Thuli Ndlovu knew that she could be murdered. But she continued with her movement work regardless. The mother and militant of the shack dwellers movement was assassinated this week in an attack that left her teenage daughter with serious gunshot wounds. When will this brutality against the poor end in ‘free’ South Africa?
Abahlali baseMjondolo is the largest shack dwellers social movement in South Africa, fighting for the rights to land, housing and a decent human life in the so-called ‘Rainbow Nation’. The neo-liberal policies embraced by Nelson Mandela and successive governments of the African National Congress since the end of apartheid with the first non-racial elections in 1994 have meant that the country’s wealth remains disproportionately in the hands of the white minority. Many analysts agree that whites in South Africa – and their elite Black enablers in politics and business - have lived better in the past 20 years of Black majority rule than during apartheid. And at the expense of the Blacks.
On Monday night, Thuli Ndlovu, a leader of Abahlali in Kwa-Zulu Natal, was assassinated. Her teenage daughter was left with serious gunshot wounds. Several leaders of this movement have been assassinated in recent years, amidst a relentless campaign of terror and repression by representatives of the ANC government and other powerful cliques. Abahlali says that a number of its leaders are currently on the assassins’ hit list.
Pambazuka News this week carries several articles on the struggles of Abahlali BaseMjondolo in the context of the current bloody repression and against the broader backdrop of the aspirations of Black liberation as espoused by Steve Biko, whose assassination by the apartheid regime was commemorated just two weeks ago.
These materially poor people’s only ‘crime’ is to organise themselves to secure their rights as citizens of South Africa. Their activism has often been met with the brutal force of the police and members of the pampered political class – brutality reminiscent of the dark days of apartheid. How long will this go on? For how long will the ruling ANC watch as poor citizens are murdered as it enjoys the trappings of power in South Africa? How many of these poor must be killed before any action is taken? How is South Africa really a free, democratic nation?
All people in South Africa and around the world who are committed to social justice should come out to condemn this reign of terror against Abahlali baseMjondolo movement and other poor people in South Africa, and to call upon the government of President Jacob Zuma to immediately investigate the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice. The government must also listen and act on the demands of Abahlali movement.
* Henry Makori is an editor with Pambazuka News.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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