Two weeks ago, we convened what I hope will be a significant intervention as we move towards our most consequential election since 1994. We convened a small group of social movements, labour federations and NGOs to discuss the threats that the 2024 moment presents and explore collective strategies and tactics to take into the election period. We’ll send a full report on the Convening in the next few days.
One of the many key insights that emerged from the Convening was that we have not been able to define the future that we want. It also doesn’t seem like we have gotten close to understanding the extent of our political crisis.
Beyond the billions of rands we lost to state capture. Beyond the dire youth unemployment stats. Beyond the alarming Gini coefficient… what is clear is that most of us living in this country have no trust in every institution that was created to respect and protect our dignity.
A few months ago, I also attended the Social Justice Assembly (SJA), with around 200 other representatives of civil society organisations. Between this month’s Convening and the Assembly participants also asked questions about the demobilisation of collectives and of people’s movements. How do we explain the rise of xenophobia and gated communities? How do we define the democracy we are working towards? What is the vehicle that will get us there?
There has also been a clear call for us to take this thing called the vote more seriously. It’s not just about marking an X next to the logo an individual identifies with the most. It’s about using the vote to force people’s demands onto the agenda of the group that is supposed to make decisions on our behalf. The election is one of the tools to build a people-led and viable society.
As a start, at the beginning of next year when those vying for political power launch their 2024 manifestos, how do voters force them to commit to ending austerity, implementing a basic income grant, advancing a transformative climate justice agenda, or decisively deal with the commodification of the state? How do we use the uncertainty the 2024 election presents to advance the building of people-led political alternatives?
These will remain key questions for MVC’s work in the next year.
Issued by: Minhaj Jeenah, Executive Director