Press Statement from Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Ayikho impunga yehlathi
(There is no place to hide in the world)
The truth shall conquer; we will destroy all kinds of propaganda and attacks on our movement with the truth.
We wish to welcome the outcome of the report of the Auditor General and to salute the work of Ngubane and Company in responding to the calls made by our movement and by fellow South Africans over many years to rescue our city from corrupt politicians and officials.
Across South Africa so-called ‘housing delivery’ has become a way for politicians, party members and their friends and families to enrich themselves. Across South Africa poor people are in rebellion again this corruption of the promise that there shall be land and housing for all. Across South Africa poor people are in rebellion against this corruption of democracy. A refusal to accept corruption is often a main reason why people take to the streets.
We have always disputed the widely circulated reports hailing eThekwini as the best run municipality in the country. How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when so many people are living like pigs in the mud and burning in fires year after year? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when there are so many forced removals to human dumping grounds? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when it is taken as a crime when people want to think and speak for themselves? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when the poor must suffer illegal evictions, illegal bans on their protests and illegal beatings and arrests at the hands of the state? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when politicians, officials and party members don’t even try to hide their corruption from ordinary people? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when business people like Ricky Govender can freely vandalise Motala Heights and its people year after year and Nandi Mandela can be so blatantly corrupt in Siyanda. How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when councillors like Derek Dimba can be so corrupt in Mpola? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when local ANC leaders like Ma’Mjoli in Foreman Road, Zandile Mdletshe in Kennedy Road and Jackson Gumede in Lacey Road can get away with such obvious corruption and even demand party cards for people to access emergency support? How can eThekwini be a well run municipality when armed mobs can freely drive people from their homes and their community for the crime of having demanded that the ANC recognise their dignity as human beings?
We have been reporting corruption and mobilising against corruption for years. But because we have always been considered as people who do not count in our society our claims were always dismissed with contempt. But now the war lord and tender entrepreneur who governed the city by himself in the name of democracy has died leaving his comrades with disgrace and shame.
We have lived almost all our lives in the shacks, our children being burnt to death in shack fires, our children being bitten to death by rats. Our people suffer in that poisonous environment where there are no refuse collections, where there is no adequate water and sanitation. Land access and land security are always the talk of the day but there is never any real action. We are very sad when we think about all these sufferings as part of our daily struggle for survival to hear that a minimum of R532 million of rate payers’ money has gone missing in the so called best run municipality in the country. Our most basic demands to be treated with respect and dignity, to be housed, have often been violently attack by boss Sutcliffe who stand accused of these corrupt activities. This is the same Sutcliffe who has illegally banned our marches, sent the police out to beat us, lied about us, been complicit with the attack on our movement and refused to investigate any of the many cases of obvious and public corruption that we have brought forward.
The time for dirty party politic and propaganda is over. Abahlali believe that the Mayor should also be held liable for this huge corruption. His volunteering to head the special investigation in to his own city‘s conduct is childish and should not be allowed. How can he honestly investigate his own comrades? In fact as the Mayor he should be the first person to answer to these allegations. So, we strongly suggest that he refrains from interfering with this investigation. He should vacate the mayoral office pending the investigation. There is no doubt that people like Cogi Pather and Nigel Gumede are also fully responsible. Our office has engaged with them on numerous occasions to report alleged corruption and misallocation of RDP homes from our own settlements without any success. Gumede has always beaten about bushes when we ask for meetings with him. He would even ask his personal assistant not to acknowledge letters that we write to him. He knows that we are even aware of our own neighbours who have received homes simple because they are his own comrades in Mount Moria. We have read in Ilanga newspaper that Gumede is now calling for people with evidence of such corrupt activities to come forward. He speaks as if people have not been reporting corruption to his deaf ears for years and years. Why is the Siyanda corruption in the Khulula Housing Project still not investigated if Gumede is serious? Why is the case of Busisiwe Gule of Joe Slovo and her neighbours who are still living in shacks when their homes were built and given to others still not attended to after all these years? Why have certain individuals in Kennedy Road settlement been given homes before their turn come with the rest of the community? Why do the people of Richmond Farm still live in transit camps despite the court ruling that said that they can only stay there for one year? Why has nothing been done about the people who are still suck in the Ridge View transit camp years after their houses were corrupted and given to the wrong people? This is just to mention a few of the very many cases of corruption that we have taken to this municipality over the years without getting any result. After all these years we are still waiting for answers from Gumede.
Sutcliffe, Pather, Gumede and Mlaba and all the others need to learn that in a democracy you don’t only account to your comrades. In fact you don’t only account to auditing firms. In a democracy politicians and officials must also account to ordinary citizens like shack dwellers, like street traders, like domestic workers and like security guards. Sutcliffe, Pather, Gumede and Mlaba and all the others must all go and they must all go now.
The reason why our movement was attacked in Kennedy Road in September 2009 on the order of the war lord who has now died leaving his comrades exposed is well known. We were attacked because we were exposing corrupt councillors, organising the unorganised and running our own projects such as crèches, clinics, feeding schemes, community gardens. We were attacked because we were creating job opportunities for the unemployed. We were attacked because we were fighting nepotism, comradism, and the politicization of service delivery. We were attacked because we organised ourselves outside of the control of the party and its councillors. We were attacked because we thought that urban planning should be a bottom up and not a top down project. And, yes, we were attacked because we challenged the constitutionality of the then Slums Act which humiliated the Provincial Legislature. We were attacked because we took this democracy seriously. We were attacked because we believed that we had the same right as any other person to think and speak and act for ourselves in this democracy and because we acted on that belief day after day and year after year.
The only way to be poor and to remain safe in this country is to limit your participation in this democracy to voting in elections. The day that you decide to organise yourself and to express yourself outside of party structures and elections is the day that you must give up your safety.
Today we say again that we are prepared to face the consequences of speaking the truth about corruption in this city. The price that we have paid, the price we continue to pay can not compromise our future. Corruption is a disgrace for our hard won democracy. Our province has to return millions of Rands to the National Treasury because it could not spend that money while we suffer in the shacks. This is also a great concern for our movement.
We invite all those who are serious about rooting out corruption and who are honestly prepared to work for our country to join us on this journey as we work for a society that recognises the humanity and the dignity of every person.
For more information and comment please contact Abahlali baseMjondolo on 031 304 6420.