[DEBATE] : (Fwd) D'Sa on social movements
pbond at mail.ngo.za
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Nov 23 18:01:44 GMT 2007
THE STATE OF SAS SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
by Desmond D'Sa
delivered at Wolpe Lecture, 22 November, UKZN Centre for Civil Society
During the apartheid era South Africas and at the height of oppression many groups and people fought individually against the struggle they faced. There were always small victories that communities and people could claim. When one thinks of the fishermen they were not allowed to fish on certain piers or beaches yes they in their own way took their struggle up and forced the apartheid regime to fish even when there were signs of black and white.
The Clairwood area was under threat by the regime and yet they took on the regime to stay on the land at the expense of no delivery in their communities. If one looks at the struggle of the market gardeners despite been push from pillow to post they were able to stay on the land and repel the notion of taking away the land from them.
Many other groups throughout this country who were in action since the 1970s and 1980s.hundreds played a pivotal role in the survival of their communities. Although comrades and activist were tortured, killed and in prison they never stopped fighting for the upliftment of their people even to the detrimental of their families.
We immediately saw a huge change with the demise of the apartheid regime as we saw people and groupings come together to form a collective voice the UDF .We saw the effect immediately and the response of the security services. However even this response was not affective as the collective voice of the people could not be stopped nor defeated. It was this collective struggle and sacrifice that was the engine room for the democracy that all people enjoy today.
What is state of Social Movement after 1994?
After the dawn of democracy most social movements went to sleep and in fact some went into bed with the ruling party like SANCO believing that a better life was around the corner for the people of this country .In fact if you raised your voice about issues affecting the communities you were branded a traitor and not patriotic to the people of the country.
Government structures were set up to co- opt civil society with the main aim of silencing any dissent or conflict by the waiting masses. Many social movement groups continued to work out their individual boxes to educate, empower or defend the gains we made in defeating the apartheid regime. Even though we attained the freedom many social movements were faced with challenges and did not have the means or the resources to deal with these problems e.g. People were denied access to basic services like water, electricity, health, education. HIV / AIDS and environmental effects were increasing in poor communities and there was no response from the government of the freedom fighters. The 2002 world summit on sustainable was the catalyst to bring all the movements together under one banner to challenge Neo Libelirism.
In Gauteng thousands of poor people under the banner of the social movement marched on the capital of the rich SANDTON and declared war. In other parts like in Cape Town and Durban the social movements at the very same time picket, protested and marched on the multi-national corporations.
There after the government the elite took notice that the social movement was beginning to be a formiddle opponent and try as they may the failed to stop this Tsunami that was gaining momentum in the country. The environmental justice movement has grown in leaps and bounds in all corners of the country and my experience of this is that through this united struggle we have seen progressive legislation to give effect to he constitution section 24 Everyone has a right to a clean and healthy environment.
We have seen through our joint efforts from comrades in the Vaal, Eastern Cape , Highveld, Western Cape ,Northern Cape ,Free State and other provinces that other pieces of legislation has been introduced in this country and in some cases compare with the EU and the USA . Just the past two days social movements collectively have stopped the draft waste bill from progressing beyond the Environmental portfolio committee as representatives put forth strong argument of the pain and the suffering poor people endure at the hands of profit makers .
We have seen the shack dwellers continue to resist relocation and to fight to get the government to build better houses on the land they presently occupy.
We have seen the street traders marching and protesting the relocation by the municipality away from earning a livelihood all in the name of protecting big business interest.
We have seen the fishermen fight their battles and take on the parastatal, Transnet and continue to fish in the Durban Bay even where the government and company employs the best law firms or uses the state security apparatus to harass the poor fishermen.
We have seen the resistance of the workers in regard to a fair wage and benefits for the working class to improve and this has resulted in gains despite the arrest and dismissal of workers by the bosses and government.
Some of us in the social movements are still stuck in remote control and continue to create division as if they are agents of the government. They even go to the extent of playing this scratch record at all events brings down the goal of another revolution that is needed so the masses can benefit. They are only intent on receiving hand out and individual gain rather than on the upliftment of the masses in abject poverty.
I must however caution that despite there been so many programs and action by social movements after 1994 we are not able to enjoy the fruits of the freedom social movements fought for. I argue that the masses can only benefit if the nonsensical crap stops and that we put together a program that looks destroying the agenda and policy of the state, which is driven by the Washington consensus. If we cannot put aside the pettiness and help collectively to build another UDF then our effort is going no where .A national collective like SMI is very important to take this process forward and .
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