Experiences of Johannesburg’s Operation Khanyisa Movement

CCS [Durban] SEMINAR, 26 NOVEMBER 2007

Speakers: Zodwa Madiba, Arthur Lekalake & Alan Murphy

Topic: Experiences of Operation Khanyisa Movement (OKM) in Johannesburg City Council - and principles for an authentic Political Alliance

Time: 12h30-14h00

Venue: CCS/SDS Board Room


Experiences of Operation Khanyisa Movement (OKM) in Jhb City Council - and principles for an authentic Political Alliance

The OKM is an electoral front that was formed by some affiliates of the APF (Anti-Privatisation Forum) during the 2006 local government elections who wanted to enter the elections as a united force. The OKM's platform and social policies are those of the Anti-Privatisation Forum. Its aim is to fight inside and outside the Johannesburg City Council's bourgeois chamber in support of the interests of the working class.

The OKM's name comes from the APF programme of connecting those who get cut off from the electricity supply by ESKOM for non-payment. This name was chosen because of its militancy and lack of respect for bourgeois that it suggests. It was also chosen because the APF did not want its name to be used in case this jeopardised its external funding arrangements. Unfortunately the OKM initially did not get the support of the APF as there was a belief that social movements must only run ward candidates and not on the proportional representation (PR) system. However the APF has softened its position as it became clear that some of its members ran in the elections and promoted the PAC and SOPA platforms while the OKM promoted the APF platform. As a result the OKM councillor occasionally provides reports of its work to the APF and also provides information useful to the APF that it gathers inside the Council Chamber.

The active members of the OKM are the following: the Soweto Electricty Crisis Committee, the Thembelihle Crisis Committee, the Wynberg Concerned Residents and the Kliptown Concerned Residents. All these organisations are Johannesburg Region affiliates of the APF. Recently some Vaal affiliates of the APF have shown an interest in joining the OKM. During the floor crossing period some ANC councillors in the North West Province wanted to join the OKM but this was not taken forward due to political and technical reasons. The OKM councillor is Comrade Zodwa Madiba, her political commissar and personal assistant is Comrade Ghetto Gopane and the OKM party leader is Comrade Authur Lekalake.


Zodwa Madiba - was elected OKM councillor (PR) in August 2007 after the first OKM councillor was recalled for failure to take forward the mandate of the people. Zodwa lives in Dube, Soweto, where she was secretary of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC) Dube Branch since its inception 4 years ago. She was secretary of the SECC in 2004 to 2005 and treasurer of Jubilee South Africa Gauteng in 2004 to 2005. When pre-paid water meters were first installed in Phiri, Soweto, she was arrested for supporting this struggle. At the moment she is leading the Dube community in a struggle removing pre-paid water meters in the area. She is a feminist and socialist and a seasoned hardworking grassroots organiser.

Arthur Lekalake - is the official party leader of the OKM. He was political officer of the SECC in 2004 to 2006. He was the Gauteng co-ordinator of the Right to Work Campaign in 2006. As the leader of the OKM he has provided guidance and political direction and cohesion to this electoral front since its birth in 2005. Arthur is a socialist and a member of the Socialist Initiative. He is recently involved in the left political magazine Amandla.

Alan Murphy – is the ECOPEACE Coordinator and an ex-councillor (PR) of eThekwini Municipality, he is qualified in Physics and Chemical Engineering and lectures bridging courses in Science. ECOPEACE is also a member of the SMI (Social Movements Indaba). ECOPEACE passed a number of motions through the Council, including one to implement energy efficiency measures within Council buildings. However, the last ECOPEACE motion put to Council, to not cut anyone off from water, and to recover the associated costs by charging industry a minimal increase (one cent per litre of water, or less) was not supported by any other party besides ex-councillor Murphy’s single vote. Both the ANC and DA claimed that ECOPEACE wished to cut off the wealthy from water and to banish Durban’s industries to Empangeni. (Business and industry pay at a 50% discounted water rates level compared to equivalent residential use above 30 kilolitres per month.)

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