The Durban Social Forum

The Durban Social Forum
South Africa’s hosting of the World Anti-Racism Conference provided a focal point for the formation of the Durban Social Forum: a loose collective of various groups such as the residents’ and concerned citizens’ groups, the Cape Town Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Anti-Privatization Forum, the Landless People's Movement, Durban University Students, Keep Left (a group of Jo’burg Socialists), Jubilee South Africa, and SA Indymedia. The DSF organised a national march and a series of meetings and exchange visits in order for the various groups to get to know each other and discuss together.1 The DSF march was “not a conceptual rejection of capitalism or neoliberalism, but a direct attack on the agents of the anti-poor policies in this country – the ANC”. Over 30,000 people attended from all over South Africa. “It is difficult to capture the joy and surprise and vibrancy of the march”. It ended with an attempt to break through police lines and storm the conference. “More revolutionary songs were sung, loud and fast, the footfalls and claps of the toyi-toyi2 sounding like gun shots… For the first time there was a mass based and very public reaction of the ANC… This loose collection of community based social movements unified by their opposition to the ANC’s policies is now a significant force in South African politics…. It validated a form of collectivity, the community movements, free from the ideological inhibitions of organised labour or the tired dogmas of the Left”.3

The Durban Social Forum declaration is available on line at http://www.monthlyreview.org/durbanstmt.htm