SA housing activist gets Swedish prize

South African activist Sibusiso Innocent Zikode has just been awarded a prestigious Swedish prize for his work promoting human rights for residents of informal settlements at a virtual ceremony broadcast from Stockholm

The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish government’s international prize for human rights and democracy, established in honour of a World War Two diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

Mr Zikode co-founded a shack-dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, in Durban 15 years ago.

“Today, the movement has 82, 000 members. They all help to shine a light on corruption, power structures and violence against those living in shacks, for example, by initiating legal action and reaching out through media,” says the Living History Forum, which organises the prize.

Mr Zikode says his aim is to bring dignity to people who often live without basic services such as water and sanitation.

“For too long poor people have been taken for granted,” he told BBC Focus on Africa presenter Audrey Brown.

“We have been treated as people who do not count in our society; we have been treated as if we’re below the law; our voice was never taken seriously.”