NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – Pope Francis pulled no punches in Kangemi when he took on ‘private developers’ and water cartels in the slums.
The Holy Father said it was regrettable that private developers sought to grab even school land in what appeared to be a reference to the widely publicised protests against the grabbing of the Langata Road Primary School playground during which school children were tear-gassed.
He said the greed of these private developers was confounding and wondered what would drive them to take away what little the less fortunate have.
“This becomes even worse when we see the unjust distribution of land which leads in many cases to entire families having to pay excessive and unfair rents for utterly unfit housing,” he said.
He said it wasn’t acceptable for politicians to promise land reform simply to win votes or for those who hold political office to promise it simply for, “containment,” purposes.
He said it was necessary for them to move beyond mere lip service and effect change. “We need to go beyond the mere proclamation of rights which are not respected in practice, to implementing concrete and systematic initiatives.
The social and environmental debt owed to the poor of cities can be paid by respecting their sacred right to the three Ls: Land, Lodging, Labour.”
On the subject of water cartels, he said it was deplorable to profit by stripping others of their dignity and right to water, sanitation and general cleanliness. “To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need.”
He said those of such greed had much to learn from the poor who in many cases are the greatest givers; sharing what little they had with their neighbours because they’d known need themselves.
“Values grounded in the fact that each human being is more important than the god of money. Thank you for reminding us that another culture is possible. Values which are not quoted in the stock exchange, are not subject to speculation, and have no market price.”