The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) vehemently condemns the May 4 police abduction and detention of George Mqapheli Bonono, deputy vice-president of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), the well-respected shack-dwellers’ movement in South Africa.

We stand in solidarity with AbM and the poor people of South Africa in saying that these actions of the Cyril Ramaphosa government are part of the political repression of independent and critical voices, and in calling for the junking of the clearly trumped-up charges filed against Bonono.

In recent years, the people of Africa, West Asia and the world have increasingly known about AbM and the important work that it does alongside the urban poor of South Africa. Through the AbM, South Africa’s urban poor have been fighting for their basic needs and rights: housing, work and jobs, land, health and other social services, community. AbM has also been conducting crucial political education.

As AbM itself states, “When people occupy land, organise their own access to services, move towards using occupied land for production and build their own community infrastructure such as creches, community halls, communal kitchens and political schools, they became a direct threat to the way that the state sustains its power by simultaneously creating deprivation and dependency.”

Because of this, the AbM and its leaders have for years been targeted for political repression by South Africa’s capitalist class, which is backed by global powers and represented by its current government. The filing of trumped-up charges against Bonono, and his arrest and detention, are only the latest in the long series of politically-repressive acts committed against the movement.

We have every reason to believe that the accusation of committing “conspiracy to murder” being made against Bonono was just concocted by the police. This is a clear attempt to put an end to the public mass meetings such as the one which Bonono presided over on March 21, where the pressing issues of the poor are taken up, issues that the capitalist class and its government refuse to tackle.

It is revolting to know about the repressive measures against Bonono and AbM amidst news about South Africa’s pitiful performance in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of addressing the needs and rights of the urban poor in South Africa, the Ramaphosa government is choosing to silence people who are working with the urban poor to attain their needs and rights.

The emergence of the AbM and the South African government’s repression of it prove that for the poor and working people, political independence is not enough and must go hand-in-hand with economic independence. These also show that racial apartheid may end in paper, but class apartheid, one that is also highly racialized, can continue and worsen even under a black capitalist class.

The people of Africa, West Asia and the world are watching the situation in South Africa. We stand in solidarity with Bonono and the AbM. We condemn the political repression being carried out against them. ILPS-Africa and West Asia calls on the courts of South Africa to immediately junk the trumped-up charges against Bonono and set free this comrade and leader of the poor.

Junk trumped-up charges vs. George Mqapheli Bonono!
Viva Abahlali baseMjondolo!
Long live the urban poor and people of South Africa!
Long live international solidarity!

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