Celebration of the 6th Anniversary of AbM

25 August 2011
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Celebration of the 6th Anniversary of Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement S.A.


Gogo Shange Speaking at the 6th Anniversary Celebration of Abahlali baseMjondolo


“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” Romans 8: 31-36

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement is a grassroots mass democratic organization that was formed in 2005, to fight for, protect, promote and advance the interests and the dignity of the poor in South Africa.

Abahlali has stood firm in making sure that the dignity of the poor is respected and that we are all treated equally. We have been clear that neither the state nor civil society has the right to speak for the poor. We have been clear that we have the right to organize ourselves, think for ourselves and to speak for ourselves. This has been taken as a threat by all those who have assumed a right to think and to speak for the poor without speaking to us.

When we started this journey nobody thought that we would still be existing by now. All those who said that our movement would not survive until now have to accept the reality that we are still here and that we are still struggling. That’s why we are celebrating the 6th anniversary of the existence of Abahlali on Saturday.

Our struggle was never a smooth sailing. Every way that we took we were obliged to struggle. Every way that we took has led to repression. But with organized resistance we were able to overcome the recurring forceful eviction by the municipality. We have won many victories.

The most important victory is that in these six years of existence we have been able to achieve our primary goal which is bringing back the dignity of the people that live in the shacks. We have planted the seed that makes people to realize that the fact that we are living in the shacks and that we are poor doesn’t mean that we are unable to think. We may be poor in life but we are rich in mind. We are rich in the togetherness and strength that we have created together. But the struggle for a better life for all the millions of people who live in the shacks and on the farms is not completed. The struggle for human dignity is still at large. This is why up until today we are still calling upon the government to partner with us and to have meaningful engagement with us. We are calling up for a bottom up style of development. We are calling for the government to support democratic people’s planning. We are calling for the social value of land to come before its commercial value. We are calling for housing to be a public good and not an opportunity for private profit. In order to win this battle we need one another.

Our struggle has a long road to travel. There will be many dangers on this journey. Some people will lose faith. Some will be co-opted. Others will continue. We will make new alliances along the way. We will continue to be in a living solidarity with all attempts by the poor to organize for a just and democratic world. We will continue to be in a living solidarity with all those who share our goals and respect our way of struggling.

Our autonomy, our success in organizing (by 2009 we had more than 10 000 paid up members in 64 different settlements) and our victories against the government were not taken lightly by the some of the ANC leaders which has resulted in them plotting to destroy our movement in 2009 at Kennedy Road where the movement was started. In September 2009 our Movement was attacked in the night and then banned in Kennedy Road, our leaders had to flee their homes and 12 members who affiliate with the movement were arrested with charges of attempted murder, murder, public violence, damage to property etc. We survived this attack on our movement. The support from different people, their prayer, physical support and moral support, managed to carry us through this darkness.

The Kennedy 12 spent almost a year in jail with no bail granted. This was painful to them, to their families and to the movement. On 18 July this year all charges against the 12 were dropped and they were all acquitted. The witnesses who spoke against in court us were found to have been lying. The police were found to have fabricated evidence against us. This has not only been the victory of Abahlali but the victory of all the poor and the marginalized in South Africa. Finally the lies of ANC and their plots have been seen by the world.

On the same day of our anniversary we will also be celebrating the Victory of the Kennedy 12 who have sacrificed for our struggle almost a year of their lives in jail. The fact that we are celebrating this victory of the acquittal of the Kennedy 12 does not mean that we are turning the blind eye on the fact that two people died on that night, rather we are celebrating the fact that the people who were victims of state repression are now free. We are still calling upon the state to do a thorough and credible (which means independent of party politic) investigation of everything that happened that night including who really killed the two people that died on that night. We also want the state to investigate who were the people behind the attack. And we want the state to investigate who were the people that broke our leaders’ homes, burnt them and stole all their things in broad day light while the police were standing by. We want all of the truth to come out.

The 6th Anniversary and Kennedy 12 Victory celebration will be held at eThekwini College Sport Ground, in Springfield Park next to Makro, just below the Kennedy Road shack settlement on 27 August 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

For more information please contact

Mnikelo Ndabankulu (Media Liaison Officer) 081 3095485
Zodwa Nsibande (Abahlali National Administrator) 071 1834388
Bandile Mdlalose (Abahlali Secretary General) 071 4242815
Abahlali Head Office 031-3046420