Young people from Johannesburg used social media to mobilise a march to the Gauteng Legislature in an anti-xenophobia silent protest
SILENT PROTEST: group of youngsters sit quietly in front of Luthuli house in Johannesburg CBD. Photo: Rafieka Williams
Using social media and the hashtag“#SilentProtest”, a group of young people came together in an anti-xenophobia silent protest in Johannesburg CBD (Central Business Dsitrict), yesterday.
Starting with a twitter rant, organisers Thabang Manyelo and Sandiselwe Gamede decided to put their concerns about the recent attacks on foreign nationals into action. They asked fellow twitter users to join them in a protest at Luthuli house at 10am yesterday morning.
In response to Manyelo and Gamede’s tweets, a group of approximately 100 youngsters, many of whom had never met before, came together to show solidarity with foreign nationals living in South Africa.
Manyelo said his hopes for the march were about “Applying pressure on the government, saying that we won’t stand for this and we’re hoping you [government] see us and actually do something about it, not just make a statement and then let it be”.
From Luthuli House to Gauteng Legislature
The march started at the ANC (African National Congress) headquarters, Luthuli House where the protestors stood quietly holding up signs condemning ‘xenophobia’. They then moved silently, with tape over their mouths, through Beyers Naude Square to the Gauteng Legislature.
WE ARE AFRICA: Protesters from different backgrounds gather at Beyers Naude Square in solidarity with foreign nationals who have suffered. Photo: Rafieka Williams
When they arrived at the Gauteng Legislature building, they remained completely silent for an hour before singing the national anthem.
Acie Lumumba, Chairperson of the Youth Council of Zimbabwe, thanked the youth for their support.
Lumumba said the march changed his perception of how the majority of South Africans felt towards foreign nationals.
“I came here specifically against the advice of many Zimbabweans because I wanted to know, is this really what South Africa has become. And I’m happy to go back with a message to say even if it’s one, even if its two, there is still hope where Zimbabwe and South Africa can have a young generation that intertwines and builds towards a more prosperous region in Africa.”
Silence is Golden
LEST WE FORGET: the group of youngsters ended their march on Gauteng Legislature doorstep, where they sang the national anthem. Photo: Rafieka Williams
Explaining the reason for silence, Gamede said they wanted, “To start peacefully and end peacefully… We need to find pro-active ways to challenge views that we disagree with, without killing each other.”
According to Manyelo, the big message that the march is trying to drive is that social media can be an effective part of activism. He believes that their efforts will have a ripple effect on the government to be more pro-active in doing something about the violence.
Smash Afrika, Yfm presenter and a former Witsie also heard about the cause through social media.
“The reason why I came here is because we have a f*cking crisis in our country that we need to fix ASAP and the only way we can fix it, is if young people come together and stand up against this … Xenophobia is whack (sic) and it needs to come to an end,” said Afrika.
Kirsten Leo, a 23 year old former Witsie said, “People are frustrated and they are directing there energy in the wrong way … As South Africans we can’t allow this.”
NO TO CENSORSHIP: Protesters outside the SABC building at today’s Right2Know protest against censorship. Photo: Lutho Mtongana
Right2Know’s protest outside the SABC in Auckland Park earlier today brought together a number of different organisations concerned with the issue of censorship at the national broadcaster.
Supporters from NUMSA (the National Union of Metal Workers), the Voices of the Poor of Concerned Residents of South Africa, along members of the general public gathered outside the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) building to challenge the “rot and irregularities,” at the broadcaster.
These were the words of Dinga Sikwebu, the National Education Coordinator of NUMSA, who added that “the SABC is turning into the state broadcasting megaphone for Luthuli House.”
The protest was held ahead of World Press Freedom Day tomorrow which celebrates the “hard fought freedoms achieved by journalists,” according to Dale McKinley, spokesperson of R2K. “We believe [these are] being violated by our public broadcaster … we are raising concerns about threats to these freedoms.”
The SABC has come under criticism recently with the banning of political adverts from ANC-opposition parties. In both cases, these decisions were upheld by ICASA, the broadcasting regulator.
The SABC focuses predominantly on ANC-related news, according to Sikwebu. “Yesterday was May Day and there were all the rallies, other than Vavi, everyone depicted on the [SABC] news was from the ANC.”
Protesters taped their mouths in protest against censorship. Photo: Lutho Mtongana
“What the SABC does is not right,” said spokesperson Eunice Manzini, of the Voices of the Poor of Concerned Residents of South Africa. She referred to the lack of broadcasting airtime given to those living in the townships and said, “The SABC must be a public broadcaster and not for the rich only.”
The 3rd May 2014 marks twenty three years since the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic Media which was developed by African journalists in the spirit of press freedom.
Protesters sang out against the proposed ‘Secrecy Bill’ outside of Luthuli House. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Right2Know campaign members protested outside Albert Luthuli House today against President Jacob Zuma signing the Secrecy Bill.
About 10 protesters dressed in their red and black Right2Know campaign shirts, held banners and posters that shot down the Protection of State Information Bill which President Zuma has yet to sign.[pullquote align=”right”]This is a bad bill for South Africa, send it back to parliament and scrap it![/pullquote]
Dan McKinley, Right2Know spokesperson outlined the reason for the protest. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
“It is there on his desk. We ask you Zuma to listen to the people and do away with the Secrecy Bill!” said Dale McKinley, spokesperson for Right2Know in Gauteng.
He said the bill would bring South Africa down and take the country back to the oppressive apartheid-type regime which censored media and whistle blowers.
“This is a bad bill for South Africa, send it back to parliament and scrap it!” he added.
Whistle blowers in a crisis
McKinley said there is the crisis of whistle blowers who are “dying out, being stopped, fired and killed” for exposing corruption. One banner read: “Exposing corruption is not a crime”.
“Do the right thing and pass legislation which protects whistle blowers in the country”, said McKinley, appealing to Zuma who visits Luthuli House on Mondays.
Protesters wore masks to conceal their identities in fear of being victimised if identified. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Right2Know (R2K) celebrated their third anniversary last week. They have been campaigning against the Secrecy Bill since 2010, persistently challenging the government’s decisions around this Bill.
National Key Points act
McKinley said Right2Know also opposes the National Key Points act which conceals expenditure like in the case of Nkandla.
The protest was supposed to be carried out in front of Luthuli House but members were told today the ANC headquarters is a National Key Point and cannot be protested in front of.
“That is why we aren’t standing on the other side of the road. Today we were told Luthuli House is a National Key Point,” said McKinley.
They stood across the road on the corner of President and Sauer Street.
Siphiwe Segodi lead the small crowd that had gathered in song and dance. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Protesters danced and repeated chants, singing: “Down with the Secrecy Bill. Down! Down!”; “Down with Zuma. Down! Down!”; “Forward with Right2Know. Forward! Forward!”
Some of them wore white masks to cover their faces. A woman who led the singing said: “You must hide yourself. The baboons in there will see us!” – referring to members of parliament inside Luthuli House.
Devereaux Morkle from the South African Press Association said to one of her colleagues: “I would also wear a mask if I was taking part in this protest.”
The Spy Bill
The campaign also opposes the government’s intentions of adopting the Spy Bill which could threaten the privacy of citizens via cell phone tapping.
“We demand good governance”; “Power to the people and not the Secrecy Bill” and “Defend our whistle blowers” were some of the phrases painted on signs held by the protesters.