#UniteBehind invites all to mobilise with them in Monday's #PeoplesMarch

Michael Weeder on the panel at the #UnitedBehind launch. Picture: Bheki Radebe/ANA Pictures

Michael Weeder on the panel at the #UnitedBehind launch. Picture: Bheki Radebe/ANA Pictures

Published Aug 6, 2017


The #UniteBehind coalition, which has brought together over 20 community, activist and faith-based movements over the past few months, has organised a march from Kaizergracht (CPUT parking) to Parliament at 3pm today. 

This is the day before the crucial vote of no-confidence in President Zuma is due to be held in Parliament. The march will call on the ANC to recall Zuma and for all MPs to vote according to their constitutional obligations.

Mcebisi Jonas, ousted as Deputy Minister of Finance after refusing a R600 million bribe from the Guptas, will address the march. Other speakers include Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Methodist Presiding Bishop Zipho Siwa. Youth, women, pensioners, LGBTI activists, nurses, teachers, workers and unemployed people will speak and march to demand an end to the theft and impunity taking place in our country.

#UniteBehind coalition affiliates struggle daily for a just and equal South Africa. As a first step, we must compel the ANC to recall Zuma. Furthermore, the nuclear deal must be scrapped, and we must root out corruption in government and business.

The corruption of the historically privileged must also be prosecuted. In our democracy, however, this cannot happen without an open and accountable government.

The #UniteBehind coalition, born out of the Cape Town memorial (service) for Ahmed Kathrada, regards ending the Zuma presidency as necessary, but not sufficient to address the injustice of racism, patriarchy, inequality, and corporate lawlessness. 

Land, education, healthcare, housing, safety and security, child-care facilities, water, sanitation, access to justice, and a living wage, among others, must all be equally distributed and justly organised. This is a society whereby the people begin to share in the country’s wealth. This is our struggle now, and after Zuma goes.

Tomorrow, August 8, the day after our march, two further marches have been announced by the political parties. These coincide with the no-confidence vote in Parliament. One is being organised by the unified opposition plus civil society groups (to remove Zuma) and the other, a counter-march, also to Parliament, by the ANC (in defence of Zuma).

As the largest group of civil society and faith communities in the Western Cape, we decided not to march under the banner of political parties, and to organise a

#PeoplesMarch for the day before (today).

We are doing this for the following reasons: we intend for the character of our march against the Zuma presidency to be educational, embracing, inclusive and diverse - rather than listening to a line-up of leaders from every political party, who will understandably use the platform to promote their organisations.

We will use the march to educate ourselves in a non-partisan manner about state capture, democracy and social justice, and will hear from a wide range of often marginalised and excluded voices of our society.

Everyone is welcome at the #UniteBehind march, even those who want to wear their political party T-shirts, including the blue and red ones.

There are more people in South Africa, in fact about 42%, who did not vote for any political party in the last election. They need a new politics of participatory democracy, justice, and equality. 

Our aim is to provide a voice for this kind of politics. In addition, many of the members of the broad social movements in the country are historically, or disenchanted, ANC members.

While most of them strongly support the recall of Zuma and his corrupt gang who have captured the state, this does not mean they would march under DA banners, especially in the Western Cape, given the recent acts of repression in the province, such as in informal settlements and on farms. 

Strong discomfort at marching under the direction of the DA and its junior partners in the Western Cape extends to many others who are not members of political parties.

Despite these reservations, #UniteBehind attempted three times to negotiate with the DA-led political parties’ group to find a compromise that would enable us to have a unified march under the leadership of people’s organisations and religious leaders, where political parties would have a minority voice.

Further to this, they rejected our proposal to split the day of August 8, where #UniteBehind could march in the morning and the opposition parties, as well as the ANC, in the afternoon and evening, so as to keep a unified day of action. 

Instead, they demanded that #UniteBehind either join them, or be separated away from the vicinity of Parliament. In our view, political parties have a loud and dominant voice in Parliament; on this day, the streets should belong to the people.

Finally, the Dullah Omar region of the ANC, including its youth league known for its virulent opposition to criticism of Zuma, are organising a counter-march. In our view, a potential clash between political parties would have left our members vulnerable. 

All #UniteBehind’s attempts to be reasonable were met with refusal or non-response by the DA, leading the negotiations on behalf of the opposition in meetings. We were, therefore, left with no choice but to arrange the #PeoplesMarch for today.

Despite this regrettable change, we believe we will send a powerful message to MPs before the day of the vote.

This march, which will begin at 3pm today at the top of Kaizergracht Street, will be a mobilising tool for the nationwide shut-down activities planned for tomorrow, supported by many people’s organisations.

The march is being organised by Alternative Information and Development Centre; Centre for Environmental Rights; District 6 Working Committee; Equal Education Law Centre; Environmental Monitoring Group; Financial Sector Campaign Coalition; Ndifuna Ukwazi; People’s Health Movement; PHA Food & Farming Campaign; Right 2 Know; SAFCEI; SA First Forum; Save SA; Section 27; the Social Justice Coalition; Sonke Gender Justice; SA Women in Public

Transport Commuters; the Treatment Action Campaign; Triangle Project; Trust for Community Outreach and Education; the Women and Democracy Initiative, the Women’s Legal Centre, and Women on Farms.

Madubedube speaks for the #UniteBehind coalition

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