re posted from                               ABAHLALI baseMJONDOLO

Organise or Starve

Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement

Organise or starve

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic social movements have been in the forefront of building networks of mutual aid and solidarity. In Brazil our comrades in the Landless Workers’ Movement, the MST, have already provided more than 40 000 food baskets to poor neighbourhoods. Here in South Africa our movement has been providing food to branches across the country, running community kitchens and growing organic and heathy food on occupied land in Durban. In Cape Town activists have formed Community Action Networks. Around the country there have been important local initiatives.

These networks have been of great assistance in distributing food, forming community kitchens and also, in some cases, democratising science by educating people about the virus and combatting fake news. In Cape Town these networks have often been formed by young people who are willing to risk their own health despite the increasing numbers of infections in the province. Unlike the state progressive grassroots activists make no distinction between people based on the country in which they were born when building solidarity and organising mutual aid.

Before the lockdown millions of people in South Africa were impoverished with the result that they were living in life threatening conditions in shack settlements and often going hungry. Many families have spent their whole lives living under inhuman conditions. It must be clear that the issues that have risen to public prominence during this period are not new. They have always been there. People who are not well organised have been unable to voice them beyond their own communities because the media was not there to report on them.

The lockdown has pushed millions more into impoverishment and radically worsened the situation of already impoverished people. Hunger has become an everyday reality for millions. Our comrades in Cape Town tell us that people get hugely anxious and stressed when the food provided by activists runs out before their turn comes. They don’t know what they will say to their children when they get home.

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Organise or Starve

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