“The South African” London based Newspaper interview with Joe Hani on the planned October 15 occupations in South Africa. By Angelique Redmond
(If any of you guys wanna volunteer to join me in admin on the occupy event pages so that I don’t get all the interview requests, please let me know and I’ll add you)
1. What do you hope to achieve with the Occupy South Africa movement?
My personal hope is that through this initiative, people who have previously been hesitant to express in open what they are already expressing behind closed doors will be emboldened by the number of people on the streets to express their frustrations openly. Expressing ones frustration is a necessary first step on the road to combating the root of our problem in South Africa which is the control a few rich businessmen and politicians have over our country and our people. It must be said that the poorest of poor in the townships across South Africa have been expressing their anger for a long time and so another hope is that these city occupations will build bridges of hope between cities and townships, between the middle class and the very poor.
2. How did the movement originate here in South Africa?
It is yet to be seen if this initiative will turn into a movement but the original online calls were made by individuals on the internet many of whom are already involved in existing on the ground movements.
3. When you say you wish to restore democracy, please expand on this aim and how this goal will be achieved?
Democracy is a word used by politicians to justify their selfish motives with a nice sounding word. In Iraq it was used to kill millions of people. In South Africa we see the fruits of “democracy” in millions of poor, tens of thousands murdered, millions of women raped and the spread of sickness and disease. An embarrassing question posed to the ANC and DA is: If the majority of people are dependant on a few for wages and work, where then is the equality between all that democracy presupposes exists? There is a symbolic voting system yes but no democracy. South Africa is an oligarchy of the rich and powerful.
4. While the event is non – violent, what will happen if the event does become violent or is there is a violent reaction to the event, are you expecting a police reaction?
I don’t control the event so I have no say or authority on what happens. I assume though that people will not resort to violence. The real worry is if the state becomes violent as they have been shooting people in the townships throughout the last few years killing some like they did with Andries Tatane and injuring many others. My advice to people attending is keep calm, don’t be violent and let the initiative grow beyond control but at the same time do not allow anyone to quell your justified anger.
5. When you say greed and corruption are you referencing specific members of government/ parliament?
While it is common knowledge how corrupt ANC politicians are, this initiative is not only meant to address corruption because that would imply that our economic and social problems would be solved if the politicians were not corrupt. Corruption in itself is not the root problem but it is rather the ‘legal’ robbery of South Africa by a few large international and local corporations and this robbery is rubber stamped by government both ANC or DA. Political corruption is only an inevitable result of a corrupt system.
6. How long will the occupation last?
No end date has been set and the hope is that the numbers and momentum will keep growing.
7. What other groups have you got backing you or politicians or similar movements?
No politicians support this campaign. So far we have heard of support from the Unemployed Peoples Movement, Students of Social Justice and various community organizations. I hope more and more groups and movements take the opportunity to join the campaign.
8. Do you feel that South Africa is ready for a revolution, how is the public support for the Occupy Revolution campaign?
The call was only made about ten days ago but when you consider the statistics: 40% jobless (20 million people), and that majority of those who have jobs are living on minimum wage, if you consider that more South Africans will be murdered in the coming year than the number of Palestinians or Afghans that will be killed by war over the next ten years (according to current statistic averages) then my opinion is yes South Africans are ready for revolution. It may only take a spark. The swimmer in the ocean does not fear the rain.
9. Is this the first step to a larger campaign and more resistance/ demonstrations against the current climate in South Africa?
This is not a first step. The ongoing struggles of Grassroot movements across the country such as Abahlali, the Anti Eviction Campaign, Zabalaza, the anti rape struggles, the anti drug and crime struggles, all these have been going on for years but what would hopefully be unique about these occupations is that they would combine all these different struggles into a comprehensive campaign that recognizes corporations and the state as the source of the problem and not regard them as helpless do-gooders. The main obstacle to a real change lies with the people themselves. Besides the cocaine and heroine widespread among our cities and towns another form of drugs which is until now pacifying us is largely American corporate media. I hope we switch off our televisions and take to the streets.
10. What mediums are you using to spread the information and garner support?
Online (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc) you can visit our sites: takebacksa.wordpress.com or http://www.occupysa.org
Also on the ground sporadic initiatives are now spreading in the holding of pre-meets in different cities, pamphlets being printed and distributed and many are trying to organize bringing the people from the townships into the city for the occupations.
Finally as a word of inpiration to fellow South africans, I would like to add that should South Africa ever reach its ‘Egyptian moment’ that the South African people would then once again be in a position to inspire others as our people in North Africa have overthrown dictators and are now susceptible to the influence of “corporate democracy” so we may be in a unique position to encourage them to keep up the fight and not bow down to wolves in sheep’s clothing.