• Tactics - Be flexible
  • Ndifuna Ukwazi
    (Dare to Know)


    Principles, Strategy, Structure and Tactics

    Power adapts to manage certain campaign tactics. Successful activism is flexible enough to change and adapt tactics where necessary.

    Ndifuna Ukwazi – (Dare to Know) are a housing activist organisation and law centre based in Cape Town whose mission is spatial justice cities for all- not just the wealthy.  They operate to promote the realisation of Constitutional Rights and Social Justice – through providing legal assistance, research and organising support for working class people, communities and social movements. They work in the field of advancing urban land justice – that is the protection and promotion of access to affordable housing located in Cape Town.  They advocate for the building of inclusive and sustainable mixed use and mixed income communities; and support tenant rights and security of tenure in both private and public housing.

    Organisational Structure

    NU operates with a research team, an organising team and a legal team. They have Directors and a board of trustees and are funded through several independent organisations.

    How Ndifuna Ukwazi was born.

    Five decades ago on 11 September 1966, the South African National Party government declared District Six a “whites only” area in under an apartheid law – the Group Areas Act. Over the next two decades, 70 000 people were forcibly and violently removed from District Six to ghettos, like Mitchells Plain, Manenberg and Hanover Park, designed and built by the apartheid regime. Throughout Cape Town there were forty-two areas of forced removal.

    During apartheid, black (coloured) African migrant workers in Cape Town were also excluded from housing opportunities near the city, and were confined to townships and hostels on the urban periphery. The unchallenged historic legacy of the colonial/apartheid era has normalised racialised urban planning and led to an increase in spatial segregation under the post-apartheid governments in Cape Town.

    Since 1994, the value of well-located land and property has increased exponentially in Cape Town.  However, despite progressive legislation and policy requiring redress and inclusion, governments (national, provincial and local) have followed a de fact policy of asset stripping to build government housing on the periphery as opposed to in the city centre. This spatial segregation, exclusion and discrimination has undeniably a direct impact on interrelated rights i.e, healthcare, education and employment. The lack of appropriate government intervention means that Cape Town remains one of the most segregated cities in the world with coloured and Black people living in the townships of Langa, Nyanga, Guguletu and Khayelitsha, Hanover Park and Mitchells Plain excluding them from access to opportunities, good public services as well as any form of safety.

    Addressing Cape Town’s spatial inequality can only be achieved by protecting and expanding access to well-located affordable housing through public and private developments. This will require that the City and Province meet their obligations to stop selling public land and build or subsidise affordable well located housing within the centre of Cape Town, and this is what NU, as an organisation are fighting and campaigning for on a daily basis.


    Strategy and Tactics of NU in campaigning (Reclaim the City)

    Reclaim The City (supported by Ndifuna Ukwazi) is a campaign which started in 2016 and looked to tackle the spatial apartheid within inner city Cape Town through campaigning for desegregation and affordable housing developments. It began as a mobilisation tool to stop the sale of the Tafelberg site within the city.

    Hopolang provides a step-by-step outline of NU and Reclaim The City's response to the sale of Tafelberg Site"

    Tafelberg was a site of a previously functioning school and was earmarked for affordable housing after the Western Cape government conducted its own feasibility study in 2012 which found that 270 ‘affordable’ housing units could be built on site.  However, in 2015 it was sold to a private developer despite the fact that Reclaim the City gathered 937 objections to the sale from religious leaders, city ratepayers, urban planners, academics, rights organisations, and ordinary Cape Town residents across barriers of race and class. A campaign petition also gathered 4290 signatures in objection to the sale.  The government refused to stop the sale or release any information regarding it.

    In response to this NU helped mobilise residents in and around the area known as Sea Point (in which Tafelberg was located) and took a case to the Cape Town High Court on the grounds that  it was unreasonable to sell prime land during an ongoing  housing crisis.  They stated the sale of this land “violated constitutional obligations for citizens to access land on equitable basis.”  Alongside this Ndifuna Ukwazi partnered with social housing and architecture experts to create their own feasibility study which showed there could in fact be 341 housing units on this sight.   Community members in Sea Point also put forward their own submission which explained why they supported social housing on the site.  Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim The City also used legislation and the media to expose the government’s lies and found numerous inconsistencies within their feasibility study.  The campaign used tactics such as protests with residents and community groups, chalking on pavements and even sit ins/blockades of Government buildings in order to get the government to overturn this decision.  As the residents of Sea Point stated if they were “good enough to work in your houses and look after your children in the area we should be good enough to live in it”.  Ultimately resulted in the stop of the sale in May 2016 and have been battling against the authorities ever since.

    March 2017 seen the sale of Tafelberg site despite the widespread protests, pickets and numerous proposals to the Cabinet and in the face of considerable public opposition the need for this site to be an opportunity to build affordable housing was repudiated.

    "Interview with Nkosikhona explains how the occupation came about and some of the tactics used"

    In the days that followed this government decision residents occupied the buildings in Tafelberg as well as an abandoned hospital in the Woodstock area within inner city Cape Town.

    Strategy and Tactics of NU in campaigning

    Small Victories

    September 2017 did see some movement for the need of affordable housing  as the Mayor of the city announced there would be a proposal for reasonable low income housing in the inner-city neighbourhood of Woodstock, (there is still no housing guaranteed for Tafelberg).  The city also halted extension of Wolwerivier- (a relocation camp which was again designed on the peripheries of Cape Town, as a ‘short term’ housing solution for people who have been relocated from informal settlements that were demolished) however, many residents have been in this “short term housing” for 3 years plus.  The city halted the further building of 4500 housing units for ‘better located housing’.  Small victories!



    Next Steps for NU and Reclaim The City

    Whilst there in May 2017 and having interviewed residents occupying these sites as well as Organisers at NU it was revealed these current occupations were only ever intended to be  symbolic however, November 2017 and the occupations continue and according to the residents will do so until the government provide what they have promised, affordable inner city housing. NU and the campaign also continue to support residents who face eviction from Private landlords (like those in Browmwell Street) whom we met whilst there.  The legal team at NU as well as organisers are also providing ongoing support in terms of much needed supplies, skilling them up on their rights as well as general morale boosting to the residents occupying the sites and to date don’t plan to stop anytime soon!