The Phoenix Settlement which was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904 was a 100 acres piece of land. In the 1980’s there was a concerted effort by the apartheid government to divide the races of South Africa. In accordance with this policy they introduced the Tricameral parliament so that “Coloured” and “Indian” communities could enroll on separate voters roles and elect their own representatives and the various Äfrican races were divided into tribes and given homelands where they could elect their representatives to a parliament which had very little real power to bring about changes and which entirely depended on the white parliament for funding. This brought about tensions throughout the country with those whom the Government had coopted and those who were opposed to this system. The former were aligned to the government and the latter formed the formidable United Democratic Front. But some of the casualties of those times were the assassinations of several leaders of the movement such as Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge and others and also led to burning down and occupation of the Phoenix Settlement. The area was also given a new name-Bambhayi possibly to identify the area with Bombay and Indian community. That name continues to be the popular name for the area. In an effort to build cohesive communities GDT has selected this area as a priority area for community work. The following is a report given by Hillary Musarurwa, GDT’s community organizer.
We managed to hold three meetings with Bambhayi community leaders as a follow up to the initial planning meeting we held in early November. We also managed to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that will see GDT support the construction of a wood and iron structure that will be used as a community hall. Later it will be converted into a small business factory shell once a permanent hall has been constructed in Bhambayi. The community is committed to providing the labour to build as well as security for the structure.
A separate meeting, with leaders from the Zimbabwean community who reside in Bhambayi, was held in mid-November 2016. This was to engage on the concern raised in one of the meetings where the local leadership showed concern over the Zimbabweans non-participation in community meetings. The Coordinator of the Zimbabweans living in Bhambayi made a commitment to ensure that the Zimbabwean community would attend future meetings when invited to do so. He also promised to connecting GDT with leaders of other nationalities that reside in Bhambayi. We agreed to have a meeting with all local and foreign community leaders in early January 2017.
On 23 December 2016, 83 families from Bhambayi will receive food hampers through the generosity of Reshma Sathipersadh. We appreciate such a kind gesture from stakeholders and well wishers.
January 2017 will see GDT coordinate a Health Screening event and a Legal Clinic as part of our community engagement programs. We will also conduct a socio-economic survey during the Health Screening event. We welcome volunteers who may wish to participate in these events.