[Debate] (Fwd) DSM Statement on Grahamstown incident
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Jan 25 13:37:42 GMT 2012
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: DSM Statment!
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:01:54 -0300
From: Claudia Martinez <claumaur at hotmail.com>
To: <pbond at mail.ngo.za>
I am sending the DSM statment. Can you please put it on the debate list.
Thank you very much, Ciao,
Democratic Socialist Movement statement on the arrest of Ayanda Kota
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) condemns the police brutality
against Unemployed People's Movement (UPM) chairperson Ayanda Kota which
he was subjected to on January 12, 2012. We also denounce the police's
arrest of Ayanda Kota in what appears to be an attempt to intimidate and
discredit the UPM and other movements perceived by the state to be a
threat to the present order.
The arrest, assault and charges of assault (which the police laid
against Ayanda Kota) are, as the UPM and others have pointed out, in
line with the increasing usage of the police and courts to undermine and
effectively criminalise South Africa's growing protest movements. In
combating this rising state repression, maximum unity of the various
strands of the movement of working class people is needed, including
support from the organised workers.
The DSM supports the call for an investigation into the assault of
Ayanda Kota, which we believe should be conducted under the direct
control of social movements such as the UPM and Ubuntu Women and
Community Forum (UWCF). The findings of the investigation should be made
public and its recommendations acted upon.
However, we also distance ourselves from the attacks on comrade Claudia
Martinez-Mullen, an activist in the UWCF, which have formed part of the
UPM's and other organisations' response to the arrest. The UPM on
January 12 denounced Claudia as "someone known for strange and erratic
behaviour" of having laid a "ridiculous", "bogus" charge "in order to
intimidate an activist and the movement that he represents". These very
serious accusations against a fellow comrade in the struggle of workers
and poor people were unfortunately echoed by the Democratic Left Front
(DLF), which attributed Claudia's resort to the police to "[her] almost
sadistic individual campaign against the UPM ever since it did not agree
with her political views regarding participation in the May local
government elections". Also Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) accused "the
academic in question" of being "another hidden tool" "legitimizing and
justifying" the police attack.
On e-mail lists and other web forums, countless others have joined
forces in what could be described as a petty-bourgeois frenzy of the
political character assassination of a fellow comrade. None of those who
have joined in this chorus of condemnation have bothered to uphold the
basic principle of fairness -- hearing comrade Claudia's side of the matter.
Comrade Claudia has set out in her January 17 statement how and why she
laid a charge of theft against comrade Ayanda in August 2011. She
alleges comrade Ayanda had, without permission, taken books to which she
attaches enormous personal value as they were given to her by her close
friend and comrade, the late Dennis Brutus. She alleges moreover that he
did so whilst enjoying her hospitality as she provided him with refuge
at a time when he felt his life was threatened by the ANC Youth League.
If true, this kind of behaviour is to say the least uncomradely.
Nevertheless, while respecting her sentiments for the books and her
right to seek legal recourse, the DSM believes that reporting the matter
to the police was an error of judgment. We would have advised her to go
further in seeking to resolve the dispute through political
interventions. Reporting the matter to the police carried the risk that
it could be seized upon by the state, in the opportunist manner it has
eventually done, to cause division by playing fellow comrades off
against each other.
We therefore applaud comrade Claudia's recognition that the state has
abused a private grievance for political purposes -- to inflict damage
on the working class movement -- and that she therefore has withdrawn
We think it is unfortunate that the UPM has not acknowledged Comrade
Claudia's action and, with others, has simply given uncritical support
to comrade Ayanda's version of the circumstances surrounding the books,
of the reporting of the issue to the police, and of comrade Claudia's
political criticism of the UPM leadership.
We are appalled that, following comrade Claudia's announcement of her
decision to drop the charges, the UPM, and later comrade Ayanda himself,
have instead launched crude attacks on comrade Claudia's person and on
Marxism which only the enemies of the working class will take pleasure in.
In concentrating their fire on comrade Claudia, the comrades appear to
have overlooked the fact that comrade Ayanda was arrested by the police
who would have done so under any other pretext if comrade Claudia's
charges were not available. The impression is being created that the
police should not be held solely responsible for their actions.
Marxism offers a set of tools which we use to understand the world (from
toilets and rape to the World Bank and IMF) and to organise to change
it. It is not akin to a set of instructions which academics impose on
community- and workers movements, but a theory and method to which more
and more workers and young people throughout the world, including in
South Africa, are attracted because it can explain the reality we live
in and chart a way forward to fulfil our hopes.
We believe it is incumbent upon comrade Ayanda to return comrade
Claudia's books and/ or to apologise for taking them in the manner that
he did and then treating her requests with apparent contempt.
Democratic Socialist Movement,
South African Affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)
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