The Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) was formed in August 2009 to respond to the crisis of unemployment and the commoditization of essential services in a society dominated by corruption and greed. As Steve Biko said, we blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that we should be playing. We want to do things for ourselves and all by ourselves. This is a realisation that we are the protagonists of our lives and nobody will free us but ourselves; we – the unemployed – will have to be our own liberators.
Despite celebrations of freedom on 27 April every year, severe and widespread poverty persists. Our education system is in tatters, the future of many black kids has been declared futureless. Unemployment is sky rocketing, wasting the talents of many young people who are condemned to a life of permanent poverty. Many black people continue to lack access to electricity, clean water and proper sanitation. Many are terminally under nourished. All these things are happening when the elite and the government officials are living affluent lives. The president has just built a mansion in Enkandla to the tune of more than R400m. Malema has also built a house to the tune of R16m. Every weekend the elite host parties and weddings that cost no less than a million while the people they claim to represent go to bed on an empty stomach and live in absolute poverty. They do not find this morally troubling. They have no conscience, otherwise they would not have killed Andries Tatane and many other activists; they would not shoot us with rubber bullets when we protest because they have neglected us. The prophetic Biko was spot on again when he once said ‘Tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lovely fruits of wealth, security and prestige it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lie and accept that it alone is entitled to privilege.” It is this prestige and wealth that forms a hard shell around their consciousness so that they do not see that it is fellow human beings suffering in the poverty around them. Karl Marx put it in a different tone: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Apartheid was a tragedy, but our economic apartheid is a farce. Indeed history repeating itself. We are repeating the disaster of the post-colonial regimes that Fanon attacked fifty years ago.
We live in a society where the unemployment rate is said to be 23% while the truth is different. Our government is committed to propaganda. The real unemployment rate is closer to 40%. Continue reading