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[OP-ED] Abahlali baseMjondolo's experience exposes South Africa’s shrinking democratic space, writes SERI's Thato Masiangoako (19 October 2022).

AbM CPN Masiangoako Daily Maverick

On 19 October 2022, the Daily Maverick published an op-ed written by SERI's Thato Masiangoako entitled, 'The Abahlali baseMjondolo experience exposes South Africa’s shrinking democratic space'. The op-ed draws on SERI's recently published Community Practice Note entitled 'Abahlali baseMjondolo: Living Politics'. The op-ed discusses the social movement's experiences of state-sanctioned and political violence as an indicator of how the democratic spaces vital for rights-claiming and holding political leaders accountable are increasingly coming under threat in South Africa.

Masiangoako writes that Abahlali's "experience since its emergence in 2005 shows how the South African state has failed to fully embed democratic principles that embrace a plurality of ideas, that fully appreciate dissent as healthy and that uphold a commitment to dignity, equality and freedom of all people."

She argues that "at a time of increasing intolerance for divergent ideas that challenge dominant interests, civil society and allied groups have an obligation to demonstrate what Abahlali calls “living solidarity” with those facing the greatest risk. Such solidarity is an act of defending South Africa’s democracy."


  • Read the full op-ed here.
  • Access the CPN and its English and isiZulu executive summaries here.