Category Archives: COSATU

SACSIS: War is Upon Us

War is Upon Us

Richard Pithouse

to the fragrance of lemon blossoms
and then to the ultimatums of war

– Pablo Neruda, ‘Right Comrade, Its the Hour of the Garden’, Isla Negra, Chile, September 1973

When COSATU and the Communist Party have to rely on the police and their stun grenades, rubber bullets and, by some accounts, live ammunition to force their way into a stadium against the opposition of striking workers it is clear that their assumption of a permanent right to leadership is facing a serious challenge from below. It’s equally clear that the ruling party and its allies intend to force obedience rather than to seek to renegotiate support or enable democratic engagement, that the police aren’t even making a pretence of being loyal to the law rather than the ruling party and that this is the way that Blade Nzimande likes it.

The misuse of the police to defend the authority of the ruling party in Rustenburg is no exception to a broadly democratic consensus. In fact it has become a routine feature of political life. At the same time as the drama was unfolding in Rustenburg on Saturday a meeting with technical experts to discuss a plan to upgrade the Harry Gwala shack settlement on the East Rand was summarily banned by the police on the grounds that it was a ‘security threat’. The settlement is in urgent need of services as basic as water and refuse removal but millions have been spent on a pavilion in memory of Oliver Tambo adjacent to the settlement. As the ANC’s role in the struggles against apartheid is memorialised that memory is simultaneously desecrated as it is mobilised to legitimate the increasingly violent containment of popular dissent.

The collapse of the ruling party’s hegemony on the mines in Rustenburg is not the first time that the ANC has lost control of a territory where it once took its right to rule for granted. In early 2006 the ANC was, despite a large police presence and a large contingent of supporters bussed in from elsewhere, unable to go ahead with a rally to be addressed by S’bu Ndebele, the then Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, in the Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban. Some years later the ANC eventually took that space back with the open use of violence organised through party structures with the support of the police. But despite the announcement, made by a senior SACP member, that the state had decided to ‘disband’ the movement that had won popular support in Kennedy Road, and despite tremendous intimidation and the gross misuse of the police and the criminal justice system to try and effect this ban, that movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo endures. The rupture in Rustenburg may also cohere into an enduring force. And there will be more ruptures to come.

There are important respects in which the politics developed in and around Marikana is very different from that developed in and around Kennedy Road seven years earlier. But one of the things that these two points of rupture do have in common is a firm insistence on the right of people in struggle, people who have decided to take their future into their own hands, to speak for themselves. This shared suspicion of authorised forms of local representation, and the consequent desire of people to represent themselves where they live and work, could, along with other points of connection, ranging from familial links to a shared experience of repression, provide common ground for linking struggles in urban shack settlements and on the mines. It has, in itself, no predetermined political character but, amongst other potentials, some of which could well be marked by a dangerous counter-brutality, the rejection of the ruling party’s local mechanisms for sustaining political control does carry the possibility for a renewal of democratic possibility.

The path that winds from Polokwane to Kennedy Road and on to Marikana and Nkandla and then up, past the reach of our gaze and over the horizon, is not taking us towards anything like the kinds of societies imagined in the Freedom Charter or the Constitution. The only visible transition on offer is one in which liberal democracy is increasingly replaced with a system in which the political class is treated as if it is above the law, the state is openly used as an instrument for the political class to accumulate rather than to redistribute wealth and power and people engaged in certain kinds of popular dissent are treated as if they are beneath the law. Police violence, including torture and murder, as well as state sanction for political violence by ANC supporters and political assassination have all become familiar features of our political life.

And powerful figures and forces in the ruling alliance from Jacob Zuma to Sidumo Dlamini, the Communist Party, MK veterans, SADTU and others are openly speaking the language of war. They may say that the war is on the enemy within, enemy agents, neoliberals, imperialists, criminals, enemies of the national-democratic revolution and counter-revolutionaries but what they really mean is that they do not intend to accept popular dissent as legitimate or to engage it through democratic institutions. Instead it is proposed that dissent be dealt with by the police and on occasion the army, as well as counter-mobilisation that aims to destroy rather than to engage and which is already often armed, and, in Sidumo Dlamini’s view, MK. War, generally not the war of open manoeuvre that we saw in Marikana and which we’ve seen, although with nothing like the same degree of murderous intent, in shack settlements across the country in recent years but rather the scattered, often secretive and frequently highly territorialised violence of low intensity war, of counter-insurgency, is upon us. The Kennedy Road, eTwatwa, Makause and Zakheleni shack settlements have all experienced this since Polokwane.

The figures in the ANC that talk of a return to principled leadership have no material base from which they could make a serious attempt to challenge the capture of the party and, thereby, the state by factions that are both predatory and authoritarian. For this reason their discourse functions, irrespective of their intentions, to legitimate the party rather than to organise or represent a last ditch attempt to save it. And, with the exception of the metal worker’s union, Marikana has marked the end of COSATU’s claim to democratic credibility and moral authority. If there is to be a renewal of democratic possibilities it will have to be undertaken against the ruling party and its allies.

Popular struggle against a post-colonial state is a very different thing to a national liberation struggle against an internationally discredited form of domination. But the time has come when we have to, like the generations that confronted the end of the illusions in postcolonial states elsewhere, face a future in which defeat of democratic and progressive aspirations is the most likely outcome of the ruthless intersection between elite nationalism and capitalism. And while there are some examples of popular struggles in the postcolony that have attained some critical mass in recent years they have also, as in Haiti and Bolivia, had to confront serious limitations. There is no easy route out of this crisis.

Nonetheless it is clear that the only viable resolution is one that includes the majority of us. This could take the form of an authoritarian and even quasi-fascist response to the crisis. But it could also take the form of a democratic project that seeks to move beyond the liberal consensus that reduced democracy to voting, court action and NGO campaigns and to build the political power of the dispossessed from the ground up. But if an insurgent project of this nature is to have any enduring success it will have to understand that the line dividing the political from the economic has been drawn to sustain both privilege and exclusion and that wealth, power and the structures that sustain them need to be subject to serious critique. This would put such a project at odds with most of the media and civil society as well as the ruling party making it, to say the least, a risky endeavour. But if political empowerment doesn’t translate into material empowerment – into land, housing, decent incomes and decent education – it will be little more than a detour on the road that has already taken us from Polokwane to Nkandla with our journey marked out in a steadily accumulating record of intimidation and blood.

The challenges that confront us are tremendous. But when war is announced there are only two real choices – to resist or to submit. The urgent questions that we have to confront are these: What will be the nature of our resistance and how will we carry it forward?

City Press: Liberation betrayed by bloodshed

Liberation betrayed by bloodshed

The tragedy at Marikana reflects the loss of the vision of liberation and the onset of repression by default, argues Njabulo S Ndebele

On the evening of Thursday, August 16, in Johannesburg, I returned to my hotel for a well-deserved rest.

I would turn on the TV, watch the news and then settle back to enjoy yet another episode of Isidingo.

But the evening I imagined was not to be. As the TV flickered to life, a newsreader introduced a breaking news item, and I knew immediately what was being replayed before me.

Police officers opened fire, and dust rose as people in the line of fire collapsed. Continue reading

SACSIS: The Massacre of Our Illusions…and the Seeds of Something New

Klicken Sie hier für den deutschen text.

The Massacre of Our Illusions…and the Seeds of Something New

by Leonard Gentle, SACSIS

The story of Marikana runs much deeper than an inter-union spat. After the horror of watching people being massacred on television, Marikana now joins the ranks of the Bulhoek and Sharpeville massacres, and the images evoked by Hugh Masekela’s Stimela, in the odious history of a method of capital accumulation based on violence.

But this is not just a story of violence and grief. To speak in those terms only would be to add the same insult to the injury perpetrated by the police on the striking workers, as many commentators have done – seeing the striking miners as mere victims and not as agents of their own future and, more importantly, as the source of a new movement in the making.

The broader platinum belt has been home to new upsurges of struggle over the last five years. From the working class community activists of Merafong and Khutsong to the striking workers of Angloplat, Implat and now Lonmin, these struggles, including the nationwide “service delivery” revolts, are a sign that a new movement is being forged despite the state violence that killed Andries Tatane and massacred the Lonmin workers. Rather than just howl our outrage, it is time to take sides and offer our support.

After Marikana, things will never be the same again.

Firstly, the killings mark the end of the illusion that the ANC has not been transformed into the party of big capital. For some while now the ANC could trade on its liberation credits in arguing that all criticism came from those trying to defend white privilege. The DA was perfect to be cast in this role because it always attacked the ANC for not being business-friendly enough.

But Marikana was an attack on workers in defence of white privilege, specifically the mining house, Lonmin. Lonmin epitomises the make-up of the new elite in South Africa: old white capital garnished with a sprinkling of politically connected Blacks.

In this, the ANC steps squarely into the shoes of its predecessor, apartheid’s Nationalist Party, acting to secure the profits of mining capital through violence.

Secondly, the strike and the massacre also mark a turning point in the liberation alliance around the ANC – particularly COSATU. Whereas the community and youth wings of what was called the Mass Democratic Movement became disgraced after 1994 by their association with corrupt councillors, and eclipsed by the service delivery revolts of today, COSATU’s moral authority was enhanced. Within what is called “civil society”, COSATU continued to be a moral voice. So anyone who had a campaign sought out COSATU as a partner. This moral authority came because COSATU was simply the most organised voice amongst the working class.

Today COSATU’s links with the working class are only very tenuous.

It is almost intuitive that we consider the notion of a worker as someone working for a clear employer, on a full-time basis, in a large factory, supermarket or mine. Indeed classical industrial trade unions were forged by workers in large factories and industrial areas. This was the case in many countries where such unions won the right to organise and was also the case in South Africa, when a new wave of large industrial unions emerged after the 1973 Durban Strikes.

Going along with this structure were the residential spaces of townships. From the 1950s, the apartheid regime increasingly came to accept the de facto existence of a settled urban proletariat and built the match-box brick houses in the townships of the apartheid era: the Sowetos, Kathlehongs, Tembisas.

So the working class was organised by capitalism into large industrial sites and brick houses in large sprawling townships.

Since the 1980s, the neo-liberal phase of capitalism has changed this.

Neo-liberalism has not only been about privatisation and global speculation. It has also been about restructuring work and home. Today casualisation, outsourcing, work from home, labour brokers and other forms of informalisation have become the dominant form of work and shack dwelling the mode of existence of the working class. The latter is in direct proportion to the withdrawal of the state from providing housing and associated services.

Twenty years ago the underground workers of Lonmin would have lived in a compound policed by the company. Today the rock drill workers live in a shantytown near the mine.

Also, mining itself has changed. Much of the hard work underground is now done by workers sourced from labour brokers. These are the most exploited workers, working the longest hours with the most flexible arrangements. Today it is even possible to own a mine and not work it yourself but to contract engineering firms like Murray and Roberts to do the mining for you. Into the mix can be added so-called “illegal miners” who literally mine with spades and their own dynamite and then sell on to middlemen with links to big businesses.

Lonmin has exploited these divisions – using the old mining industry strategy of recruiting along tribal divisions. The rock drill workers are Xhosas who are railed in from the Eastern Cape to heighten the exploitation at the coalface.

Add to this the toxic mix of mine security, barbed-wire enclosures and informal housing, as identified by the BenchMarks Foundation, and a picture of institutionalised violence emerges.

By way of contrast, the dominant trade unions in South Africa have largely moved up upscale towards white-collar workers and away from this majority. Today the large COSATU affiliates comprise of public sector white-collar workers, like the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union. The lower level blue-collar workers are now employed by labour brokers and are in services that have been outsourced, like cleaning, security and so on. They don’t fall within the bargaining units of the Public Sector Bargaining Council.

The Lonmin strike was the second in the last three months to hit the platinum sector. It was preceded by a strike at Implats. Both involved the Association of Mining and Construction Workers’ Union (AMCU) as workers sought an outlet for their frustrations.

The mining trade journal Miningmix published this story in 2009:

(A) gradual change had taken place in the profile of the NUM membership over the last 15 years; one that nobody had taken notice of. The NUM was originally borne out of the lowest job categories of South African mineworkers, mainly from gold mines. More than 60% of its members were foreigners, mostly illiterate migrant labourers.

Nowadays that number has dropped to below 40%. On the other hand, an increasing portion of the NUM’s membership comes from what can be described as white-collar mining staff, who had previously been represented exclusively by Solidarity and UASA. The local NUM structures in Rustenburg, like the branch office bearers and the shop stewards, are dominated by these skilled, higher level workers. They are literate, well spoken and wealthy compared to the general workers and machine operators underground.

So while the NUM remains the largest affiliate of COSATU, it is changing from a union of coalface workers to a union of above ground technicians. It is these developments that led to the formation of a breakaway union. Whatever the credentials of AMCU, its emergence is a direct challenge to the hegemony of NUM and of COSATU. As such, the federation has embarked on a disgraceful campaign of slandering the striking workers and their union.

In this they have been joined by the media.

With the notable exception of the Cape Times, the media’s culpability in demonising the striking workers has been reprehensible. In addition to only quoting NUM sources for information, or focusing on Malema, there have been no attempts to dig beneath the idea of manipulated workers and inter-union rivalry. They all depicted the rock drillers as uneducated, Basotho or Eastern Cape Xhosas, whilst flogging the idea of an increase to R12 500 as “unreasonable”.

Then there is the notion that workers went to AMCU because they were promised R12 500. This fiction is repeated endlessly by the media. Journalists are of course happy to source this from “unnamed” NUM sources. The slander here is that workers are so open to manipulation that they will believe any empty promises. This plays to the prejudice repeated by Frans Baleni of NUM from his Nyala that rock drill workers are uneducated, and it bolsters the idea that AMCU is some kind of slick willy operation that must take responsibility for the massacre.

Anyone with any experience of organising knows that trade unions don’t come to workers like insurance salesman. In the main, workers form their own committees and then send a delegation to the union office demanding that an organiser come and sign them up. Or, they simply down tools forcing their employer to contact a union organiser.

Nor is any strike decision, let alone a strike such as this one – unprotected, under the umbrella of an unrecognised union, in a workplace with mine security and where the workers themselves are far from home in a strange region – ever taken lightly. Wildcat strikes are probably the most conscious act of sacrifice and courage that anyone can take, driven by anger and desperation and involving the full knowledge that you could lose your job and your family’s livelihood.

In normal times, trade unions can be as much a huge bureaucratic machine as a corporation or a state department with negotiations conducted by small teams far from the thousands of rank-and-file members. Strikes change all that…suddenly unions are forced to be conduits of their members’ aspirations.

Whatever the merits of AMCU as a democratic union or as one with any vision of transformation; whatever the involvement of the Themba Godis, the workers of Marikana made their choice: to become members of AMCU and risk everything, including their lives, for a better future.

For that we owe them more than just pious sympathy. There is a job of mobilisation and movement-building to be done.

Almost 40 years ago, in 1973, workers from companies around Durban came out in a series of wildcat – then really illegal – strikes. Today this event is celebrated by everyone as part of the revival of the anti-apartheid movement and the birth of a new phase of radical trade unionism, culminating in the formation of COSATU.

But in 1973, the media highlighted the threat of violence and called for the restoration of law and order. The apartheid state could not respond with the kind of killings that happened at Marikana because the strikes were in industrial areas, but they invoked the same idea of ignorant misled workers (then they were seen as ignorant Zulus) and had homeland leader Mangosutho Buthelezi send his emissary, Barney Dladla, to talk to the workers.

While in exile, the SACP questioned the bona fides of the strikes, invoking the involvement of Buthelezi to perpetuate the fiction of “ignorant Zulus” because they were not called for by the liberation aligned union body, SACTU. Some in SACTU circles raised the spectre of liberals and CIA involvement in the new worker formations with an agenda to “sideline the liberation movement”. This separation of the ANC and its allies from the early labour movement was to lead to the divisions between the “workerist unions” and the “populist unions” in the labour movement and was to continue within COSATU.

How easily people forget this when workers forge new movements today.

For a long time now the ongoing service delivery revolts throughout the country have failed to register on the iPads and Blackberries of the chattering classes. This is because of the social distance of the middle classes to the new working classes.

Now the sight of the police shooting striking workers on TV has brought the real world of current struggles right into the lounges and bedrooms of public opinion.

So far the strikers have stood firm not only against the police and Lonmin, but also against the media labelling their strike “illegal”. Strikes are not illegal in South Africa; they are only protected or unprotected. Meanwhile NUM and COSATU are rallying behind their ally, the ANC, to stigmatise the strikers and their union as “paid by BHP Billiton and the Chamber of Mines”.

In the midst of our outrage at this brutality let us acknowledge that a new movement is emerging. Such early signs do not as yet indicate something grand and well organised. Movements are notoriously messy and difficult to assign to some kind of predetermined ideological box. We do not know what ups and downs people will go through, but when the seeds of a new movement are being planted, it is time to ask what the rest of us can do to help it to grow.

UPM Statement on the Youth Wage Subsidy and the Clash between the DA and COSATU

Thursday, 17 May 2012
Unemployed People’s Movement Press Statement

UPM Statement on the Youth Wage Subsidy and the Clash between the DA and COSATU

The Unemployed People’s Movement rejects the Youth Wage Subsidy as a solution to the unemployment crisis that is leaving millions of young people without a future. We note that there has been a concerted attempt by big business, their academic and media allies and the DA to present workers as lazy and overpaid. This is outrageous. Workers have struggled bravely for a living wage over many years and the gains that have been won must be defended. Today one worker is often responsible for many people and the reason why wages are higher in South Africa than in India or China is because people in South Africa could not survive on the wages paid in India or China. The cost of living is much higher here and most workers don’t have access to land to supplement the wage. Also most workers are forced to live in townships far from work and, due to the failure of the ANC to develop proper public transport, costs to get to and from work are very high. New housing developments are mostly even further from the cities than apartheid townships. We will always stand with the unions to defend the right of all workers to a living wage.

The youth wage subsidy is an attempt by big business to win subsidies from government that can be used to lower its wage bill. It will weaken the bargaining power of workers and lower wages will weaken the working class, and our economy, across the board. Big business built its wealth on the back of a history of racist oppression that included land dispossession and the migrant labour system. The government should not be subsidizing them now. The government should be subsidizing the poor directly!

After 1994 the ANC looked to capital to take the economy forward. The results of that were huge profits for business and a massive unemployment crisis affecting millions of lives. We became the most unequal country in the world and then the country with the highest rate of protest in the world. It is time to put people before profit.

It is clear to us that government is not willing to take responsibility for the poor. He is trying by all means to distance himself from us. Everywhere private companies are being given the responsibility for us but they are just interested in making money. They are the ones that retrench. They are the ones that have built RDP houses that are crumbling. Government must take heed of us. And government and not capital must direct the economy.

However we also note the deafening silence of COSATU on the unemployment crisis. The ANC represents the rich – its leaders are millionaires and billionaires – and COSATU represents the workers in the alliance. But no one represents the poor. As the unemployed we are not represented in the alliance. When we have tried to organize ourselves we have, like other poor people’s movements, been repressed by the ANC and no one can deny that COSATU and the SACP have been silent about this. Silence in the face of repression is complicity with repression.

We are willing to support COSATU against the ideological onslaught against workers and unions but they must also recognize that they don’t represent the poor and the unemployed and recognize and defend our right to organize ourselves. This is only fair. If they are not willing to recognize and defend our right to organize ourselves they cannot seriously claim to be a progressive force.

We condemn the thuggery with which COSATU responded to the DA march in the strongest terms. It is true that the DA is the party of capital. And COSATU had every right to organize a counter demonstration – we would support such a demonstration ourselves. But COSATU had no right to respond to the DA demonstration with violence. They could easily have won the battle of ideas. Truth and justice are on their side.

When we marched with the Democratic Left Front in Durban at COP 17 COSATU hi-jacked that march to make it pro-ANC while the ANC Youth League attacked us in the streets. If COSATU are given a free hand to attack the DA they will soon be attacking us in the streets too. At the end of the day all the organizations in the alliance try to protect the domination of the alliance. We call on all progressive forces to oppose the ANC’s descent into street thuggery. We all know what happened to Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban. We have to unite against all forms of authoritarianism and thuggery on the part of the ruling party. If we allow it to happen to the DA we will be next.

Our proposals for a proper solution to the unemployment crisis are as follows:

Long Term Strategies

* The education system must be fixed and made accessible to all.

* There must be radical land reform in favour of the people and not the predatory elites

* Corruption and plundering must be stopped

* Once corruption and plundering have been stopped we can nationalize the commanding heights of the economy and engage in a massive programme of public works.

* Taxes must be raised on big business to sponsor public works – but these must not be corrupted or only used to benefit members of the ruling party.

* The state needs to actively intervene to develop an economy that will meet the needs of the people

Short Term Strategies

* Government needs to immediately provide a universal and guaranteed income of at least R2 000 a month to all unemployed people. It is essential that this is a universal right otherwise it will, like all government jobs, only go to ANC members and this will undermine the movements of the poor.

* Good quality training must be made available to all unemployed people at no cost.

* All unemployed people must have free access to health care.

* The way forward is for the poor to continue to organize ourselves, to continue to protest and to continue to contest the battle of ideas in all forums from the streets to the newspapers. We will intensify our organizing efforts and our protests. We will continue to form stronger bonds with other movements, to refuse to be intimidated by repression and to resist attempts by NGOs to divide us and to direct us into the projects chosen by their funders. The unemployed and the poor need to build our own capacity to represent ourselves in society. If we cannot build our own power our future will be very bleak.


Ayanda Kota 078 625
Julia Nazo 083 985 6333
Asanda Ncwadi 071 010 5441

Statement by Occupy Cape Town on COSATU’s celebration on the Common

This Saturday COSATU will hold a “Celebration” at Rondebosch Common.
What exactly are they celebrating?

Statement by Occupy Cape Town

Alternative General Assembly
Date: 4 February
Time: 10am
Venue: Community House in Salt River

Many of us who participated in last week’s disrupted event at the Common are distancing ourselves from the event this Saturday. We believe that:

* As COSATU was never involved in the planning of the march & summit, they had no right to appear late on Friday afternoon, and make statements as if on behalf of the Take Back the Commons movement.
* Our principles clearly state: We do not recognise leaders or celebrity speakers. We are not party political. We are not destructive – we want to protect our shared natural and cultural heritage. The way this event is being managed contravenes these principles (see below).
* One of the purposes of the original event was to symbolically reclaim “the commons” (see below) – the public space that should be available for all. The fact that this weekend’s event is able to take place is a testimony to our small victory, but –
* Reclaiming “the commons” was just one of our aims, and to celebrate at this stage sidetracks us from the work that still lies ahead, at a time when it is important to stay focussed on our purposes and principles and to keep the momentum going.
* The celebration may provide good publicity, but it does not move us any closer to the real purposes and aims of the movement (see below).

This position is supported by the active representatives of Occupy Cape Town – and reflects the consensus with this particular group, as well as the stated opinions of many others within the Take Back the Commons Movement.

Because of this, we are exercising our freedom of choice, and choose not to attend the COSATU event. Instead we will meet to discuss other plans, debate some of the issues we seek to address, and build our relationships with each other.

This choice in no way means that we are withdrawing our support for the movement as a whole, nor that we are excluding ourselves from it. In fact, we look forward to continuing to build it in accordance with its stated principles and purpose.

Each of the many other communities, groups and organisations within the movement is free to decide (on an individual basis, or through consensus) whether they will attend the COSATU event or the General Assembly.

All will come together again in support of the !Nou on Sunday (the KhoiSan cleansing and renaming ceremony) as well as at future General Assemblies.

Written by Gizelle Rush of Occupy Cape Town / Take Back the Commons
Contact 072 845 6142

More Information about the Take Back the Commons Movement:


* We are all leaders: There will be no celebrity speakers or celebrity activists.
* We strive for a direct participatory and inclusive democratic process in all our activities and actions (by democracy, we mean inclusive spiritual and direct democracy in concert with nature and mother earth). We are open, accountable, transparent and honest.
* We aim not only to change the world but also to change ourselves.
* We strive to build unity, not to divide. We strive to be all inclusive. We are non-party political.
* We are confronting issues, we are not confronting people. We are constructive, not destructive. We aim to build a culture of caring and sharing.
* We aim to be realistic about the past, present and future.

Understanding “the Commons”

“The commons” is a term that refers to resources that are owned in common, or shared between or among communities, or the people of a country. These resources include:

* natural resources (like common land, forests, the atmosphere, rivers, the sea, fisheries, and mineral wealth) and our environmental heritage
* public goods (such as public space, public education, health and the infrastructure that allows our society to function)
* our cultural heritage (our shared history, literature, music, arts, design, film, video, television, radio, information, software and sites of heritage).

Under colonialism and apartheid most of the commons of South Africa were privatised and are now being owned, controlled and monopolised by a small elite – to the extent that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world (as measured by the Gini coefficient).

There is overwhelming evidence that these high levels of inequality and exclusion are what make South African cities the crime, murder and rape capitals of the world. Taking back the commons means that we reclaim the wealth and resources that should be used for the benefit of people and communities rather than the further enrichment of the elite, to create a more just and sustainable society.

Our Purpose:

Our short-term goal is to hold a Summit where communities can share their experiences, come up with strategies to deal with the problems they face, and learn the practical skills to assist in meeting those challenges.

Our long terms purpose is to

* continue building ties between and within communities, organisations and other groups
* explore how to “manage” collective discussions; deal with differences of culture, class and opinion; and how to communicate and manifest our intentions effectively
* begin to reclaim the commons, as a collective