ANC factions stir ‘dangerous politics’ in South Africa’s towns

In the chaos of the ANC’s factional battle, even the fire in Briardene appears suspect. Mohapi is a spokesman for Abahlali baseMjondolo, a movement that represents informal dwellers. With 100,000 members, it is a fierce critic of the ANC and has often received threats. The day before the fire, Abahlali released a statement that blamed “people who are pushing the agenda of the Zuma faction in the chaos”.

The looting was a threat without police on the ground but “in the racial profiling of our African brothers and sisters, some took the law into their own hands — and they were gangsters”, Marvin Govender, general secretary of Phoenix’s residents association, says. 

Until June 29 this year, the constitutional court convicted Zuma of contempt of court, sentenced him to 15 months in prison and asked him to surrender to the police within five days, otherwise he would be arrested.

dangerous politics’ in South Africa’s towns

The state was absent, failing to stop both the vigilantes and the looting, Govender says. Chris Biyela, the convener of a post-unrest Phoenix peace committee, agrees that “if the government responded forcefully in this manner, many lives would have been saved”.

With mounds of garbage choking the air and broken sanitation, the state has failed Briardene’s informal settlement dwellers. Mohapi has every reason to be cynical about the country’s post-1994 gains. But after what he sees as an assault from within the ANC “to divide the poorest from the poor” and destroy the basis of South Africa’s freedom and its unfinished racial reconciliation, he is more determined than ever to defend them.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *