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Gauteng: No tenemos tierra, no votamos. No Land! No Vote!!! Movimiento del Pueblo Sin Tierra Landless People´s Movement. África



30 October 2003

LPM (GAUTENG) No Land! No Vote!!!

The Landless People’s Movement (Gauteng Province), which is part of - a national movement of poor and landless people struggling for land! Food! Jobs! for the poor, hereby wishes to express unreserved rejection of the notion that we can be voters without rights enjoyed by all citizens. We find it an extreme insult that we are being called to register “where we live”, when we are faced with removals any time between now and the elections.
The LPM Gauteng has been struggling for the past two years against the illegal efforts of the government to forcibly remove almost a million people from their homes in informal settlements around Joburg. The Joburg Metro Council has targeted 100 informal settlements housing close to 1-million people for forced removals which the government disguises under the rhetoric of “voluntary relocations”, but which the poor and landless know are being conducted in apartheid-style at gunpoint.

We have had many marches in the past two years to both the Joburg Mayor’s office Mr Amos Masondo and to the Premier’s office Mr Mbazima Shillowa. We have written many letters and left many memorandums, outlining our problems and the pain and suffering caused by the forced removals. We held meetings with the MECs of Gauteng including Paul Mashatile, Mary Metcalfe and Trevor Fauller. We presented evidence of the decision of the Joburg Metro to remove about a million people in Johanneburg alone. In all these meetings we said there were brutal force removals going on; the government representatives denied these and insisted that only “voluntary relocations” were happening. We said why the guns and arrests if they are voluntary, where were never satisfactorily answered, but they promised to help. Instead of help we are now seeing the intensification of the forced removals, going hand in hand with calls for us to register to vote. We ask the MECs of Gauteng, the Premier and even President Thabo Mbeki this would they vote in a country where they are treated as rubbish?

A meeting held last weekend in the Protea South informal settlement in Soweto between the local councilor and the Protea South branch of the ruling African National Congress clearly exposed the lie of “voluntary relocations”, when the councilor informed the meeting that the community would be removed in January 2004, and said “we are going to register the people who want to leave, but those who do not want to leave will be removed anyway”. MEC Paul Mashatile repeated the message yesterday (29 October 2003) in Protea where he held a meeting to canvass for elections.
The landless poor of Thembelihle in Lenasia extension 9, have lived for the past three years under constant attacks from the Red Ants and the police. The local leaders are regularly arrested on false charges, some are still attending endless court cases. These arrests are faced also by other LPM leaders, we believe this is evidence that our government sees us the poor and landless as criminals. The same removals are threatened in many other places such as Eikenhof, Rubie Ridge, central Johannesburg, Alexander to mention just a few.

This is the truth of forced removals in all informal settlements where the poor and landless are being forced out of the only homes they know.
SA voters are expected to register to vote where they live, but the poor and landless facing forced removals and evictions have no idea where they will be living on 27 April next year because by then we may be evicted from our homes!
The LPM (Gauteng) rejects the call for poor and landless people to register to vote under these conditions - otherwise we will be helping the government to pretend that it has given us a real chance of voting when it is clearly trying to exclude us!

We say No Land No Vote!
The LPM regards this double-speak from the government as yet one more reason why the country’s 19-million poor and landless rural people and seven-million poor and landless urban people should not vote in next year’s election. The elections on 27 April, 2004 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the government’s broken promises to deliver land to the people.