This is a book of desire denied, of what the pain of that impotence drives people to do, and how it makes them unwilling contortionists and even co-conspirators in their oppression. From ‘The Transformation of Harry’: “And there we all were; in an uncertain country, ourselves uncertain. A land with a sly heart; and ourselves ready to be deceived.” For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening. First published in 1978, The House of Hunger speaks, or rather shouts, forward from its own time to 2017. Perhaps the most painful parts of the book to read are those that show how little has changed in thirty-nine years. For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening.
DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT (DLF)
13 February 2012
Statement of the DLF National Steering Committee
ENDORSEMENT OF COSATU GENERAL STRIKE: TIME FOR POOR AND WORKING PEOPLE TO SPEAK OUT AND BE HEARD!
From the 10–12 of February 2012, 30 delegates representing mass working class organisations from the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and the Western Cape attended the first national steering committee meeting of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) for 2012, in Cape Town. These delegates represent a growing and diverse body coalescing under the DLF banner and platform of anti-capitalist solidarity and struggle.
This meeting assessed the current social, political and economic situation in the country, the continent and globally. Following President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation (SON) address, the meeting concerned itself with the deepening capitalist crisis, its impact on poor and working people and the challenges confronting the working class. The meeting also took stock of the DLF’s progress towards developing a strategic left response to this situation. The existence, growth and activism of the DLF since its founding in January 2011 represent a significant milestone in the development of a new bloc of anti-capitalist popular and left forces and perspectives in South Africa. To mark the 1st Anniversary of the DLF and to kick-start preparations for the next DLF conference, the meeting agreed to develop and widely disseminate a discussion document on the DLF political and strategic perspective.
Importantly, the meeting concluded that despite the ongoing economic crisis the Zuma government retains anti-working class neo-liberal policies that are based on sustaining a mining-dependent, export-oriented and financialised economy that exploits and marginalises the majority. Consequently, the meeting resolved to launch a Speak Out! … Listen to the People! Campaign as a sustainable basis for poor and working people to organise themselves and directly challenge government policies and capitalist power.
Government policies protect profits and produce crises for poor and working people
In the analysis of the DLF collective, Zuma’s SON address represents a set of government policies that are failing to address the systemic and structural foundations and drivers of the dire social and economic conditions that face the overwhelming majority of our people. The South African government has opted to stay the course by sustaining policies that put profits first before people and the environment.
The infrastructure projects announced in Zuma’s SON buttress the continued extraction and exportation of the country’s minerals by mining companies with extremely limited outcomes when it comes to social benefits, job creation and transition to a low-carbon economy. The projects maintain the dependency of the country’s economy on mining without any consideration of the impact of mining on energy, the environment and mass unemployment. Seen in this light, the “Green” initiatives launched by Zuma’s SON address amount to lip service. These initiatives fail to the economy away from the current path of unsustainable exploitation of nature. Zuma’s announcements reinforce entrench the dominance of the carbon-emitting and polluting minerals-energy complex in South Africa. This was the same logic that informed the South African government negotiators at the recent COP17 conference.
Even worse, is the fact that this public investment on infrastructure will ultimately be financed with debt. As we have seen in the case of electricity, debt-financing of public infrastructure leads to price increases and undermines the building of an effective and decommodified public sector that is an active, dynamic and leading part of the economy and in the provision of public goods and services. Further, as the infrastructure projects are aimed at lowering the costs of doing business they will therefore be mostly be rooted in white South Africa. This will reinforce apartheid spatial patterns. As a result, these projects will not overcome inequality, poverty and development.
Zuma’s SON address confirmed that government policies fail to take South Africa out of the impact of the crisis of the global capitalist economy. This is a deep crisis in the system that runs far deeper than financial chaos. Inter-locking in this systemic crisis are continued profit-maximisation, growing structural unemployment, unsustainable fluctuations in food production and prices, the oil and resource peaks, energy supply insecurity, limited movement towards renewable energy, and increasing securitisation of politics and democracy as represented by the so-called Secrecy Bill in South Africa. This is a moment that calls for mass struggles to win new policies that have the potential to transform South Africa towards meeting the overwhelming interests of its people and the environment.
Speak Out! … Listen to the People! Campaign
In response to the current social, economic and political situation, the DLF collective developed a programme of action for the year ahead. The DLF calls on poor and working people to mobilise in their numbers and direct their organised social power against the capitalist class and the government. The DLF believes that we need more people to Speak Out! and for the powerful to Listen to the People! about genuine alternatives that meet the needs of poor and working people, and that also provide effective solutions to a dying capitalism. This is also a call to solidarity and action to other people in South Africa who are committed to social and economic justice.
In this regard, the mass organisations constituting the DLF will use the coming period to consolidate their existing struggles into a genuine mass campaign to ensure that ordinary poor and working people Speak Out! about their conditions, against the policies that cause these, and about the solutions they propose. This sustained campaign is aimed at building the organised mass power of poor and working people in order to force government to Listen to the People!
The first action of the Speak Out! … Listen to the People! Campaign will be active DLF mobilisation in support of the 07 March COSATU general strike against labour brokers, the proposed toll roads in Gauteng and corruption. For the DLF, this strike is an important moment for all poor and working people as well as other progressive South Africans to use their organised mass power to underline popular unhappiness against current government policies and to call for people-driven and people-based policies that put people before profits. The strike is just but a start. Poor and working people’s action cannot end with the mere delivery of a memorandum without sustained mobilisation and organisation. Poor and working people must not only speak out but they must also build their organisational power as the only basis to force government to Listen to the People!
For its part, beyond the strike DLF will build and take forward the Speak Out! campaign started by its affiliate, the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU) as well as , as well as the DLF Gauteng Forum’s Listen to the People Campaign. Since November 2010, the CSAAWU campaign has reached out to a few thousand farm workers and dwellers in the agricultural districts of the Western Cape. This campaign has only just begun to build the confidence of forgotten and marginalised farm workers and dwellers to Speak Out! and develop the will to force government to Listen to the People! This will a include a People’s Tribunal to try farm owners exploiting workers ad government policies that fail farm workers and dwellers as identified by the Speak Out! campaign. Beyond the strike, the DLF campaign will systematically reach out to thousands of poor and working people in the country. Following such Speak Outs!, the DLF campaign will move to a phase of sustained action aimed at organising precarious workers into trade unions as well as building a mass movement of the unemployed that have the capacity to fight back against capitalist power and policies. Based on the issues identified by the mass of ordinary people, specific municipalities, companies and government policies will be targeted for sustained mass action.
The DLF is also inspired by the fact that many poor and working people have not been resting on their laurels as they have been speaking out against poor service delivery. This can be seen in the sustained mass protests led by the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown, Abahlali baseMijondolo in Khayelitsha and eThwekwini, the Thembelihle Crisis Committee in the south of Johannesburg, and many other struggles. Poor and working people have been speaking out against the Secrecy Bill, police brutality, and attacks on democratic rights: in one phrase, the growing authoritarianism of the ANC government. It is now time to unify all these struggles into a sustained mass campaign for social and economic justice.
The DLF Speak Out! … Listen to the People! Campaign is a call on ordinary workers and members of COSATU, NACTU, FEDUSA and other unions to stretch out a hand solidarity and friendship with their unorganised sisters and brothers toiling under the most extreme conditions as well as the millions of the unemployed across the length and breadth of our country. The DLF recognises that the impact of current government policies and the capitalist crisis do not affect only poor and working people. The economic squeeze, uncertainties of climate change and the drift into authoritarianism are cause for deep concern amongst many other South Africans. Therefore, the DLF calls on all other progressive people and organisations in South Africa to endorse, support and join the Speak Out! … Listen to the People Campaign.
Don’t be Afraid…Speak Out!
The People Have Solutions…
We Demand…Listen to the People!
FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:
Mazibuko K. Jara – 083 651 0271
Brian Ashley – 082 085 7088
Vishwas Satgar – 082 775 3420BACK TO TOP