Statement and call-to-action via the Abahlali baseMjondolo website.
If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.
— Nelson Mandela, Cosatu Conference, 1993
Today, the South African shackdwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, will hold a protest in Cato Crest in honor of the late Tata Nelson Mandela. On Saturday, Abahlali had a meeting to discuss the meaning of Nelson Mandela for our country and our struggle and to discuss how we can honor him.
In Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela gave legal support to the Sofasonke movement, a shackdwellers’ movement. He supported them to defend their land occupations. In Durban, the movement that he helped to radicalize supported the struggle against evictions in Umkhumbane, which is also known as Cato Manor. Cato Crest is part of Cato Manor. Today we are being evicted in Cato Crest. Today we are beaten, arrested, shot and murdered in Cato Crest. Today we do not count to the law in Cato Crest.
It is not just our movement that is placed beneath the law today. The violation of the Constitutional Court in the case of the street traders in Johannesburg, and the arrest of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute lawyer Nomzamo Zondo, shows how everywhere the poor — and those who stand with us — are coming under attack.
Mandela stood for one nation. Today the political leaders in Durban say that the reason why they can’t house the people is because people from the Eastern Cape are coming to Durban. They say that some of our neighbors and comrades must ‘go back to Lusikisiki’.
Mandela announced that there would be homes for all. Today there is only housing for ANC members.
The struggle we are facing today we were facing even when Mandela was still alive. The evictions, beatings, arrests, torture, assassinations, corruption and violation of our rights were taking place when Mandela was still alive, even though in the absence of his presidency.
Nelson Mandela fought for justice, democracy and freedom for all. He did not say that the poor were excluded. He did not say that people from some provinces were excluded. We remain committed to the vision of justice, democracy and freedom for all. We will continue to take Mandela’s struggle forward. Mandela went to jail saying that he stood for a “revolutionary democracy in which poverty, want and insecurity shall be no more.” The struggle for a revolutionary democracy, a democracy in which every person counts, continues.
Today we are experiencing different leaders. Today we are experiencing leaders who are black boers. They are the leaders who evict us, beat us, torture us, arrest us and kill us. The ruling party is fighting for membership and the sustainability of the party rather than addressing the peoples’ concerns and challenges. Today people do not volunteer for the party because they want to join the struggle for justice, equality and democracy. Today people join the party to invest in the party so that tomorrow it will be their turn to eat our future.
We recognize the party of Mandela as the Khongolose. Many of our members remain loyal to the Khongolose. But today we are led by the ANC and not by the Khongolose.
Today, as Mandela has passed on, the ANC is an organisation that has harmed us and that will continue to harm us. But Mandela lived for us and not for the ANC. He clearly said that if the ANC does to us what the Apartheid government did to us then we must not fear to do the ANC what we did to the Apartheid government. Nobody can deny that in Cato Crest the ANC is doing to us what the Apartheid government did to us before.
Madiba always made it clear that there is still a long walk to freedom. He said this again and again including on the day that he stepped down as President. It is true there is still a long journey ahead of us to freedom. It is the responsibility of our generation to continue this journey.
We will not waste our time with unprogressive round table discussions that are only designed to take us out of communities and off the streets. We will not waste our time with national speeches which only offer us words. Hope comes through action. When there is no progressive action from the government we will take our own action. Mandela said “our march to freedom is irreversible”. We shall march until we reach our freedom.
Mandela sacrificed his children, his life and his family for the struggle and for us to be free. We shall continue with his sacrifice for justice. We will honor Mandela and have our own memorial service in honoring Mandela. Today we honor Nelson Mandela by marching on the ANC, because the ANC of 2013 is not Khongolose — it is very different from Mandela’s ANC. In fact, the ANC of 2013 are our oppressors.
Today we protest to demand land and housing and an end to corruption and repression, including assassination. This is how we will show our respect for Mandela’s struggle. We are continuing where Mandela left off. This new phase of the struggle is just beginning.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/essays/south-africa-shackdwellers-mandela/