APF Joburg : UPDATE ON WATER STRUGGLES IN SOWETO

John M Cox coxj at email.unc.edu
Wed Sep 24 02:56:27 MDT 2003


South African and International comrades,

Greetings, once again, from the Anti-Privatisation Forum.  Below is an update
on the struggle against pre-paid water meters in the community of Phiri,
Soweto that is being waged by the community with the active support of the APF
and its affiliate, the SECC.

The community in Phiri, after a mass meeting held on the 13th September,
decided to organise a march to the Soweto offices of the Johannesburg Metro.
During the week (13-19th Sept.) community members alongside activists from the
APF, SECC and several other APF affiliates conducted a door-to-door campaign
in Phiri to mobilise support for the struggle against the pre-paid meters.
This campaign was buttressed by an APF-initiated meeting of several
progressive organisations and movements (during the same week) in order to
form a broad coalition against water privatisation. We have already sent out a
message detailing the proposed work of the coalition and an accompanying
declaration for other organisations and movements to endorse (if you have not
received these, please let us know and we will forward immediately).

The march (that took place this last Saturday), was officially banned by the
police - to no avail. It attracted over 1000 people and succeeded in creating
intensified awareness and support for the continuing struggle against
Johannesburg Water's Operation Gcin'amanzi and the overall fight against
privatisation of basic needs/services as well as support for the comrades who
had been arrested (and jailed) for carrying out acts of resistance.  Today,
those comrades appeared in court and despite the outrageous attempts of the
public prosecutor to deny bail to those who had been kept in jail for the last
two weeks on the grounds that the water warriors are a direct threat to
'public security and order', our legal defence team succeeded in getting bail
for all the comrades.

In an indication of the state's zealousness in trying to contain the struggle,
the bail amounts were all over R1000 each and the bail conditions include a
ban on coming within 500m of the Council offices and the operations of
Johannesburg Water as well as a ban on attending/ addressing any meeting
having to do with Operation Gcin'amanzi. All the comrades are due to appear in
court again on 7th October.

Over the last week, the emergent coalition against water privatisation has
been working hard in providing mobilising support for the struggles in Phiri
and in laying the groundwork for legal challenges to the Johannesburg Water
interdict as well as to the installation of pre-paid meters in South Africa.
By the end of this week, legal papers will be filed to challenge the interdict
and plans are well under way, with the active assistance of the Freedom of
Expression Institute, for a longer-term legal challenge to the
constitutionality of pre-paid meters.  In addition, the foundations of a legal
defence fund for South African social movements are being prepared.

The APF would like to thank all those South African and international
organisations/movements that have already pledged their solidarity and active
support. We have also begun to receive financial support in response to our
appeal for legal defence funds and we hope that this will continue (please
contact us if you need further information on how to provide financial
support).

We want to emphasise that the ongoing struggles in Phiri are but part of a
much larger struggle that is taking place across South Africa against the
neo-liberal policies of the ANC government - over land, education, healthcare,
water, electricity and housing. The repression and arrogance being meted out
by the ANC government and Johannesburg Water have not, and will not, halt the
struggle for basic human dignity and rights of the poor in Phiri and indeed,
in innumerable poor communities across the breadth of South Africa.  The
collective resistance of the poor is not ephemeral - it is both necessary and
never-ending for as long as the barbarism of capitalism exists.

A LUTA CONTINUA!

Dale T. McKinley
On behalf of the APF and the Coalition Against Water Privatisation


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