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Dissident voices from South Africa

Glive Gaby & John Rose | 28.06.2012 09:44 | Repression | Social Struggles

Spokesperson for Unemployed People’s Movement in UK in July

Ayanda Kota, the spokesperson for the South African Unemployed People’s Movement, has been invited to speak in London at two public events:

Friday 6th July, Marxism Festival, ‘Apartheid Old and New’ (

Thursday 19th July, ‘Interpreting Contemporary African Protest’ with Firoze Manji (editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News) and Yash Tandon (former Ugandan Government Minister, Chief Executive of the South Centre) at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden (

Ayanda Kota founded the Grahamstown chapter of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) in 2009 and was elected as the first chairperson. The UPM is highly critical of both the mainstream ANC and those such as Julius Malema who have attempted to portray themselves as ‘representatives of the people’ whilst continuing to enjoy lavish lifestyles. Ayanda has been a central figure in pointing out the hypocrisy of both these wings of the ANC, and how the policies of the ruling South African elite have meant little has changed for ordinary low-income and unemployed South Africans since the transition from Apartheid. Ayanda has suffered arrest and beatings at the hands of the state security services as a result of his activities.

Ayanda Kota was born in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in February 1976 – the year of the national youth insurrection that began in Soweto. He joined the Black Consciousness Movement at the age of 15. In 1995, in the first year of post-apartheid government, Ayanda was arrested and detained in Cape Town police station for his role in the Employ Black Teachers Campaign. The following year he was elected as the Azanian Students Movement National Political Education Secretary in Kimberley.

The Unemployed People’s Movement is part of a Poor People’s Alliance that includes shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo. UPM campaigns for a Basic Income Grant of R2000 for unemployed people (25 per cent of adults are unemployed; 48 per cent of under-24s). In 2010 Ayanda was arrested and subject to police assault while protesting outside parliament. The following year he was arrested for his role in a protest in Grahamstown. In early 2012 he was arrested on bogus theft charges and physically beaten in the Grahamstown police station. In each case charges against him were dropped before the matter went to trial. In 2012 he stood down as chairperson of the Unemployed People’s Movement but was elected as the movement’s spokesperson. Ayanda has two sons, Sibalwethu and Simamkele.

For further information, more details on the public events, and for interviews with Ayanda, contact Clive Gabay on 07734902708 or John Rose on 07740286451 or email or

Glive Gaby & John Rose
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