Was the ‘Peace March’ a farce that made things worse?

by Jenny Slack

19 April 2015 08h57

A Daily Vox article doing the rounds ‘Five moments from the Durban Peace March that aren’t helping with xenophobia’ seems to have met with broad agreement, the gist being: the ‘Peace March’ wasn’t a good idea; it was politically opportunistic; the privileged liberals who took part had little comprehension of the complexity and direness of the situation; it has caused further polarisation and led to more violence. Abahlali baseMjondolo also rightly wonders why the legal march they supported on the 8th April against xenophobia – organised by the Congolese Solidarity Campaign, the Somali Association of South African and other migrant organisations – was violently prevented from taking place by the police and then a week later, the KwaZulu-Natal government goes ahead and organises its own march? But despite the questions and suspicions, they say: “We are appealing to all South Africans, even those that are silent, to help us end this war on fellow Africans. We are appealing to the church leaders, progressive forces and to the radical students to join us in this struggle. We are doing what we can. We are holding meetings … and undertaking small acts of solidarity like arranging for South Africans to fetch the children of migrants from their schools and take them to safe places. But it is very difficult to advance a politic of peace in the middle of this kind of violence coming from both the state and other forces.”

 

Although there are many well-founded misgivings about the ‘Peace March’, I’m not sure why exactly it should be viewed in such a negative light. Whichever way one looks at it (and even if it needed establishment leaders to help make it happen), it was an amazing display of progressive, positive People Power, something we haven’t seen in a while, and surely a crucial element in ending xenophobia is for ordinary people, from all walks of life, to make a stand together and demonstrate that this is not where most South Africans come from? Also, why can’t The People make out of this what they want? Are we just the pawns of the popular and the powerful? They may use the opportunity to strut in the limelight but that doesn’t mean it has to be only to their advantage. The People can still own the march and use it to build a HateMustFall (or alternative) movement that broadly encompasses everything we are struggling against, not just xenophobia.

 

Sure there were ‘privileged liberals’ at the march (again, why exactly is that so lamentable?) and there certainly wouldn’t have been such a turn out if it weren’t for the politicians, preachers and pop stars pulling out all the stops and paying for the t-shirts, the professionally printed flyers, banners, posters, the ‘Peace Bus’, the Brass Band … and of course making sure they got as much publicity and political mileage out of it as possible. But VIPs and privileged liberals stood out like sore thumbs in the crowd and were probably only a couple of hundred all told so it’s really misleading to suggest that the around 7000 who participated fell into any of these categories. Other positives are that such a large show of support may have helped raise the morale of those being targeted, and demonstrated to a watching world that South Africans are still capable of rallying against injustice.

 

On the charge that the march caused more polarisation, one hardly knows where to start!  Since the end of Apartheid, South Africa has come to be perceived by many as a kind of African US that acts as a magnet for people from war-torn and poorer countries to the north seeking ‘the South African dream’. Sadly, certain South Africans also seem to suffer from the same delusions as Americans … South Africa  is the Greatest Country in Africa, Land of the Free and Nelson Mandela … not to mention being insufferably arrogant and entitled on occasions. South Africa is also burdened with many of the same afflictions as the US: a violent history rooted in slavery and colonialism; a deeply conservative population (both black and white) that ironically has a very limited understanding of the democracy they supposedly champion; dangerously unequal distribution of wealth; huge numbers of poorly educated people who are being simultaneously dumbed down and fired up by the relentless messaging of corporate maggots crawling into their heads, and the shiny allure and false promise of what material wealth will bring no matter how it is acquired. Everywhere, a celebrity-worshipping culture combines with obesity, bling and a seemingly bottomless craving for more. Inevitably this culture fuels ignorance, hatred and crime … and the result? From being a world-wide inspiration, South Africa (like an unhappy mimic of America) is instead gaining a reputation as one of the most stupid, hate-filled, crime-ridden societies in the world. But that’s far from a true picture of South Africa so it’s up to The People to challenge this simplistic stereotyping.

 

The hard to handle fact of the matter (which is in no way their fault because Apartheid delivered a third rate education and caused possibly irreparable psychological damage) is that we’re now facing the brutalised so-called ‘Lost Generation’ many warned about, and which is exponentially growing because the ANC government has messed up so badly in the ensuing 21 years. They could have made major inroads into addressing the deep-seated problems that were the legacy of Apartheid if they’d stuck to the ethos of the Freedom Charter and the RDP, and provided basic needs and quality education to the people who put their faith and trust in them. But they chose the path of GEAR/macro-economics and personal enrichment. This ‘Lost Generation’ has every reason to be embittered and hate immigrants (as wrong as this is) because, despite coming from countries that are ‘inferior’ to South Africa, in some cases ruled over by tyrannical dictators and having faced war and genocide for more years than the ANC has been in power, they are often better educated, harder working, more enterprising … so relatively speaking, many begin to thrive in contrast to their South African brothers and sisters.

 

South Africans have every right to be angry, it’s just they’re misdirecting their anger at foreigners. Everything King Zwelithini and Edward Zuma have said should be read in conjunction with the lack of delivery, corruption, and all round thievery and mal-administration of the Zuma government. How much easier it is to blame foreigners, than examine your own massive failure to fulfil the mandate given by the people – Edward Zuma even has the audacity to mention “wasted taxpayer’s monies”, unabashed it would seem by Nkandla and the huge expenditure that maintaining the Zulu monarchy demands! The king himself is an anachronism, surely only pandered to in our so-called democracy because he ‘rules over’ a huge number of traditional Zulu folk raised to revere him and who are guided by what he says. He therefore has the power to cause exactly the kind of trouble we are currently witnessing and which as a result, is now being investigated by the HRC.

 

At the march, we had a passing conversation with a journalist from China Central Television (CCTV Africa). He said he’d spoken to many immigrants in the Point Road area and elsewhere and felt the potential for escalating violence was extremely worrying. The immigrants themselves (many refugees from situations South Africans can only imagine even if they did live through Apartheid) are not as helpless as they may appear, and some could well decide to fight back. So all things considered – march or no march – the polarisation is taking place regardless, with outrage against South Africa and South Africans growing. African countries are talking about boycotting South African companies, artists and sports stars and South Africans themselves may soon find out what it feels like to be on the receiving end of violence in other African countries or being repatriated … it’s the hugest irony and déjà vu experience that this is happening all over again just under another name.

 

As far as the derision directed at the so-called privileged (which tends to be rather self-righteous and in some cases hypocritical), surely it’s about time those who are more fortunate woke up and identified with the desperation the majority of Africans (South African or otherwise) face and began to take some form of visible action to demonstrate their support and solidarity. It’s easy to sneer and be cynical but for the relatively few ‘privileged liberals’ who attended the march to have got there at all was probably quite an ordeal, something many may never have experienced and they would likely have had no idea of what to expect. Just getting to the stadium meant parking some distance away and walking through unaccustomed areas that would have been very daunting. So instead of disrespecting them, why not encourage them in the steps they are taking to change and make a difference, however small the ‘true activists’ perceive these steps to be?

 

Also, if we go down the road of putting down privileged liberals, we’ll soon be in a quagmire of sham and denial since many of the global movements and marches (including 350 and Occupy) draw on this demographic despite being portrayed as grassroots. Re “Privileged liberals who don’t understand the struggles which have brought on the violence” … in fact none of us get this (not even, and perhaps especially, those embroiled in it), not only because we have not ‘walked in another’s shoes’ but also because most of us have little appetite for complexity or doing the hard work of reading, researching, thinking critically, abandoning our prejudices and countering our pre-conditioned reflexes. Many also have no ability or means with which to do this because they’ve had neither the benefit of education or access to the tools that would enable it. This is the biggest problem and so long as the politicians and fanatics have the megaphones and use the situation for their own ends, it’s not likely to be resolved. Unfortunately, ‘Citizen Journalism’ via social media is also fanning the flames – it’s no more a reliable source of information than the biased mainstream media!

 

I often feel disillusioned by the perpetual divisiveness that seems prevail, especially when it comes from people who are supposedly on the same side. It’s not about constructive criticism which should always be welcome, but more about a kind of ego trip in which the pronouncers (possibly because they weren’t the initiators) never give credit and are instead more intent on being ‘one up’ and holding some imagined moral high ground that for the average person is simply not realistic or unattainable. Even more disconcerting is the kind of schadenfreude that seems to emanate … is there a competition going on to make some sort of point other than: we (being all people of consciousness and conscience who believe a better world is possible) need to join forces to work things out and find the most fair and decent way to bring about radical change to a corrupt, failing and undemocratic global system (of which South Africa became a pawn and a participant when it abandoned its socialist ideals and instead instituted the worst kind of crony capitalism), and that this process should not result in further violence or cause even more disruption and harm to the most vulnerable.

 

It also seems many have decided that instead of xenophobia, we are dealing with Afrophobia. This is the preferred term of Jonathan Moyo, the Zim information minister and a wily political opportunist. It’s also been taken up by the South African government, which judiciously avoids the word xenophobia, and has now become the new clarion call of the RhodesMustfall movement. But is it the best word? The preference is perhaps intended to highlight a type of racism that runs counter to the ideals of pan-Africanism and it may help allay the fears of others race groups but it’s not a stretch to imagine this hatred growing and being directed at others. For this and other reasons, HateMustFall seems a better hashtag and xenophobia the more accurate term, being a global phenomenon as the capitalist economic system begins to fail and people everywhere struggle to survive. Xenophobia also neatly pits the poor and working classes against each other instead of focussing on the rotten-to-the core system. We need to be careful that we are not unwittingly playing into the hands of the manipulators by making sure we clearly understand the difference and what we’re up against.

 

None of this – not the peace march, the RhodesMustFall students scuffling with police outside parliament, not the politicians (Mchunu, Malema or  Mugabe) should be allowed to detract from the complexity and seriousness of the situation, nor the fortitude that will be needed to tackle the issues that have led to this terrible and dangerous state of affairs. Addressing this is going to take a joint effort and a great deal of political will. Just maybe, if The People can build on such a high profile demonstration, this will begin to give the few politicians that still have some courage and integrity, the necessary weight and popular support to begin tackling the issues head on and doing the right thing … and we should never forget that every policeman, anti-immigrant South African, and even criminal using the situation to loot and steal – all have a story to tell.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

This report by Aljazeera is quite in-depth and balanced, reflecting all sides.

Report Xenophobia in South Africa:

 

This article examines the use of the term afrophobia.

Why black South Africans are attacking foreign Africans but not foreign whites:

 

And some more links to throw light and try to get some of the facts straight:

Foreigners do as they please in SA – Edward Zuma:

Listen to exactly what King Goodwill Zwelithini said about foreigners:

No apology in king, ministers meeting: 

Despite this article saying the necklacings were vigilantism, there seems to be no definitive answer to the question of whether the youths were from Zimbabwe as this one article claims: “The story goes that 5 young men (3 minors) crossed the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa to rob people. They ended up killing one man and were caught shortly after. Mob justice then took over and the 5 men were doused in kerosene, tied with ropes, then attached to tyres and set ablaze. The result was 3 of the men dying from injuries while 2 managed to live due to police intervention.” If they were, xenophobia can’t be entirely dismissed although on the face of it, it was mob justice for murder.

True story of shocking ‘xenophobic attack’ video revealed:

SA xenophobic attacks: A view from below:

South Africans chased out of Mozambique:

Zim student body calls for attacks on SA businesses:

Mugabe blamed for xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans living in South Africa:

South Africa’s Zuma seeks to reassure foreigners as violence spreads:

South Africa xenophobia: Africa reacts:

CCTV Africa Live report on xenophobia in South Africa:

Xhosa royals speak out against xenophobic attacks:

UCT lecturer slams ‘afrophobia’ tag:  

South Africa’s `Lost Generation’ Young people gave up their education to lead the struggle against apartheid; now millions of them need training and jobs:

In South Africa, a ‘Lost Generation’: 

 

Photo: At the beginning of the anti-xenophobia Peace March, 16 April 2015. This banner shows that xenophobia is just one symptom of many. We need to cure the disease, and not just focus on the symptoms.

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Xenophobia in South Africa

03 April 2015

AFRICAN DIASPORA FORUM ( ADF ) – STATEMENT

We, African Diaspora Forum ( ADF ), a federation of African Migrants community including some South Africans, working to foster Social cohesion in fighting Xenophobia, are very concerned about the ongoing Xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the statements made recently by some community leaders which fueled those attacks in some areas such as Kwazulu Natal.

It is regrettable that we are worried about incident of this nature a month before the Africa month, while we supposed to start thinking and planning on how to celebrate our unity in diversity. We are coming from far as African people, our history is made of slavery, colonialism, oppression and discrimination. This should inform the way we are paving our future aimed to promote human dignity.

Therefore;

We are urging:

African Union;

• To include Xenophobia discussion part of the agenda of the upcoming 25th AU Summit which will be held in South Africa in July this year

South Africa Government:

• To condemn boldly the xenophobic attacks and anyone making hate speech in public,

• To make sure all Migrants are well protected, especially those under international protection such refugees and Asylum Seekers

• To educate South Africans citizen about migration

• To foster actively the agenda of Social Cohesion

• The South African chapter 9 institutions should work with different communities in making sure that there is rule of laws, the respect of human right for all and any anyone should be accountable for wrong doing.

Embassies :

• To use all diplomatic means in making sure that their citizens are safe & well protected in South Africa.

• To actively work with South African government to prevent Xenophobia.

UNHCR :

• To be more pro-active in protecting Refugees and Asylum Seekers in using international instruments to implement the three sustainable solutions ( 1. Integration to the hosting country, 2. Voluntary repatriation to the country of  origin and 3. Resettlement to a third country)

IOM:

• To allocate significant resources; this will enable to address Xenophobia in South Africa.

• To embark on with sustained education campaign on Migration

NGOs :

• To come up with a networking and coordinated strategies and action to fight Xenophobia and to assist the Victims of Xenophobia

Migrants Communities:

• Remain calm, vigilant, informed and organized in liaising with the community leaders and law enforcement agents;

• To respect South African laws and regulations by all means

• To alert and report any xenophobic attacks to our Hotline ( 0842742844)

South Africans Citizen:

• To align themselves to the values of Pan Africanism, humanity/UBUNTU;

• To not identify themselves in following some irresponsible leaders who are using the ignorance of some people in the community to push their personal  agenda

• To refrain from any Xenophobic attacks

MEDIA :

• To raise community awareness about the positive contribution of a well managed migration system.

• To refrain in publishing Hate speeches aimed to break harmony in our society

Churches :

• To promote tolerance, harmony and peace in their different congregations.

• To be the leaders of their different communities in working to foster Social Cohesion

Traditional leaders:

• To unite the community in aligning them to our African values of UBUNTU. They are the custodians of our African values, culture and traditions.

Schools: 

• The department of Education should come up with a curriculum which will educate our kids about good morale and family values, African history and to be responsible and active citizens.

————————————————————————————

For more info contact: africandiasporaforum@gmail.com 011 487 0269

 After working hours:

Marc Gbaffou 083 514 7367 (marcgbaffou@gmail.com)  or

Jean-Pierre A. Lukamba 0838751256 ( refugeesa@gmail.com )

Warmest Regards

Jean-Pierre A. Lukamba Om.

AFRICAN DIASPORA FORUM: Deputy Chairman

REFUGEE HELP DESK: Chairperson

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:  WG Member

Tel: +27 11 487 0269

Cel. +27 83 875 1256

Fax No.: +27 86 766 2227

Our website :www.adf.org.za

 www.refugeesa.wozaonline.co.za

Statement in support of ‪#‎RhodesMustFall‬ by the United Front:

“Viva the Rhodes must Fall movement against racism and exploitation!!

Over the last two weeks a movement has erupted in South African universities demanding real transformation. Students and staff at the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and Wits University are leading this charge.

We must be clear about one thing – the struggle is not limited to removing a statue or changing a name. It is about making real social changes – in a country that is the most unequal in the world. South African universities reflect this inequality – racial, gender and class.

It is racial inequality because black academic staff are still in the minority. In 2012, blacks accounted for only 14% of all professors (http://africacheck.org/…/how-many-professors-are-there-in-…/).
It is gender inequality because only 13% of academic staff are women.

It is class inequality because cleaners are employed on a month to month contract and in unacceptable working conditions of harassment and intimidation from managers. They are paid poverty wages. Those employed by labour brokers have no pension or medical aid benefits. The overwhelming majority of the cleaning staff are black (non-white) women – who are often trampled upon by middle-class students of “their” colour. Universities are happy to exploit cheap black labour. This reflects social reality in South Africa.

We need to remember our history. It explains the present. The statue and name of Rhodes, Jameson, Livingstone and others is also, in one way, a reminder that we still have not won. It is used by racists to gloat over the fact that they still own most of this country.

But it is also used by black elites, Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrice Motsepe as a reminder that workers must remain in their place. It is a reminder of the Marikana massacre. Whilst Rhodes stood for exploitation, a falling Rhodes can only be meaningful if it means a fall of the system of death wages, alienation and differential weighting of human value based on so-called skills. Difference, be it blackness of any marker of subaltern (post-colonial) identity is not progressive in itself. Progress is the eternal subversion which has to be inclusive and anti all forms of structures of market, patriarchal homophobic racist authority.

We need to also correct lies that are peddled by racists and capitalists. To quote Rhodes himself; “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available in the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.”

Rhodes sought to expand capitalism in Britain. His private company, the British South Africa Company, stole land from Muizenberg in Cape Town all the way to Kenya. Companies that are the successors (inheritors) of the BSA Company include Amplats in South Africa (platinum), DeBeers in Botswana and Namibia (diamonds), Anglo American in Zimbabwe and Zambia (gold, copper and citrus fruit plantations) – almost half of central and southern Africa!

The UCT Council claims that Rhodes gave the land to the UCT and therefore the UCT needs to decide on transformation. Rhodes did not give away “his” land. He distributed land that has been stolen from Africans. The UCT is built on occupied land. We, the black working class, must decide on transformation – not the UCT Council!

The “Rhodes” scholarship fund does not come from Rhodes. It comes from both the sale of minerals that were looted under the barrel of a gun and the workers that are still exploited today by Anglo and Lonmin. This money belongs to the workers and we want it to fund free education!

As the UCT Workers Support committee argues; “It cannot be that students can only learn if workers suffer. It cannot be that academics can only do their work if workers suffer. It cannot be that there is only education if capitalist bosses can make a profit. But it is all happening here at UCT…Rhodes will fall! UCT must change! Together in struggle and solidarity, workers and students, we must change UCT!”

The movement to get rid of the statues and names of those who forced and continue to force capitalism on us can only do justice by fighting to remove the present system of oppression and exploitation – those who benefit from it and those who govern it. Once we have done so we can move onto creating a society free from the violence of poverty wages, unemployment, homelessness, the police and lack of service delivery.

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Issued by the United Front
25 March 2015
Email: uf.wcape@gmail.com
Phone: 071 117 1857 / 078 930 2074 / 076 647 6101

US urged to help make Marikana report public

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By Shanti Aboobaker March 19 2015 at 11:54am

Johannesburg – The United Front wants the US to exert its influence by pressuring the South African government to publicly release the final report of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in full.

The report is to be submitted to President Jacob Zuma at the end of the month, but the government has not committed to making it public. It is possible that only excerpts will be released to the public.

On Wednesday, the United Front convened community activists outside the US Consulate in Sandton in protest against what it calls racist killings in the US.

The event was also a rallying point for residents of Thembelihle in Lenasia who say police have harassed them for the past two weeks.

Kagiso Digopo, a 34-year-old community activist from Thembelihle, showed The Star his wound after police shot him with rubber bullets on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said the law allowed police to disperse a crowd with teargas and rubber bullets.

Copy of ST sec shot.JPGKagiso Digopo, 34, said he was shot by police in Thembelihle on Tuesday. He is too scared to lay a charge against the police because he believes they will arrest him for being part of peaceful protests in the area. Picture: Boxer NgwenyaTHE STAR

“If people don’t move from blocking other people (in the road), we will use means of removing them with rubber bullets and teargas,” Makhubela said.

Moses Dlamini, spokesman for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, did not answer his phone on Wednesday.

Digopo said he was too scared to lay a charge because he was wanted for inciting the protests over the lack of water, electricity and housing in the area.

He and several other community activists said they were in hiding after police rounded up activists during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At least three African-American men have been killed by law enforcement officers in the US in recent months. Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner, 43, was strangled in Staten Island, New York; and Tony Terrell Robinson, 19, was shot dead in Madison, Wisconsin, just 10 days ago.

The police officers who killed Garner and Brown have not been prosecuted despite evidence that the men were not armed.

The struggle against brutal and racial police repression in the US appears to be mirrored in South Africa – as seen in the deaths at the hands of the police of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg and the 34 mineworkers shot dead at Marikana in 2012.

Earlier this month, The Star reported on how police officers in plainclothes shot Mduduzi Nkosi three times in Soweto in what they said was a case of mistaken identity.

United Front Gauteng steering committee member Trevor Ngwane said police action against community protest effectively criminalised people who were demanding basic services.

“Protest is criminalised. When the working class and the poor raise their problems and grievances, the answer they get is violence by the ruling class and the bourgeois state,” he said.

“Capitalism is a violent system – it breeds racism.”

The United Front also called on the US government to put pressure on South Africa to stop “the criminalisation of protest” and to defend the right to protest.

“Use your power and influence to put pressure on the government to release the full report of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana massacre,” Ngwane told the consulate’s public affairs officer, John Warner.

He said the South Africans who pulled the trigger and the people who pulled the political strings that led to the massacre must be charged, tried and sentenced.

The United Front is a coalition of community activists, civil society, academics, trade unionists and workers, formed after a special national congress resolution of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

It aims to marry the struggle against oppression faced by those in the workplace with community struggles for basic services such as water, electricity and housing.

The Star

Take back parliament for the people, declares R2K

Members and supporters of the Right2Know campaign rallied in the Cape Town CBD yesterday and vowed to take back Parliament for the South African public. This was in response to events at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which had a “profoundly negative impact on our democracy” according to the organisation.

“Biko sacrificed his life for the nation… Robert Sobukwe sacrificed his life for the nation … Jacob Zuma sacrificed the nation for his life!”

This comment by Khayelitsha resident and Right2Know supporter Sibusiso Xabangela was met by an outburst of agreement from around 400 people packed into the Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square, Thursday evening. It was a moment which seemed to capture the collective disillusionment which the speakers and their audience had shared over the course of an hour and a half of discussion.

The event condemned the ANC’s and the state’s actions in parliament last week during the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The jamming of cellphone signals in the chamber prior to Zuma’s address and the violent removal of Economic Freedom Fighters’ MPs by police officers was the main focus. The ANC were bemoaned for rolling back on Constitutional freedoms and democratic principles in a number of ways.

Playwright and activist Mike van Graan took the government’s and the ANC’s intimidation of artists like Brett Murray, creator of The Spear, as a tactic which fosters self-censorship in the arts.

“The freedom fought for and enshrined in our Constitution is contradicted by the very people who remind us that it was they who fought for our freedom. They practice a [Mugabe-ist doctrine] in reminding us that they can also take [our freedom] away,” he said.

The people of South Africa don’t want police in Parliament, declared Phumeza Mlungwana, Social Justice Coalition general secretary. “We want them in the streets of Khayelitsha and Manenberg to ensure that we are safe!”

With reference to a recent advertisement by KwaZulu Natal Department of Human Settlements seeking a private contractor to monitor and prevent “land invasions”, the United Front’s Mazibuko Jara compared the ANC-run state to the apartheid state.

“It is the department’s duty to provide housing, not to monitor the poor’s struggle for land. But, the needs of poor people for land has been turned into a question of security, much like the struggle for freedom was turned into a security issue by the apartheid state.”

Jane Duncan, academic and author of the recent book The Rise of the Securocrats, sketched how the work of an increasingly centralised, secretive and powerful security cluster was being geared away from protecting citizens, towards “protecting the president from the people”.

“The State Security Agency has developed warped priorities. What does it do about the assassinations of political activists in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal? Yet, it has time enough to install cell phone jammers in Parliament,” she said, before turning her scrutiny on herself and the South African public at large.

“[The turning of the security cluster against the people] has happened because we have allowed it to happen.”

The overwhelming theme on Thursday night was not the public’s failure to hold an elite to account, but the will to “take parliament back” as a space created by the struggle for freedom of ordinary citizens against apartheid — a “people’s parliament”.

Missing in person, but not in spirit, was the late South African author, R2K supporter and “advocate of truth and transparency” André Brink. Shireen Mukadam paid tribute to him by quoting a passage from one of his seminal works, A Dry White Season. It reminded the gathered activists of one of Brink’s enduring lessons to South Africans, that there are two dangers in life, the assumption that we can do everything and, the assumption that we can do nothing.

 

Juliet Plaatjies, a Social Justice Coalition member from Khayelitsha, joins in singing struggle songs at the Right2Know campaign’s mass meeting in the CBD. Picture by Daneel Knoetze.