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United Front Preparatory Assembly assessment, 22 December

Speakers: Gcina Makoba and Patrick Bond
Date: Monday, 22 December 2014
Time: 12:30-14:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College, UKZN

The United Front's Preparatory Assembly occurred on 13-14 December, with more than 350 representatives of 71 organisations. The analysis, strategies and alliances that bind metalworkers, community activists, social movements and independent progressives are worthy of dissection. The Front's early shortcomings on various levels should also be frankly examined. The future of South African civil society's impact on countless fronts may well depend upon whether the UF can stand strong and sustain itself through a difficult period ahead.

Gcina Makoba is a Dennis Brutus Community Scholar and Inanda activist who was elected by the KZN United Front to serve on the National Working Committee; Bond directs CCS and has written extensively about United Front politics, including in the books South Africa - The Present as History (Johannesburg, Jacana Press, 2014, co-authored with John Saul) and Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa (third edition, 2014, London, Pluto Press).


Globally we are experiencing the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Wars and counter-revolutions stretch from the Middle East to the far East to Africa and the Americas. Imperialism knows no constraint. The devastating ecological and climate crises are caused by a predatory capitalist system that is endangering the very existence of humanity.

Post apartheid capitalism is leaving a trail of inequality, hunger, poverty and misery. The wealthy elite and the bosses – white and black -refuse to concede a single inch to the urgent needs of the majority. They view even the most basic reforms as a potential threat to their profit margins. The ANC government now consistently echoes these views. Every progressive programme, strategy and intention is either abandoned or rejected by the government in the face of the brutal logic of managing a capitalist state. The ANC government has refused to confront capital and white privilege and instead become an enabler of white monopoly capital and their junior BEE partners. This is the source of the political crises facing our country.

From the 13 – 14 December 2014 in Johannesburg 350 delegates from around the country representing a diverse range of trade unions, social movements, popular organisations, faith-based organisations, NGOs and anti-capitalist formations assembled to lay the foundation of a united movement of the poor majority to challenge the system that has made South Africa the most unequal country on earth.

The cry of the Preparatory Assembly of the United Front is KWANELE, KWANELE, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, GENOEG IS GENOEG.

Our call from this historic assembly that has broken new grounds is for our people to unite in the year of the United Front. Our task is to build solidarity in struggle in Southern African and internationally. We are internationalists.

We are setting out on a journey to rise to the grave challenges of our times and unite the struggles of our people: workers, unemployed, women and youth to amplify them so as to shake and revolutionise this country.
We are confident that our actions will reverberate throughout Southern Africa and will inevitably echo across the continent.

While basing ourselves on the heroic movements of the past, on the struggles to make programmes like the Freedom Charter and others a material force, the United Front is going to the people; it is unfolding a process of popular assemblies to collect the demands of our people, to listen and to build a front that is of the people, for the people and by the people. The United Front will unite the working classes, rural and urban in struggle and in which women and youth will be in the forefront.

With a great sense of urgency we have come together as the United Front and are uniting our separate and often fragmented efforts, to build solidarity, restore confidence and hope amongst the masses of this country.

The building of working class and popular power lies at the heart of our initiative.

The United Front is a front of mass action and struggle. Across the country people in communities, workplaces, townships and villages are mobilising against poverty, inequality and corruption. Our role is to unite and co-ordinate these struggles.

As activists of the United Front, we view our first and main task to build movements that mobilise to fight corruption, looting of public resources, failing service delivery, increasingly unaccountable governance, violence against women, children and LGBTQI people, police brutality, and anti-poor/pro-rich economic policies (“neo-liberalism”); We will resist retrenchments, cut-offs, evictions, collapse of our education and health systems and the retribalisation of the countryside

Our goal is to strive for the deepening of democracy and the building of people’s power in social, economic and political spheres where collective needs and interests of the people as a whole come before profits and other elite interests;

We call on the workers, the unemployed, women and youth, shack-dwellers, back yarders, farm workers, landless and the dispossessed, to organise, mobilise and build the united front in every corner of the country.
The core social base, engine and locomotive of the UF should be exploited, oppressed and marginalized people – primarily employed workers, informal/atypical workers and the unemployed in both urban and rural areas, as well as women and youth.

Mass organisations of the oppressed and exploited should be the main organisational expression of affiliation to the UF. These include trade unions, social movements, civics, women’s organisations, student and youth organisations, and other membership-based organisations of the mass of the people.

All those who agree and accept the vision, aims, mission, principles, programme. duties and obligations of the UF will be allowed to join our Front.

As a campaigning and fighting movement, the united front will be unfolding campaigns around the following themes: work, land & food, environment, decent public services (especially housing, education, health, water & sanitation) and violence against women, children the LGBTI community. To this end the United Front will establish several working groups to unite organisations and struggles in these areas, elaborating campaign and mobilisng strategies. Between now and the official launch of the United Front we are going to unite in struggle against the national austerity budget, particularly on the issues affecting poor communities on February 25. We will organize a day of mass action on March 21 in defence of human rights, freedom of expression and the right to organize and against police brutality.

We give notice to Judge Farlam that the United Front will be watching for the outcomes of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. We demand nothing less than justice for Marikana!

The Preparatory Assembly has put in place a National Working Committee to oversee the implementation of its decisions and specifically to prepare for the official launch of the United Front on the 25-27 April 2015.

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