South African Grassroots Movements Rebel Against NGO Authoritarianism

This is a disturbing example of grassroots peoples’ groups having to declare independence from NGO-controlled coalitions because they feel the NGO’s, with their overseas funding here Rosa Luxembourg Foundation)and staff available, pre-empt the leadership of movements, and water down the demands of the people. There was a similar statement last week from Abahlali base Mjondolo in Natal to disavow others who were organizing peoples’ groups with major support from the Gates foundation. See John Saul review of Shivji’s book on the role of Ngo’s: . Shivji emphasizes the authenticity of the peoples movements over the NGOs’, and notes their `silence’(except for Lawyers Environmental Action Team-LEAT) when it came to support for the artisinal miners at Bulyanhulu. The acronym CBO or even CSO (civil society organisation) may come to be preferred by peoples’ groups to NGO.

An open letter to participants in the Social Movements Indaba

The Western Cape Anti Eviction Campaign wishes to make clear to all social movements and participants in the Social Movements Indaba that its representatives will not be attending the SMI to be held in Cape Town from 2-5 December 2007. We have seen the "Planned Agenda" and want to make absolutely clear that we did not give the SMI leadership permission to cite our name as participants. We reject the dishonesty of the SMI leadership in this regard with the utmost contempt. Our inclusion as participants will mislead other social movements throughout South Africa, Africa and internationally. It also will mislead funders such as the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation who have partly financed this gathering of the SMI

One of our constituencies has indicated the very same sentiment: the Joe Slovo Residents Association, also cited in the agenda as participants, will not be attending the SMI.

The Western Cape Anti Eviction Campaign was a founder member of the Social Movement Indaba in its original intention to be a platform for social movements. In its ranks it concentrates the experience of most of the mass struggles in the Western Cape since that time: in Mandela Park, Tafelsig, Silvertown, QQ section, Gugulethu, Hanover Park, Gympie Street and so on.

But since its inception the SMI has degenerated into a vehicle controlled by NGOs. Now it merely poses as a forum for bringing together social movements. In reality the SMI has become an obstacle to the linking up of real social movements around the country and is a source of division.

The Western Cape Anti Eviction Campaign will not allow some NGO's and academics to further their careers with the blood, sweat and tears of communities. We despise the way they act as Trojan horses and the way they co‑opt activists because of the resources they enjoy. Major social movements such as Abahlali base Mjondolo in Natal and the WCAEC withdrew from the SMI a year ago because it no longer fulfilled its original function. The SMI needs to be reclaimed and driven by people on the ground and not by its self-appointed 'leaders'.

Let us compare the record of the SMI in the Western Cape in 2007 with that of the AEC. With far less resources than the Western Cape SMI, the AEC has done the following:
(1) As a result of years of campaigning under the leadership of the AEC, by ten villages with defective housing managed by the Cape Town Community Housing Company, the government allocated R46 million to repair the defects.
(2) As a result of the AEC's 'scrap the arrears' campaign (directed against the pink letters issued by the Cape Town Council), the Council agreed to scrap arrears up to September 2003. This was a partial victory.
(3) The AEC has been involved in helping organise marches of thousands of people on parliament by N2 Gateway residents and by Joe Slovo settlement residents, worked with Joe Slovo on the occupation of the N2, and has also cooperated with the Joe Slovo task team in working out a strategy to fight the forced removal being attempted by Sisulu, Dyantyi and Thubelisha. This has thus far won a reprieve until the High Court hearing on 12 December.

All this is in addition to regular assistance by the AEC of individuals and small groups with struggles against evictions.

What has the Western Cape SMI done in 2007? So far as we know, it has only organized one small demonstration at parliament of some 50-80 people! There has not even been an SMI presence at the court appearances in Bishop Lavis of 8 Joe Slovo militants on charges of public violence. This shows the extent to which the bureaucracy of the SMI has lost touch with community-based organizations.

We invite all representatives of genuine social movements – provincial, national and international — attending the SMI conference to join residents of Joe Slovo and members of the Anti-Eviction campaign in showing our solidarity with the 8 Joe Slovo militants at their next court appearance in Bishop Lavis at 9am on December 5.

Issued by the Western Cape Anti Eviction Campaign
079 370 9614;
078 580 8646;
073 256 20336;
072 392 5859;
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Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign


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Lynn Munsammy's Statement Against NGO Thuggery

Lynn Munsammy 08.Mar.2008 11:22

Lynn Munsamy was a founder member of the Crossmoor Informal Settlement in Chatsworth and she was elected onto the Crossmoor Committee where she played a leading role. This is the statement that she made after 3 staff members (Heinrich Boemke, Shannon Walsh & Orlean Naidoo) at the Centre for Civil Society sent around emails accusing her and others of stealing money. This followed:

1. A letter from Lynn on behalf of the Crossmooor Committee to the Crossmoor Lawyers (LRC) asking them to please deal directly with the Crossmoor Committee and not with the Centre for Civil Society, to please not arrange meetings at times and venues unsuitable for Crossmoor residents, to please keep the Crossmoor Committee rather than the Centre for Civil Society updated with the progress on the case, to please give a written explanation to the Committee with regard to the role of two Centre for Civil Society staff members (Heinrich Boemke and Orlean Naidoo) in the case and stating that Fatima Meer was not a stakeholder in Crossmoor.
2. Lynn asking when Orlean and her husband took
3. An email from Lynn to the CCS listserve asking that all CCS staff including interns, outreach officers, visitors and film makers to please stop coming to Crossmore and that they stop presenting Orlean Naidoo (employed by CCS and resident in Malvern) as the leader of the Crossmore settlement.
4. The replacement, by the Centre for Civil Society, of the elected Crossmoor Committee with a new Committee. Because this was done with violence and undemocratically the Social Movement's Indaba KwaZulu-Natal [SMI-KZ] described this action as 'regime change'.
5. Threats against people in and out of Crossmoor who spoke out against this regime change.

Crossmoor Statement from Lynn Munsamy
On the 26 June 2007 I went for a march that was organized by Orlean and Fundis [with money from CCS]. The march went peacefully, until the latter end when a comrade asked a question and before answering Pinkie (Orlean's husband) lashed out verbally at me, ("shut up, you are a piece of shit, you are a nothing"). He also stated that he would set Fundis people for me. This was embrassing and humiliating. I decided at this point to maintain a safe distance from Orlean and Pinkie as I believed that they were a threat to my safety. However this does not mean that I withdrew my participation in the Crossmoor Struggle.

On the morning of 4 July 2007, Pinkie confronted Joyce telling that the bottom section was small in numbers and that she should get more people from the Bottlebrush Settlement to build shacks and increase the numbers. I was concerned about this and I told her that I would confer with the lawyers on this matter. Pinkie then became upset with my decision, saying that I did not know what I was talking about.

An hour later the protection service came and broke down shacks. I contacted our lawyer and he sent someone to take photos. The next morning I took 3 people to meet with the lawyer, Orlean became upset that I made my own arrangements. On this very day 5 July Orlean called a meeting. This meeting was held at Westcliffe, Unit 3 [where Orlean and Pinkie have a flat i.e. not in the informal settlement]. All persons that attended this meeting as ff:

1. Heindrich (chair the meeting) [CCS]
2. Shannon Walsh [CCS]
3. Orlean (Westcliffe Chairperson) and Pinkie [CCS]
3 members from the Westcliff Flat Resident's Committee, Gladys, Christina, Vanessa
5 members from Ekhupelene incl Fundis (Leader)
Crossmoor: Lyn, Evon, Robert, Sipho, Busisiwe, Rani, Grace, Brilliance, Octavia, Channel

This was a rushed meeting. There was a few concerns that was bought up.

1. Fundis threats against the bottom section.
2. Change of name (Fundi's concern)
3. Funding issues
4. Who are the leaders, who should lead

The issue concerning the [alleged] misappropriation of funds was brought up. Fundis also brought his concern that there were blankets and food hampers that was stored at a Pastor's garage. Heinsrich then said that we should be honest about this issued. I indicated that donations came in to about R7000. I also explained that this was given at various times. I indicated further that I have all records available to provide proof thereof. The conclusion to the meeting was that Evon and myself should step back on the basis that I, Lynn, is not well and that Evon being stressed out. I never consulted with Heindsrich on this matter. However I speak to him about meeting personally through SMS. My reason for this was that I wanted to get money advice dealing with the Money Issue. HE did not respond, but discussed this sms with Orlean. THE SMS READ, AIR TIME JUST GOT FINISHED PLEASE LET ME KNOW OF TIME N DATE AT UR CONVENIENCE PLEASE DNT DISCUSS MEETING WITH ORLEAN FOR NOW. Orlean was very upset about this. My reason for this sms was no concern of hers. Orlean openly discussed this sms with the community ranting and raving. I tried to explain to her but she took no understanding.

On 6 July 2007 Orlean brought out the issue of me being distant. I indicated to her that Pinkie needed to apologise to me and that the apology should not come from her on his behalf. Pinkie was present at the time. He uttered these painful humiliating words, ("fuck you, you are a piece of shit, you are a nothing") in front of the Crossmoor Community. He then shouted ("this things here stole R7000").

The next day we were all sitting around a fire and Orlean arrived whilst on her cell with Comrade Roy [SMI-KZN]. She was screaming and shouting that the community all stood to listen to her conversation. After that she interrupted the peace by brining up the previous days issues regarding the mismanagement of funds. I then spoke out that enough is enough. She became extremely angry whilst Pinky shouted to the people (everyone Lyn wants us to go away) Orlean then yelled at me and said "I will never leave Crossmoor." The situation became very intense so a comrade took me away so that things cooled down. I then called her on my cell, to my surprise she swore me ("fuck you Lyn"). After this incident I decided to avoid all contact with Orlean and Pinkie.

A committee was elected on 9 July 2007. The election was done because Heinsrich adviced that we, should add on to form a committee with at least 6 members (this was mentioned at a pervious meeting). I called a meeting with the community and allowedthe community to nominate and second the election. To my knowledge the community was HAPPY with the election. I also asked if the community was happy with Evon and myself. The people were excited and shouted YES. The community wanted us to be part of the committee. The people were all excited they all clapped and cheered that night. Orlean and Pinkie arrived the next morning found that Crossmoor has a new committee. She was upset and said that she was leaving. People became confused and depressed. They were left with no choice it was either me (lynn) or Orlean. Now that's the part I did not understand because she is from the outside and given the fact that Orelan is the CHAIRPERSON OF WESTCLIFF [Flat resident's assoc.] She has also made numerous threats that she brought the RESOURCES (e.g CCS, LRC, the lawyer, SMI )to Crossmoor and that she would take them away [if she was not the leader].

On 21 July 2007 Orlean called a meeting. Heinrich and Shannon was invited to this meeting. Evon and I was not invited fir this meeting (but heard rumours of it). Heinsrich conducted this meeting for a new committee. I raised the concern that there is already a committee in place and members of the committee did not resign, so therefore it was inappropriate for Heinrich to be conducting an election of committee members. He did agree that it was a good point bought forward. Orlean then interrupted and insisted that a new committee be in place. When I raised the concern about RAF CLAIMS (ROAD ACCIDENT FUNDS). According to me knowledge none of the people was involved in an accident. When I raised my concerns on this issue Orlean became violently aggressive and slapped me across my face. I retaliated immediately by slapping her back. Pinky stormed through the crowd with a knife in his hands and said "I WILL KILL YOU." A few members of the community rushed me to safety. I was emotionally traumatized and physically drained by this so I left the settlement. The reason that I mentioned the RAF CLAIM, two people from the community confronted me scared that they had done wrong. I was shocked and disappointed about this.

On the 23 July 2007 I received threatening phone class that if I set foot on the settlement I would be severely dealt with, from that day I kept away from the settlement due to the undue provocation and threat to my life.

On 25 July 2007 Orlean spoke to community and alleged that it was through me (Lynn) that the article in the Post dated 25 July 2007 was due to my interaction with [Deputy Mayor] Logie Naidoo. However this was not true as I had not met with him or spoken to him. The community became highly aggrieved after Orlean had discussed the post article. This had led them protesting in front of my mother-in-laws home where I have temporary accommodation demanding answers to the post article and money issued. I did explain to them that I had no knowledge of the post issue.

She says in one of her emails that my words "Breyani Politics" coinsides with Rassool's email [Rasool Snyman, SMI KZN]. It must be brought to her attention that one of the sponsors present used these words saying that Orlean is caught up in Breyani Politics, I did agree with and reiterated these words. This is undershanded and a gross injustice because the people are aware of her true intentions subtle manipulation seems to be her TACTICAL APPROACH.

My belief is that Orlean must provide proof of misappropriation of funds if she wishes to speculate about this issue. The constant speculation of money is just an excuse on her part to lobby for LEADERSHIP in the community – nor has sheen been in the struggle at its conception. She only became involved since March 2007. She lives in Malvern in an extravagant home and she should leave Crossmoor to deal with their own issues.

After close retrospection I have to the understanding that my arduous efforts have come to nought as it is clearly evident that people had been swayed by Orlean and are no longer appreciative of my efforts. I must emphasize that I have always had the community effors at heart and I have been 100% committed to the struggle for the past year - and would have continued to do so were it not for Orleans false ACCUSATIONS and SPECULATIONS and the INAPPROPRIATE MANNER in which they conduct themselves.

This has brought much pain and trauma to my family and my belief is that no one deserves to go through this kind of anguish.