A professional perspective on a people's process: a history of VukuZenzele.
The VukuZenzele development took place from 1997 on the periphery of Khayalistha in Cape Town. It is the second Greenfield development of the South African Homeless People's Federation; and considerably more ambitious than the first development, with 235 houses and economic development plans. This discussion focuses on the difficulties of balancing a process that simultaneously sought to support secure tenure with housing and infrastructure, income generation and a transformative social organization.
An introductory section begins with a description of the approach of the South African Homeless People's Federation and their support NGO, People's Dialogue on Land and Shelter. Section two then moves on to summarize the significant events and achievements at VukuZenzele. To enable a more rigorous understanding of the experiences, the study also reviews a municipal housing programme in the nearby neighbourhood of Manenberg. Later sections explore three themes in more detail to assess the progress that was made, the difficulties that remain and the implications of these project experiences for people-centred development.
The study concentrates on a number of significant themes that emerged when the development interventions were considered through the lens of the research questions. One theme is the difficulty of ensuring a strongly empowering methodology in a highly regulated and professionalized context. The availability of a state housing subsidy, whilst increasing the possibilities of providing shelter assets, increased the involvement and therefore strengthened the influence of formalized approaches within the developments interventions. This made organic, flexible, people's driven development more difficult. This is the context in which People's Dialogue and the Federation sought to invest heavily in the strengthening of organizational capacity within the residents of low-income settlements, as opposed to using a development approach more focussed on the delivery of physical assets. The experiences enable a reflection on the relative merits of this approach and offer a second theme for consideration. A third and final theme is integration of shelter assets and income generation.