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Twenty years of local democracy in South Africa has been very cruel for Abahlali baseMjondolo and for millions of other poor people. It has been 20 years of hell in shacks. It has been 20 years of living like pigs in the mud. It has been 20 years of living with rats, floods, fire and rotting rubbish. For those of us who have stood up for our humanity, our reward has been lies, assault, torture, wrongful arrest, the destruction of our homes and even assassination.
We do not count to this society and this world. We can be driven from our homes, beaten, tortured and murdered with impunity. It is our responsibility to build a new politics, a politics that respects the dignity of all people, a politics that restores the land and wealth of the world to the people, a politics in which there are no people who can be freely driven from their homes and freely killed, a politics in which everyone counts.
Elections should be the season of hope. Steve Biko declared that our fight was for an open society, a society where the color of a person’s skin will not be a point of reference or departure, a society in which each person has one vote. We have the vote – but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people. Millions of Black people remain poor and oppressed. When we organize outside of the ANC, we are violently repressed.
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.
We went to court today to bring Bandile home. We had to leave without her. She was denied bail. Thembinkosi Qumbelo is dead. Nkululeko Gwala is dead. Nqobile Nzuza is dead. Nkosinathi Mngomezulu is in hospital. Luleka Makhwenkwana is in hospital. Our members have been beaten during evictions, during protests and in the police stations. Our homes have been destroyed again and again.