The right to freedom of association movement is a fundamental human right that people have struggled for decades to achieve in South Africa. This was a struggle against some of the most onerous apartheid legislation such as the pass laws.

Today in South Africa we still have a new form of the pass law. It’s called fear and intimidation. In the case of the former, it was a written law, in the case of the latter it is an unwritten law. The consequences, however, are still the same. Freedom of movement is restricted.

On Monday, 15 March 2010, Nelson Mandela Metropole experienced this new form of pass law when thousands of commuters could not attend work because of the taxi strike. The Algoa Bus Company also did not run that day, because many drivers feared intimidation. The word also went out that only one person could be a passenger in a car.

Fear and intimidation had a crippling effect on the economy of our city. Many people who wanted to go to work couldn’t, because they feared the repercussions. The failure of the busses to run highlights how deeply entrenched this fear is. If we are to create a human rights based democracy in this country then this new pass law needs to be vigorously opposed just as the apartheid pass laws were. When there is no freedom of association and movement, the core of our democracy is threatened.

It is up to political leaders and the institutions of state to stand up and condemn and take action against this new scourge.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.

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