Housing project is a tangible expression of how the
worldwide phenomenon of decaying inner cities, can, through
sustainable urbanisation, be transformed into peaceful, better
havens and friendly neighbourhoods.
It is indeed good that this social housing project, is in line with
the Department of Housing "Breaking New Ground" strategy for urban
renewal, human settlement and sustainable development.
As we know, the government's Comprehensive Human Settlement Plan
has identified key focus areas among which are:
* Accelerating the delivery of housing as a key strategy for
* Utilising the provision of housing as a major job creation
* Ensuring that property can be accessed by all as an asset for
wealth creation and empowerment;
* Leveraging growth in the economy, combating crime and promoting
* Using housing development to break barriers between the First
Economy residential property boom and the Second Economy
* Utilising housing as an instrument for the development of
sustainable human settlements in support of spatial
* Diversifying housing products by placing emphasis on rental
Clearly, this project is line with the government's strategy and is
making important contribution to the efforts of reversing apartheid
special patterns along racial and class divisions.
Undoubtedly, to truly realise the noble ideas of the Freedom
Charter we need to move faster towards new cities where we are able
to use housing to integrate our communities so that we should no
longer have parts of our cities designated exclusively for the rich
and others for the poor.
Although our parliament and government have eradicated apartheid
laws, there still a perpetuation of settlement patterns along
racial, gender and class divisions, which is an obstacle to the
objective of building a non-racial and non-sexist society. This, we
must bring to a speedy end.
To succeed in this task, we have, among others, an urgent challenge
of bringing to a stop the pro-rich housing development strategies
that ensure that the best located land that is close to all the
best facilities is always available to the rich; a situation where
the best land is allocated especially to create gated communities
and golf estates, while the poor can only access dusty
semi-developed land far away from modern infrastructure.
All of us have a duty to use housing development to create vibrant
communities for all our people; to build communities that have
adequate recreational facilities; that have cr