International gatherings of the great and the good often proclaim their commitment to poor people, but then end with the powerful maintaining profits before people.
But, with the poor actually getting a say for a change at a cities summit this week in the Senegalese capital Dakar, their aim will be to ensure the urban needs of Africans are addressed.
Nearly 5,000 participants, representing the public and private sectors, including ministers for local government and sustainable progress, will share their experiences and ideas at the summit.
It makes the event, Africities, the most important forum on the continent for dialogue on decentralisation, governance and development.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African movement for those seeking a life of dignity, will be there to speak out for poor citizens forced to live in grim shacks made from corrugated steel and scrap metal.
Admission to such a huge influential event chimes with Abahlali's slogan, "Don't talk about us. Talk to us."
Abahlali's presence at the summit to speak out for better housing could not be more poignant, soon after reports that South African President Jacob Zuma plans to spend up to £15 million of taxpayers' money on upgrades to his private residence.
As Zuma seeks re-election as leader of the ruling African National Congress, millions of people in the world's second most unequal country live in informal settlements, without toilets, water or electricity, let alone proper shelter, amid stark contrast to the president's intended enhancement of his own home.
Abahlali in Durban, the largest city of KwaZulu-Natal, a region where Zuma grew up, is fighting demolitions and evictions.
It was formed by residents of Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban.
Founded in 2005, Abahlali campaigns for all South Africans to live a life of dignity, including being decently housed, with access to basic public services.
In the eThekwini municipality, which includes the city of Durban, almost half of the African population - and one third of the general population - live in shacks.
The eThekwini authorities have systematically cracked down on shack-dwellers, including by introducing the draconian KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act, which would have given city officials the authority to evict shack-dwellers without following what processes and safeguards there now are in place to protect shack-dwellers.
But the movement successfully challenged and overturned the Act in the Constitutional Court.
The authorities have also denied Abahlali the right to demonstrate. And the organisation has also come under attack with death threats and physical assaults, especially on its leaders, and the arrests of members.
Yet Abahlali continues to organise pickets and protests, even in defiance of police gunfire. It has prevented countless evictions, as well as the demolition of many shacks through legal interventions, protest marches and grass-roots campaigns.
In addition, the organisation has assisted in the rebuilding of homes illegally destroyed by municipal authorities, and has helped those left homeless to rebuild their lives.
Abahlali supports shack-dwellers without adequate financial means and has successfully petitioned for the abolition of rent in many settlements.
And, with its strong focus on developing the skills of its thousands of members, Abahlali has set up numerous training programmes, educational courses and activity groups.
In Cape Town, the second-most populous city in South Africa, almost one in three residents live in inadequate accommodation.
Up to 70 per cent of all the city's households in shack settlements lack access to basic sanitation.
And in a legacy of apartheid town planning, shack settlements are on the outskirts of the city, with people removed from work and economic opportunities.
When evicted from shacks or houses in the city, people are moved even further into transit camps - known as "the tins" because people are housed in containers - and told they will be there for a few months. But many have spent years there.
Abahlali campaigns for the legal entitlements of shack-dwellers, not least their right to live in cities near work opportunities, schools and vital community-based institutions. It opposes evictions and the razing of shacks, which have made thousands of people homeless.
And, like its sister in Durban, the movement also strives for all shack-dwellers to have secure tenure and decent access to services such as clean water, electricity, sanitation, health care and education.
Abahlali in Western Cape has successfully lobbied for upgrades to shack settlements, including improved toilets and sanitation. It has also effectively mobilised communities and brought them together in the struggle for their rights.
While apartheid divided black and white South Africans, now the country is increasingly split between haves and have-nots.
Abahlali forms the focus for the prizewinning film Dear Mandela, given this title because people involved with the movement want to know if their plight represents the freedom for which South Africa's first democratically elected president fought.
At the Africities summit, Abahlali will promote the rights of shack-dwellers to the decent living standards for which they hoped when Mandela at last became their president and that they now demand from Zuma.
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