Abahlali baseMjondolo and the fight of the organized poor against a hostile justice system

Tuesday, 7 February 2023 — Peoples Dispatch

Months after being imprisoned on a murder charge, three leaders of the eKhenana Commune of Abahlali baseMjondolo have been finally granted bail. Their arrests are part of a lengthy history of violent persecution of the shack dwellers’ movement

by Tanupriya Singh

AbM_leaders_releasedAbahlali baseMjondolo leaders Maphiwe Gasela, Siniko Miya and Landu Tshazi, welcomed by the movement after being released on bail. (Photo: Abahlali baseMjondolo)

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An image of hope: Abahlali baseMjondolo’s fight for dignity and land, 17 years on

Sunday, 4 December 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

On November 17, a photo exhibition titled ‘Socialism or Death: Abahlali baseMjondolo on the Frontlines of Struggle’ opened at The Forge in Johannesburg. The work displayed chronicles the years-long struggle of South Africa’s shack dwellers movement to secure land and housing for the urban poor

by Tanupriya Singh

eKhenana AbM South Africa
(EKhenana was founded as a land occupation in 2018 and has faced numerous violent and illegal evictions over the years. On December 27, 2019, the shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo won an interdict in the high court in Durban, preventing the municipality from continuing with illegal evictions. It was reaffirmed on April 20, 2020, after the municipality continued to evict and destroy the occupation, violating the court order and the government’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Since March this year, residents have also had to contend with the regular arrests of its leaders and killings. Three leaders of the Commune have been shot and killed by known suspects, and at times in broad daylight. (Caption and Photo by Nomfundo Xolo)

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“South Africa’s ‘Just’ Transition climate deal with the west is a betrayal of the working class”

Sunday, 20 November 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

South Africa is set to implement an $8.5bn plan funded by western countries to transition from coal-based energy to renewables. The country’s biggest union NUMSA has warned this plan will only intensify privatization while burdening South Africans with debt and poverty.

by Tanupriya Singh

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the International Partners Group at the JET Investment Plan meeting on the sidelines of COP27. Photo: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

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Abahlali baseMjondolo demands justice for its members lost to “the politics of blood”

Monday, 3 October 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

AbM leader George Mqapheli Bonono called on the UN to take a stand against the murders of the movement’s leaders, and for the South African government to set up a commission of inquiry to ensure justice for all victims of political killings

by Peoples Dispatch

AbM members carry the coffin of slain leader Nokuthula Mabaso. Photo: Siya Mbhele

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South Africa: Civil Society, Human Rights Organizations Call for Urgent Intervention to Protect Abahlali baseMjondolo

Wednesday, 14 September 2022 — Internationalist 360°



On Friday, 9 September 2022, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) sent a letter concerning the ongoing attacks on Abahlali baseMjondolo to various members of the South African executive and legislature, as well as commissioners of regional and international human rights organisations. The letter received the endorsement of over 140 civil society organisations and individuals and called for urgent intervention to protect these activists from further harm.

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“A fearless leader”: South African shack-dwellers’ leader, Lindokuhle Mnguni, assassinated in Durban

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

Chairperson of the eKhenana commune of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), who was out of prison on bail, was gunned down at his home two days before he was to appear in court. This is the third murder of AbM leaders in eKhenana commune in Cato Crest this year.

by Pavan Kulkarni

Lindokuhle Mnguni, chairperson of eKhenana commune of Abahlali baseMjondolo. Photo: Siya Mbhele

When People Want Housing in India, They Build It: The Thirty-Third Newsletter (2022)

Thursday, 18 August 2022 — The Tricontinental

Communist Party of India Marxist protest in Khila Warangal 10 May 2022Communist Party of India (Marxist) protest in Khila Warangal, 10 May 2022.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

It all started with a survey. In April 2022, members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), went door to door in the town of Warangal in Telangana state. The party was already aware of challenges in the community but wanted to collect data before working on a plan of action. Thirty-five teams of three to four CPI(M) members and supporters went to 45,000 homes and learned how people were suffering from a range of issues, such as the lack of pensions and subsidised food. Many expressed anxieties around the absence of permanent housing, with a third saying that they were not homeowners and could not pay their rents. The government had promised to build two-bedroom apartments for the poor, but these promises evaporated. With inflation eating into their meagre incomes and serious unemployment due to the collapse of the local bidi (cigarette) industry, desperation marked the people the communists met.

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South Africa is on a knife edge as xenophobia escalates

10 August 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

With no national force with the vision and power to offer an emancipatory alternative to politics that turns neighbors against each other, the country is on a knife edge.

by Richard Pithouse

Members and supporters of a coalition of organizations under the banner of Kopanang Africa march against xenophobia in Johannesburg in March 2022. Photo: Gopolang Ledwaba

Xenophobia is a global crisis, but in South Africa, it takes a particularly violent form. The day-to-day accumulation of insult and harassment from within the state and society periodically mutates into open-street violence in which people are beaten, hacked and burned to death. If there is a useful point of global comparison, it may be with the communal riots that rip Indian cities apart from time to time.

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WATCH: 1976 and 2015: Vital turns towards true freedom

Thursday, 16 June 2022 — New Frame

The uprisings of 1976 and the Fees Must Fall protests of 2015, almost 40 years later, were important turns in the continuing fight for the true emancipation of a majority of South Africans.

Even though the 1994 settlement was an important political moment, it did not do much to dismantle the systems that propped up both colonialism and apartheid. The security apparatus, for example, still exists to exert control, to protect power, to protect capital. And the path to a better life for many of the country’s people is full of obstacles, many of which are structural. These are systems that were designed to benefit a few. That pattern remains. Until such systems are removed, South Africa will know no progress or equity.

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South African history, through Rashid Lombard’s lens

29 April 2022 — New Frame

The struggle photojournalist, activist and jazz photographer has given UWC custody of his archive, with plans to digitise it and start an accessible photography centre.

By: Atiyyah Khan

Circa 1989: Rashid Lombard at the Cape Town Press Centre in Shortmarket Street. (Photograph by Shadley Lombard Archive)

Rashid Lombard’s home feels like a photo gallery. Images of all sizes line the passages and bedrooms as moments of history stare at you from the walls. The legendary photographer sits in his lounge with his wife Colleen and daughter Yana, in their home in Athlone, Cape Town. The family presence is important to him as they are central to ensuring his legacy endures.

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Land in South Africa Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It: The Twenty-Third Newsletter (2022)

Thursday, 9 June 2022 — The Tricontinental

Hunger series Part1 001 1440x960 1 768x512Sbongile Tabhethe works in the food garden at eKhenana land occupation in Cato Manor, Durban, 9 June 2020. Credit: New Frame / Mlungisi Mbele

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

In March 2022, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a ‘hurricane of hunger’ due to the war in Ukraine. Forty-five developing countries, most of them on the African continent, he said, ‘import at least a third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, with 18 of those import[ing] at least 50 percent’. Russia and Ukraine export 33% of global barley stocks, 29% of wheat, 17% of corn, and nearly 80% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil. Farmers outside of Russia and Ukraine, trying to make up for the lack of exports, are now struggling with higher fuel prices also caused by the war. Fuel prices impact both the cost of chemical fertilisers and farmers’ ability to grow their own crops. Maximo Torero Cullen, chief economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, said that ‘one of every five calories people eat have crossed at least one international border, up more than 50 percent from 40 years ago’. This turbulence in the global food trade will certainly create a problem for nutrition and food intake, particularly amongst the poorest people on the planet.

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South Africa: Let them have a ridiculously large luminous flag

Friday, 20 May 2022 — New Frame

The ANC is so out of touch with reality that it is now firmly ensconced in the realm of farce. The need for credible alternatives could hardly be more urgent.

The ANC has destroyed or severely damaged the post office, the national airline, the railways, the electricity system and some of our most crucial hospitals. It was recently announced that the deterioration of the country’s network of weather stations has reached a critical point. Many public buildings, as well as other infrastructure, have been abandoned and then taken apart, sometimes brick by brick, by people who have no stake in the established order – such as it is – and take what they can, when they can, to get by.

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Another assassination in Durban

Friday, 6 May 2022 — New Frame

As political killings continue in the city, claiming the lives of activists exposing ANC rot and failures, serious questions need to be asked of our democratic commitments.

by New Frame

October 1 2021: Slain activist Nokuthula Mabaso, centre, at the eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor, Durban. (Photograph by Nomfundo Xolo)

Last night, just before 8pm, Nokuthula Mabaso was assassinated at the eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor, Durban. She was shot six times, four times in the back, and died in the arms of her comrades. She is the second leader in the commune to be assassinated. Ayanda Ngila’s life was taken on 8 March.

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‘It’s not the notes, it’s how they’re played’

Friday, 28 January 2022 — New Frame

Pianist Sibu Mashiloane’s new album enacts the collective dance of South African jazz. It is his sixth album in six years, and a work of many trusted hands.

9 January 2022: A portrait of pianist Sibu Mashiloane. His new album, Music From My People, is his sixth in six years. (Photograph by Hugh Mdlalose)

Setting goals is one thing; meeting them sometimes another. But pianist Sibusiso “Mash” Mashiloane vowed in 2017 he would release an album a year until 2023 – and number six, Music From My People, has just landed. Conceived on a much grander scale than its predecessors, it involves 17 other musicians and brings together his music praxis and the theoretical insights his academic research into the identity of South African jazz is mining.

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South Africa: Fugitive collaborations in art and jazz

Friday, 21 January 2022 — New Frame

South African jazz artists tend to immerse themselves in art spaces other than music. It is a visual and musical communing across forms that meet not only in artistry, but also in politics.

Newframe music

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Long Read | Home and exile, freedom and loss

Thursday, 6 January 2022 — New Frame

Mandla Langa and Mphuthumi Ntabeni’s new novels, The Lost Language of the Soul and The Wanderers, intersect in their reflections on the lives of Umkhonto weSizwe freedom fighters.

(Photograph by Thabang Malatji)

Novelist, poet and short story writer Mandla Langa’s latest book, The Lost Language of the Soul, is a coming-of-age tale set largely in Zambia and apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s. The novel chronicles the odyssey of Joseph Mabaso, the son of an Umkhonto weSizwe soldier who goes in search of his mother after her sudden disappearance from their home in Lusaka. The search takes Langa’s teenage protagonist through various towns and borders until he ends up in South Africa.

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Love on Fire

13 December 2021

When I read this poem by Dimakatso Sedite, it just blew me away, so much so that I’ve given it a page all on its own! To my mind, this is what poetry is all about. I think I’m in love with Dimakatso. B

LOVE ON FIRE by Dimakatso Sedite

I love Adhip, mama, his hair drips of Maghreb sands.
I’m happiness on fire. My madness is trapped on his tongue.
He does not break me like bread or fling me open like scissors.
His chest — a cocoon of hairs — not that stone that sawed my bones,
Not slippery like Galela’s gumboots.
My eyes claw on him as if sesame seeds on a bunny chow.
My love sweats the kind of madness you smell
In dogs on the run;

‘My child, when you love in seconds like that,
your heart will be charcoal within an hour,
twisting in the oven to die like soot,
like boulder Galela who got weary of the yellow
you burnt on his chest. Fires like yours flare
up everywhere, in these shacks,
in Adchip’s Atchar, in men so icy they slide
to the next house with rods writhing
bleeding feelings like yours.
Your blasted heart
will hover over pages of this township
like the hunger we breathe to fill our guts.’

Taken from: Yellow Shade by Dimakatso Sedite, Deep South Publishing

Buy the book here (for South Africans) and here for everyone else