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The Protection of Information Bill is AN ONSLAUGHT against DEMOCRACY and PEOPLE’S DIGNITY

category southern africa | community struggles | non-anarchist press author Tuesday November 22, 2011 14:23author by Ayanda Kota - Unemployed People's Movement Report this post to the editors

Ayanda Kota on the secrecy bill

Ayanda Kota, chairperson of the Unemployed People's Movement, on the 'secrecy bill' that comes before the South African parliament today.

History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce.
- Karl Marx

When the National Party government realised that they were loosing their grip on power, they became pre-occupied with state security. They were so paranoid that secrecy and censorship became a tool of oppression. It was criminal to possess a document that government would perceive to be threatening and the media censorship was dominant and severe. Who would forget Black Wednesday, 19 October 1977, when 18 Black Consciousness formations were banned and its leaders jailed, tortured and killed. Newspapers were also banned.

Former President, Nelson Mandela addressing the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) in 1994 said “if the ANC does to you what the government of National Party did to you; you must do to the ANC what you did to the government of National Party.”

But when the people protest because of the corrupt politicians who treat the poor with contempt and a lack of caring the ANC does not listen. Instead we are beaten, jailed, tortured and even killed. Who can forget Andries Tatane? His murder was a repeat of what happened to Hector Petersen on June 16 1976. He has become the martyr of the rebellion of the poor. Who can forget what happened to the demonstration of Abahlali baseMjondolo in 2006, when police open fire to a peaceful march? It was a repeat of the 1980s all over again. Who can forget when the residents of Hangberg in Cape Town were jailed and shot at for refusing evictions? Some of them lost their eyes to rubber bullets. It was a repeat of what happened at Crossroads in Cape Town when people resisted illegal evictions.

Recently Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested and no one knew where he was being held. This was a move to inculcate intimidation and fear to journalists. It was a continuation of apartheid tactics and a collapse into rule by decree of rule outside of the constitution. This is not democracy.

There is no freedom if the people do not know what the government is doing in their name. Every cent that goes to a political party, to a politician should be public knowledge. Otherwise how do we know why, or in whose interest, decisions are made? The arms deal & its cover-up was the point at which we first lost the freedom to know & it has got worse & worse with the Secrecy Bill the ultimate manifestation of the elected deciding what the people they are supposed to serve will be allowed to know! Politicians want to be kings and queens and not the servants of the people. Just look at their blue light cavalcades. This is not democracy.

It is becoming more and more clear that the government of the ANC is starting to do to us what the government of the National Party did to us. They are repressing our struggles, forcing us into transit camps at gun points, leaving us to shit in buckets in shacks, denying most of us the right to decent education and denying millions of us the right to work or to have a decent housing. At the same time they are undermining the Constitutional Court and freedom of the press. And they are corrupt beyond repair. Maharaj, Malema, Yengeni, Kebble, Zuma, Sheik....the list goes on and on. They are billionaires and millionaires through tenderprenuership. They have privatized our struggle and they rule our country as if it is their private property. They are indulging in sensational politics, the politics of who has the right to plunder our resources. We are supposed to accept that politics is a choice between Malema (and his faction) or Zuma (and his faction). We are supposed to think that politics is a choice between Malema destroying a house in Sandton to the tune of R4 million and building R16 million house on the property through tenderpreneuship or Zuma building a palace in Enkandla to a total budget of between R69million and R400million using taxpayer’s money. A lavish house that is surrounded by falling mud houses and people who go to bed on a hungry stomach.

Our movements have won some important victories in the Constitutional Court. But as much as we must defend it from attack by the predatory elite the fact is that it cannot protect us for ever and it cannot on its own give us what we need. The court is already being undermined by Zuma's government and the ANC have made it clear that they intend to subordinate it to the party.

Civil society has won some victories too. But NGOs do not represent the people and have no real power to stand up to an increasingly ruthless predatory elite.

The answer to the betrayal of our struggle can be seen in Tahrir Square. When the people in Egypt took to the streets, united and determined in their actions, their former president looked to the head of the army to defend him. The response of the General was, “it is time to go”. Yes it was time to go, because people united can never be defeated. Now the people are demanding that the Generals must go. If they can stand together and stand strong in their numbers the Generals will go too.

It is only mass action by the masses of the people that can protect the people from an oppressive government and advance their interests. Our people are already on the streets. The rebellion of the poor has been raging for years now. It has produced some powerful movements in some places. It is time for us to come together and sustain mass action in a united front against those who have captured and privatised the people's struggle for a free, democratic and equal country. It is time for us to stop pretending that the Constitution and civil society will save us. Only the people, organised and united in struggle, can save us.

The ANC is doing to us what the government of the National Party did to us. It is time for them to go! We must embark on the second wave of revolution. We must draw our inspiration from the revolutions that started in Tunisia and have moved through the Arab World and into the mass protests in Greece, Spain and now America. The ANC has served its historic mission. It's time has passed. It must go now. The time has come to start building real alternatives from the ground up.

Ayanda Kota
Chairperson, Unemployed People's Movement
078 625 6462 9

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