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People in Protest
by Anna T
The World Summit on Sustainable Development

People in protest
Photo: Mandy Paton-Ash
Johannesburg, South Africa •• Aug. 31, 2002 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• Today many people, from many walks of life, for many different causes, took to the streets of Johannesburg to march in protest. There were two separate large marches, both expected to grow to 10 00 people each however the actual numbers may have fallen slightly short of this.

The first march was organised by the Landless Peoples Movement but encompassed more than just land issues. From the wide variety of banners it became clear that as well as protesting the lack of available land and the uneven distribution of land, people were also marching against issues such as the privatisation of water, Israeli action in Palestine, unemployment, Bush, Blair, globalisation, the IMF, and the World Bank.

The second of the marches was organised by the Civil Society Group and was also protesting a whole range of issues from food scarcity to Israeli persecution of Palestinians to showing united support for sustainable development. Both really were an international gathering of people however this was particularly dominated by anti-Israeli protesters, African National Congress (ANC), Communist Party (SACP) and Chamber of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) supporters. The South African President Thabo Mbeki addressed the gathering at the Alexandra Stadium before marching to Speakers Corner, outside the Convention Centre.

With the police very much in evidence both marches went off smoothly with no incidents of any kind, as participants enjoyed a happy, peaceful atmosphere. As has been mentioned both of the marches began in Alexandra, one of the large informal settlements of Johannesburg, and it stood in stark evidence of what needs to be achieved under the auspices of poverty reduction. As a South African having been exposed to the terrible conditions under which many of our people have to live, the walk through Alex, as it is locally referred to, still managed to shock and sadden me. Seeing “houses” built out of literally anything that can be scavenged, with hardly a square inch between each structure and the stench and sight of pits filled with rubbish lying beside the road festering, with little children clambering through it to catch a glimpse of the people passing by. It really put into perspective what affect the issues being protested against have on the everyday lives of people!

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