“Take back your lives, communities …”: Motsoaledi anarchists, February 2006

Produced by the key writer in the Black Action Group (affiliate of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation – now the Front – or ZACF) and the Phambile Motsoaledi Community Project. Unknown at this stage if this was published in Motsoaledi News or Vuka Motsoaledi or elsewhere, in this or revised form. Dated 7 February 2006.

Take back your lives, communities and be independent from this mental slavery!
We are the workers and majority; everything from basic to luxury is made, grew, installed, manufactured, maintained, transported and mined by us. Yet we cannot afford these resources and food because we don’t have the money.   Everyone at Motsoaledi is a worker including other similar communities across the country and the whole world. Whether unemployed, pensioner or going to school you are a worker.

The mega billions of rand spent on building Baragwanath mall is our money. But we don’t make any decision on how this money is used.The ANC government protects and put the interest of the few and rich on the expenses of the poor and majority. Who voted them into power! They tell the people that “they are one going to benefit from these malls”. This is a lie!

Only those with money will enjoy these facilities and making more money. While the money spent on building these comes from our tax money meant to build us houses and delivery of the basic services. They are spending mega zillions of rand rebuilding stadiums and buildings for 2010 world cup soccer game. While the majority of the country are going hungry everyday.

People on the ground do not care about the world cup and its exorbitant project costing their lives. They want to live normal lives and experience their lives to the maximum. The world cup will come and go after all.

The companies building these malls and managing services in the public institutions are owned by the same people. These people benefited from apartheid and their few selected emerging black counterparts’ entrepreneurs and business partners.  Mostly they have corrupt relationship with the ANC officials. Claiming the ANC has liberated the black people. Because they are enjoying comfortable lives and they are blacks.

While the black majority and poor who voted ANC into power have to compete for their slave wage jobs. These are married people with children and family members to look after. They have to work only under contact relationship. Meaning that “their future is uncertain and they have nowhere to take complains”. Again to qualify for these jobs you are expected to be the ANC possible voter. In the ANC government is just the same like apartheid the people who do everything they get nothing at the end.

Yet they expect the people from poor neighboring communities to spend money in these malls. In Motsoaledi the unemployment is 80%. Most families depend on the child and pension grant to survive and they are regulars at the nearby scrap yards and dumping side. Children are also frequenting on these hazardous smell and wastes deports to make a living.

Women and children sell fat cookies, cigarettes, sweets, biscuits and braai chicken heads and feet on the street corners. Also there are couples of stalls selling cow tribe, offal and head meat. There are spaza shops and sheebens in families. They get their stock from the neighboring cash and carries and liquor depot at Develand.

Nothing else the people can do because they don’t have money to do anything either than these miserable way of survival. They are always in difficulties to keep going. As they have to keep up with the stock and look after their families at the same time. Since people they don’t have money the sheebens and spaza shops have to give beers and groceries on credit.

Since more people have been unable to find jobs and loosing jobs. These hopeless street corners-sheebens-spazas have been the only last way the people can depend on for a living. Street vendors at the Baragwanath taxi terminals who are the original people to start these ways of survival and mostly are women. Their meal of the day will soon be swallowed in the stomach of the greedy Shoprite mall. Meaning they’ll go hungry becoming beggars and consequently called losers and lazy.

The people who make money are the big companies like the SAB as most men turned into routine alcohol consumption. Because there’s nothing they can do. Other than unemployment there’s nothing the government has done to occupy people’s lives. Children have to walk long distances to schools. The government has promised that “it will distribute transports for school children in the communities without schools”.

Nothing like that has ever happened at Motsoaledi. Parents have to hire private transports for their kids to schools. Even those whom are trying to get their kids transported they are doing it in difficulties. Children at Motsoaledi are completely forgotten by the ANC government. This is humiliating their childhood and they are daily traumatized to experience such miserable condition at their early age.

When the people voted they were promised free basic services and houses-Not the malls, staduims and gautrain. Life comes first before profit! The lives of the people at Motsoaledi Squatter Camp must come first. The houses were promised first. No one at Motsoaledi ever dreamt of mega billions of rand spent on building the mall stone throw from them. They dreamt of free basic services, jobs and houses.

Again on the 1st March are the local government elections. Mbeki has been out as usual. To abuse the trust and collective fundamental interest of the 40million poor people of this country to live in harmony. He’s doing this for the interest of the rich to keep us poorer and poorer every day.

Voting will never bring us any change. Instead it gives power to the government officials to protect the interests of the rich and few. You don’t have to be white or black to be an oppressor. Everyone can become an oppressor. The only and the last resolution is to boycott this elections and carry on demanding our basic free services.

The more we fight the more chances are there to win!

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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014) and 'Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' (co-written with Michael Schmidt, AK Press 2009).