21 April 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
UnFreedom Day 2017: The poorest of the poor will gather once again
On the 23rd April 2017 the movement of Abahlali baseMjondolo will once again convene its annual Unfreedom Day event. It will take place at the Springfield Sports Grounds at eThekwini FET College. It will commence at 09:00 and run until 15:00.
While the rest of the country celebrates 23 years of “Freedom” we the impoverished, the marginalised and the oppressed will be mourning the absence of this freedom that our mothers and fathers fought for so hard. We say that as long as we are still landless, homeless and impoverished we cannot say we are free. As long as we are subjected to floods and shack fires we cannot say that we are free. As long we are not recognised as human beings and for as long as our lives do not matter to the politicians and the government we cannot say that we are free. As long as we are divided by politicians who say that those who are born in the Eastern Cape and those who are born in other countries must ‘go back where they came from’ we cannot say that we are free. As long as we face assault and eviction when we occupy land and arrest, assault, torture, imprisonment and assassination when we organise independently we cannot say that we are free.
It was the struggles of the people of this country, including the workers in the factories and the mines and people, including impoverished people, in communities, that freed political prisoners and allowed exiles to return home. Yet now the politicians claim that they own the struggle and that anyone who organises outside of their control is an enemy.
These same politicians have been in power for more than twenty years and while they and their families have become very rich millions of us remain impoverished. More than 50% of unemployed people are living in shacks. The politicians are free. We remain in a state of deep unfreedom.
We as the movement have decided that instead of going to the stadiums to celebrate the freedom of the few with the politicians we will be gathering together in one place as the impoverished and marginalised people of this country to voice our concern that after 23 years of so-called ‘freedom’ we are still living in inhuman economic and political conditions. Whenever we raise the issues that we are facing we are slandered, repressed and even killed by the very people whom claim that they represent us. We cannot fool ourselves anymore and say that we are free. The correct name for the conditions in which we live and organise is oppression.
We are very concerned about what is happening in our country at the moment. We have been living in junk status our whole lives. This is not new to us. But we are well aware that the current situation will hit hardest on us as the already impoverished.
The theme this year for our UnFreedom Day Rally is “Consolidating the power of the impoverished from below”. The RDP came and went and we remained impoverished. Then there was ‘the second transition’ and ‘the Lula moment’ and we remained impoverished. For as long as impoverished people are sidelined in this so-called “Radical Economic Transformation” we will continue to be oppressed. The only way forward is for the working class and the impoverished to build our own political power from below via autonomous organisation and to use that power to create a more just and equal society.
We call on all progressive movements that are fighting to build the power of the impoverished and the working class from below, and all those who are concerned about the political and economic crisis in the country, to join us when we mourn our lack of freedom. Oppression is oppression and we will name it as such. We call on all responsible media to gather with us when we say that we are not free, that we remain landless, impoverished and subject to violent repression. This 23 years of so-called ‘freedom’ without land and real economic and political freedom for the black majority means nothing. We are expecting thousands of people to gather with us at the Springfield Sports Ground in eThekwini FET College.
Land. Housing. Dignity.
Thapelo Mohapi – 062 8925 323
Zandile Nsibande – 062 947 1947
T.J Ngongoma – 084 6139 772