Statement in Solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement South Africa

Statement in Solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement South Africa

We, the undersigned, activists, academics, organizers, and others, call for an end to the repression and intimidation of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) Movement South Africa. We stand in solidarity with this democratic membership based movement for justice that is led by and for poor people – people that have been structurally excluded from full and equal participation in South African democracy.

In recent years AbM leaders and members have been subjected to various forms of well documented repression and harassment at the hands of the state and the ruling party, including the violent attacks of 2009. We affirm that AbM has every right to demand decent and well located housing and the provision of decent services to shack settlements while awaiting homes and, also, to demand bottom up and democratic forms of development. We sign this statement to register clear opposition to the regressive forces in the government and the ruling party who have targeted AbM leaders in various ways since 2006 and who sought, in 2009, to destroy the movement wholesale.

We write in urgent protest at the most recent verbal assault on AbM Chairperson S’bu Zikode by Nigel Gumede, head of housing in the eThekwini Municipality, in a formal meeting called by the eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo. In that meeting Nigel Gumede declared that the ANC was at war with AbM and he issued clear threats of violence, interpreted as death threats, against S'bu Zikode.

We recognize and welcome the efforts of Mayor James Nxumalo to engage with AbM but strongly protest the grossly authoritarian and anti-democratic statements on the part of Nigel Gumede. Given the history of violence against AbM leaders Gumede's statements are cause for serious concern.

We are calling for AbM, and all other social justice movements, to be allowed to freely organize, protest and assert their right to be active members of an inclusive democracy without threats and intimidation from the state or the ruling party.

Recognizing the significance of historical moment in which cities around the world are being occupied by people that refuse to accept that economic injustice should be accepted as the natural order of things we call for the South African government to begin regular and good faith cooperation with poor people's organizations with a view to working towards an end to inequality.

Signed in Solidarity:

  • Janis Roshevuel – community organizer and Fulbright Scholar, New York
  • Loana Corraini – activist, Rome, Italy
  • Nigel Gibson – Director of the Honors Program, Emerson College and Honorary Research Fellow, Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Marie Huchzermeryer – Professor, University of the Witwatersrand
  • George Caffentzis – Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine, Portland, USA
  • Richard Pithouse – Lecturer, Politics, Rhodes university
  • Anna Selmeczi – Department of International Relations and European Studies, Central European University, Hungary
  • Michael Neocosmos – Professor of Sociology, University of South Africa
  • Christopher Nizza – Co-Director, Dear Mandela
  • Dara Kell – Co-Director, Dear Mandela
  • Peter Hallward – Professor of Philosophy, Kingston, London
  • Jane Duncan – Professor, Highway Africa Chair and Information Society, Rhodes University
  • Salim Vally – University of Johannesburg
  • Mandisi Majavu – Independent Scholar & Writer
  • Raj Patel – UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Honorary Research Fellow University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Jared Sacks – Activist, Cape Town
  • Farhana Loonat, Graduate Student, Political Science Department, Vanderbilt University
  • Filippo Mondini – Activist, Italy
  • Steven Friedman – Director, Centre for the Study of Democracy, Rhodes University/University of Johannesburg
  • Pete White and Becky Dennison – Co-Directors, Los Angeles Community Action Network
  • Tshepo Madlingozi – senior lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
  • Jai Sen – CACIM, India
  • Ann Eveleth – Washington, D.C., activist and writer
  • Mark Hunter – Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Toronto
  • Gillian Hart – Professor of Geography University of California, Berkeley and Honorary Professor UKZN
  • Ksakrad Kelly – Psychologist, New York
  • National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), NY, NY
  • Kerry Chance – College Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
  • Caroline Elliot – War on Want, London
  • Matt Birkinshaw – London School of Economics
  • London Coalition Against Poverty
  • Mazibuko Jara – PLAAS, University of the Western Cape and the Democratic Left Front
  • Jenny Morgan – film-maker, London
  • Soo Tian Lee – activist, London
  • Francesco Gastaldon – activist and scholar, Italy