Building Democratic Popular Power in the Struggle for Land & Dignity

11 December 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA

Building Democratic Popular Power in the Struggle for Land & Dignity

– 2017 Year End Statement

Our movement continues to grow. We currently have 46 branches in good standing. Our branch by branch audit of members in good standing has now counted the members in 32 branches and we currently have over 42 000 members on our spreadsheet. We have successfully expanded into Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

However we continue to face lies, evictions, life threatening living conditions and serious repression. 

This year has seen the Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality making empty promises as her predecessor has done. The politicians continue to treat us with contempt and to take us for fools. With every election new promises are made and yet every year more people are living in shacks. No politician or political party has taken the urban crisis seriously or taken real steps to allocate urban land on the basis of social need, address the life threatening conditions in the settlements with urgency and begin a program of real action to ensure decent housing for all.

When impoverished people have occupied land, which is a form of urban planning from below that can help to democratise our cities, we continue to face armed evictions, which are often illegal. The ruling party talk about the land question while taking violent and often criminal action against people who are actually occupying land. In Durban people’s homes have continued to be demolished with brutal impunity even though we have obtained an interdict that prevented the Municipality from demolishing, destroying , burning of people’s homes or threatening to do so.  Cato Manor became a war zone this year. Innocent people were shot at with live ammunition and were repeatedly physically attacked by the Anti Land Invasion Unit, a violent and criminal organisation. In Ekukhanyeni, in one of our new branches, Samuel Hloele (29) was shot dead by the Anti Land Invasion Unit. His ‘crime’ was trying to build a shelter for himself and his family on his ancestors’ land.  We can be proud that the community in Ekukhanyeni is today settled and is not bothered by the Anti Land Invasion Unit.

In the shack settlements we continue to face life threatening conditions due to the refusal to provide basic services such as electricity and adequate sanitation and water. When we organise to make own arrangements to provide electricity the state responds with violence. When we organise to demand the urgent provision of services the state also often responds with violence. This year has seen a young life taken away from us in an undignified way. A two week old baby Jayden Khoza was killed after inhaling tear gas after police chased people who were protesting for electricity in the Foreman Road settlement. Later on this year there was a devastating fire in the same settlement that left three people dead. Our lives count for nothing in this society.

We recently lost our friend, Sibonelo Patrick Mpeku, the chairperson of our Sisonke Village branch, who was kidnapped and murdered. Mpeku has now joined comrades like Nkululeko Gwala, Nqobile Nzuza and Thuli Ndlovu as a martyr of our movement, and the longer and wider struggle for land and dignity in our cities. We buried him with dignity and power in a red funeral in Bizana. This murder of Mpeku has emotionally affected many of our members. We are doing all that we can to ensure that the police investigate this matter urgently, fairly and effectively.

However in the midst of all this oppression we continue to build the democratic power of the oppressed. We continue to occupy and hold land. We continue to build our cultural power and a highlight of the year was the launch of the album by the choir that was formed in the Cato Crest land occupation. We continue to struggle on the occupied land, in the streets, in the courts and in various places to which oppression has tried to exclude us. We have made major advances in terms of building solidarity with comrades elsewhere in the country and on the continent.

We continue to build the democratic power of the oppressed from below with the aim of ensuring that power, land and wealth are shared fairly. We continue to place women’s power at the centre of our struggle. Regular violence from the police, the Anti-Land Invasion Unit, Municipal Security and party gangsters has not and will not deter us. We have accepted that to join the struggle is to accept the risk of death.

As we to the festive season know very well that the majority of the people are unemployed and living in abject impoverishment and therefore we cannot say that we wish them a Merry Christmas. Our lives still do not matter in society. This government that claims to represent us continues to oppress us. We are still living in the mud like pigs. Therefore we have no choice but to stand up for our humanity.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the solidarity from our comrades from around South Africa and the world. All messages of solidarity received after the murder of Mpeku have been communicated to the movement, and to Mpeku’s family.

Occupy. Resist. Develop.


Thapelo Mohapi – 062 892 5323

Zandile Nsibande – 062 947 1947

Mqapheli Bonono – 073 067 3274