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South Africa: `The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road' shack settlement

A statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo president S'bu Zikode. S'bu and his family have been living as refugees since the September 26-27 violence by the African National Congress targeting Abahlali leaders at Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban, South Africa. He appeals for continued support for the Shack Dwellers Movement in these dire times of government repression and lies. It can be said without exaggeration that the so-called democratic government of South Africa is attempting to silence and disband the country's largest social movement of the poor. 

By Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement)

September 27, 2009 -- Durban -- There are now senior ANC leaders in the Kennedy Road Community Hall. In their presence the homes of the elected Kennedy Road leadership continue to be demolished and burnt by the same small group of well-armed people who have been carrying out attacks on the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC) with impunity for 23 straight hours. None of the people that launched the surprise, unprovoked and heavily armed attack last night have been arrested and yet most of the KRDC is locked up in the Sydenham Police station (including those who were publicly performing the imfene dance in Claremont at the time of the attack).

The police are currently on the scene and are doing nothing to stop the destruction. These are the same police who have, over the years, attacked a number of peaceful and legal marches with swift, shocking (and very effective) brutality. They are very well equipped and armed. They can get the riot police to support them in just a few minutes. They can get water cannons and helicopters in a few minutes. They can call in the army if they need to. It would be supremely easy for them to stop these attacks if they wished to. The police complicity in these attacks is now entirely beyond question. It is a matter of clear and obvious and undeniable fact.

We have just heard that [Abahlali baseMjondolo president] S'bu Zikode's house has been demolished and his goods have been stolen. He personally requested support from the police but received none. Should we be surprised given that these are the same police that tortured him in 2007 for the crime of trying to attend a radio interview?

There is no democracy for the poor in South Africa. Abahlali have been saying this for years. Now it must be obvious to everyone. It is time that we all stopped pretending that everything is OK in our country.

 

`The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road'

By S'bu Zikode

September 30, 2009 -- The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road shack settlement. We have been arrested, beaten, killed, jailed and made homeless by its armed wing. This is what it took for [local ANC municipal council member] Yakoob Baig and [chairperson of the local ANC branch] Jackson Gumede to finally take back the settlement.

This is not just an attack on the KRDC. It is not just an attack on Abahali baseMjondolo. It is an attack on our politics. This attack is an attempt to suppress the voice that has emerged from the dark corners of our country. That voice is the voice of ordinary poor people. This attack is an attempt to terrorise that voice back into the dark corners.

Yakoob Baig says that ``harmony'' has been restored. For the ANC harmony means its power and our silence. For us our silence means evictions, shack fires, children dying of diarrhoea and the organised contempt that we face day after day. Therefore we have to speak. We have to break the ``harmony'' that is our silence in the face of our oppression.

Our movement has won many victories. We have forced the state to accept that there will be nothing for us without us. We have forced the state to accept that they must negotiate our development with us. Our politics is a common politics. We have, in many places, raised the common politics above the politicians' politics. For this some politicians hate us.

And we must not forget that we have exposed the corruption of many senior officials – most recently in Siyanda, eShowe, Mpola and Howick. We have also exposed how ``housing delivery'' is actually a form of oppression breaking up communities and forcing people into ghettos far outside the cities. We have done this most famously with our case in the Constitutional Court against the Slums Act. That judgment will be coming out very soon.

For all these reasons the strength of the movement, the strength of those who are supposed to be weak and silent and powerless, is taken as a threat.

Our crime is a simple one. We are guilty of giving the poor the courage to organise the poor. We are guilty of trying to give ourselves human values. We are guilty of expressing our views.

In this time when we are scattered between the Sydenham jail, hospitals, the homes of relatives and comrades, or even sleeping in the bushes in the rain, we are asking for solidarity. In this time when we do not know if the state will allow us to continue to exist we are asking for solidarity. In this time when we do not know if we will also be attacked in Motala Heights or Siyanda or anywhere else we are asking for solidarity.

Our message to the movements, the academics, the churches and the human rights groups is this: We are calling for close and careful scrutiny into the nature of democracy in South Africa.

[Sibusiso Innocent Zikode is president of Abahlali baseMjondolo (and, consequently, political refugee).]

Solidarity statements

1. Democracy under attack -- A statement by Bishop Rubin Phillip.

2. Joint statement on the attacks on the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Durban -- 27 signatures from academia.

3. Letter of concern: Kennedy Road attacks -- 103 signatures from Civil Society.

4. Testimony from Brother Filippo Mondini -- Italy.

5. Kennedy Road murders recall terror of the 1980s -- ZACF.

6. In Solidarity of Abahlali Leaders at Durban Kennedy Road -- AbM-Western Cape.

7. URGENT Online Petition to end the violence in Kennedy Road - more than 600 signatures so far.

Last Sunday's press releases can be found here and here. Also, click here for some photos of S'bu Zikode's home that was demolished on September 28 by the ANC mob.

For more, please visit the website of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign at www.antieviction.org.za and follow us on www.twitter.com/antieviction. Visit Abahlali baseMjondolo at www.abahlali.org and www.khayelitshastruggles.com.

Democracy Now! -- South Africa’s poor targeted by evictions

October 1, 2009 -- Thousands of South Africans are being displaced in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. While Durban completes the finishing touches on its new stadium, thousands of the city’s poor who live in sprawling informal settlements are threatened with eviction. On September 27, an armed gang of some 40 men attacked an informal settlement on Durban’s Kennedy Road, killing at least two people and destroying thirty shacks. We speak to two South African activists who are fighting back. Click HERE to read the full transcript.

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