Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

E-Activism, South Africa

Abahlali baseMjondolo

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The Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers) Movement is now in it’s second year and is the “largest organisation of militant poor in South Africa” . It is based in and around the port city of Durban and involves 30 settlements. Last year they started their website with weekly reports from the settlements and articles written by members and in February this year Abahlali published the first edition of their newspaper, IZWI LABAMPOFU! Voice of the Poor, written in Zulu and English.

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The Abahlali baseMjondolo is an example of how communities can organise and challenge the oppression and marginalisation they face on a daily basis. Although the aim of the movement is “Land and Housing in the City” by democratising the settlements and politicising the movement they have firstly asserted the right to speak and act for themselves. Secondly they been able to mobilize themselves to gain access to health and support for people living with HIV and AIDS, electricity, water, schools, adult education as well as prevent the local government from carrying out evictions. Thirdly they have begun to build links with shack dwellers in other countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya and Haiti and recently took part in the Day of Solidarity with Haiti. Finally they have fought and continue to fight against the criminalisation of the poor, of people with HIV/AIDS, and of the homeless.

In South Africa everyone will say that life is not fair for the poor. Even the rich will say that what they are doing is for the poor. They will even say this when they are just finding more and more excuses to give more of the country’s money to themselves to build all these very expensive things that they have seen in those few rich countries on TV. They want to have those things here so that they can feel themselves to be ‘world class’. Meanwhile our children, who, like the children in Haiti and Kenya and Zimbabwe are never on TV, are burning in shack fires and dying from diarrhoea around the corner.

Privatisation of Electricity

The struggle against the privatisation of electricity in South Africa continues. You have a situation where the majority poor residential customers are made to subsidise richer consumers and industry For example in Soweto residents are charged 28 cents per kilowatt/hour and rural residents pay 48 cents per kilowatt/hour. On the other hand residents in Sandton pay a mere 16 cents and industry/big business pay ONLY 7 cents (2002 figures but I understand there has been little change).

On Tuesday residents of BayView Flats refused entry to local government contractors who came to install pre-paid electricity meters. The residents had not even been consulted by the Municipality about the installations and anyway as one spokesperson stated:

We cannot afford to pay for electricity. The meters have only R5 credit. It’s the middle of the month. When that R5 runs out what are we suppose to do for the rest of the month?”

Later on in the afternoon the municipality disconnected 10 blocks of flats with 36 families despite many of these having paid their electricity bills. Over 200 residents then left the flats and went to the home of the local councillor and demanded to speak to him. Whether due to shame having been voted in on a promise to support the people, Councillor Palan did not appear but residents had their electricity reconnected later in the evening. [Souce: Center for Civil Society]

Links: Women in the Aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina (Zimbabawe)

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1 Comment

  1. K.W

    The Ten Point Plan

    WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.
    We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.

    WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE.
    We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

    WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES.
    We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.

    WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS.
    We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.

    WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY.
    We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.

    WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR All BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE.
    We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.

    WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
    We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.

    WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION.
    We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.

    WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY.
    We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.
    REMEMBER THIS ?
    *its time to put Ur shoes on*
    myspace.com/lilo0804

    *twofingers*