by Anna Selmeczi, Foucault Studies
Intrigued by the so-called “rebellion of the poor,” this paper traces back the current South African concern with popular protest to its reconfiguration during the last years of the apartheid order. Focusing on the discourse around grassroots resistance in the mid- to late-1980s, I begin by showing how, in juxtaposition to an ideal notion of civil society, popular mobilization had been largely delegitimized and the emancipatory politics of ungovernability recast as antidemocratic by the first few years of the post-apartheid regime. In deploying particular notions of violence and culture, this discursive shift, I suggest, fed into reconstructing the ungovernable subject as the racial other of the new South Africa’s citizenry. The second part of the paper mobilizes Foucault’s genealogy of liberalism to draw parallels between this process and the liberal effort to resolve the potentially conflicting principles of governing the economic subject and the subject of rights within the realm of civil society. Finally, via the postcolonial critique of liberal notions of civility and their rootedness in racial thinking, I suggest that civil society secures the governability of the population through rendering the potentially disruptive freedom of the people as the excess freedom of the racialized other.
In South Africa, the governing African National Congress (ANC) considers itself the only legitimate voice of the poor. Self-organising among the poor is met with brutal repression by the state and its organs.
Christoph Plutte and Anja Hertz talked to Ndabo Mzimela and S’bu Zikode of Abahlali base Mjondolo, a grassroots organisation of people living in informal settlements in South Africa who struggle for the dignity of shack dwellers and against evictions and repression by the state and its organs.
In 2014, South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first democratic elections. What does it mean to be poor in the “new South Africa”?
The word “democracy” is a nicer word for the oppression we face today, so that people will be loyal to the ruling class. We are still being excluded from the processes where the rules that affect our lives are being made. We are still in shacks because of the same system that is ruling the country today, controlled by the ruling class, so we can’t fool ourselves and say we are free. Continue reading
by Daneel Knoetze, GroundUp
Abahlali baseMjondolo’s Western Cape branch relaunched at the Sweethome Farm informal settlement on Saturday. Re-elected chairperson Siyamboleka James spoke to GroundUp about the movement’s hopes to expand in the city, to renew negotiations with council for accountable service delivery, and about why there is no prospect of them working with Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement.
Siya James, AbM’s only branch chairman working in a DA led municipality, this week again reasserted that the movement’s decision to endorse the DA nationally, ahead of the elections earlier this year, does not amount to an endorsement of the DA’s dominion in the City of Cape Town. Continue reading
Saturday, 27 September 2014
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape Re-launches in Sweet Home Farm, East Phillipi
The situation at the Marikana Land Occupation in Durban remains tense after the attack by the local ANC yesterday. Last night black land rovers without number plates were driving around the area. However there have been no further attacks.
Today delegates from Abahlali in KwaZulu-Natal are with our comrades in Cape Town as part of our exchange visit and to witness democracy in action. This is an opportunity to share our struggles in our respective provinces and to learn from one another. The Sweet Home branch, our only active branch in Cape Town, will relaunch today. Continue reading