R2K Statement: The right to protest denied for the opening of Parliament!

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R2K  is appalled by the City of Cape Town’s decision to deny our right to protest. The City, SAPS and SANDF have shut down parliament and the surrounding areas by not allowing any protest action anywhere near the opening of Parliament.

R2K had notified the municipality that we intend to protest with banners on the Father John Oliver footbridge which MPs and the President must pass under on their way to Parliament. The City has said “No permission will be granted” for protests on the footbridges.

The nearest protest action will be 600 metres away from Parliament, far away from the red carpet where MPs and government ministers parade for the cameras. This securitisation of Parliament is completely unacceptable.

We would rather take our voices somewhere else. On Thursday, 11 February 2016, R2K Western Cape activists will be picketing over the N2 on Bunga Avenue, Langa, between 7AM - 9AM and in the afternoon from 3PM - 5PM. The right to organise, protest and speak out is central to all community struggles for social justice. We demand that the government respect this right!

While the President prepares to deliver his State of the National Address R2K will protest the continued appetite for secrecy by the President, the security structures he leads and from within the private sector.

The Bunga Avenue bridge represent the connections and continuities in our divided society. Between a violent past controlled by a secret state apparatus and a present in which many state institutions are actively countering freedoms such as our Right2Know.  The bridge also represent the link between corporate secrecy and the illegal movement of R300billion offshore annually – which is predicted to lead to increased austerity and a cut in social spending during the Minister of Finances budget address later this month.

This year’s SONA takes place against the backdrop of a deepening economic and social crisis. While government has increased spending on social grants to reduce extreme poverty, on the whole government policies have failed to create a conducive environment for democracy and have instead produced growing inequality and poverty. According to a recent StatsSA report, at least one in five South Africans live below the poverty line and cannot afford food, let alone sufficient access to information, telecommunications or the commercial media.

As R2K we demand:

  • Open Parliament! A open parliament that is accessible to the people. Parliament belongs to the public and the public have the right to know everything that happens and to protest to express their discontent.

  • Last year we witnessed disturbing scenes at the SONA when opposition MPs were assaulted, phone signals were jammed and the TV feed was manipulated. We cannot tolerate such action in a democratic dispensation.

  • Stop the secret deals! Over the past years, we’ve witnessed how secret deals signed by the government leave the country broke and vulnerable such as the proposed secret Nuclear Deal. Why are we building nuclear power plants when social spending is set to be cut? We demand transparency on such decisions. How much is this deal going to cost the country and where exactly will that money come from? We can no longer remain silent while the state of our economy is in such dire straits. No more business as usual in 2016.

  • No public funds must be made available to fund any new energy builds until proper public consultation and tender processes have been followed.

  • Respect Chapter 9 Institutions​ and Oversight Bodies! The fact that we still don’t have an Inspector-General of Intelligence is worrying and totally unacceptable. The position has been vacant for almost eleven months and complaints of illegal surveillance are piling up. We need an independent watchdog to deal with these cases without further delays. R2K demands that this matter be brought to a vote as the first order of business when Parliament re-opens tomorrow. We also note with concern how some organs of the state disregards the Office of the Public Protector. Their action undermines the Public Protector’s ability to perform her duties as mandated by the Constitution.

  • Peaceful protest is our right! We call on the government to stop suppressing our dissent by clamping down on the right to protest and turning a blind eye to police brutality.

  • Over the past few years we’ve seen the space for protest and dissent shrinking, and witnessed disturbing scenes where protesters are assaulted, arrested and charged criminally for practising their right to protest. We cannot tolerate such action in a democratic dispensation.

The President needs to understand that the youth and all South Africans are tired of hearing the same rhetoric without seeing any positive results.

The Right2Know Campaign believes it is time government put the people first and invest in our democracy.  We must return to the vision of a people centred, people driven development. In particular we call on the President to advance the right to know.

We call on all South Africans to stand up, defend our hard won democracy and make it work for the people.

For more information contact

Murray Hunter, R2K National Spokesperson: 072 672 5468

Khaya Xintolo, R2K Western Cape Coordinator: 078 024 1683

Vainola Makan, R2K Western Cape Organiser: 062 014 4969

ONLINE VERSION: http://www.r2k.org.za/?p=6188