Freedom News
UnFreedom Day held by Abahlali baseMjondolo

UnFreedom Day held by Abahlali baseMjondolo

Freedom continues its coverage of Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African movement of shack dwellers who organise land occupations and communes:

Impoverished people are not free, and when the ANC and the government lie to us and tell us that we are free they insult our intelligence and our humanity. 

We are not free because we are assassinated and murdered by the izinkabi and the police.

We are not free because our homes are attacked and destroyed by the state.

We are not free because we are denied the right to well-located urban land and thereby our right to a place in the cities.

We are not free because we are forced into government shacks (so called ‘transit camps’) and left to rot there.

We are not free because our attempts to build autonomous and democratic communities in which access to land and housing is decommodified are repressed with violence from the state and the ruling party, including murder.

We are not free because the food system remains in the hands of capital and our struggle to build food sovereignty from below is met with a denial of access to land and violent repression, including murder.

We are not free because a whole range of elite forces, including the ruling party, the state and some NGOs and academics do not accept our right to think, decide and act for ourselves.

We are not free because the economic system that makes some people to be rich and other people to be poor continues to destroy our lives, and leave millions of us to suffer the fear, pain and indignity of poverty.

We are not free because the demand for radical democracy – for a bottom up system based on worker and community control – made by the trade unions and community organisations in the 1980s was denied.

We are not free because the state is an instrument for capital and the political class to exploit and repress us rather than an instrument of the people to build a just society.

We are not free because people born in other countries live under constant pressure and in constant fear.

We are not free because woman are not respected and safe.

We are not free because LGBTQI+ people are not respected and safe.

We are not free because society is becoming more and more violent.

We are not free because we live in a society that denies our humanity and vandalises our dignity every day, year after year. 

We will not be free until land, wealth and power are shared fairly, every person has the right to organise freely and safely and to participate in all decision making that affects them and the humanity and dignity of every person is respected. 

Our movement has marked UnFreedom Day since 2006. In the beginning the ANC tried to ban UnFreedom Day and sent out police in armoured vehicles and helicopters to try and suppress our right to gather in rejection of fake freedom.

Seventeen years later we still live under a fake freedom. Last year four of our comrades were murdered, one by masked police officers and the other three by the izinkabi, while a number of our leaders were jailed on fake charges.

Today the worsening economic crisis, exacerbated by the electricity crisis, is crushing our lives and our hopes. Most young people are without work and most families can’t afford to eat healthy food. Many people are going hungry. It is a very painful thing for any parent to put their child to bed on an empty stomach. The ANC has such contempt for us that even in this crisis it is failing to provide nutrition for schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

This economic crisis hits the poor and marginalised the hardest. Our government does not have the political will to solve the issues that the country is facing. It is a government of capital and corruption, not the people. Grants must be defended and extended but a life on grants is not a full life. Land and wealth must be fairly shared among the people, among all the people.

The wealth controlled and regulated by the state was not built by the politicians. It is not their private property. The wealth of the few comes from the dispossession and exploitation of the many. We were made poor so that others could be made rich and we are kept poor so that others can remain rich. The wealth of society belongs to the people. It is public wealth. 

Public funds must be used for the public good. Corruption is theft from the public, theft that hits and hurts the poor the hardest. Corruption is always an attack on the people. It always robs our communities of the potential to improve our living conditions and to thrive.

Society is becoming more and more violent and politically connected mafias are taking over more and more institutions and communities. Corruption is the order of the day. The state has become an instrument of accumulation rather than an instrument of the people. We are not safe. We are ruled by violence.

The state does not treat us like other people. We are regularly ignored, insulted, harassed, assaulted and robbed by state officials. The state regularly destroys our homes and our street stalls at gunpoint. Some of our neighbours and comrades have been murdered by the state. Across the country the state regularly abuses and murders poor black people. Bheki Cele [Minister of Police] has made no effort to deal with the assassinations of our members and must be removed from office with immediate effect. 

The councillor system has not only become a system of top down political control. Many councillors see their position as nothing but an opportunity to grow rich from public funds, from the wealth of the people. Some councillors are a danger to our democracy and our communities. In some wards people are terrorised by the councillors and their committees.

This democracy was not won by the politicians and it does not belong to them. It was won by the struggles of the people including organisations like the ICU, Fosatu, the UDF, Cosatu and others; organisations with members who were poor and working class people like us. This democracy belongs to the people, and we are part of the people. Today democracy is defended by the courage and struggles of the people, people like us, and people like Babita Deokoran, Tebogo Mkhonza, Nokuthula Mabaso, Thuli Ndlovu and many, many others who have given their lives in the struggle against fake freedom.

The counter-revolution against the struggles of the people by the ANC has to be faced. The ANC cannot ‘self-correct’. Its twenty-nine years of rule have been a disaster for the poor. Incredibly the poor are now both greater in number and poorer than in 1994 while the rich have been getting richer and richer. The ANC has no concern for the people and it cannot be trusted. In fact the ANC is now the enemy of the people.

We are left to live in shacks, including so called government ‘transit camps’. We are left to burn in the shacks and to be murdered in the shacks. We are left to die alone. We are in very difficult times. We have no one but ourselves.

Under these circumstances it would be highly irresponsible to accept the lie that we are now free, that the ANC brought freedom to us and that we should obediently celebrate our freedom.

Land. Dignity. Freedom.

Organise, mobilise and build towards a movement of communes!

The decision to mark UnFreedom Day 2023 was taken in open general assemblies, in free and public discussions. Events will be held in three provinces. The schedule of events is as follows:

·      KwaZulu-Natal: On 26 April there will be a march in Durban from Curries Fountain to the City Hall.
·      Mpumalanga: On 28 April there will be a march from Vukuzakhe Location to the Volksrust townhall.
·      Gauteng: On 29 April there will be a rally in the Goodhope Settlement in Germiston.

All events are scheduled to start at 9 am.

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