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Afrique du sud : National Activist Workshop on People-Driven Transformation of Local Government, WITS University, Johannesburg

D 25 octobre 2011     H 04:55     A DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT     C 0 messages


Eighty activists representing various social movements, local and provincial structures of the Democratic Left Front (DLF), and a few left groups (a total of 53 organisations represented - see list below) from across the country met this weekend at a DLF convened national workshop to deliberate on the outcomes of the recent local government elections, the character of grass roots struggles to transform local government, the crisis of local government and the political requirements to advance people driven transformation of local government.

Many of these organisations are new and autonomous and have been struggling against neoliberalisation and the squeeze it imposes on the working class and the poor. They are struggling through marches, protests and engaging with the local state in various ways to take forward the interests of the working class and the poor.

Also in attendance at this workshop was the Mpumalanga Party which won 12 seats in the Elias Motsoaledi Council and 3 in Ephraim Mogale local Council, the Balfour Socialist Civic Movement which won 2 seats and the Operation Khanyisa Movement which won 1 seat. The workshop strongly applauded these electoral successes of left and community supported candidates. The workshop grappled with the constraints and challenges these electoral successes posed for bringing about people-driven transformation of local government.

The Global and National Crisis Continues

In general the workshop situated its discussion in the broader context of the conjunctural and systemic crisis of capitalism. In this regard the workshop noted the following :

- · The crisis of neoliberalism as an ideology , accumulation model and form of transnational class rule is deepening but not necessarily dislodging the centrality of finance capital. The austerity measures being introduced in Europe, the limited financial reform in the US and shallow recovery all underline the squeeze on the working class and the poor as the way forward for transnational capital. This is underpinned by a deeper inter-lock of climate change, oil peak, food price hikes and growing securitization of national life in response to mass protests.

- · The ZUMA government and domestic capital have not broken with the neoliberal project but instead have internalised the current international adjustments. Moreover, rolling back of democratic gains, deepening securitization, the unravelling of the ANC led Alliance and failing social delivery characterise the ZUMA regime.

- · Anti-capitalist movements are gaining a greater confidence from peoples struggles in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. This upswing of struggles is also expressed in South Africa.
People-Driven Local Government

Local government in South Africa has various institutional and political weaknesses. The current form of narrow representative democracy is also not enabling active citizenship, community voices and civic action as the basis for transforming local government. The ‘privatisation’ of local politics has led to gate keeping, patronage, nepotism and wide spread corruption. Ward committees are also extensions of councillor power rather than peoples power.

The alternative the DLF will champion with left and anti-capitalist forces is a people driven local government. This entails advancing struggles on three fronts : disciplined mass oppositional struggles to make local government responsive to the needs of communities, transformative struggles to advance alternatives from below and electoral struggles.

Advancing Democratic Left Struggle on Three Terrains

(I) Mass Oppositional Struggles to Make Local Government Responsive

Local movements and communities to intensify efforts to achieve the following :

- · Build street and ward committees as expressions of peoples power where possible ;

- · Integrated development plan processes to be democratised through struggles to ensure full information disclosure to communities and greater voice for such communities ;

- · A common action/s as campaigns for all communities need to be developed in the DLF like around food struggles, high electricity prices and so on ;

- · Use the Section 27-SERI Activist Guide on Local Government to empower a new activist who understands the terrain of local government and the legal rights of mass movements and communities in relation to local government ;

- · Build the capacity of local movements and communities to understand how local government works including how IDPs, budgets and so on work ;

- · Build towards common action and a National Action.

(II) Transformative Struggles

To advance factory take overs by workers, food sovereignty, employment from below the DLF will :

- · Advance the solidarity economy and movement through :learning sites in different parts of the country, use the learning sites to build local movements, establish a national forum, support the October international conference, do community and activist education and advance a food sovereignty campaign ;

- · Advance the Climate Jobs Campaign as part of COP17 through a conference of the unemployed at the Union Buildings and through local actions in communities during November. Community, movement and activist education to take place on this campaign. Provincial campaign committees need to be established, endorsements need to be sort from organisations and most importantly the campaign needs to be linked to struggles against increasing electricity prices. This is an issue identified as affecting all communities and we will marry it to the climate jobs campaign to bring national focus to this issue.

(III) Electoral Struggles

The DLF has chosen not to participate directly in elections. The DLF had endorsed a number of community-endorsed candidates who include some of the above comrades. The workshop had a deep and rich debate on this issue. The debate recognised the advantages and disadvantages of electoral struggles. The debate also recognised the potential for people-driven struggles opened up by the presence of left councillors in a number of municipalities. The workshop called on these councillors to be exemplary people’s councillors committed to work hard and with their constituencies. The workshop emphasised that elections must not be isolated and elevated as the only arena of struggle. The workshop agreed that electoral struggles must be shaped and informed by oppositional and transformative struggles to ensure people driven local government. The next national conference of the DLF will take forward debate and deepen a collective DLF approach on this issue.

The DLF will support existing left councillors based on the following conditions :

- · Subject to recall ;

- · They earn a living wage determined by their local organisation ;

- · They actively affirm and display anti-capitalist values and advance a people centred morality ;

- · They advance the DLF platform of action informed by local conditions in struggles ;

- · They actively provide information and account to communities ;

- · They empower communities on their rights ; and

- · They actively support and build DLF forums.

The DLF will also assist elected left councillors through :

- · Political education ;

- · Building legal and policy capacity ;

- · Policy research to advance people driven local government transformation.

Building the Democratic Left Front

It was agreed to share DLF documents on the platform of action, on local government and campaigns with activists at the grass roots.

All movements to also link their websites, face book pages and other media instruments to the DLF’s media instruments. In other words the DLF must be actively promoted through alternative media amongst movements.

DLF forums need to be built in local communities to coordinate struggles, engage in political education, research and legal support to movements and communities. Such forums are crucial to ensure the rootedness, mass character and identity of the DLF. DLF campaigns and platform of action needs to be used as the basis to build local DLF forums in communities.

The DLF will have its own participatory and bottom up research program. There will be an active program to build grass roots activist skills to advance such research. A local government research network will be built in the DLF involving grass roots activists, communities, academics and think tanks. Such a research agenda will work on themes to enable people driven local government, and all terrains of struggle : mass oppositional, transformative and electoral.

Phakamani, the DLF newspaper, must be supported by activists at the grassroots and express their voices.

The workshop also broadly agreed on the need for the following to further give momentum to the convergence and common purpose emerging amongst anti-capitalist movements and groups that are part of the DLF :

- · Share the DLF’s critique of Green Neoliberalism and involve movements in the mobilisation for COP17 to advance Eco-socialist perspectives and alternatives to the false solutions emerging in the multi-lateral process ;

- · To advance the DLF ideological project of critique of the National Democratic Revolution through research, seminars and publications ;

- · Clarify the DLF approach to non-racialism, black consciousness and race through seminars, workshops and publications ;

- · Host a DLF national conference in 2012 to further consolidate the strategic, institutional, ideological and political development of the DLF. This would include the adoption a formal constitution of the DLF.


1. Alternative Information and Development Centre (Western Cape)

2. Balfour Socialist Civic Movement (Mpumalanga)

3. Black Consciousness Party (Free State)

4. BBLF (Gauteng)

5. Cooperative and Alternative Policy Centre (Gauteng)

6. Democratic Left Front (4 provinces)

7. Democratic Socialist Movement (Gauteng)

8. Earthlife Africa (Gauteng)

9. General and Industrial Workers’ Union of South Africa (Gauteng)

10. GOLCOMM (Gauteng)

11. Ilizwi Lamafama Small Farmers’ Union (Eastern Cape)

12. Independent Residents’ Association (Mpumalanga)

13. Ipopeng Local Forum (Free State)

14. ISECC (Gauteng)

15. Ivory Park Solidarity Economy Movement (Gauteng)

16. Keep Left (Gauteng)

17. Kgobokwane Community Development Forum (Mpumalanga)

18. KwaMashu Youth Inter-Active Group (KwaZulu Natal)

19. Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (Gauteng)

20. LSM (Mpumalanga)

21. MACODEFO (Gauteng)

22. Mandela Park Backyard Dwellers (Western Cape)

23. Masibambane Unemployed People’s Movement (Gauteng)

24. Mineline Workers’ Committee (Gauteng)

25. Mitchell’s Plain Backyard Dwellers (Western Cape)

26. Mpumalanga Party (Mpumalanga)

27. Msikaligwa Community Committee (Mpumalanga)

28. National Consumer Forum (Western Cape)

29. Ntabankulu Jobless Forum (Eastern Cape & KwaZulu Natal)

30. Operation Khanyisa Movement (Gauteng)

31. People Against Poverty and Corruption (Gauteng)

32. Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Gauteng)

33. Right to Know Campaign (Eastern Cape)

34. Sakhile Concerned Residents (Mpumalanga)

35. SAYRO (Gauteng)

36. Section 27 (Gauteng)

37. Sedimosang Educ Project (Free State)

38. Socialist Party of Azania (Gauteng)

39. Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Gauteng)

40. South African Association of Civil Society Organisations (Gauteng)

41. Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (Gauteng)

42. Soweto Forum (Gauteng)

43. Students for Social Justice (Eastern Cape)

44. Tembisa Residents’ Association (Gauteng)

45. Thembelihle Crisis Committee (Gauteng)

46. Treatment Action Campaign (KwaZulu Natal)

47. UCT Workers Committee (Western Cape)

48. Unemployed People’s Movement (Eastern Cape)

49. Unemployed People’s Movement (KwaZulu Natal)

50. Vaal Community Assembly (Gauteng)

51. WCCC (Gauteng)

52. Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (Gauteng)