||'IMPOVERISHED people, people who haven't got food on their plates. Now
you are going to take away the roof from their heads. And where do you
expect these people to go? You are just compounding their indigency.
Then you move in with these security guards and dogs and guns. Now if
this is not fascist brutality, what is fascist brutality?
The scene could have been an apartheid-era forced removal, with a brave
black activist haranguing the white regime. But this question was asked
of the new government by Fatima Meer exactly a decade ago, at the peak
of the Chatsworth housing battle, on the SABC show Special Assignment.
The unity of poor black African and Indian people fighting the city
government impressed Meer. She had come to Chatsworth a year earlier as
part of the Concerned Citizens Group of mainly Indian struggle veterans,
campaigning for a vote for the ANC at a time when minority parties were
Always nimble, Meer did a quick U-turn. On a Sunday shortly before the
1999 national election, the Jankipersadh family faced the threat of
eviction from a Chatsworth shack. Shocked by the living conditions she
encountered, Meer stayed to fight, cajoling and threatening city
officials to halt the Jankipersadh removal. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli
Mkhize recalled this incident at her state funeral on Saturday at the
Durban International Convention Centre.
Within a year, Meer would be sucking in the smell of post-apartheid
tear-gas that became so familiar in Chatsworth, her eyes streaming tears
of anger, her throat coughing up disgust at the local ANC rulers whom
she had helped put into power with unmatched courage during the bad
years when she was beaten and banned.
A decade ago, the ruling party was not quite so corruption-ridden as
now. But the tendency of Durban officials to crush poor people's
aspirations was just as pronounced.
On the week of Meer's death, it may be Michael Sutcliffe denying local
civics the right to march; back then, it was deputy mayor Trevor
Bonhomme, bringing in the cops while accusing Meer and other organisers
of harbouring shebeens, drug lords and brothels.
Within two years, Meer had not only helped organise the community to
successfully resist. She managed to bring together all the fractious
campaigning groups within Durban's poor communities against the World
Conference Against Racism.
One day at the end of August, 2001, the Concerned Citizens Forum of
grassroots civics allied with Muslim pro-Palestinians, her beloved
Jubilee 2000 anti-debt movement, and other human rights groups from
across South Africa and the world.
Rightly, they were infuriated that US Secretary of State Colin Powell,
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former president Thabo Mbeki had
agreed to remove from the conference agenda two critical issues: racist
Israeli Zionism, and reparations for slavery, colonialism and apartheid.
Meer and the late Dennis Brutus led more than 10 000 people in a march
against the UN conference that day, and suddenly the idea of the South
African civil society taking on malgovernance was a reality.
That force, to be able to think and act locally, nationally and
globally, was perhaps unique in the country's history. Writing her
obituary in City Press, Meer's co-conspirator Ashwin Desai now laments
that the new urban social movements which emerged on that 1999 Sunday in Chatsworth are a spent force, but many others in Meer's circuit will disagree.
For example, Desmond D'Sa of Wentworth last month helped launch a new
local-global campaign - now more than 200 organisations strong - to halt
World Bank financing of Eskom with a R29 billion loan.
Aside from the police squad carrying her casket on Saturday (we imagined
her voice inside cajoling them for ongoing fascist brutality), one
reason Meer's funeral seemed uncomfortable was because civil society was
given no opportunity to celebrate the non-ANC causes she lent her
She opposed a loan that Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan - who
oversees Eskom - insists we need to fund a new coal-fired plant (the
world's fourth largest) and partial energy generation privatisation, to
be paid for by huge increases in tariffs for poor and working people.
Environmentalists, labour and community opponents of the World Bank and
Eskom join Meer's longstanding concern that the Bank must first repay
black South Africans reparations, for supporting apartheid-era white
power when, from 1951-67, Washington financiers lent $100 million to
Eskom but zero African people received electricity.
Meer would have publicly ridiculed the statement by Hogan at a press
conference on Friday, just as the great activist passed away: If we do
not have that power in our system, then we can say goodbye to our
economy and to our country.
Rubbish! Meer would have shouted, impatiently explaining that by
switching supply away to the common person, away from the over-consumers who get the world's cheapest electricity - eg BHP Billiton - we would meet many economic and social objectives, while avoiding construction of
new climate-destroying coal plants.
Most myopic of all, perhaps, was her old friend Pravin Gordhan, who in
London recently made the startling claim that this would be South
Africa's first World Bank loan - when in fact there were several
others since 1994 (Industrial Competitiveness and Job Creation,
Municipal Financial Management Technical Assistance Project and the
destructive Lesotho dams) as well as Bank investments in a failed
Domino's Pizza franchise and similarly well-conceived poverty-reduction
Meer's dismay at ANC graft, bling and the youth league leader's
right-wing populism was noted by her brother Farouk at the funeral, but
what went missing - especially with Gordhan in attendance - was how
revolting she found the Treasury's ongoing neoliberalism and the
dalliance with the World Bank, emblematised by the failed Growth,
Employment and Redistribution programme which Bank staff co-authored.
Delivering the Harold Wolpe lecture at the Centre for Civil Society in
February 2007, Meer observed that the Bank and International Monetary
Fund (IMF) had usurped power in South Africa and the world because
they are structured to exploit us.
Gordhan knows this, for he was the Transitional Executive Council
economics representative who in December 1993 co-signed the $850 million
IMF loan that pledged her friend Nelson Mandela's government to painful,
So we have now lost Durban's - and South Africa's - two most senior
civil society scholar-activists in fewer than 80 days: Brutus on
December 26 and Meer last Friday, and that probably pleases many in
Washington and Pretoria.
As for the rest of us, the interview Meer did for SABC's Special
Assignment in 2000 provides as clear a mandate as we will ever hear, in
light of how there is No commitment at all to the poor people. It's a
very sorry state of affairs. Those of us who can stand up and shout,
regardless of how many years we have spent in this life, we must get up
With this beautiful voice silenced, surely our responsibility now is to
stand up and shout louder still.
# Patrick Bond and Orlean Naidoo work at the UKZN Centre for Civil
Society, and Naidoo helps organise Chatsworth against injustice. Fatima
Meer's interviews on civil society activism are posted at
Kungani sidinga ukusukuma simemeze kakhulu kunakuqala
NguPatrick Bond noOrlean Naidoo Yahunyushwa nguFaith ka-Manzi
'Abantu abahluphekayo, abantu abangenakho ukudla. Manje senizobaphuca izindawo zokufihla amakhanda. Nicabanga ukuthi bazoyaphi labantu. Ninezelela ebunzimeni babo, Bese futhi nifika nabaqaphim nezinja kanye nezibhamu. Uma lokho kungesona isihluku sokubusa ngendlovuyangena, ngabe yini isihlukui sendluvuyangena?”
Lokhu okwakwenzeka kwakungathi ingenkathi lapho uhulumeni wobandlululo ekhipha ngendluzula abantu ezindaweni zabo, ebehekene nesishoshoshovu somazabalazo esasilwa nababusi abamhlophe. Kodwa lombuzo wawubuzwa uhulumeni omusha nguFatimna Meer eminyakeni eyishumi edlule, ngenkathi kuliwa nokuxoshwa kwezakhamizi zaseChatsworth, futhi okwakhonjiswa ohlelweni iSpecial Assignment yinhlangano yezokusakaza iSABC.
Ukuhlangana phakathi kwabamnyama kanye namaNdiya kwamhlaba kakhulu umxhwele uFatima Meer. Weza eChatsworth eyingxenye yeConcerned Citizens Group eyayihlanganise izishoshovu zomzabalazo ezindala zamaNdiya, ngenkathi benxenxa umphakathi ukuthi uvotele uKhongolose ngesikhathi lapho amaqembu amancane ayebukeka ephumelela
Ehlale ebhekelela, uMeer washintsha ngokushesha. Ngesonto kafushane nje ngaphambi kokhetho likazwelonke lango1999, umndeni wakwa Jankipersadh wawubhekene nokukhishwa emjondolo ohlala kuwo eChatsworth. Ethukile mayebona izimo abantu ababehlala ngaphansi kwazo, uMeer wasala esalela ukulwa, encenga futhi esabisa izikhulu zedolobha ukumisa ukuxosha umndeni wakwa Jankipersadh. UNdunankulu waKwaZulu-Natal uZweli Mkhize ukhulumile ngalesisigameko emgcwabeni wakhe wezwelonke ngoMgqibelo eDurban International Convention Centre.
Esikhathini esingangonyaka, uMeer wayesephefumula usisi olukhalisa izinyembezi into eyayisijwayelekile eChatsworth, amehlo ache ehla izinyembezi zolaka, umqala wakhe ukwehlela ukunyanya ukuthi abaholi bomphakathi bakaKhongolose ayekade ebasizile ukuthi babuse ngesibindi esingenakulinganiswa ngezikhathi ezinzima ngenkathi eshaywa futhi evalelwa ukluthi angahlanganyela namuntu.
Eminyakeni eyishumi edlulile, inhlangfano ebusayo yayingenayo inkohlakalo ngalendlela esinayo manje. Kodwa injongo yokucekela phansi abantu yizikhulu zaseThekwini yayisenjengoba injalo.
Ngesonto ashona ngalo uMeer, kwakunguMichael Sutcliffe enqabela izinhlangano zemiphakathi ilungelo lokumasha, kanti ngaphambili kwakunguTrevor Bonhomme, eletha amaphoyisa ngenkathi futhi ethi uMeer kanye nezinye izishoshovu zinecala lokuvikela amashibhi, abadayisi bezidakamizwa kanye nezindawo lapho kudayiswa khona ngemizimba.
Ngemuva kweminyaka emibili, uMeer akagcinanga nje ngokuhlanganisa umphakathi ukuthi ukwazi ukumelana nezinqumo zedolobha. Kodwa wakwazi ukuhlanganisa izinhlanga ezingaboni ngaso linye ezihlupkekayo zaseThekwini ukuthi zimelane neNkomfa eyayibhekene Nokucwasa Kwabantu Ngebala ( World Conference Against Racism.)
Ngolunye usuku ngokuphela kukaAgasti 2001, ithe Concerned Citizens Forum yezinhlangano zemiphakathi ngokuhlanganyela neyamaSulumane epro-Palestinians, nesithandwa sakhe senhlangano iJubilee 2000 inhlangano ethi akwesulwe izikweletu ezidalwe nguhulumeni wobandlululo, kanye nezinya izinhlangano ezilwela amalungelo esintu ezivela eNingizimu Afrika yonkana kanye nomhlaba wonke.
Ngokufaneleka, babedinwe ukuthi uNobhala wezwe laseMelika uColin Powell,
kanye noNobhala weNhlangano YeZizwe uKofi Annan kanye nowayengumongameli uThabo Mbeki bavuma ukuthi ohlelweni lwezinto ezibalulekile ezazikhulunywa kwilenkomfa kususwe lokhu okulandelayo:ukubandlulula kweIsrael, kanye nokunxeshezelwa kwezigqila, ukuthathwa kwamzwe aseAfrika ngaweseNyakatho kanye nobandlululo.
UMeer kanye noDennis Brutus naye ongasekho emhlabeni bahola abantu abangaphezu kwezinkulungwane eziyishumi kwimashi bemelene nenkomfa yeNhlangano YeZizwe ngalelolanga, lokho kwenza ukuthi ukubhekana nokungabikhona kobulungiswa kuhulumeni kwenziwa yizinhlangano zemiphakathi kungenzeka.
Lokhukhulelangoqo, okwenza ukuthi ucabanga ngenhlao yakho endaweni yakho kodwa ubhekane nomzabalazo wezwe kanye womhlaba wonke, kwakuyingqayizivele emlandweni wezwe. Ngenkathi uAshwin Desai ebhala ngokuhamba emhlabeni kukaFatima Meer kwiCity Press, usekhala ngkuthi izinhlangano eziningi ezaqala ngo1999 manje seziphelelwe isikhathi kodwa abaningi abazwelana noMeerbayaphikisana.
Njengesiboniso nje, uDesmond D'Sa waseWentworth ngenyanga edlule wasiza ukuqala umzabalazo wasemiphakathi yala ekhaya kanye nomhlaba wonke – osekuyizinhlangano ezingaphezu kwamakhulu amabili (200) – ukuthi zimise iBhange Lomhlaba (World Bank) ukuthi lingamboleki uEskom uizigidigigi zamarandi ezibalelwa kuR29 billion loan.
Ngaphandle kwamaphoyisa ephethe ibhokisa lakhe ngoMgqibela ( sasimbona ngamehlo engqondo ewabiza “ngabahlukumezi”), esinye sezizathu esenza umgcwabo kaMeer ungabi nokukhululeka ukuthi izinhlangano zemiphakathi azinkwanga ithuba lokubonga izimo emelene noKhongolose ayekade ezisiza ngazo.
Wamelana nesikweletu esasizodalwa nguNgqongqoshe wezeMisebenzi uBarbara Hogan – owayephethe uEskom – oweyethi kufanele kubekhona imali yokwenza indawo entsha yamalahle, into eyayizokwenza ukuthi abasebenzi kanye nabantu abahlwempu bazithole sebekhokha izimali ezinkulu.
Abezemvelo, ezemisebenzi kanye nemiphakathi abamelene neBhange Lomhlaba (World Bank) kanye noEskom, bahlanganyela kanye nomcabango omdala kaMeer wokuthi iBhange Lomhlaba kufanele kuqala linxephezele abantu abamnyama baseNingizimu Afrika, ngenxa yokuxhasa uhulumeni wobandlululo kusukela ngonyaka ka1951 kuya ku 1967, lapho abatshali zimali baseWashington baboleka uEskom u$100 million kodwa kungekho noyedwa umuntu ongumAfrika owayethola ugesi.
UMeer wayeyiphikisana nesinqumo sikaHogan emphakathini phambi kwabezindaba ngoLwesihlanu, ngenkathi lesisishoshovu sihamba emhlabeni: “Uma singenawo thina amadla ethu, ngakho-ke kufanele sivalelise komnotho wethu nezwe lethu”.
”Umbhedo lowo wayezomemeza kanjalo uMeer, echaza ngokungabinasineke ukuthi uma siqhubeka nalenjongo kaHogan sizobe sincisha onhlwempu amandla kagesi futhi sandisa ukugcoliswa komkhathi insizi.
Okwakudina kakhulu, mhlawumbe, kwakungumngani wakhe omdala uPravin Gordhan, osanda kukhuluma okuthusayo maduze nje evakashele eNgilandi lapho ethi lokhu bekuzoba “ngokokuqala iningizimu Afrika iboleka imali kwiBhange Lomhlaba” – kanti eqinisweni seyike yabolekwa izikhathi ezimbalwa imali kusukela ngo1994 njenge(Industrial Competitiveness and Job Creation, Municipal Financial Management Technical Assistance Project and the destructive Lesotho dams) kanye nokwahluleka kweBhange Lomhlaba ukusabalalisa ibhizinisi leDomino Pizzas kanye nezinye izindlela zokwehlisa izinga lobuhlwempu.
Inqubo entsha yomnotho
Ukuphoxeka kukaMeer, indlela uKhongolose obusayo ngayo kanye nangendlela umholo wentsha abusa ngayo kwacaciswa ngumfowabo uFarouk ngomgcwabo wakhe.
Ngenkathi ebeka inkulumo yakhe ngeHarold Wolpe lecture eCentre for Civil Society ngoFebruawari ka2001, uMeer waqaphela ukuthi iBhange kanye neInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) IYONA “eyayisikhonya eNingizimu Afrika nomhlaba wonke jikelele” ngenxa yokuthi “bakhelwa ukusixhaphaza”.
UGordhan uyakwazi lokhu ngoba ungomunye wabasayinda isikweletu sika$850 million neIMF ngoDisemba ngo1993 ekwenza ukuthi uhulumeni kaMandela azimbandakanye nenqubo entsha ebuhlungu, yezomnotho
Ngakho-ke manje sesilahlekelwe amalunga aseThekwini naseNingizimu Afrika – abantu abadala kakhulu emizabalazweni yemiphakathi kungakapheli ngisho izinsuku ezingamashumi ayisishagalombili. UBrutus wasishiya zingu26 kuZibandlela kanti uMeer zingu12Mashi, futhi lokhu kungenzeka ukuthi kujabulisa abaningi eWsahington nasePretoria.
Kuthina-ke abasasele, inkulumo uMeer aba nayo neSpecial Assignment ngo2002 neSABC isishiya nentshisekelo ekutheni “ukungazinikeli kubobonke abanhlwempu. Kuyinto eyihlazo kabi. Labo abethu abangasukuma bamemeze, noma ngabe sesiphile isikhathi esingakanani emhlabeni, kufanele sisukume simemeze.”
Njengoba lesisikhulumi esihla kangaka sesithule, into ekufanele siyenze thins ukusukuma simemeze kakhulu kunakuqala.