“Motsoaledi: lives wasted because of greed!!”, by Motsoaledi anarchists/ ZACF, August 2007

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 30 August 2007.  Some overlaps with this piece.

Motsoaledi: lives wasted because of greed!! People in the squatter camps are the alternative

Motsoaledi squatter camp started sometimes 1993.   Just like many other current squatter camps in South Africa. The people were under the impression that “the politicians will build houses as soon as they get into power”. Elias Motsoaledi is one of the ANC popular politicians during the apartheid. It is common to find squatter camps named after a politician despite that “they never set a foot or even aware about them”. The same names have been repeated. Lots of squatter camps are named after Mandela because of his then popularity amongst the masses.

During this time the ANC and IFP factions killed each other. The ANC faction dominated in this squatter camp-Motsoaledi. They killed innocent people, expropriate their belonging, and extrude money from them and raped women. These heinous acts distanced people from participating in the struggle and many people ran away. Even after the ANC won the 1994 election this community remained the fiefdom of the ANC faction.

Until today the houses are not built. The people live in shacks with no electricity, sanitation or school. Around 2002 the ANC local structure counterattacks our attempts to organise the people. It was just after the members of the SECC/APF publicly burned their ANC cards during the appearance of their comrades at the court. This made them furious but unable to gather any possible strength. However they manage to scare us away for a while.

We started to clear an open space used for dumping to hold our meetings, garden and library. People became more and more tired of the ANC’s empty promises. And already have lost confidence in its local leadership. When we launched the now only existing community structure that we called the “Motsoaledi Community Residents”. They flocked from everywhere to sign their names.

There are about 1250 plots crowded with shacks filled by lots of families. A plot around 10mX10m could be accommodating 4 to 15 different families. Mostly families are migrant workers coming from backyard rooms around Soweto. Illiteracy, unemployment, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS and alcohol abuse dominates the lives of the people. Since there are no facilities or means at all to keep people busy with something that “interest, protect and advance their lives”.

Children’s learning ability has been hampered. While their parents pay no attention. Since they are still waiting for the houses to be built and title-deeds to guarantee they own the land. It is now 14years since people started staying here. The children of this community have multiplications of difficulties. They are not waiting they are growing without anything to rely on for the future. There’s quite lots of young boys already in the prisons. And together old and young people are dying because of poverty related illness and HIV/AIDS.

This is nothing but war by the ANC government on the poor and majority of the country. Even the most indifferent person cannot ignore this challenge. Then you could’t complain about the ANC. Those in persistence to recognise the ANC are fighting a losing battle on the grass roots level. The backup number is deteriorating in droves. They can clinch, stretch or amplify “it is over”. They only call meetings during election campaign. Thereafter counter attack people’s power and try to fabricate them. In order to weaken our possible uprising!! Who knows about their new plan to nationally centralise power. Perhaps they want to avoid bothering about local elections. So they don’t breathe the fire smoke from our clothes and surroundings during their campaign. Yet controlling and watching our every move.

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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).