Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu: [aɓaˈɬaːli ɓasɛmdʒɔnˈdɔːlo], Shack Dwellers), also known as AbM or the red shirts is a shack-dwellers' movement in South Africa which is well known for its campaigning against evictions and for public housing. The movement grew out of a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in early 2005 and now also operates in the cities of Pietermaritzburg and in Cape Town. It is the largest shack dweller's organization in South Africa and campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people and to democratize society from below. The movement refuses party politics, boycotts elections and has a history of conflict with both the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. Its key demand is that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value and it campaigns for the public expropriation of large privately owned landholdings. The key organising strategy is to try "to recreate Commons" from below by trying to create a series of linked communes. According to The Times, the movement "has shaken the political landscape of South Africa." According to Professor Peter Vale, Abahlali baseMjondolo is "along with the Treatment Action Campaign the most effective grouping in South African civil society." Khadija Patel has written that the movement "is at the forefront of a new wave of mass political mobilisation". However the movement has faced sustained, and at times violent, repression.
- 1 Context
- 2 History
- 3 Autonomy and democracy
- 4 Membership and structures
- 5 Campaigns
- 6 Philosophy
- 7 Elections
- 8 Repression
- 9 Church support
- 10 Media
- 11 The Poor People's Alliance
- 12 International solidarity
- 13 Criticisms
- 14 Violence at the Kennedy Road settlement from September 2009
- 15 See also
- 16 Notes and references
- 17 External links
In 2001, the eThekwini Municipality, which governs Durban and Pinetown, embarked on a 'slum clearance programme' that meant the steady demolition of shack settlements and a refusal to provide basic services (e.g. electricity, sanitation etc.) to existing settlements on the grounds that all shack settlements were now 'temporary'. In these demolitions some shack dwellers were simply being left homeless and others subjected to unlawful forced evictions to the rural periphery of the city. In early 2008, the United Nations expressed serious concern about the treatment of shack dwellers in Durban. In the run up to 2010 there was also concern about the possibility of evictions linked to the 2010 FIFA World Cup across South Africa and abroad.
Abahlali's original work was primarily committed to opposing demolitions and forced removals and to struggling for good land and quality housing in the cities. In most instances this takes the form of a demand for shack settlements to be upgraded with formal housing and services where they are or for new houses to be built close to where the existing settlements are. However the movement has also argued that basic services such as water, electricity and toilets should be immediately provided to shack settlements while land and housing in the city are negotiated. The movement has also engaged in the mass popular appropriation of access to water and electricity.
The movement quickly had a considerable degree of success in stopping evictions and forced removals, winning the right for new shacks to be built as settlements expand and in winning access to basic services, but for three years was not able to win secure access to good urban land for quality housing. In late 2008 the then AbM President S'bu Zikode announced a deal with the eThekwini Municipality which would see services being provided to 14 settlements and tenure security and formal housing to three. The municipality confirmed this deal in February 2009.
The movement has been involved in considerable conflict with the eThekwini Municipality and has undertaken numerous protests and legal actions against the city authorities. Its members have been beaten and many of its leaders arrested by the South African Police Service in Sydenham, Durban.
Abahlali has often made claims of severe police harassment, including torture. On a number of occasions, these claims have been supported by church leaders and human rights organisations. The movement has successfully sued the police for unlawful assaults on its members.
In October 2009, the movement won a constitutional court case which declared the KZN Slums Act unconstitutional. In the same year there was acute conflict between the movement and the Cape Town City Council which centred on the Macassar Village Land Occupation. There was similar conflict in 2013 which centred on the Marikana Land Occupation.
Autonomy and democracy
Academic work on the movement stresses that it is non-professionalized (i.e. its leaders are unsalaried), independent of NGO control, autonomous from political organisations and party politics and democratic. Sarah Cooper-Knock describes the movement as "neurotically democratic, impressively diverse and steadfastly self-critical". Ercument Celik writes that "I experienced how democratically the movement ran its meetings."
The movement has, along with the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, refused to work with the NGO-run 'Social Movements Indaba' (SMI), and some of the NGOs involved with the SMI. The movement has been particularly critical of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and refuses to work with the Centre.
Membership and structures
In 2010 the movement claimed to have around 25,000 active supporters in 64 different shack settlements of which just over 10 000 were paid up card carrying members. The movement has affiliated settlements and branches in non-affiliated settlements and also a has a youth league and a women's league.
Since 2005, the movement has carried out a series of large scale marches, created numerous dual power institutions and engaged in direct action such as land occupations and self organised water and electricity connections and made tactical use of the courts. The movement has often made anti-capitalist statements, has called for "a living communism", and has demanded the expropriation of private land for public housing.
Abahlali states that it refuses to participate in party politics or any NGO-style professionalization or individualization of struggle and instead seeks to build democratic people's power where people live and work. Academic work confirms that the movement has, indeed, protected its autonomy from political parties and NGOs.
A primary demand of the movement has been for decent, public housing and much of its work takes the form of opposing evictions. The movement has often used the phrase 'The Right to the City' to insist that the location of housing is critically important and demands that shack settlements are upgraded where they are and that people are not relocated to out of town developments. The movement rejects technocratic approaches to the housing crisis and stresses the need for dignity to be central to the resolution of the housing crisis. It is opposed to shack dwellers being moved into 'transit camps'.
- Evictions and forced removals
- Fire and electricity
In South Africa, there are an average of "ten shack fires a day with someone dying in a shack fire every other day". Abahlali has campaigned on this issue demanding, amongst other things, the electrification of shacks. It has also connected thousands of people to electricity.
- Dual power and the refusal of electoral politics
Since 2005, Abahlali baseMjondolo has refused to vote in all state elections. The movement states that it aims, instead, to use direct democracy to build a counter power to that of the state by creating a series of linked collectives and communes. This position is shared by all the organisations in the Poor People's Alliance.
- Mutual aid
The movement has organised a number of mutual aid projects: crèches, kitchens and vegetable gardens.
- The KZN Slums Act
Abahlali baseMjondolo took the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal to court to have the controversial Slums Act declared unconstitutional. but lost the case. On 14 May 2009, it took the case on appeal to the Constitutional Court. Judgment was handed down on 14 October 2009 and the movement won the case with costs.
The movement took a strong stand against the xenophobic attacks that swept the country in May 2008 and there were no attacks in any Abahlali settlements. The movement was also able to stop an in-progress attack in the (non-Abahlali affiliated) Kenville settlement and to offer shelter to some people displaced in the attacks.
- Police brutality
- The University of Abahlali baseMjondolo
The movement runs formal courses and issues certification for these. It also hosts regular seminars. The movement reports that topics covered have ranged from computer skills to training in safely connecting shacks to water and electricity, to questions of law and policy, to political ideas like the right to the city, questions of political strategy and to the work of a philosopher like Jacques Ranciere.
- School access
The movement campaigns for equal access to school education for poor children.
- 2010 Fifa World Cup
Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape threatened to build shacks outside of the Cape Town stadium to draw attention to their situation but were not able to make good on this threat.
The movement describes itself as "a homemade politics that everyone can understand and find a home in" and stresses that it moves from the lived experience of the poor to create a politics that is both intellectual and actional.
Its philosophy has been sketched out in a number of articles and interviews. The key ideas are those of a politics of the poor, a living politics and a people's politics. A politics of the poor is understood to mean a politics that is conducted by the poor and for the poor in a manner that enables the poor to be active participants in the struggles conducted in their name. Practically, it means that such a politics must be conducted where poor people live or in places that they can easily access, at the times when they are free, in the languages that they speak. It does not mean that middle-class people and organisations are excluded but that they are expected to come to these spaces and to undertake their politics there in a dialogical and democratic manner. There are two key aspects to the idea of a living politics. The first is that it is understood as a politics that begins not from external theory but from the experience of the people that shape it. It is argued that political education usually operates to create new elites who mediate relationships of patronage upwards and who impose ideas on others and to exclude ordinary people from thinking politically. This politics is not anti-theory – it just asserts the need to begin from lived experience and to move on from there rather than to begin from theory (usually imported from the Global North) and to impose theory on the lived experience of suffering and resistance in the shacks. The second key aspect, of a living politics, is that political thinking is always undertaken democratically and in common. People's politics is opposed to party politics or politicians' politics (as well as to top down undemocratic forms of NGO politics) and it is argued that the former is a popular democratic project undertaken without financial reward and with an explicit refusal of representative roles and personal power while the latter is a top down, professionalised representative project driven by personal power.
While the movement is clear that its key immediate goals are 'land and housing' it is equally clear that it sees its politics as going beyond this. S'bu Zikode has commented that: "We have seen in certain cases in South Africa where governments have handed out houses simply to silence the poor. This is not acceptable to us. Abahalali’s struggle is beyond housing. We fight for respect and dignity. If houses are given to silence the poor then those houses are not acceptable to us."
'Abahlalism' has on occasion been described as anarchist or autonomist in practice. This is primarily because its praxis correlates closely with central tenets of anarchism, including decentralisation, opposition to imposed hierarchy, direct democracy and recognition of the connection between means and ends. However, the movement has never described itself as either anarchist or autonomist. Zikode has said that the movement aspires to 'a living communism'.
The movement, together with similar grassroots movements in Johannesburg and Cape Town, takes a very critical stance towards state elections in South Africa. They have boycotted the local government elections in 2006, the national government elections in 2009 and the 2011 local government elections under the banner of No Land! No House! No Vote!. It has been reported that "Nearly 75% of South Africans aged 20-29 did not vote in the 2011 [local government] elections" and that "South Africans in that age group were more likely to have taken part in violent (sic) street protests against the local ANC than to have voted for the ruling party".
The philosophy of Abahlali baseMjondolo with regards to elections can be summarised by the following statement from its elected president S'bu Zikode, "The government and academics speak about the poor all the time, but so few want to speak to the poor...It becomes clear that our job is just to vote and then watch the rich speak about us as we get poorer".
In the early days of the movement, individuals in the ruling party often accused Abahlali of being criminals manipulated by a malevolent white man, a 'third force', or a foreign intelligence agency.
The movement, like others in South Africa, has suffered sustained illegal harassment from the state that has resulted in more than 200 arrests of Abahlali members in the first last three years of its existence and repeated police brutality in people's homes, in the streets and in detention. On a number of occasions, the police used live ammunition, armoured vehicles and helicopters in their attacks on unarmed shack dwellers. In 2006 the local city manager, Mike Sutcliffe, unlawfully implemented a complete ban on Abahlali's right to march which was eventually overturned in court. Abahlali have been violently prevented from accepting invitations to appear on television and radio debates by the local police. The Freedom of Expression Institute has issued a number of statements in strong support of Abahlali's right to speak out and to organise protests. The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions and a group of prominent church leaders have also issued public statements against police violence, as has Bishop Rubin Philip in his individual capacity, and in support of the right of the movement to publicly express dissent.
In March 2008, the Mercury newspaper reported that both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were investigating human rights abuses against shack dwellers by the city government.
In 2009 the movement was attacked in the Kennedy Road settlement - see below.
In April 2010, IRIN, the newsletter of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported that "The rise of an organized poor people's movement [Abahlali baseMjondolo] in South Africa's most populous province, KwaZulu-Natal, is being met with increasing hostility by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government.
In April 2013 the movement successfully sued the Minister of Police for violence against three of its members.
"The courage, dignity and gentle determination of Abahlali baseMjodolo has been a light that has shone ever more brightly over the last three years. You have faced fires, sickness, evictions, arrest, beatings, slander, and still you stand bravely for what is true. Your principle that everyone matters, that every life is precious, is very simple but it is also utterly profound. Many of us who hold dear the most noble traditions of our country take hope from your courage and your dignity."
The Italian theologian Brother Filippo Mondini has attempted to develop a theology based on the political thought and practices developed in Abahlali baseMjondolo.
The movement makes considerable use of cellphones to organise, generates its own media where possible and has made use of films too. The award winning documentary feature film Dear Mandela tells the story of three young activists in Abahlali baseMjondolo.
The Poor People's Alliance
In September 2008, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, together with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement and the Rural Network (Abahlali baseplasini) formed The Poor People's Alliance which is "a co-alition of independent social movements. The Poor People's Alliance refuses electoral politics under the banner 'No Land! No House! No Vote!'.
There is an AbM Solidarity Group in England and the movement has links with the following organisations:
- Domestic Workers United in New York
- The London Coalition Against Poverty
- The Poverty Initiative in New York
- Picture the Homeless in New York
- The Movement for Justice in el Barrio in New York
- The Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia
- Take Back the Land in Miami
- Sendika in Istanbul
- The Combined Harare Residents' Association in Harare
- Clandestino and the Comboni Missionaries in Italy
- War on Want in London
According to eThekwini City Manager Dr. Michael Sutcliffe, the essence of the tensions between Abahlali baseMjondolo and the City lie in the fact that the movement "rejects the authority of the city." When the Durban High Court ruled that his attempts to ban marches by Abahlali baseMjondolo were unlawful he stated that: "We will be asking serious questions of the court because we cannot allow anarchy having anyone marching at any time and any place." According to Lennox Mabaso, spokesperson for the Provincial Department of Housing, the movement is "under the sway of an agent provocateur" who is "engaged in clandestine operations" and who has been "assigned to provoke unrest". City Officials continue to argue that the movement is a Third Force seeking to undermine the ruling African National Congress for nefarious purposes.
In December 2006, Abahlali members and members of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, disrupted a meeting of the Social Movements Indaba at the University of KwaZulu Natal and staged a protest. Some academics and NGO activists, all of whom have clear links to a local NGO, the Centre for Civil Society, claimed that this was criminal behaviour and somehow illegitimate in that, according to these people, it was in response to the dismissal of four Abahlali linked academics from the Centre. However the WC-AEC issued a statement vigorously rejecting these claims while the Mail and Guardian newspaper reported a very different account of why Abahlali protested the meeting. A masters thesis by Matt Birkinshaw explained that the protest happened because "Abahlali felt that there was a lack of genuine democracy and participation due to NGO co-optation" in the SMI. Online video footage of the protest shot by Antonios Vradis indicates that the demonstration was peaceful and rational and that the movements had a clear critique of the NGO co-option of the SMI.
In October 2010, Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape called for a month of direct action. Mzonke Poni, the chairperson of the Cape Town structure at the time, publicly endorsed road blockades as a legitimate tactic during this strike. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the South African Communist Party, the latter a major ally of the ruling ANC, issued strong statements condemning the campaign and labelling it 'violent' and, 'anarchist' and reactionary'. AbM responded by saying that their support for road blockades was not violent and that "We have never called for violence. Violence is harm to human beings. Blockading a road is not violence." They also said that the SACP's attack was really due to the movement's insistence on organising autonomously from the African National Congress. After the strike by AbM Western Cape, there were some protests in TR section of Khayelitsha in which vehicles were damaged. AbM WC ascribed these protests to the ANC Youth League as did Helen Zille and the Youth League itself. According to Leadership Magazine "The ANC Youth League in the province has hijacked the peaceful service-delivery protests organised by the social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo in Khayelitsha in a violent, destructive and desperate attempt to mobilise support for the ANC against the province's Democratic Alliance provincial and municipal governments."
Violence at the Kennedy Road settlement from September 2009
On 26 September 2009, it was reported that at about 11 pm that evening a group of about 40 people entered the Kennedy Road settlement wielding guns and knives and attacked an Abahlali baseMjondolo youth meeting. The attackers chanted ethnic and ANC slogans, demolished residents' homes and threatened to kill named individuals. At about 5 am the next morning two people were killed in the resulting conflict. According to an Abahlali baseMjondolo press statement issued on 27 September 2009 "As far as we know two of the attackers were killed when people managed to take their bush knives off them. This was self defence.
It was reported by members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement that the attackers were affiliated with the local branch of the African National Congress and it was claimed that the attack was carefully planned and sanctioned by the local police. However this was denied by the ANC and the police who blamed a 'forum' associated with Abahlali baseMjondolo for the violence. However academic research confirmed that the attackers did self identify as ANC members and that ANC leaders at Municipal and Provincial level later provided public sanction for the attack.
The Mail & Guardian newspaper described the attack on Kennedy Road as a "hatchet job" and reported that "Two weeks earlier, eThekwini regional chairperson John Mchunu, addressing the ANC's regional general council, had specifically condemned the ABM for trying to divide the tripartite alliance" and that an ANC source had confirmed there "was a battle for the hearts and minds of the people of Kennedy Road ... There is a political twist to this thing." The Mercury newspaper later reported that "The chairperson of the ANC's biggest and most influential region in KwaZulu-Natal, John Mchunu, has been awarded tenders [in housing construction] worth at least R40-million by the eThekwini municipality. Abahlali baseMjondolo claims to have been at the "forefront of exposing local government corruption, especially in the allocation of housing."
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Safety and Security held meetings for stakeholders after the attack however these were condemned as unrepresentative by church leaders, AbM representatives and a survey by the Mail and Guardian Newspaper which described them as "a sham". AbM said that they were victims of a 'purge' and that they refused to sit side by side with their attackers and called for an independent investigation into the attacks that should "in the interests of justice and truth, carefully and fairly investigate the actions of everyone, including the local and provincial ANC, the police, the intelligence services, the prosecutors, the courts and our movement, its various sub-committees and our supporters."
Following the attack AbM and the KRDC, democratically elected structures, were removed from the settlement and the provincial government replaced these structures with an unelected ANC affiliated Community Policing Forum.
A number of well known intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, expressed concern about the attacks and Human Rights Watch, the Centre for the Study of Democracy, The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and Amnesty International supported the call for an independent commission of inquiry into the attacks. The government ignored this call.
The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions in Geneva issued a statement that expressed "grave concern about reports of organized intimidation and threats to members of advocacy group, Abahlali baseMjondolo."
Considerable concern was expressed about the legal process following the arrests of twelve people after the attacks. Amnesty International has expressed concern and the New York based Centre for Constitutional Rights sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to ask her to investigate the case of the attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo and subsequent judicial process.
On 18 July 2011, the case against the 12 accused members of Abahlali baseMjondolo collapsed. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa issued a statement saying that the "charges were based on evidence which now appears almost certainly to have been manufactured" and that the Magistrate had described the state witnesses as "“belligerent”, “unreliable” and “dishonest”. Amnesty International noted that the court had found that "police had directed some witnesses to point out members of Abahlali-linked organizations at the identification parade".
Well known Abahlali baseMjondolo activists
Other land and housing movements
- The Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee in India
- The EZLN in Mexico
- Fanmi Lavalas in Haiti
- The Homeless Workers' Movement in Brazil
- The Landless Workers' Movement in Brazil
- Movement for Justice in el Barrio in the United States of America
- Narmada Bachao Andolan in India
- Take Back the Land in the United States of America
Notes and references
- Anatomy of a hunger strike. Pambazuka.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Guide for NGOs, Academics, Activists and Churches Seeking a Relationship with the Movement. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Richard Pithouse, ‘Our Struggle is Thought, on the Ground, Running'. The University of Abahlali baseMjondolo, UKZN, 2006
- After Nelson Mandela, what next for South Africa?, by Sean Jacobs, The Guardian, 4 July 2013
- 2011 may be the year that civil society rises as an opposition force, Mandy Rossouw, Mail & Guardian, 7 Jan 2011
- Over the rainbow, The Economist, 20 October 2012
- Article in the Sunday Tribune newspaper by Fred Kockott describing the road blockade[dead link]
-  Struggle is a School by Richard Pithouse, Monthly Review, 2006
-  'Delivery and Dignity' by Jacob Byrant, Journal of Asian & African Studies, 2007
-  'ANC to shift to the Left after South Africa's presidential election', The Telegraph, London
-  Article in the Sowetan newspaper on the launch of the Cape Town branch of Abahlali baseMjondolo
- Social Movement Media in Post-Apartheid South Africa, by Wendy Willems,Encyclopaedia of Social Movement Media (Ed. John D. H. Downing, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 2011)
- Cape Town Administration Violates the Rights of the Poor, Carmen Ludwig, All Africa, 27 October 2011
- 'South Africa's Poor Have Had Enough' Carol Landry, Agence France-Presse, December 2005
-  Jonathan Steele, Why 2010 Could Be An Own Goal for the Rainbow Nation, The Guardian, 30 December 2009
- What's the Deal with the Toyi-Toyi, by Lisa Nevitt,Cape Town Magazine, November 2010
-  'The State of Resistance: Popular struggles in the Global South' edited by Francois Polet pp.139–140, McMillian 2007
-  iPolitiki ePhilayo
- Matt Birkinshaw Abahlali baseMjondolo: A homemade politics, 2009. Libcom.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- 'Shack dwellers honour their leader' by SABC News, 16 December 2009
- The seed of a new opposition? Business Day, 7 February 2011
- Abahlali baseMjondolo March on Jacob Zuma, Durban, South Africa, 22 March 2010, UK IndyMedia
- [Street Traders: A Bridge Between Trade Unions and Social Movements in Contemporary South Africa], by Ercument Celik, Nomos, Freiburg, 2009
- Joel Kovel, 'The Enemy of Nature', 2007 Zed Books, New York, p. 251
- 'Stench of shanties puts ANC on wrong side of new divide' by Jonathan Clayton 25 February 2006
- Peter Vale – Insight into history of SA an imperative 2010/04/09 Daily Dispatch. Dispatch.co.za[dead link]
- Shack dwellers take the fight to eThekwini – and the ANC takes note, Khadija Patel, The Daily Maverick, 16 September 2013
- Political tolerance on the wane in South Africa, Imraan Buccus, SA Reconciliation Barometer, September 2010
- On the Quality of Electioneering in South Africa, Frank Meintjies, All Africa, 25 July 2013
- Lessons from the Demise of Thabo Mbeki, Jane Duncan, SACSIS, 16 September 2013
-  'Business As Usual', Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (Geneva), 2008
-  COHRE report to the United Nations, 2008
-  United Nations Statement on Housing Rights Violations in South Africa
-  The Guardian World Cup 2010: football brings defining moment for South Africa, 12 June 2009
- The real winners and losers: of the beautiful game, Sunday Herald 9 August 2009
- World Cup 2010: football brings defining moment for South Africa, 12 June 2009. The Guardian Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- World Cup Whose Meaning Goes Beyond Soccer, Alan Cowell, 28 December 2009, New York Times
- "Shack Dwellers Fight Demolition in S. Africa Court". OneWorld.net.
- "Pooh-slinging Slums Act showdown at Con Court". M&G.
- "South Africa’s Poor Targeted by Evictions, Attacks in Advance of 2010 World Cup by Democracy Now!".
-  Jonathan Steele, Why 2010 Could Be An Own Goal for the Rainbow Nation, The Guardian, 30 December 2009
- How People Face Evictions, Prof. Yves Cabannes, Development Planning Unit, University College of London (DPU/UCL), May 2011
- A big devil in the shacks: The politics of fire
-  A-Short-History-of-Abahlali-baseMjondolo
- Durban breaks new ground in participatory democracy, Imraan Buccus. Thoughtleader.co.za. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- See the COHRE report again
- South Africa's new apartheid?, Riz Khan, Al Jazeera, 23 November 2010
- Speech by S'bu Zikode. Africafiles.org (14 December 2008). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- The Work of violence:a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road, Kerry Chance School of Development Studies Research Report, 83, July 2010.]
- These are detailed in some of the academic work and there is reference to some of the legal actions in the report on Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (Geneva) which is online at http://www.cohre.org/southafrica. The papers from many of the court actions are also archived on the Abahlali site
- Niren Tolsi, 'I was punched, beaten', Mail & Guardian', 16 September 2007
- AbM statement on police harassment
- A statement against police violence against Abahlali by 11 church leaders
- Relevant Letter and Full Report
- SA police caught dead to right, by Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian,26 April 2013
-  'Shack dwellers' victory bus' by Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 2009
- Landmark judgment for the poor, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 18 October 2009]. Mg.co.za (18 October 2009). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Ruling in Abahlali case lays solid foundation to build on, Marie Huchzermeyer, Business Day, 04/11/2009
- Collection of articles on the Macassar Village Land Occupation
- 'Marikana' UnFreedom Day land occupation ends in violent Workers’ Day eviction, by Jared Sacks, The Daily Maverick, 2 May 2013
- examining the refusal of electoral politics in Abahlali, Raj Patel
- Analysing Political Subjectivities: Naming the Post-Development State in Africa Today by Michael Neocosmos, Journal of Asian & African Studies,, pp.534–553, Vol. 45, No. 5, October 2010
- Raj Patel 'A Short Course in Politics at the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo'. Jas.sagepub.com (1 February 2008). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Nigel Gibson, 'Upright and free: Fanon in South Africa, from Biko to the shackdwellers' movement (Abahlali baseMjondolo)', Social Identities (Volume 14, Issue 6 November 2008 , pages 683 – 715)
-  'Zabalaza, Unfinished Struggles against Apartheid: The Shackdwellers’ Movement in Durban', Nigel Gibson, Socialism & Democracy
- Settlement Informality: The importance of understanding change, formality and land and the informal economy, Marie Huchzermeyer, 2008
- Nigel C. Gibson, Living Fanon: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2011: London, Palgrave Macmillan)
- Symbol of hope silenced, Sarah Cooper-Knock, Daily News, 13 November 2009
- [Street Traders: A Bridge Between Trade Unions and Social Movements in Contemporary South Africa], by Ercument Celik, Nomos, Freiburg, 2009, p. 175-176
-  AEC statement on the SMI
-  'Land and Housing: the burning questions', The Diakonia Council of Churches Economic Justice Lecture, 28 August 2008
-  Supporting Abahlali baseMjondolo
- The opening remarks of S'bu Zikode, President of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement of South Africa,at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the CUNY Graduate Center (NYC), 16 November 2010
- The Work of violence:a timeline of armed attacks at Kennedy Road by Kerry Chance, School of Development Studies Research Report, 83, July 2010.]
- Vos, Pierre De. (2010-09-09) Pierre de Vos In defense of the Internet. Constitutionallyspeaking.co.za. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
-  Resistance from the other South Africa by Neha Nimmagudda in Pambazuka News(2008-07-17]
- See 'Rights, democracy, social movements: Abahlali baseMjondolo – a living politics' Masters Thesis by Matt Birkinshaw, University of London, 2007
- Occupy Durban, AbM Press Statement, December 2011
- Civic Action and Legal Mobilisation: the Phiri water meters case, Jackie Dugard, Wits University, 2010
- Victory for the Forgotten Shack Dwellers, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, 19 September 2012
- Judgment a victory for 38 families, Daily News, 20 September 2012
- A Durban shack dweller's movement tells of ANC's woes, Khadija Patel, The Daily Maverick, 4 October 2013
- 'Abahlali baseMjondolo – The South African Shack Dwellers Movement' by Suzy Subways, 2008. Champnetwork.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
-  Text of Speech at Diakonia Economic Justice Forum – Please follow the link to the PDF for the full content of the speech
- Politics of Grieving, by Drucilla Cornell, Social Text, 2011
- ‘The poor need proper homes’ – article in the Sowetan by Mary Papayya 1 September 2008[dead link]
-  Article by M'du Hlongwa examining the refusal of electoral politics in Abahlali
-  Article by Xin Wei Ngiam in Critical Dialogue (Vol.2, No.1, 2006) that includes interviews on conceptions of democracy amongst Abahlali militants.
- Clandestino Carta Magazine
- Street Traders: A Bridge Between Trade Unions and Social Movements in Contemporary South Africa, by Ercument Celik, Nomos, Freiburg, 2009
- Analysing Political Subjectivities: Naming the Post-Development State in Africa Today by Michael Neocosmos, Journal of Asian & African Studies, pp.534–553, Vol. 45, No. 5, October 2010
- South Africa's shack-dwellers fight back, by Patrick Kingsely, The Guardian, 24 September 2012
- 'Black Boers' clear townships by force by Ruth Maclean, The Times, London, 22 November 2013
- Despite the state's violence, our fight to escape the mud and fire of South Africa's slums will continue, S'bu Zikode, The Guardian, 11 November 2013
- Serving the public interest in Cairo’s urban development, by Jessie McClelland, al Masryalyoum, 12/05/2010
- The Abahlali baseMjondolo Shack Dwellers Movement and the Right to the City in South Africa by Charlotte Mathivet and Shelley Buckingham, Habitat International Coalition, 2009
-  This emerges clearly in the archive of the movement's memoranda and press statements
- There is reference to some of the legal actions against evictions in the 2008 report on housing rights in Durban Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (Geneva) which is online at http://www.cohre.org/southafrica. The papers from many of the court actions are also archived on the Abahlali site
- Love in the Time of AIDS, Mark Hunter, UKZN Press, 2010, p.224
-  This also emerges very clearly in the archive of the movement's memoranda and press statements
-  Capitalism the 'real culprit behind climate change' by Faranaaz Parker, Mail & Guardian, 18 December 2009
-  For a discussion of a key court victory against evictions see the article 'Chetty Champions the Poor' in 'South African Legal Brief', 24 September 2008
- Matt Birkinshaw 'The Big Devil in the Jondolos: The Politics of Shack Fires in Pambazuka News (2008). Pambazuka.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- See http://abahlali.org/search/node/fire
- Speech by S'bu Zikode, December 2008. Indymedia.org.uk (17 December 2008). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
-  See Raj Patel,'Electing Land Questions: A Methodological Discussion with Reference to Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Durban Shack dwellers' Movement', Codesria, 2007
-  Grassroots movements plan to boycott South African poll Ekklesia, 29 April 2009
- Seeds of rebellion, by Albert Buhr, The Times, 15 August 2010
- The KwaZulu-Natal Slums Bill: An Illustration of an Institutional Shift in Democracy, by Mikelle Adgate, Scot Dalton, Betsy Fuller Matambanadzo, Perspectives on Global Issues, Fall, 2008
- Marie Huchzermeyer, Cities with ‘Slums’: From Informal Settlement Eradication to a Right To The City In Africa] University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town, 2011
- Text of the Slums Bill and other Documents. Web.wits.ac.za. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- The complete text of the Act, and the legal papers from Abahlali and the state are all archived at http://abahlali.org/node/1629
-  Shack dwellers take on Slums Act by Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 14 February 2008
- Constitutional challenge to law on slums, Ernest Mabuza, Business Day, 4 May 2009[dead link]
-  'Three provinces protest against slum bill', by Bonile Ngqiyaza, The Star, 15 May 2009
- South Africa shanty town bill row, BBC, 15 May 2009. BBC News (14 May 2009). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Shack Dwellers Fight Demolition in S. Africa Court, One World, 15 May 2009. Us.oneworld.net. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- ‘From shack to the Constitutional Court’: The litigious disruption of governing global cities, by Anna Selmeczi, Utrecht Law Review, April 2011
- So what difference does it make? Socio-economic rights and democratising development in South Africa, Peris Jones, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, 27 April 2011
- See http://www.abahlali.org/node/3582
- 'The Africa that Pushes Back' by Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Foreign Policy in Focus, 24 December 2008
-  'The politics of fear and the fear of politics' by Michael Neocosmos, Pambazuka, 2008
- From 'Foreign Natives' to 'Native Foreigners': Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Michael Neocosmos, CODESRIA, Dakar, 2010
- “We are Gauteng People” Challenging the politics of xenophobia in Khutsong, South Africa, Seminar Presentation, Joshua Kirshner, 23 February 2011, Rhodes University
- See 'The Politics of Fear and the Fear of Politics: Reflections on Xenophobic Violence in South Africa', an article by Professor Michael Neocosmos from Monash University in Australia in the Journal of Asian & African Studies Vol. 43, No. 6, 586–594 (2008)
- 'The May 2008 Pogroms: xenophobia, evictions, liberalism, and democratic grassroots militancy in South Africa' by Richard Pithouse, in ''Sanhati'', June 2008. Sanhati.com. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- See, for instance, Against Police Brutality – March On Glen Nayager, 10 April 2007. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Nigel Gibson, 'Upright and free: Fanon in South Africa, from Biko to the shackdwellers' movement (Abahlali baseMjondolo)', Social Identities (Volume 14, Issue 6 November 2008 , pages 683 – 715)
- [Various entries at Abahlali baseMjondolo http://www.abahlali.org]
- Transforming the basis of knowledge, Budd Hall, University World News, 25 May 2013
- South African Social Movement campaigns against School Exclusions, Teacher Solidarity, 9 January 2011
- A Quiet Coup: South Africa’s largest social movement under attack as the World Cup Looms Toussaint Losier, Left Turn Magazine, June 2010
- Shack dwellers threat to Cup Francis Hweshe, The Sowetan, 1 June 2010
- South Africa: from Polokwane to the World Cup and after, Martin Legassick, World Wide Socialist Network, 9 July 2010
- Richard Pithouse' Thinking Resistance in the Shantytown', Mute Magazine, August 2006
- Abahlali baseMjondolo, Spatial Agency. Spatialagency.net. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Abahlali’s Vocal Politics of Proximity: Speaking, Suffering and Political Subjectivization, Anna Selmeczi, Journal of Asian and African Studies, October 2012 vol. 47 no. 5 498-515
- The movement's philosophy is clearly articulated in a number of statements on its website – see, especially, the statements at http://abahlali.org/node/3208 It is also usefully summarised in the academic work by Nigel Gibson
-  Also see 'Taking poverty seriously: What the poor are saying and why it matters' by Xin Wei Ngiam in Critical Dialogue, Vol.2, No.1, 2006
-  Educating resistance by Anna Anna Selmeczi in Debating David Harvey in Interface Journal (pp. 309 – 314), Volume 2 issue 1 (May 2010)
-  We are being left to burn because we do not count: Biopolitics, Abandonment, and Resistance by Anna Selmeczi in Global Society, Volume 23, Issue 4 October 2009 , pages 519 – 538
- Politics of Grieving, by Drucilla Cornell, Social Text, 2011
- Report on the Attack on Abahlali baseMjonolo in the Kennedy Road settlement by the Development Planning Unit of University College London, by Malavika Vartak, 2009
- http://abahlali.org/node/7619 Morgan Rodgers Gibson (2010) 'Anarchism, the State and the Praxis of Contemporary Antisystemic Social Movements', Website of Abahlali baseMjondolo, December, 2010]
- Modern Anarchist Societies Series – Abahlali baseMjondolo || The Autonomous Exemplars of South Africa. Shwagr.com. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Morgan Rodgers Gibson (2009) 'The Role of Anarchism in Contemporary Anti-Systemic Social Movements', Website of Abahlali baseMjondolo, December, 2009
-  Elections: A Dangerous Time for Poor People's Movements in South Africa
-  "No Vote” Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy, November 2005
- W Cape voters ‘not predictable’, Quinton Mtyala and Babalo Ndenze, The Cape Argus, 18 May 2011
- ‘No Land! No House! No Vote!’, The Mercury, By SINEGUGU NDLOVU AND BRONWYN FOURIE, 19 May 2011
- Deep Read: 'Born free' voters may not choose ANC, JON HERSKOVITZ, Mail & Guardian, 29 January 2013
- Economies Go UndergroundRobert Neuwirth, Forbes, 09.09.10,
-  Article by S'bu Zikode written in response to Third Force allegations
- See a report in illegal police repression in South Africa by the Freedom of Expression Institute. Fxi.org.za (9 November 2011). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Dissent Under Thabo Mbeki, Jane Duncan, May 2011
- Nigel C. Gibson, Living Fanon: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2011: London, Palgrave Macillan)
- Shack Dwellers on the Move in Durban, Richard Pithouse, Radical Philosophy, 2007
- Yonk'indawo Umzabalazo Uyasivumela: New work from Durban, Research Report. (PDF) . Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- This is discussed in the Journal of Asian & African Studies Feb 2008; vol. 43: pp. 63 – 94.http://jas.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/43/1/63
- Also see a letter from the Freedom of Expression Institute, 23 February 2008, which gives a detailed chronology of the banning of one march. (PDF) . Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
-  Article in the Daily News
- Statement by the Freedom of Expression Institute. Fxi.org.za (9 November 2011). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
-  Will Zuma administration open its ears to the streets?, Jane Duncan, Business Day, 4 August 2009]
-  Richard Pithouse, 'South Africa: Freedom not yet', Pambazuka, 29 April 2010
- BATTLE TO BE HEARD, by Carol Paton, Financial Mail, 16 February 2006
- 'I was punched, beaten', Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 16 September 2006,
-  Freedom of Expression Institute statement
-  Also see 'Free expression means nothing if it's limited to the media' by Na'eem Jenah, Thought Leader, 18 October 2007
-  Open Letter to Obed Mlaba & Mike Sutcliffe by COHRE
-  Testimony by Church Leaders
-  Sunday Tribune article on church leader's statement
-  Unfreedom Day Speech by Bishop Rubin Philip, 27 April 2007
-  See'Why we must keep our eyes on the ground' by Professor Stephen Friedman, Business Day, 17 October 2007
- SOUTH AFRICA: Poor people's movement draws government wrath, IRIN,UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 22 April 2010
- Minister of Police to pay damages to Abahlali members for police brutality, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa
- KZN protest leader shot 12 times, Nkululeko Nene, Daily News, 27 June 2013
- KZN: Anatomy of an assassination, Niki Moore, Daily Maverick, 31 July 2013
- Africa: Killed for crying foul, by Andrew England, Financial Times, 26 August 2013
- Cato Crest: Land hunger of 'Marikana' proportions, Manqoba Nxumalo, Mail & Guardian, 6 September 2013
-  A bishop's pursuit of justice for South Africa's shack dwellers, Emma Pomfret Christian Today
- The speech was printed in the May issue of 'Anglican News' and it can be downloaded at http://www.anglican.co.za/archives.htm
-  'Abahlali basemjondolo Theology' by Filippo Mondini, Korogocho, 26 June 2008
- Sean Jacobs, 'Post-Apartheid Social Movements on Film', Popular Media, Democracy and Development in Africa, Herman Wasserman (Ed.)Routledge, London, 2010
- Award-winners at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival. Blog.docfilmsa.com (1 August 2011). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- DIFF 2011 | The Wrap Up. Mahala.co.za (3 August 2011). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- After Apartheid, More Struggles to Wage, Nicolas Rapold, New York Times, 20 September 2012
- The Struggle for Land & Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, Left Turn, January 2009
- 'Participatory Society: Urban Space & Freedom', by Chris Spannos, Z-Net, 29 May 2009
- Voices of poor must be heard, Editorial, Business Day, 25 October 2010
- The alliance, and its position on electoral politics, is mentioned in the speech by S'bu Zikode at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415682.html
- ANC Attacks Shack Dwellers Movements. Cozop.com. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Protests promised over arrest, Dudu Dube, 25 June 2013, The New Age
- Protest at Zuma’s UK visit in solidarity with South African Shack Dwellers, TMP Online, 3 March 2010
- Talk to Us, Not About Us. Lcap.org.uk (22 August 2009). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- An Evening with the Shackdwellers Movement of South Africa (20 August 2009). Povertyinitiative.org (20 August 2009). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Picture the Homeless Protest in New York City, 9 Oct 2009. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Zapatista-Inspired Rally Held in New York City; Aims to Fight Gentrification by Paola Reyes, Latin Dispatch, 3 March 2010
- Media Mobilizing Project. Mediamobilizing.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Take Back the Land in South Africa. Takebacktheland.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Tek bir insan ırkı vardır-Abahlali baseMjondolo (Güney Afrika). Sendika.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Combined Harare Residents' Association Visit to Abahlali: mid June 2007. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Il doppio shock by Gianluca Carmosino, Clandestino
- War on Want Writes to the South African High Commissioner|date=July 2010
- , Press Statement by Sutcliffe
- , Sunday Tribune article by Mabaso
- ANC: ‘Abahlali and opposition a third force’, Mhlabunzima Memela, The Witness, 17 October 2013
- On the SMI, from the Anti-Eviction Campaign. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Setshedi, V. (2006) ‘Report Glosses Over Tsotsi Politics’, Mail and Guardian, 18 December 2006
- On the far side of left, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 8 December 2006
- Raw Footage of the Protest at the SMI by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and Abahlali baseMjondolo. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Shack dwellers strike set to last one month, Anna Majavu & Unathi Obose, 4 October 2010
- South Africa’s rebellion of the poor, by Rebecca Burns, Waging Non-Violence
- Urgent Call. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Unite poor and working class people! Reject Abahlali baseMjondolo’s call for violence. Writingrights.org (13 October 2010). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Blockading Public Roads is anarchy and reactionary. Politicsweb.co.za. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape Replies to the Treatment Action Campaign. Abahlali.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape Responds to the South African Communist Party. Abahlali.org (18 October 2010). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- The Protests in TR Section Today Are Organised by the ANC Youth League and Not by AbM Western Cape. Khayelitshastruggles.com (12 November 2010). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Ungovernability in Cape Town. Politicsweb.co.za. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- ANC’s reshuffle. Leadershiponline.co.za (23 November 2010). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Report: Experiences of Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban, South Africa, by Malavika Vartak, Development Planning Unit of University College London
- Kennedy Road Development Committee Attacked – People Have Been Killed, 27 September 2009
- "'Attackers associated with ANC'". News24.
- "Joint Statement on the attacks on the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Durban". Professor John Dugard SC, et al.
- Ethnic Tensions Boil Over, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 3 October 2009. Mg.co.za (3 October 2009). Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- The Work of Violence: Armed Attacks at the Kennedy Road Shack Settlement, Kerry Chance, Rhodes University, March 2011
- Kennedy olive branch a sham Kennedy olive branch a sham, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 11 October 2009
- Ethnic Tension Boils Over, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 3 October 2009
- ANC chief's fat-cat deals By Wendy Jasson da Costa, The Mercury, 12 March 2010
- Slum dwellers’ body wants Langa to lead attack probe WILSON JOHWA, Business Day, 2009/11/0
- Kennedy olive branch a sham Mail & Guardian
- The Kennedy 12 Go To Trial Today, AbM Press Statement
- "Academics condemn attack on settlement". BusinessDay.
- "Democracy's Everyday Death – The Country's Quiet Coup". AllAfrica.
- "Statement in support of Abahlali baseMjondolo". Abahlali baseMjondolo.
- South African Council of Churches Appalled by Violent Attacks Against Democracy[dead link]
- Statement in support of Abahlali baseMjondolo, by Noam Chomsky et al,9 October 2009
-  Wilson Johwa, 'Slum dwellers’ body wants Langa to lead attack probe', Business Day, 5 November 2009
-  Call for President to Establish a Commission of Inquiry into Violence Against Shackdwellers
-  Letter to President Jacob Zuma from the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights
-  Failure to conduct impartial investigation into Kennedy Road violence is leading to further human rights abuses, Amnesty International, 16 December 2009
-  Radio 786, 1 May 2010, Abahlali Stands Defended
- South Africa: Attacks on housing rights activists must stop, Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions, Geneva, 12 May 2010
- Shack dwellers falsely arrested, says bishop, Kamini Padayachee, The Mercury, 19 November 2009
- 'Produce the evidence’, demands Bishop Rubin Phillip Diakonia Council of Churches, 29 November 2009
- Justice delayed and denied for 12 Kennedy Road accused, Jeff Guy, The Mercury, 13 May 2010
- Amnesty International South Africa Report 2011. Amnesty.org. Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- CCR Appeals to UN on Behalf of South African Shack Dwellers Movement, 1 December 2010
- Press statement by the Unemployed Peoples Movement, 18 July 2011
- The ANC and the failing of democratic governance, Paul Trewhela, Politics Web, 27 August 2011
- "Kennedy 12" Acquitted. (PDF) . Retrieved on 4 December 2011.
- Amnesty International Annual Report 2012
- The website of Abahlali baseMjondolo
- A Digital Archive of Abahlali baseMjondolo History from March 2005 to November 2006 (with links to pictures, articles, press releases etc.) at the MetaMute site
- Revolutionary Ubuntu
Films about Abahlali baseMjondolo
- Amnesty International Film on Abahlali baseMjondolo
- Dear Mandela - feature length documentary a multi-award winning film *Dear Mandela wins big in Brooklyn, by Valencia Talane, Biz Community, 28 June 2012 by Dara Kell & Christopher Nizza, 2011 Dear Mandela, by Ronnie Schieb Variety
- Txaboletan bizi direnak by Elkartasun Bideak, 2009 (English dialogue with Basque subtitles)
- Amandla Awethu by Elkartasun Bideak, 2009
- From the Shacks to the Constitutional Court by Dara Kell & Christopher Nizza, 2009
- A Place in the City by Jenny Morgan, 2008
- Dear Mandela (advance trailer) by Dara Kell & Christopher Nizza, 2008
- The Right to Know: The Fight for Open Democracy in South Africa by Ben Cashdan, 2007
- Nayager Falls, Abahlali Rises by Sally Gilles and Fazel Khan, 2007
- Breyani & the Councillor by Sally Gilles and Fazel Khan, 2006
- Kennedy Road and the Councillor by Aoibheann O'Sullivan, 2005[dead link]