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Community activists from Cape Town and Boland used the launch of the Cry of the Xcluded in the Western Cape to speak out against deepening levels of poverty and lack of services from government.

The Cry of the Xcluded is a political forum for the marginalised that was launched by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the Assembly of the Unemployed (AoU) on 12 February 2020, as Madoda Cuphe from the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) recalls, “to unite the working class – employed and unemployed – in the struggle for jobs, services, and dignity.”

The Western Cape launch which took place in Heideveld saw activists from Mannenberg, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Delft and the Boland areas of Ashton and Robertson coming together to talk about issues affecting their communities. “This is a political forum for us to have our own conversations about issues that affect us. The political parties have divided us. We think that our problems are caused by the community across the railway line or they are as a result of people from other countries. This is a space for us as ordinary people to understand that our problems as people of Gugulethu are the same as that of those in Mannenberg and vice versa,” said Cuphe in his opening remarks.

The forum has been campaigning against the austerity measures implemented by government and has called for a basic income grant of R1,500.

“The ANC, DA and IFP in KwaZulu-Natal are cutting budgets. Now we spend longer time in queues at the clinics and at Sassa. We have started a petition against budget cuts and we call for a basic income grant for all and we would like you to sign the petition,” said the interim chairperson of the Western Cape, Zane Poole.

Gun shots is a lullaby in Mannenberg

Nana Nzimande

In February 2022, the unemployed marched to parliament ahead of the national budget speech to demand jobs. Archive photo by Nobathembu Ndzengu

Nana Nzimande from Mannenberg Health Forum said that gun violence in Mannenberg has become normalised. “Gun shots is a lullaby in Mannenberg but despite that I am more afraid of my safety in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha than in Mannenberg. We all face poverty and lack of service delivery. We all suffer from the same issues. We need to stop thinking that life is better for the people on the other side of the railway line,” she said. Gugulethu and Mannenberg are separated by a railway line.

“Uncollected rubbish, rape, gender-based violence and unemployment are some of the issues we face in Delft.”

Phumza Booi

Mishka Samuels from Heideveld told the crowd gathered at Heideveld Secondary School that there is a need for houses in her community and that there is also a problem of unemployment and uncollected rubbish. “People in the community depend on seasonal jobs on farms for survival and the cost of living is high. There are no jobs even for graduates. We cannot keep voting for empty promises,” said Thabo Dywili from Ashton.

A construction mafia in Gugulethu has brought projects to a stand still

Lunga George

According to Lunga George from Movement for Change and Social Justice, there is a construction mafia in Gugulethu that has brought projects to a stand still. “They demand money from the workers and the company and this leads to projects that are meant to benefit the community to be abandoned. We also have problems of drugs and drug abuse. We all know who the dealers are but the community does not want to stand up against that.”

Lumka Khawuta from Khayelitsha decried the lack of service delivery and opportunistic use of Expanded Public Works Programme jobs by ward councillors to target those who criticise them. “There is no service delivery where I stay and people do not have jobs. This has led to people being scared to speak out because they will be excluded from the opportunities. One city official told us that our councillors in Khayelitsha use the EPWP project as a campaigning tool to be voted into office,” she said.