Beginning with Local Domination

After the 14 people arrested in the road blockade were released from prison a number of marches were held on local councillors. The first march was organised from Kennedy Road on Yakoob Baig and then similar marches were organised from other settlements. In each of these marches a mock funeral was held and the local councillor was symbollicly buried. The kind of ‘radical’ academics who like to write about the struggles of the poor without deeming it neccessary to speak to the poor or to attend their meetings or take any attempt to learn their language have often considered these mobilisations a consequence of ignorance or false consciousness. They would prefer a march on the World Bank, or, at least, the president or capital or white power. But ordinary people live and work in local places and are watched and controlled by the state, via the party, in these local places. No popular radicalism is possible without first taking on the local relations of dominations that immediately restrict the possibilities for subaltern militancy. Local councillors chair the local ward committees and Branch Executive Committees of the ANC through which local and micro-local politi al control is exercises over an often restless populace.

After seeing a pamphlet produced by the Anti-Eviction Campaign in Mandela Park, Cape Town, in which children and teenagers had written letters to the mayor and the president Abahlali decided to produce a similar pamphlet. The result is below as is a press release for the memorial service of Mhlengi Khumalo, a one year old child, taken by the fire in the Kennedy Road in October 2005. The Municipaality stopped providing electricity to shack settlements a few years ago because of ‘the cost’. This means that people reply on candles for light and parafin stoves for cooking. Both result in regular fires. Many people believe that the Municipality is deliberately reducing services to shack settlements to force people to accept relocation. Mhlengi was the first person to be taken by fire since the movement began and since then Abahlali has according due dignity to all deaths by fire by honouring the lives and struggles of the dead and the bereaved and up politicising the deaths that the state tries to naturalise. None of this went down well the state who fought back at the local level with ever more virulent versions of the Third Force slander and so it was decided to make all Abahlali meetings open to all.

Some of the key documents are available for download below. They include:

Press Release and Memorandum for a March on Yakoob Baig:
baig2_final_press_release.doc 35 KB

First Negotiations:

IndyMedia articles on the Quarry Road March on Councillor Jayraj Bachu:

The ‘Hear Our Cries’ Pamphlet:
Hear_our_Cries.doc 35.5 KB

Press Release for the Memorial Service for Mhlengi Khumalo:
mhlengi_memorial.doc 76 KB

Mhlengi Khumalo is Gone – IndyMedia:

Press Advisory – Come and Meet the Third Force:
Press Advisory – meet the third force.doc 28KB