Thuli used to tell me she was going to die by the gun. And just before she died she told me she had received a death threat.
Our movement is shocked but not surprised. We have accepted that some of us will die in this struggle. We are well aware that our leaders have been removed from the housing list and placed on the death lists. Many of us have received threats. We knew that another assassination was coming... Senior police officers were also aware that another assassination was coming. They have done nothing to give protection to our members.
It's a problem that is quite unique to that province, so people in Cape Town in Johannesburg don't realise just how bad it is...Death threats and assassinations are a form of social control that is being endorsed at the highest levels of the province's police and government.....Violence and murder was part of the province's political make up during a period of virtual civil war (between IFP and ANC supporters) in the 1980s and early 1990s. With the transition to democracy there was a hope that a democratic dispensation would provide the space needed for a resolution to this violence. It's clear that this has not happened. Corruption, connections to criminal networks and political rivalries continue to result in activists and politicians being killed.
The movement has lost three members in violent deaths in the last year to what they allege are political assassinations.
Abahlali baseMjondolo describes itself as,
...a shack-dwellers' movement in South Africa. The movement grew out of a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in March 2005 and now also operates in the cities of Pietermaritzburg and in Cape Town as well as a number of smaller towns in KwaZulu-Natal. It is the largest shack dweller's organization in South Africa but has its strongest base in Durban where it is a real force in the city. The movement has faced serious repression including the destruction of its members homes, arrests, assaults and murder.
AbM has always been a target of some leftists who believe themselves to be the vanguard of the working-class struggle and who tthink the poor must be directed towards the “right politics”.
Unlike most leftist organisations and political parties such as the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the DA, the movement has always been democratic – even while it is still, structurally, hierarchical. All major decisions are always taken back to communities, and final resolutions are ultimately taken in general meetings based on the collective wishes of each branch. This autonomous organising was truly Frantz Fanon’s work in practice. Abahlali has always been and still is a shack dwellers’ organisation, run not by privileged activists or academics but by shack dwellers themselves.Over the course of the past year, a shift seems to have taken place in the rank and file of the movement in KwaZulu-Natal. Their original critique of the state has shifted to an overarching and focused critique of the ANC....The movement’s hatred for the ANC is unparalleled because the pain of its members at the hands of the ANC is so deep and pervasive.
The organization had until this year remained autonomous of any political parties. In May 2014, news broke that a radical shack dwellers' movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, had thrown their weight behind the centre-right Democratic Alliance in Kwa Zulu Natal. This was a shock to most in the South African left. Africa Reports wrote at the time:
Not only was non-participation in elections a defining feature of the movement's ideology, but the organization was portrayed as resolutely left-wing too. In countless academic papers, speeches and press-statements, Abahlali was cast as the organizational heir to the radical humanism of Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko...They were the Zapatistas of Africa, the Paris Commune of Durban. Kennedy Road, their headquarters, was a University of radical, 'living democracy', where every gogo could speak and decide.
The group attempted to explain its move,
As a whole, the South African Left has taken to social media to attack and vilify Abahlali baseMjondolo, condemning them, spreading rumours, and calling the leadership sell-outs.
Few have attempted to see things from the perspective of its members. Most of the people attacking the movement have never lived a day of their life in a shack settlement – yet their self-righteousness is palpable. Under constant threat of death, what would you do? Do any of us really understand how much pain they have endured?
The following is from Libcom.