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Durban poison

by proffr1@etc Wednesday, Sep. 05, 2001 at 12:58 AM

Name given to exellent hash from the reigon.Following is a description of ...well just read the thing,Its by lorenzo so you know its 'dope'


by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, special correspondent

Friday, August 31, 2001 DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

On the opening day of the United Nations' sponsored World

Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, almost

20,000 persons marched in an anti-government

demonstration to protest the failure of the South African

government's land reform policy for the poor, and its

anticipated sale of the telecommunications industry, electrical

utilities and other state-owned properties to private

entrepreneurs. According to March organizers they also

wanted to let the world know about "this fraud of a conference

fof the corporate rich, while the poor suffer", as one marcher

put it on his picket sign. Myself and a small group of

Americans, Asians, Europeans and others left the

Non-Government Organization portion of the conference to

march in solidarity.

This march was organized by the Durban Social Form, an

umberella group of the Landless People's Movement, the

National Land Committee, COSATU, the largest labor union in

the country and numerous other social and community

groups. The demonstration took place as part of a 2-day

general strike called for by COSATU, which involved millions

of South African workers, and crippled the transport,

construction, and other industries, and snarled traffic all over

the city of Durban and othere parts of South Africa.

Protesters carried picket signs calling President Thabo Mbeki

"a liar", "bully", and warning that the government will face even

more disruptions, which would threaten the power of the

African National Congress government and "their rich friends

backing them." Many described the conflict between

COSATU, the DSF, and the ANC government as a "class

war", which they saw as resulting one day into a "coup of the

poor" to throw the rich and their ANC politicians out of power.

All day long, the marchers angrily spoke about the "treachery"

of the ANC, whom they said had "sold out" the poor of the

country. Some even said that President Mbeki "shamed" his

father, Govan Mbeki, who had died earlier that day, and whom

was generally respected as a champion of the poor. Because

of Mbeki and the ANC, they said, millions had neither land nor

jobs, that over 3 million were homeless, 3.5 million

unemployed, and millions of others without farms or land to

sustain themselves.

Thousands of us assembled at the Natal Technical College,

and marched all the way through Central Durban, picking up

thousands of people along the way, until finally we came to the

International Convention Center in the business district, where

the main conference was being held. When the marhed

ended, a rally was held, where speaker after speakers

condemned the United States and Israel as "evil twins"

sanctioning and carrying out genocide in the Middle East.

President George W. Bush ("that racist cowpoke") and the

USA was especially condemned for "arrogantly thumbing their

noses" at the conference and attempting to dominate the

conference agenda, when Bush called for the elimination of

anydiscussions around reparations for slavery and any

designation of Israel as a "racist Zionist" state.

Because Israel had chosen the week of the conference to

attack a Palestinian city in the West Bank earlier in the week,

there had been serious tensions between the Israeli

"peaceniks" and Palestinian deloegates to the NGO

conference. In fact, there were daily militant demonstrations

and counter-demonstrations, which quickly became

confrontations that had to be separated by the United Nations

security police and Metro Durban officers assigned to the

NGO conference (which preceded the meeting of heads of

state). This also inflamed the Arab and Asian communities in

Durban and other cities. Large numbers of muslim

pro-Palestinian demonstrators poured into Durban for the

protest on Friday, and played a major role in the march. In

fact, there seemed to be more support from both the Africans

and Asians at this demonstration than at any other iId seen

since I'd arrived in South Africa, even more than at the NGO

conference itself.

The march included a number of urban homeless, rural

landless (so called 'squatters") and other desperately poor

whom the ANC government had recently used police forces to

drive out of shantyowns and settlements in the months

preceeding the conference. (In video that was shown all over

the world, the police brutally destroyed hamlets, personal

property, and used excessive force), according to protesters.

At a press conference earlier in the week, leaders of the

landless movement, said that the ANC land policies were a

failure, a "tragedy", and that the poor were being crushed.

They said that landlessness itself was a symptom of racist and

economic domination, a carryover from the racist apartheid

regime, but was not being made a priority by the ANC ruling

party. The demonstration was called for to unite all their

forces, and to show that they would not passively accept the

government's anti-poor economic policies.

I have never been in a protest march like this one, though I

had been to a lifetime of protests all over the world. Elders and

the youth alike sprang into action, literally jumping and running

many parts of the route, while screaming slogans. The march

itself lased almost 3 1/2 hours, over a course of about 5 miles.

Thousands of ordinary working class and poor people came

out of their houses, churches, stores, and other places to join

in, and thousands of others stood on the sidewalks to spur us

on. It literally stopped all action in Durban, a city of 3.2 million

people. I know I will never forget this march, and felt that I was

part of a great historical happening. Most felt that this was the

start of a new movement, a poor peoples movement which

would not be denied or ignored, and that the poor population

would begin to speak with a loud voice. They were insistent

that neither ANC government bureaucrats, heads of state, or

anybody else would speak for them anymore. They would not

be victims in a country they had fought to create in the battle to

overturn apartheid, and they forcefully said that they would

take control of their own destiny.

The real story in South Africa is not what is happening at the

World Conference Against Racism, whether with statesmen

mildly "debating" over racism or lawyers at the NGO arguing

over fine details of resolutions and political statements on

reparations or United Nations procedure, the real story is what

is happening in the streets with the poor and working class

people of South African developing a new social revolutionary

movement. That's where I always want to be: on the streets

with the common people while they make revolution

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