Mashumi is a a founder member and leader of a strong community organization, Abahlali baseMjondolo, in some settlements in Durban. He criticizes the political leaders and the establishment for being parasites through corruption, on the people after their victory over apartheid. He says “communities need to build healthy organizations, democratic organizations, honest organizations… We need to build organizations that can build the power of the workers and the poor… We need land and housing. We need decent work. Our children need good education. Our demands are clear: The land, the wealth and the power must be shared fairly. Every person must count the same.”
Lindela ‘Mashumi’ Figlan
Apartheid was defeated by the will of the people, but when freedom arrived, along with it came a parasite. This parasite is eating the people’s struggle from the inside out. It’s time to rid South Africa of its unwelcome guest.
At home in Flagstaff my mother used to feed the two pigs with one big walking dish. One day I noticed that she was no longer feeding the pigs from one big walking dish and that she had separated one pig from another and was using two walking dishes. I was very stressed because one was getting thin and the other was getting fat. I asked my mother about her decision to feed the pigs separately. She told me the thin pig had a parasite that was eating it from the inside.
There is an important lesson in this story for South Africa. Apartheid was defeated by the struggles of the people. But when freedom arrived there was a parasite inside our movement, eating it from the inside. Then the movement started to eat us too. During the struggle we were so focused on the Boers that we didn’t notice the parasite inside our movement.
Every weekend Abahlali baseMjondolo must go to two or three new areas. People are rushing to join the movement because they cannot survive without struggle. Without struggle you will be evicted from your shack, or end up in a transit camp. The truth is that the government has no plan to house the people. They are only interested in using the housing budget to make their friends millionaires. Fraud and corruption are everywhere. Houses said to be for the poor are given to people such as police officers and teachers, people who are close to the ruling party. At the same time, our children are dying of diarrhea in shacks, women are being raped because there are no toilets and the fires keep coming. The Constitution says that we have a right to housing and that we can’t be evicted without a court order. The Councillors don’t care about the Constitution. They just evict people. If you resist you will be arrested. You might be beaten or tortured. You might even be killed. And people are losing jobs each and every day, and the government has no plan for them.
It was so easy for the President to sing “Awuleth’ Umshini wam” to the people, asking them to bring him his machine gun. But now he is singing “Inde lendlela”, telling the people that this war has gone on too long. It is true that sometimes struggle is long. But it is also true that it didn’t take long for the President to secure the wealth of his family and his friends. It didn’t take long for him to build his own home. It didn’t take long for the people’s struggles to be repressed. We have to ask ourselves what the President has been doing with that machine gun some people were so happy to give him.
Millions of people have no work. Others are working for R60 a day through labour brokers. Yet the tenderpreneurs, those who are close to the leaders of the ruling party, are earning millions and millions. It is clear that some who were fighting the Boers were doing so in order to become the new Boers, not because they were committed to justice. These are the same people who tried to impose the Slums Act on us. They are the same people who are repressing our struggles by burning our homes, locking us in prison, torturing us in police stations and killing us. The police went onto the mountain to kill the workers in Marikana just like they went on to Ingquza Hill to massacre our fathers in 1960. We really have to ask ourselves: what has changed for the workers and the poor?
The so-called comrades that lead this country are hypocrites. They are parasites eating the people’s struggle from the inside. They are opportunists of worst kind. This is why we call them the black Bo ers. It is time to separate the real people’s struggle from the parasites. It is time to stop giving away our power to politicians. It is time to stop feeding them. It is time that we look after our own struggles and keep them separate from the politicians and their tenderpreneurs.
An oppressor is an oppressor, no matter what colour they are.
We need the workers to take the side of the poor, to join with us in our struggles. We all know that this is impossible as long as the workers are controlled by Cosatu, which is under the ANC and influenced by the SACP too. But now that some workers are organizing themselves autonomously from the ANC, like we have done in Abahlali baseMjondolo since 2005, it might be possible for the workers and the poor to struggle together.
Some of our fathers were in the mountain committees during the Pondo Revolt. Some of our brothers are in the strike committees on the platinum belt. Our wives, our sisters and o ur daughters are in the shack committees with us. We know that more of us will be arrested, tortured and killed in this struggle. But we will stand strong.
Those who come preaching division amongst the poor are our enemies. Let us be clear who the real parasites in our society are. The parasites are those who have privatized our struggle for their own gain. The parasites are those who are growing rich while we are getting poorer. The parasites are those who send their police or assassins to repress and even murder us when we organize. We need to stop giving our support to the organizations that are hosts for these parasites. We need to build healthy organizations, democratic organizations, honest organizations. We need to build organizations that can build the power of the workers and the poor.
We need land and housing. We need decent work. Our children need good education. Our demands are clear: The land, the wealth and the power must be shared fairly. Every person must count the same.