South Africa: “We are Living in a Democratic Prison”

Marikana shows that we are Living in a Democratic Prison
by Bandile Mdlalose
South Africa has the most beautiful Constitution amongst all countries. Its
beauty is well documented and respected. But we are living in a Democratic
Prison.We must acknowledge the fight of Doctor Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and the
community struggles of the 1980s, the youth of 1976 and the workers of 1973.
The struggles of the past defeated the White Boers and brought us democracy
with all these beautiful rights on paper. We have so many documented rights,
like the right to housing and to protest. But every day our rights are
violated by the Black Boers. They vowed to protect our rights but the vow was
a fake vow.Instead of supporting the people’s struggles so that we can make democracy
real and make our rights real they are sending out their securities and police
to evict the poor, to lock us out of the cities and to smash our struggles.
Instead of working with the people to transform the society they are
repressing the people to protect the unequal society that they took charge of
1994.The politicians have not joined hands with the people. They have joined hands
with the capitalists. The result of this new alliance between politicians and
capitalists is that there is a 1% of elites that is taking most of the fruits
of this democracy for themselves. The middle classes still have their nice
lives but for the poor, employed or unemployed, things have got worse and they
continue to get worse.The arrests, beatings, torture, destruction of people’s homes and killing has
continued after apartheid. Now the massacre is here too. Every year the Black
Boers tell us to remember 1976 but they say nothing about the repression of
our struggles after apartheid. They say nothing about Thembinkosi Mpanza and
Vukani Shange shot dead by the Farm Watch in eMasangweni in 2006. They say
nothing about the police attacks o Abahlali baseMjondolo in 2008, the armed
attacks on our movement in Kennedy Road in 2009 and the repression of the
Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Landless People’s Movement and the Unemployed
People’s Movement. They say nothing about the police murder of Andries Tatane
last year or the long list of people that have been killed by the police while

Now that the strikers in Marikana have been killed they speak as if it is a
natural disaster whereas in fact it is a political disaster perpetrated by the
capitalists and the politicians.

Are we going to sit back and watch each of our movements crushed one by one?
How many of us must die before we are recognised and included in the society?
How many of us must die before the land and wealth is shared fairly and
everyone has a say in all decisions that affect them? When will the oppressed
stand up and talk with one voice?

We are treated like this because we are poor. We are not allowed to practice
our rights in front of the government. Rights are for everyone on paper. In
reality they are only there for the rich. Our rights are well known to be
documented but not implemented. The alliance between the politicians and the
capitalists has created a Democratic Prison. We can vote but only for our own
oppression. We can vote but the state still ignores the law when it comes to
the poor. It is normal for us to be evicted and repressed even though these
things are illegal. This is why the people are starting to call the
politicians the Black Boers. Yes they govern the country but they do not
govern it for us or with us.

For years community struggles have been attacked. Who would have known that
today worker’s struggles would also be attacked by the police? The struggle is
spreading from the shacks to the mines and from the mines back to the shacks.
Looking at the silence of Cosatu and all the partners of the Black Boers I
can’t stop wondering what will happen next. It seems that the poor are on our
own. It seems that many of us will have to be jailed, beaten and killed before
we count to this society.

I wish for each and every person to look thoroughly at this so called
democracy. I wish for each and every person to ask if we are being realistic
when we say that we are in a democracy or if we are really living in a
Democratic Prison. It is clear that we do not have the rights and freedoms
that are written in the Constitution in reality. It is clear that our
governors use armed force to exclude us from society and to repress us when we
resist. Look at what happened to Abahlali baseMjondolo in 2009. Look at what
happened to the Landless People’s Movement in 2010. Look at what happened to
Andries Tatane last year. Look at what happened to the Unemployed People’s
Movement recently. Look at what happened to the Marikana strikers.

Let’s not fool ourselves and say we are in a Democratic Country while we are
in a Democratic Prison.

The Black Boers think that we the poor are “Dom”. They think that by letting
us vote for them and reminding us of the struggle against the White Boers we
will think that we are “Free”. We were only liberated from the apartheid
regime and the rule of the White Boers but the same system that makes some
people rich and others poor still exists. The same system that locks the poor
out and represses our struggles still exists.

It is clear that this country is led by the Bloody Hand and that it was taken
by the same Bloody Hand and that we will continue to shed blood. But we as the
poor need to put a stop to that and to liberate ourselves in a way that our
kids will be happy to live in our country. We must shape our own future
because the one we are living in is the future of the Black Boers. We need a
country with no more Boers of any colour. We need a country where we are all
just people, people who all count the same and have the same rights.

No one will deliver Freedom to us. We will have to fight to take our own
freedom into our own hands. But the politics of the Bloody Hand is the
politics of the Boers, black and white. Our politics must be different and
better. Our politics must be a politics of an organised, united and determined

Bandile Mdlalose is the Abahlali baseMjondolo General Secretary. She can be
reached on 071 424 2815

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