[P2P-F] Take back parliament for the people, declares R2K

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Tue Feb 24 01:29:29 CET 2015

Take back parliament for the people, declares R2K

20 Feb 2015 11:50 Daneel Knoetze <http://mg.co.za/author/daneel-knoetze>

Members and supporters of the Right2Know campaign rallied in the Cape Town
and vowed to take back Parliament for the South African public.

The Right2Know campaign rally, which took place in the Cape Town CBD on
Thursday was in response to events at the State of the Nation Address
(Sona) which had a “profoundly negative impact on our democracy” according
to the organisation.

“Biko sacrificed his life for the nation ... Robert Sobukwe sacrificed his
life for the nation ... Jacob Zuma sacrificed the nation for his life!”

This comment by Khayelitsha resident and Right2Know supporter Sibusiso
Xabangela was met by an outburst of agreement from about 400 people packed
into the Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square on Thursday evening. It was
a moment that seemed to capture the collective disillusionment that the
speakers and their audience had shared over the course of an hour and a
half of discussion.

The event condemned the ANC’s and the state’s actions in Parliament last
week during the Sona. The jamming of cellphone signals in the chamber prior
to Zuma’s address and the violent removal of Economic Freedom Fighters’ MPs
by police officers was the main focus. The ANC were bemoaned for rolling
back on Constitutional freedoms and democratic principles in a number of

Playwright and activist Mike van Graan took the government’s and the ANC’s
intimidation of artists such as Brett Murray, creator of The Spear, as a
tactic that fosters self-censorship in the arts.

“The freedom fought for and enshrined in our Constitution is contradicted
by the very people who remind us that it was they who fought for our
freedom. They practice a [Mugabe-ist doctrine] in reminding us that they
can also take [our freedom] away,” he said.

The people of South Africa don’t want police in Parliament, declared
Phumeza Mlungwana, Social Justice Coalition general secretary. “We want
them in the streets of Khayelitsha and Manenberg to ensure that we are

With reference to a recent advertisement by KwaZulu Natal Department of
Human Settlements seeking a private contractor to monitor and prevent “land
invasions”, the United Front’s Mazibuko Jara compared the ANC-run state to
the apartheid state.

“It is the department’s duty to provide housing, not to monitor the poor’s
struggle for land. But, the needs of poor people for land has been turned
into a question of security, much like the struggle for freedom was turned
into a security issue by the apartheid state.”

Jane Duncan, academic and author of the recent book The Rise of the
Securocrats, sketched how the work of an increasingly centralised,
secretive and powerful security cluster was being geared away from
protecting citizens, towards “protecting the president from the people”.

“The State Security Agency has developed warped priorities. What does it do
about the assassinations of political activists in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu
Natal? Yet, it has time enough to install cell phone jammers in
Parliament,” she said, before turning her scrutiny on herself and the South
African public at large.

“[The turning of the security cluster against the people] has happened
because we have allowed it to happen.”

The overwhelming theme on Thursday night was not the public’s failure to
hold an elite to account, but the will to “take Parliament back” as a space
created by the struggle for freedom of ordinary citizens against apartheid
– a “people’s Parliament”.

Missing in person, but not in spirit, was the late South African author,
R2K supporter and “advocate of truth and transparency” André Brink. Shireen
Mukadam paid tribute to him by quoting a passage from one of his seminal
works, A Dry White Season. It reminded the gathered activists of one of
Brink’s enduring lessons to South Africans, that there are two dangers in
life, the assumption that we can do everything and, the assumption that we
can do nothing.

*This article was first published on GroundUp

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