Democracy is not just about elections. It is also about everyday practices, and democratic governments engage their people democratically, especially when they are organised in large democratic formations. A progressive government would see popular democracy as something to be supported and engaged.
However, the ANC has repeatedly met popular democracy with contempt, as well as violent repression. On the 26th of April 2023 our movement held the strongest march of any organisation in the country over the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ and ‘Workers’ Day’ holidays, which are known in struggle as ‘UnFreedom Day’ and ‘May Day’.
More than 7 000 people from impoverished and marginalised communities took to the streets of Durban to defy the celebration of fake freedom by the ANC. We handed over our memorandum of demands, wrote many letters and communicated with government officials. Our memorandum carried the weight of the more than 7 000 people in the streets, and the 115 000 audited members of our movement in good standing (we have more members still to audit), organised into 81 branches in good standing.
A democratic government would have welcomed this as an opportunity to engage the people in whose name it rules. Our memorandum was directed to President Cyril Ramaphosa but he has not replied. We have not received any response from the government.
We have not received any response because the ANC fears rather than supports popular democracy. We have not received any response because the ANC is deeply hostile to autonomous forms of popular organisation. We have not received any response because we do not count as people or as citizens in the eyes of the ANC led government.
The ANC does not care about the poor. They only see poor black people as objects, as people who are not taken as human beings, as people who do not deserve dignity. We are seen as banks for votes where politicians only come to us to seek votes. When elections come the ANC suddenly pretends to see us as humans because they need our vote. The ANC does not care about the lives of poor and working class – which are the majority of black people in South Africa - and must be removed in 2024. South Africans cannot be fooled anymore.
We have always been looked down on by what we once thought was our own black government because we are poor. We have been seen as human waste, not as human beings. Our dignity has been vandalised. We are supposed to be silent as we are burnt alive in shack fires. We are supposed to be silent as we are washed away by floods. We are supposed to be silent as young people face a future of permanent unemployment, and those who do have work continue to be exploited. We are supposed to be silent when we are denied access to land, to the cities, to quality education, safe and reliable public transport, services like water, electricity and sanitation and all that is required for a safe and dignified life.
When we take to the streets to voice out our grievances, we are shot at with rubber bullets, live ammunition or teargassed. This because the ANC sees us as people who can be killed with impunity. They see us as people who are not worthy of reply from the government. We continue to be undermined by those in power.
Under the ANC we have become the most unequal society in the world. Under the ANC we have the highest unemployment in history. Under the ANC more people are poor than before. Under the ANC inequality between classes and races is worse than it was before.
There has been no real land reform, the number of people living in shacks has grown, inequality and impoverishment have worsened and the country is becoming more and more violent.
The ANC has destroyed Eskom, Transnet, South African Airways and the Post Office. They have not acted to deal with the crisis in the schools attended by the children of the poor and the working class. The ANC has not done anything for black people in the 29 years that they are in power. All they did was to make themselves and their families rich and steal from the poor. They betrayed the long struggles of the people that brought them to power. This is how they will be remembered in history. They will be remembered as a disgrace. Ramaphosa will be remembered as a failed president, as an incompetent president with an incompetent administration.
It has been clear for many years now that the ANC are our new oppressors. The poor cannot be liberated if the ANC is not removed from power.
Issued by Abahlali BaseMjondolo