Abahlali BaseMjondolo re-elect leader Sibusiso Zikode uncontested
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DURBAN - The leader of Abahlali BaseMjondolo Sibusiso Zikode won re-election as the movement’s president uncontested in an elective congress held in Durban on Sunday afternoon.
Zikode retained his position for the fifth time in six congress meetings since the movement’s inception in 2005. More than 360 delegates gathered at Aids Foundation Centre representing three provinces, namely, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, with just two positions contested.
Speaking to the Daily News before the opening of the polls, Zikode said the congress was an important component of the movement which ensures society understands its praxis and enables improvement in the quality of its democratic processes.
“In a way, the congress is a message to the general public about the strength of the democracy within the movement where there is no crisis of people who want to rule as we have seen amongst political parties, whenever they have elections of this nature.
“It does not matter who is going to lead this movement, it is not the leaders that are going to be elected today. What matters the most are the electorate themselves because they know whoever is in power, or in positions will actually take the mandate of the people,” said Zikode.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) delivered a message of solidarity with the movement.
In a statement, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union supports the movement in the struggle for a inclusive economy which prioritises the poor.
“Abahlali BaseMjondolo has endured a difficult year in 2021, when the same forces who have opposed the struggle for land, housing and dignity since the formation of the movement in 2005 left no stone unturned in trying to undermine the revolutionary leadership and its members.
“The struggle to defend the indigent communities as a revolutionary, socialist praxis has been victorious and we celebrate the gains made by the movement in defending our people from those who seek to prioritise private property over the lives of our people. We stand with Abahlali BaseMjondolo as we build a society where people are above profits or private property and pursuing class struggle to realise the key fundamentals, which is to transform and alter the South African economy and ensure that it is owned and controlled by all those who are economically marginalised, dispossessed and landless,” said Jim.
The outgoing secretary general, Nomusa Sizani, said the working relationship between the leaders of the movement and members was key in the continuation of the struggle for housing.
“It is not easy leading over 100 000 people nationwide, but, we share a common goal which is to see an integrated community of Abahlali BaseMjondolo who can deliver the needs of the people to them regardless of their gender or religion,” said Sizani.
Sizani said the usual hierarchical system where elected leaders have the most power did not apply to Abahlali BaseMjondolo, which was what had sustained its relevance and consistency.
“The top-down political system is what kills most movements or political parties. That is not how we work, as the outgoing leaders, we have reported only to the people. One example is when a leader was recalled for not serving in the interest of the people in 2018,” said Sizani.
The previous leaders of the land and housing movement chaired a policy conference on Saturday aimed at defining its aspirations moving forward.
Zikode said it will give a clear direction for the new members of the council about the mandate they should relay to the broader shack dwellers community.
“The policies discussed at the conference were about the internal praxis of the movement, which then inform and guide its principles and the direction.
“It was used to also reaffirm our commitment to the issue of land redistribution, which is the basis of our struggle which reiterates the commitment to push for a policy that restores land back to indigenous people, irrespective of what the government is saying at this stage,” said Zikode.
After his re-election, Zikode urged delegates to concentrate on building momentum for the general assembly where they will present the policy position of the movement to the rest of Abahlali BaseMjondolo.
"We should work together for the realisation of the general assembly where we will take the community into our confidence by presenting the policy positions we agreed upon at this congress," said Zikode.
Zikode will serve until 2024.
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