Saturday, October 28, 2023

Workers have no country


Foreign Minister Pandor made a similar sttement last year: ‘As South Africans, we find similarities in our past with the Palestinians, and now I remember the funeral of Shereen Abu Akleh and what happened to her coffin. It reminds me of the gravesites that we had to carry out under the persecution of the apartheid soldiers’ (South Africa calls for holding Israel accountable for ‘inhumane conditions’ Palestinians live under, Middle East Monitor, 17 June, 2022).

In May that year Nokuthula Mabaso, an Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) leader was buried following her assassination in front of her children. She was the third activist of the shack dwellers’ movement to be killed in less than two months.    To date, 24 Abahlali activists have been killed.   Members of AbM are thus well acquainted with the state as a coercive machine of class oppression and likely know the fairytale Freedom Charter adopted by the ANC in 1955 envisaged a post-Apartheid South Africa where ‘The police force and army… shall be the helpers and protectors of the people’, ‘the right to be decently housed’ enshrined and ‘Slums shall be demolished …‘.   AbM are credited with starting UnFreedom Day, which coincides with the official South African holiday called Freedom Day, the orthodox annual celebration of the country’s first non-racial democratic elections of 1994. On the 16 August 2012 17 workers were killed and 78 wounded by the police in the Marikana Miners’ Massacre, the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against other workers since 1976. Worse still, former President Mbeki’s support for alternative remedies such as vinegar rather than antiretroviral drugs saved the state’s funds at a cost of at least 300,000 lives. 

And ‘More than two decades after South Africa ousted a racist apartheid system that trapped the vast majority of South Africans in poverty, more than half the country still lives below the national poverty line and most of the nation’s wealth remains in the hands of a small elite’ (NPR, 2 April, 2018) led by billionaire Ramaphosa.

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