“Freedom Day” is a public holiday celebrated on April 27 in South Africa to commemorate the first democratic elections in South Africa which took place on April 27 1994 following the official end of the racist apartheid regime.
Annually, the shackdwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) organises ‘Unfreedom Day’ activities to highlight the injustices and inequalities still faced by the masses in South Africa today in rejection of what the movement calls ‘fake freedom’.
In South Africa today the majority cannot realise their constitutional right to access electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal. Instead they continue to be side-lined by the state in their ongoing struggle with overcrowding, poor infrastructure and limited resources.
AbM was formed in 2005 and organises under the banner of ‘Land, Housing and Dignity.’ With a membership of over 100 000 people it is the largest social movement to emerge in post-apartheid South Africa and is at the heart of fighting for genuine freedom worth celebrating – not the empty platitudes that characterise post-apartheid South Africa where the lives of most people have not improved since the democratic breakthrough in 1994.
Since the movement’s formation, AbM has experienced continued political persecution for struggling for the very freedoms celebrated on 27 April. Twenty-four activists have been assassinated since its founding, including eKhenana Commune leaders Ayanda Ngila, Nokuthula Mabaso and Lindokuhle Mnguni in the last year alone. These activists were fighting for genuine power of the people and a world where human life takes preference over the commercialisation of land.
As peace and freedom-loving people, we echo the demands of AbM which insist that we cannot be idle whilst the kleptocratic elite continue to prioritise profit over people’s lives. The social value of land must be prioritised over its commercial value! Human life over profit!
As the International Peoples’ Assembly – comprised of more than 200 social movements, political parties, trade unions, women’s organisations and more – we stand with AbM as the movement continues to organise, mobilise and build towards a movement of communes! As Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez said, ‘¡Comuna o nada!’ (The Commune or Nothing!)
We encourage organisations to send messages and videos of solidarity with AbM to [email protected] and to share your messages of solidarity on social media using the hashtag #UnfreedomDay.
>> Read the AbM Unfreedom Day statement here.
>> For updates, follow AbM’s Facebook page here.