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[Opinion] We must never reconcile with injustice and inequality (by Zackie Achmat)

December 16, 2013

Dear Friends

Apologies for the long note on Reconciliation Day.

We must never reconcile with injustice and inequality. Politicians will make Reconciliation a rainbow feel nice concert or monument opening day in a shameless performance of their falseness.

They will not tell us:

Corporations are lawless and many criminal. They protect and advance class inequality.

The privileged and powerful struggle daily against making injustice and inequality invisible.

70% of our people, working-class and poor families earn less than R4000.00 a month.

The majority of working people will never have full-time employment living in permanent desperation.

Our families whether middle- or working-class are debt enslaved to banks and loan sharks.

The majority of our children cannot read, write or count by the time they reach Grade 7 thus strengthening apartheid through dispossession of the intellect.

Crimes such as murder, rape, assault and robbery disproportionately affect working-class communities and poor traders.

12 million people live without toilets and many more in terrible informal settlements.

Illness, depression and disability and death stalk the working-class who are served in a decrepit public health system while the best medical care is available to those of us who can afford it.

The apartheid and bantustan state apparatuses tragically cemented by the legitimacy of the ANC serves itself, the corrupt and corporations in defiance against the Constitution. Protest against inequality and injustice is increasingly criminalised.

Joyful vacations, the appreciation of local and global culture privately and publicly remain the preserve of those of us who can afford it. Visiting Robben Island can be afforded by 20% of our people for them the right to pursue happiness remains a titanic struggle.

They often deny that racial injustice against African and Coloured working-class people particularly women remains the foundation of class inequality.

On 16 December, we celebrate:

The resilience of the miners, families and activists of #Marikana, as well as, social justice law firms #SERI and #CALS who support them. Greg Marinovich of Daily Maverick deserves a special mention for not only exposing police executions but reporting the work of the Marikana Commission evidence leaders that indict Lonmin, SAPS and others who ordered 4000 rounds of ammunition, 4 mortuary vans and called for blood before the massacre.

The Rural Women’s Movement and the Alliance for Rural Democracy who resist the entrenchment of Bantustan rule over at least 17 million people by the ANC.

The Right to Know Campaign leads a broad front to resist the secret, authoritarian and corrupt state.

Abahlali baseMjondolo leads the resistance to the criminalisation of protest and suffer daily persecution because of it. Again, the support of SERI is indispensable to their resistance and the 12 000 protest against apartheid basic services.

TAC, Section27 and the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Campaign exposed and are leading resistance against a corrupt and incompetent bantustan health service which cause illness and death instead of preventing and treating it.

The people of Khayelitsha who through the Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, Triangle Project and Ndifuna Ukwazi won the right to hold a largely incompetent, ineffective, brutal and corrupt SAPS accountable. They are supported by a great legal team including initially the Women’s Legal Centre and now the Legal Resources Center.

Tshwaranang, Community Law Centre, Rape Crisis and other organisations of women resist gender inequality and violence against women and girls every day.

We must support #LGBTI organisations such as Free Gender who guard the constitutional protection of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equal Education defeated government neglect and official indifference in the most important youth struggle since 1976 by ensuring Norms and Standards to fix our schools. Now we have the tools to ensure the eradication of mud and asbestos schools, we have the tools to ensure that 11 000 pit latrines become a memory and that libraries and laboratories become a norm restoring dignity to our children.

A free media championed by Alide #Dasnois who shone the light on #corrupt ANC business and others such as amaBhungane who has ensured that the #Nkandla looting #Zuma presidency will not escape the people’s condemnation must be strengthened. This is also true of the left and grassroots media such as Amandla and GroundUp.

NUMSA and it’s allies, Women on Farms, Sikhula Sonke and organisations such as the Black Sash not only defend working-class and poor people but will help build equality and justice.

We celebrate and stand in solidarity with the struggles of people for freedom, equality and justice in Egypt, Greece, Chile, Palestine, the United States, Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere on our globe.

16 December should be a day of remembrance and resistance whether small or big in support of these and countless struggles. Honour the work Nelson Mandela and his generation’s vision of freedom, equality, dignity and above all justice as a necessary condition for reconciliation locally and globally.

Dare to Know! Dare to Struggle!


Zackie Achmat is an activist with the Social Justice Coalition and a founder of Ndifuna Ukwazi

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