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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.”
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.
A landmark ruling for our comrades in the Marikana Land Occupation in Cape Town issued March 20 will help us and shack dwellers all over South Africa to stop the municipalities’ relentless demolitions of poor people’s homes. These demolitions are unconstitutional, illegal and often violent. Judge Gamble’s progressive order requires that the City of Cape Town not only stop destroying people’s homes but that they must actually rebuild the homes they destroyed.
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.