Tag: Shack Dwellers Movement
UN-Habitat, the UN’s human settlements program, states that the number of people living in slum conditions is now estimated at 863 million, which was only a couple hundred million less in the 1990s. The Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a political group dedicated to the betterment of the urban poor’s living. They strive to organize “a society where everyone counts and where capital and the state are subordinate to society.”
For some time now we have been working very closely with the Congolese Solidarity Campaign. We have been working to build a politic from below that accepts each person as a person and each comrade as a comrade without regard to where they were born or what language they speak. In this struggle we have faced constant attack from the state, the ruling party and others.
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.
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.
South African President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation address, promised to speed the pace of land redistribution and housing construction to replace the country’s urban shantytowns, but nearly 20 years after the end of apartheid, the number of people living in shantytowns has doubled and the state violence to evict the residents has increased.
When I heard about the revolutionary resistance of our South African brothers and sisters in Abahlai baseMjondolo (The Shack Dwellers Union) in South Africa, who successfully overturned the Slums Act, which would have given South African police the ability to legally demolish, destroy and evict poor people from their shacks without notice, I cried.