We Demand that the Manase Report be Released
By Thinabantu Khanyile & Bandile Mdlalose
Everybody knows that in Durban housing development does not really operate to meet the needs of the people. In reality it has three main objectives. One is to remove the poor from the city to the human dumping grounds. The second is to make poor people dependent on the state and thereby the ruling party. The third is to enrich people that are loyal to the ruling party. Everybody knows that corruption is rampant in housing from the top to the bottom. Low-cost housing has made some people millionaires. Everybody also knows that housing and other services are going to party members. This, along with repression and co-option, is one of the main ways that the ruling party tries to break independent organiszation. For instance if there is a fire they often try to prevent people from rebuilding on their own and then replace the people’s shacks with government shacks (amatins) which are only given to party members.
For many years Abahlali baseMjondolo has struggled against corruption in Durban. We have done our own research, issued many statements, raised issues in court, raised issues in the media, organised numerous protests and tried to engage with the eThekwini Municipality. The struggle of AbM contributed to a groundswell of concern that lead to the investigation of the corruption in the eThekwini Municipality. It was the struggles of the poor that forced the government to act. But it was not easy. We remember the March on Jacob Zuma that we organised on 22 March 2010. We were demanding that the President of South Africa come and look at the evidence of corruption but he did not even consider our demand or reply to us, even though we were thousands, because he was protecting the image of his corrupt comrades. Always the interests of the party are put before the people. Comradism is destroying people’s faith in democracy.
Now that an investigation has been done into corruption in the eThekwini Municipality it is very disturbing that our movement, other struggling communities and the residents of the city as a whole are being denied access to the Manase report. As citizens in a country that still calls itself a democracy we have a right to know what is in this report. Corruption is one of the reasons why the poor are remaining poor after apartheid. It is also one of the reasons why development always becomes about the interests of the party members rather than the so-called ‘beneficiaries’.
Jacob Zuma recently told the nation that the ANC is not corrupt. We all know that that is not true. And we all know that protecting corruption is one reason why the President has supported attempts to privatise information. They say that they need to privatise information to protect us against spies from other countries and that they are opposed to corruption but here is a report on corruption and they will not make it public. The ANC shows no respect to the law or the constitution. They act as if they are more superior to the law. They have also shown no respect to poor people. Everywhere we treated like children, like animals and like criminals.
We acknowledge the run of Helen Zille in this debate on why the Manase has not been released but she is not innocent herself. We are aware that the elections are around the corner and that she is trying to score some votes in this coming election. However she needs to lower her speed and focus more on the undeveloped Cape Town where KwaLanga residents also need her intervention to the corrupt TRAs and misallocation of housing. We noted that in The Times Live she was quoted saying "They cry that they will be sued if they release the report. If people continue to vote for a corrupt government they will remain poor," said Zille. We say as the people of South Africa, as members of Abahlali baseMjondolo, that if people continue to vote for any political party instead of building their own power from the ground up they will still be poor. The Freedom Charter says that “The people shall govern”. It does not say that “The people shall be governed” so therefore we must demand the implementation of that Freedom Charter and have powers where we live, work and study without voting for others to govern us. If the Zapatistas managed to do that what can stop us to govern our country without putting people on top and letting them taking decisions for us? Why should power be privatised? Why should information be privatized.
If the ANC government is not corrupt then why did the eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo say “At no stage have we ever said that the report will remain secret. I want to reiterate that we remain committed to our under-taking to release the report once all the processes have taken their course, including the disciplinary processes”. As residents of this city we see no stage where we should wait for those processes to take their course. We should know NOW. The longer it takes to release this report the more damage will be done. This report must be released now. Those who are planning to vote in the election have the right to know exactly what kind of organisation the will be voting for. If the ANC is not a corrupt organisation, if it is innocent, then it should have nothing to hide and should be confident that the report can be released now. If it continues to fail to release the report we will all know that that is because it has a lot to hide.
Sekwanele! No House! No Land! No Vote! Everyone Counts
The Poor People's Alliance: Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with with Landless People's Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People's Alliance - a unfunded national network of democratic membership based poor people's movements.