by Chicago-Alexandra Sister Community Project, Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Undated, Spring 1990?
Publisher: Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa
4 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents:  Conditions in Alexandra • Local resistance • Current government tactics • The Alexandra Civic Organization (ACO) • Alexandra-Chicago Sister Community relationship • A Chicago-Alexandra Support Committee is forming links with the ACO to facilitate a Sister Community relationship. Alexandra, one of the poorest and oldest townships in South Africa, is located near Johannesburg's most affluent white suburbs. The community has militantly resisted apartheid. Alexandra’s 200,000 residents are crammed into one square kilometer; it is overcrowded, unpaved and polluted. During the 1970s, the government attempted to remove Alexandra's residents to other townships and turn Alexandra into a hostel complex for migrant workers. Authorities refused to carry out normal maintenance and denied residents permission to repair their homes; the government continued to harass residents, and the community is still under squalid conditions. Alexandra residents were deeply involved in the June 1976 Soweto uprising. In 1980, the government attempted to thrust a "community council" on Alexandra, but the residents rejected this facade of "self-governance." The government imposed "town council elections" in 1983, which people boycotted. The council was imposed anyway; its members resigned under community pressure during the uprisings of 1986. The government recently has been detaining people here without trial for extended periods of time, while trying to create a "new community" free of the conditions that have made Alexandra a major trouble spot - without upgrading the appalling conditions or allowing any degree of self-governance. Now the government plans to build much more expensive housing to make Alexandra a place for the "black bourgeoisie," eventually pushing out the residents. The ACO, formed in 1982, spearheads the organized resistance, and its leaders have faced harassment and detention. Mayekiso was arrested in 1986 and later charged with treason, subversion and sedition. An international labor solidarity campaign on his behalf was waged in 1987-89 at the request of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). After a lengthy trial, Mayekiso was acquitted of all charges and he returned to Alexandra. ACO has mounted an Affordable Housing for All Campaign to force the government to grant Alexandra more land for low-income housing. It is also pushing for rents tied to income and upgraded community services. The ACO requested assistance from Chicago, as part of the broader United States-South Africa Sister Community Project, which established linkages between U.S. cities and South African communities threatened with removal. They contacted Chicago because they believe their U.S. Sister Community can expose the on-going brutal policies of apartheid and also respond to crisis situations. The Chicago-Alexandra Sister Community Project is sponsored by the Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa (CCISSA) and is endorsed by the Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid. The document includes CHICAGO-ALEXANDRA SISTER COMMUNITY PROJECT ENDORSERS with these organizations: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), African-American Program; Center for Neighborhood Technology; Chicago Conference of Black Lawyers; Chicago Metropolitan Association of United Church of Christ; Chicago Sexual Assault Services Network; Church World Service of Greater Chicago; Clergy and Laity Concerned, Chicago Metro; Cook County Democratic Women; Eighth Day Center for Justice; First Church of the Brethren; Gorham United Methodist Church; Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid; Jewish Council on Urban Affairs; Mozambique Support Network, Chicago; National Alliance Against Racism and Political; National Assembly of Religious Women; National Organization of Women, Chicago; Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School; Providence-St. Mel High School; Rogers Park-Niles Township Emma Lazrus; St. Elizabeth Catholic Worker; St. Mark's United Methodist Church; Synapses; Third World Conference Foundation; Transafrica; United Black Staff, Olive Harvey College; U.E. District 11; Westtown Concerned Citizens Coalition; Wheadon United Methodist Church; Women United; Women's International League for Peace; and YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Other names include Fr. Bryan K. Benoit, Priests of Sacred Heart; Rev. B. Herbert Martin, Progressive Community Church; Fr. Dan Montalband, St. Sebastians; and Rev. Chester Smith, St. Anselm Catholic Church. The document includes a fax from Moses Mayekiso, Chairperson, Alexandra Civil Organisation. The document mentions Joan Gerig, Kathy Devine, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the African National Congress (ANC), the United Democratic Front (UDF), and the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa.
Used by permission of former members of the Chicago Committee in Solidarity with Southern Africa.
Collection: Kathleen M. Devine papers