THE new campaign movement called Democracy from Below (DfB) will not be contesting the general elections next year, but will educate people to use their vote wisely.
So said former deputy minister for Health Nozizwe Mdalala-Routledge following the Democracy from Below inaugural national conference held in Durban on Saturday.
DfB represents various interest groups that range from youth, social movements, the homeless, students, women, the unemployed, rural people, small farmers and others from all provinces.
It was established in Mdantsane, East London, and the District Six Museum in Cape Town in July to build a mass movement to change the country.
“The DfB seeks to build a mass movement of people that can take sustained mass action to reclaim democracy from the elites, a movement that can build deep participation in all aspects of the society,” DfB’s Mazibuko Jara said in a statement.
Jara said through the campaign, ordinary people would be organised into a conscious and organised force that could deepen democracy and make it real in systematically transforming social, political and economic conditions of all people.
Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Madlala-Routledge said DfB wanted people to participate in the decisions taken about their lives.
“It is to educate people to be involved in the decisions that are taken. It is for them to define their priorities,” she said.
“Right now, policies come from the government and people are just asked what they think of them. We want people to be involved and come up with practical solutions to the crises such as housing,” Madlala-Routledge added.
“We are not a political party. People come to us from various parties.”
Madlala-Routledge said DfB discussed a range of issues including housing, health, redistribution of the economy, land reform, future of the youth and education, among others, which affect people in various places.
She also said the weekend inaugural congress had a “vibrant discussion” on the “Numsa Moment”, referring to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s calls for the strengthening of the Congress of Trade Unions, and its possible severing of ties from the ANC-led alliance.
“This is an important moment in South Africa and it is defined by Numsa,” she said.
Madlala-Routledge also said DfB would hold another gathering early next year on how to approach the general elections and how people should use their power to vote.