I am the Third Force

I am the Third Force, I shroud my anger in a Constitution that was signed by Nelson Mandela and which offered us the possibility of a society based on “democratic values, fundamental human rights and social justice”; a Constitution that promised to heal divisions and free the potential of each person.

Gwede Mantashe: “A trade union and NGOs came together [in Zimbabwe] whose intention was to remove ZANU(PF] … That narrative is very prevalent in South Africa … all of a sudden democratic institutions must be protected from us by some people who actually were not part of forming it.”

I am the Third Force. I am angered by the violent inequality I see around me every day. I am angered by 6o% youth unemployment in a country with so much work to be done. I’m angry at signs of despair all around us; the Nyaope epidemic turning young men into monsters, epidemic rape and child abuse, the culture of murder thy neighbour.

I am the Third Force. When I read of so many of our children dying of hunger it makes me want to organise for regime change. I want to change a regime that tolerates hunger and malnutrition while organising banquets of billions of rand of unauthorised and irregular expenditure.

I want a regime that acts on the constitutional right of “everyone to sufficient food” and of “every child to basic nutrition”. I don’t like to see the bulging bellies of the elite contrast with the Kwashiorkor belly of the hungry child.

I am the Third Force. I have a gun full of words. Rat-a-tat-tat. A cellphone full of soon to be banned photographs of poverty and pain. I have an illegal picture of the toilet that murdered Michael Komape before his sixth birthday. It’s not a happy picture. It’s a dirty picture. It should be airbrushed to white porcelain.

I am the Third Force. I take money from organisations and individuals that say they believe in social justice and human rights and use that money to mobilise, organise, litigate, educate. Some of these donors may have their own agendas but my agenda is justice. If you were to torture me I would quickly confess that for 2o years I have raised money for campaigns to advance human rights and social justice.

I am a Third Force. I will voluntarily disclose to the National Intelligence Agency where that money comes from. I already allow auditors to check that I am telling the truth. I show them all my organisation’s accounts. I will open my personal bank account – there is only one – so you can see who pays my salary.

I am the Third Force, I shroud my anger in a Constitution that was signed by Nelson Mandela and which offered us the possibility of a society based on “democratic values, fundamental human rights and social justice”; a Constitution that promised to heal divisions and free the potential of each person.

I am the Third Force. I confess that once I helped form an army of activists against AIDS denialism. Then I was called an “agent of the pharmaceutical companies” by leaders of your party. I confess too that later I was one of those who helped organise a march against corruption. Then I was called an “agent of neoliberalism”. I admit that I worked with lawyers, children and their parents to enforce the right to a quality basic education including access to school textbooks. I did this in the “bourgeois” countermajoritarian law courts of the enemy and again I was called a member of the Third Force.

I am the Third Force. I don’t “believe” in capitalism and I don’t “believe” in “socialism”. I don’t like socialists with Rolex watches and big cars. I don’t like capitalists with private planes and offshore bank accounts. I don’t like the rats of Sandton or the rats in Alex. I believe in justice and social justice. Together with thousands of others I fight for it every day.

I am the Third Force. I don’t trust any of our politicians, including you, because none of you will reveal your paymasters. I don’t believe any of their words because they contradict themselves every day. I know they are telling lies. I know that they are the handmaidens of other imperialisms, Chinese, Indian, Russian. I know many politicians have auctioned dreams that belong to us, just as others sell our labour for their profit.

I am the Third Force. I fear politicians who dress the scabs of their corruption under the clothes of ideology, talking about all-sorts-of-isms-and-schisms, while they are warm and content in the house Msholozi built for them.

I am the Third Force. I’m not ANC, or DA. I’m not EFF or COPE. I’m a citizen of a free country with rights and responsibilities to my fellow women and men.

I am the Third Force. Je suis Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, Ruth First, Thuli Madonsela, Bram Fischer, Dikgang Moseneke.

I am the Third Force. You should join me and millions more in a democratic struggle for jobs, water, sufficient food, books for our children, desks for their schools, medicines and trained health workers for our clinics. If the current regime can’t change its spots, it should make way for another.

I am the Third Force.

But, Gwede Mantashe, whose force are you?

*This article was published in The Daily Maverick. To view the article on their website click here

Mark Heywood is the Executive Director SECTION27. SECTION27 was established in May 2010. It incorporates the AIDS Law Project (ALP), one of South Africa's most successful post-apartheid human rights organizations. SECTION27 is a public interest law center that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights.

Mr. Heywood joined the ALP in 1994, becoming its head in 1997 and executive director in 2006. In 1998, he was one of the founders of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). In 2007, he was elected as deputy chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council. He is also the current chairperson of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. In 2009, Mr. Heywood was appointed as a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on National Health Insurance.

Mr. Heywood has written extensively on HIV, human rights and the law, including co-editing the AIDS and the Law Resource Manual and Health & Democracy: A guide to human rights, health law and policy in post-Apartheid South Africa. He has been part of the legal teams of the ALP and TAC that have been involved in all the major litigation around HIV and human rights.

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