28 August 2009
The KZN Provincial Task Team (PTT) report is a major disappointment, giving as it does the green light to the eThekwini municipal officials and the capitalist property developers to fast track their plans to confiscate the market site, demolish the market and build in its place a mall. The report pretends to save the market by stating limply "Where possible, attempts should be made to incorporate the (EMM) buildings in the development`. The EMM Support Group is totally opposed to yet another privatisation of a people`s resource. The intention to place the 99 year old EMM into private hands is unacceptable, and is a pathetic attempt to mask the theft of historic, public land.
After the market-lockouts, police occupation and shootings of June 2009, the provincial government decided that `the best way to defuse the volatile situation, was to set up a Task Team, raise expectations, let matters cool, and then `kill the resistance“.
The PTT report is deficient- it is silent on the arguments presented by those of us against the demolition of the 99 year fresh produce market. Our submissions went unacknowledged and our protests ignored. There is no discernible reference to/or evidence of the detailed written submissions from the Early Morning Market Traders, the Social Movements Indaba, the 1860 Legacy Foundation and various academics. After the June 23rd PTT meeting, held at the MEC`s boardroom, and attended by the EMM association, the Mayor and his deputy, no further discussions were held with the EMM association or the broad support group. The PTT ignored the EMM and concentrated its attention on the city officials, holding several consultations with them.
The Task Team in clause 14 states that it is not a commission of enquiry and does not purport to make findings of fact. Yet it does not shy away from recording the following dubious comments from some unknown submission(s):
26(c) The view was expressed that "market prices are based on colour, there is an Indian price, European and African price".
26(f) A view stated more often is that the market provides for "Indian interests", and all race groups should be accommodated.
The PTT is, itself, reinforcing negative views without making any attempt to check the facts, at least on the above issues, since its report states (clause 48) that the `debate has taken unfortunate racial overtones`.
The PTT also appears to want to rush through the EIA and AMAFA procedures, placing tight deadlines for their finalisation (31 October 2009). In respect of the EIA, clause 61 recommends that `the EIA assessment on the current site be brought to a head given that that is not a Greenfield development project`. On the AMAFA issue clause 50 recommends that `the process of the appeal by the city to the Premier on the AMAFA refusal to demolish the market building should be finalized."
The `win-win` recommendations of the PTT are loaded against the market. There is clearly very little appreciation for the historical value of the market. After all, it has been tainted with racial overtones – all the easier to demolish it, unmourned by a nation ignorant of its glorious past!
In the developmental state, that is present South Africa, the interests of the millionaire class (and the wannabe millionaire class) appear to take precedence over the bread and porridge issues of the poor. There can be no justification for privatising the city`s fresh produce market, or for taking a state asset from the have-nots to give to the filthy rich.
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