The Operation Khanyisa (Light-Up) movement won a council seat in the Johannesburg region in the recent South African municipal elections. The related Displaced Ratepayers’ Association won three seats in Ekurhuleni – the former East Rand.
Margaret Renn reports on Operation Khanyisa’s election campaign
Sunday afternoon in Soweto and people are gathering for an election meeting. They live in one of Soweto’s informal settlements – with towering electricity pylons overhead, but no electricity supply to their small shacks, no water, nor sewage.
The meeting I attended took place under a tree on a piece of waste ground. The red T-shirts of the Anti Privatisation Forum are everywhere. About 200 people, and everyone’s children, have come to hear the candidates standing under the banner of Operation Khanyisa.
The speeches are short, with spontaneous outbursts of singing and dancing, and much whistle blowing. The elders have chairs, the children sit on the ground, everyone else stands. Having heard the candidates, activist Trevor Ngwane then reads aloud the pledge.
The candidates line up, each holding a copy, and collectively they agree to be accountable to the people who elect them, to give their salary to the movement (local councillors are paid) and only take enough for their needs and to carry out their duties. They will use all their time and energy to build the struggle for free basic services and socialism.
Once the pledge is read each candidate publicly signs it, accepting as they do that the community has the right of recall if they do not carry out their duties to the interests of the people who elected them.