by Lindela Figlan, Pambazuka
People are born not the same and they will die not the same. Although people got united to achieve one goal, which is an equal and democratic society, the gap between the haves and the have nots is not fading away. In fact it is growing. People got united and we thought that we had the same purpose and aim but for sure there are some for whom their intentions were to make sure that their own plans are achieved. Those with their own intentions are not here to sustain what is making the people to be together. But on the other hand some are working tirelessly without even noticing that there is a wolf that is also waiting tirelessly and patiently for good results so that it can seize the victories for itself. People pretended as if they were freedom fighters while they were freedom robbers. They were wolves wearing the attire of the Freedom Charter and so we thought that they were lambs. But now where are they? Some come rushing past us in their blue light convoys. We see some of them in expensive hospitals and in places like Qalakabusha waiting to restart their plans to destroy this country.
Really I want to know how we are supposed to call those who steal the money that is supposed to go the poor? How are we supposed to call those who steal the money for houses, even for social grants? Are we still supposed to call them ‘comrades’?
At home my mother (MaRadebe) taught me to call a spade a spade. How can I call somebody a comrade when I know what he is capable of? How can I call somebody who got rich by stealing from the poor a comrade? How can I call somebody who is always jeopardizing the status of my country as a comrade?
Why in such a good country are there people sleeping on the roads while billions goes missing from the money set aside to develop the people? Even now, even with everything that we have seen, with the mansions and sports cars and Johnny Walker Blue on one side and old ladies looking for rotting food in rubbish bins on the other side, when people are arrested for stealing from the people others will come with placards written ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But at the time when that person was committing the crime he or she never thought anything about the people. Is politics now just about each little group supporting their own thief so that they can get something too?
Are we really free? Democracy has made some of us multimillionaires but these multimillionaires are not even willing to help those that are suffering. Was this country and its resources created for them? The Freedom Charter said that ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it’. It didn’t say that ‘South Africa belongs to the whites now but in the future it will belong to the rich’.
Those who have become rich are trying to redefine freedom and democracy to suit themselves. Those who have remained faithful to what freedom and democracy really mean, to what they meant when the people got united, are labelled as traitors of our new democracy. If you say in 2012 what you said in 1994 or in 1984 or in 1976 or in 1960 you are a traitor. This is really amazing.
What is this Bato Pele thing? Is there anyone proud of what he or she was fighting for? Does anyone really believe that this is freedom? Where is the equality that we have been dreaming of? How on earth can you sleep peacefully when you know exactly that the people that elected you to develop them are sleeping on the road?
There is a very disappointing thing in South Africa which is that people tend to be so unhappy if you are seeking the truth. These people that are ruling us know they told us that there is not even one country in the world that has got such a good Constitution like our country. But now they are planning to amend it. They say that the Constitution is the reason why the poor are still poor! In fact the real reason is that poor people are using the Constitution to know the truth. We are using the Constitution to defend ourselves.
They say that they want to change the Constitution and that they are the real custodians of human rights and the people’s dignity. They say that they are the ones that really want equality. But where are the views of the people on the ground? Have they ever visited the people to seek their views? We have not forgotten that they told us that there will be nothing that they will do without the people.
But when they say ‘people’ who are they referring to? Do they just mean the people like them, who are becoming richer as the rest of us become poorer? One thing is for sure. If you do not belong to a political party and you believe in a living politics, if you believe that poor people can think and that we should all make this country together then it means that you are not a human being.
Why all of a sudden is there this plan to amend the constitution? The government has been in power since 1994. Is it because corruption is escalating and because protests are escalating? They didn’t start with the Constitution. They started with the newspapers. They wanted to make sure that the newspapers are not exposing their secrets. Some of these same newspapers exposed our struggles while we were under white minority rule but know that we are under rich minority rule they want to cut their wings. What is it that they are intending to do to us? Why do they want to ensure that we don’t have all the information that we need to understand things properly? It was the newspapers that exposed how the bosses of Aurora Mines were getting so rich while they were not paying their workers. People on the ground must ensure that they oppose this autocratic thinking and that the stands as united as against the rule of the rich minority as they did against the rule of the white minority. Democracy is the rule of the people. It is not the rule of a rich minority instead of a white minority.
We thought that are our involvement in the struggle to liberate ourselves we would harvest the fruit of our toil. But it seems as if we were just wasting our time and energy for those who now think for us. These days it looks like the politicians think that they can do whatever they want. But we still remember that they were supposed to be taking our agenda forward. They were supposed to be working for us, not stealing from us and repressing us. While they are planning to amend the Constitution we are dying in shack fires, from floods and from AIDS. Many of us are looking for work every day and are becoming exhausted and depressed. Some of us that have work are not treated as human beings at work and still have to live in shacks because the pay is so bad.
During the World Cup so much money was wasted to make things for the visitors from all over the world. COP 17 was another big problem. Our government loves to impress rich people from other countries but we don’t count to them. They are ashamed of us. In fact we must be evicted so that we can be hidden away from international appearance. But of course when the elections come then these same people will be needed to vote.
We are still living under minority rule. The minority passes the laws that it wants, it uses its muscles to force the people to accept its domination. The rule of the rich minority is very similar in some ways to the rule of the white minority. Instead of trying to eradicate racism in South Africa the government is just making sure that no one will stand in their way so that they can do what they like. Whether we like to talk about it or not Africans are still regarded Africans, Indians are still regarded Indians and whites are still regarded as whites. The government is not looking for ways to change this so that we can all just be South Africans. We are still treated according to the colour of our skins. Some racists are using poor African security guards to do their dirty work. This is even happening in the shopping malls which are supposed to be places in which all that counts is your money. We really have a gift for ignoring things that are true but that will create division. Sithi ke thina za sithetha inyaniso ikrakra (truth is bitter).
There are only a few people above that we can put our trust in. One is the honourable Dikgang Moseneke. This man stands for the truth and for the poor. Another is the honourable Thuli Madosela. It seems as if she is really the one that doesn’t like corruption and all these unacceptable actions against the poor and against the country. Everywhere you go people are saying ‘Viva Thuli Viva!’
Now is the time for us all to realise that there is a struggle inside every struggle. Now is the time when we must stop being used as the tools of the capitalists and make sure that what belongs to the people must go to the people.
AMATHOL” ANYONGANDE KUKUDLELANA
* Lindela Figlan is the Deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) for 2012. He works as a security guard.