By BO Staff Writer
Yesterday, 30 July 2016, in Orlando East Soweto, in an open piece of land claimed and defended by the community a historic electoral pact was signed. The pact between the radical black consciousness movement Black First Land First (BLF) and the community based organization Orlando Task Team (OTT) is governed by the adoption of the Thomas Sankara Oath.
The Oath was taken and signed by the 1976 Soweto Uprising veteran Seth Mazibuko on behalf of OTT and counter signed by Andile Mngxitama on behalf of BLF. It was a beautiful ceremony attended by the community of Orlando East. The slogan “One Orlando, One Community” sealed the pact.
There two leaders addressed the gathering and both denounced the lies of politicians and upheld Thomas Sankara as the example that must be followed. Mazibuko in his speech asked the community not to spare him if he fails to live up to the Sankara Oath which was read in English and translated in isiZulu.
The OTT is known and respected in Orlando. It takes up the struggles of the people including ending the evictions of people from their homes by the banks and fighting against installation of pre-paid water meters and electricity and the commodification of these services. Evidently, OTT has on numerous occasions destroyed meter boxes which force people to pay for basic services.
There are currently over a hundred cases of pending evictions by the banks. However both OTT and BLF has vowed to work together to stop these dispossessions by the greedy banks.
The memory of James Sofasonke Mpanza who was the founder of Soweto continues to be highly celebrated in Orlando East. Mpanza was a courageous land return warrior who in 1944 occupied land with a 20 000 strong followers to address the land and housing crisis that the government in service of the white mining industry (to which blacks provided labour) failed to resolve. Notwithstanding the violence unleashed and the dirty tricks applied by the settler colonial government, Mpanza prevailed! The struggle for land and decent housing continues in Orlando.
After the signing of the Thomas Sankara Oath the community held a picnic the same venue, being the Orlando Rugby Ground, which they are defending from being grabbed by the City of Johannesburg with its greedy partners. It was a beautiful day of exchanges and relaxation before the final push from Monday which starts with stopping the eviction of a resident.