Interview with Joe Hani by the Mail & Guardian newspaper.
Hi guys below is the full text of the online interview the Mail & Guardian did with me today. I don’t know if it will be published or if it will appear edited.
1. Why the anonymity? 2. Tell me about yourself (what do you do, background, sense of class, age, Male or Female)
I am a South African male. More than that I think does not matter as this movement is not about personalities but rather about the South African masses who suffer under the capitalist system. As an administrator of the ‘Taking Back South Africa’ online campaign, I made a personal strategic decision to operate online anonymously for various reasons. I did not want the focus to be on whether I am black or white but rather on the content of the campaign. Also in the event that should these occupations grow I am not interested in being made a villain by those who may be inclined to do so nor am I interested in being made a hero by those who may be inclined to do so. That being said, neither I nor the Taking Back South Africa campaign are central organizers of this campaign. Various people across South Africa have organized very quickly online and have organized pre occupation meetings on the ground and my contribution to these was minimal. This is a leaderless campaign.
3. How do you define your politics?
I dont define myself politically, but personally, while on certain matters I am conservative, I believe that as an alternative to the evils of capitalism, non communist versions of socialism should be explored. I have an inclination towards anarchism with some reservations. I also believe in One God but I despise none more than Priests, Rabbi’s and Sheikhs who justify this system in the name of God while knowing full well what its satanic fruits are.
4. Has there been responses from social movements – if so, which ones and what sort of solidarity do you expect ?
Keeping in mind the short period between the initial occupation call and October 15th, there has been some amazing responses. For example activists from townships in Cape Town have responded to the call, Students for Social Justice of Rhodes University as well as the Jobless Peoples Movement both in Grahamstown have responded to the call and I was pleased to hear from Pastor Xola Skosana that he will be attending the Cape Town occupation. My hope is that eventually all grassroot movements share their energy, organization and insight with this campaign. I would personally love if the good people in Abahlali BaseMjondolo join, if the APF, the AEC and Zabalaza all join in. I can only speak for myself but I don’t see reason why seemingly polarized groups such as Blackwash, Solidareteit or Pagad should not also eventually join. They all have particular grievances which if the bigger picture is contemplated, they would realize that it comes from the same source; Capitalist “democracy”.
5. Aside from Twitter, Facebook et cetera, are there any other mediums used to mobilise? Non-digital-methodology?
The campaign started online and since then people have started their own initiatives in making pamphlets, spreading the word in townships etc
6. Have you been able to keep tabs on the facebook traffic et cetera and what sort of numbers, acts of solidarity et cetera are you expecting on the day?
Our page has grown faster than usual over the last few days as the word spreads and with October 15th being a global day of occupation I expect more and more people to take interest.
7. Do you have an updated list of the spaces that will be occupied?
Cape Town: Company Gardens next to parliament.
Johannesburg: JSE Exchange square or nearby areas.
Durban: Outside City Hall.
Grahamstown: Outside the Magistrates court.
8. Do you plan or expect the occupation to continue past Saturday?
I do. The people are fed up with corporations and politicians playing games with their lives and there will come a point of no return sooner or later when people say enough is enough and I hope that these occupations will contribute to reaching that point.
9. What do you hope to achieve? What do you think this protest will change in the South African context?
No country is more worthy of an uprising against capitalism as South Africa in my opinion. We have the second widest class divide in the world after Brazil, 40% of our people are jobless, the wealthiest 10% earn half of our wealth. As a result of this legal robbery of the resources God gave us in our African earth by corporations such as Anglo-American etc, poverty and despair has spread and so have social ills. Today we have a murder rate which surpasses the worst warzones in the world such as Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine but we are fondly referred to as “The Rainbow Nation”. On Saturday we say to the government and to the corporates: Do not patronize us, you have our blood, sweat and tears on your hands and while we may have trusted you once before, South Africans refuse to be bitten from the same hole twice.
End of Interview