Mzwanele Zulu

Spokesperson: Joe Slovo Task Team, vice-chairperson: Informal Settlement Network

Mzwanele Zulu's leadership skills were cultivated quite early on. In the Nineties, as a high-school student at Cendani's Maboboti High School in the Eastern Cape, he was chairperson of the SRC for a few years and challenged his teachers about their use of corporal punishment. After a few nominal jobs he attended Cape Tech while living in the Joe Slovo informal settlement. "When I arrived in Joe Slovo in 2002 there were no services at all, but soon roads were formalised,� he recalls. He remained active, attending community meetings, but was reluctant to contribute his leadership skills to committee structures because members frequently turned violently on one another. In 2006 a fire gutted 60 shacks in the settlement, which led to the formation of the Joe Slovo Task Team, for which he is spokesperson. Today he is also active in the Informal Settlement Network, which grew out of Joe Slovo residents' protests against proposed mass evictions and lack of consultation about development. What sprang from civil disobedience is now a network active in five cities, with support from the Community Organisation Resource Centre and Shack Dwellers International. The network's philosophy includes "working with communities who are ready to help themselves and by doing so breaking the culture of entitlement and dependency on government and leaders�. It also builds on "internal capacities as the basis for drawing in external support�. Some of its goals include "building a national urban network of the poor for learning and lobbying so that community-level initiatives drive citywide agendas� and "changing the way cities are planned and developed so that people are directly and actively involved�. The primary campaign is for "land and the right to the city�, with strategies that include surveying and registering all informal structures in the city and developing the capacity of communities (through exposure to pilot projects) to plan and implement upgrading projects. � Kwanele Sosibo

Website: Facebook: Mzwanele Zulu