In the build up to the local elections, politicians – whether from the DA, ANC, COPE, or PAC – have been descending on our townships, in their smart suits and fancy cars, calling on us to vote for them. As part of this, they have promised to meet people’s needs, end poverty and serve communities when they are elected. In reality, the stories that all of these politicians are telling us are lies. Politicians don’t give a damn about workers and the poor; all they care about is their own power. They will tell us anything to get nice jobs in the municipality. Indeed, when politicians get into the state – whether at a municipal or national level - all they do is pass laws and put in place policies that benefit themselves and their rich friends. They do this by giving tax breaks to companies; handing out tenders to friends, privatising services, putting in place BEE deals, and giving the rich what they want. This means the state and politicians are not our friends; they rather part of the ruling class; and they protect their own interests and those of their allies in the form of the capitalists. Far from serving us; they wage a war on us.
At a local level this war by politicians – whether from the DA, ANC, COPE or PAC – has involved local governments selling off or outsourcing services like water delivery, healthcare, electricity delivery and housing delivery to private companies, for them to make money from. Even when public services are not fully privatised, they have been commercialised by the state – meaning the state sells these services to us to make a profit. The poor and unemployed who can’t afford what is charged by companies or the state are viewed as bad apples and simply cut-off.
Even when services are provided to townships, these are of an appalling standard. This is due to the reality that the rich and politicians view township residents as simply being voting fodder. Indeed, ANC and DA officials have even admitted that they view providing services to the poor as a burden. It is partially for this reason that the state dramatically reduced funding for public services in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Consequently, most townships are still defined by raw sewerage running down the streets, RDP houses that are often falling apart because they have been built so badly, and uncollected rubbish blowing in the wind. This all happens while the rich suburbs get good services – meaning we live in a shamocracy not a democracy! Voting for politicians - who are part of the ruling class – is not going to change this; only direct actions like protests, strikes and reconnections can improve the lives of workers and the poor.
It is due to the rich and politicians’ war on the poor that South Africa is now the most unequal society in the world. A tiny group of people, mostly whites by now joined by a small group of BEE elites and state officials, control the vast majority of wealth. In our society; they have power, not the people. Under this system of the state and capitalism, we - the workers and the poor - are being forced to live in poverty, our few rights are trampled, and we are subjected to subtle and overt forms abuse on a daily basis.
We cannot continue to live under such an unjust, and unfree, society. It is time to fight for a better life and win services through protests and reconnections. It is also about time we take real power; get rid of the state and capitalism; get rid of all bosses, masters and politicians; and run society ourselves based on direct democracy and, federated worker and community self-management. Only in such a society will we be able to get what we need and end all forms of exploitation and oppression whether based on class, race or gender.