Category Archives: Mike van Graan

Lessons in democracy from the poor

Mike van Graan

The decision by members of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in KwaZulu-Natal to endorse the Democratic Alliance in the 2014 election has not only raised many eyebrows, but has also unleashed stinging vitriol against this branch of the shack-dwellers’ movement. Started in 2005, AbM with its anti-evictions focus and its campaigns for decent public housing is recognised as one of the most effective social movements in the country. With its core struggle for land and housing, it has boycotted previous local and national government elections under the slogan of “No land! No Houses! No Vote!” Abahlali baseMjondolo has experienced severe repression from both ANC municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and their DA counterparts in the Western Cape. It is against this background — and the strong anti-capitalist sentiment of the movement — that questions have been raised about the decision of AbM-KZN to call upon their members (estimated to exceed 25 000 nationally) to vote for the DA.

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