Mayor De Lille runs away from meeting with Cape Town’s backyarders!

6 09 2011

Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape Press Statement
6 September 2011

Mayor De Lille Unwilling to Meet Backyarders on our own Terms

Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape mobilised backyarders from Delft, Gugulethu, Mandela Park, Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha in advance of the meeting that Mayor Patricia de Lille had scheduled with backyarders in Khayelitsha today.

We made it clear that we do not consider public events stage managed by the City at which each organisation can only send three representatives to be genuine participatory democracy. We are committed to participatory democracy, to the co-planning of open assemblies at which participatory budgeting and urban planning can be taken forward. The logic of representation at meetings organised in a top down way is the logic of civil society. It is not the logic of popular democracy.

People gathered outside the AbM office in Khayelitsha this morning. It was decided that we should attend the meeting. People were excited about the opportunity to engage with the Mayor and to have their voices heard.

But when the City heard that we were coming they cancelled the meeting for, they said, the ‘Mayor’s safety’. It was expensive for us to transport people from as far as Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain for the meeting and now the little money we had has gone to waste.

Why is is that when ever poor people gather on our own terms, speak on our own terms and try to engage on our own terms this is taken as violence even when all we are doing is talking? Why are the politicians so scared of us? We have never evicted them, shot them with rubber bullets or put them in jail for trying to make their voices heard? We are the oppressed of this society yet we are made to seem like dangerous people – even criminals – when all we want is to talk about our future!

We suffer together, we struggle together and we will engage the state together. We all have a stake in our own future and we cannot exclude anyone from discussions. And, as everyone knows, the only strength of the poor is our unity therefore we cannot accept a mode of engaging the state that undermines our unity. We are committed to a mass democratic politics because we are serious about overcoming our oppression.

We are are currently having an open assembly at the AbM office in Khayelitsha to discuss the way forward.

We will continue to struggle to deepen this democracy into a participatory system by mass struggle from below.

We continue to call on the mayor to adhere to the principles of participatory democracy or direct democracy by working with the organisations of the poor to arrange open assemblies where everybody will matter, where everybody will count, where everybody will be equal; where everybody need to be respected and where everybody will be able speak without any fear.

For comment please call

Mncedisi Twalo @ 0785808646
Mzonke Poni @ 073 2562 036




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