Remembering Ayanda Kota: Advocate for Justice and Equality!

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The Assembly of the Unemployed and the Cry of the Xcluded have faced a very difficult time with the loss of our founder, Ayanda Kota, who passed on last Thursday. He was our class brother and a gallant fighter for the marginalized and black communities of the South African working class as a whole. Our pain is such that it has taken us time to process his death, let alone craft this statement.

Comrade Ayanda’s death is not only a tragedy to his family and to us, his comrades, but a tragedy to the precarious and feeble left in South Africa and beyond. He understood the meaning of solidarity and unity in action beyond ideological lines, which is also what he ingrained in us. Ayanda practised his solidarity and drive for unity when he founded the Makana Citizen Front as he continued to further the struggles of the Unemployed People’s Movement. The organizations to which Ayanda committed his life were all built on the understanding that the question of fighting for decent services against municipal bungling in Makhanda, dire as it was, required the unity and solidarity of the people of Makhanda in action.

We have learned from comrade Ayanda that solidarity and unity cannot be possible without love and sacrifice. If unity and solidarity are to be more than just words, they must be practised as love. Comrade Ayanda loved all his comrades. He loved the working class and its communities. We saw this in his smile while he championed the struggles of the Unemployed and the improvement of service delivery altogether. We have seen how he danced with his eyes closed when comrades sang struggle songs. We have seen how he puts his hand over his heart when addressing comrades.

In the Assembly of the Unemployed and the Cry of the Xcluded, we are obliged to continue where comrade Ayanda left off. To be visible in every struggle that the black working class and communities find themselves in. We shall happily respond when the labour movement calls for the solidarity of the unemployed. We shall happily respond when called upon to fight for decent services. We will be visible when black working-class women die of suicide because of hunger like Ayanda did. We shall happily respond when our hospitals run without water unabated. We will continue to call for a decent Basic Income Grant and we will ensure that the rich pay for it. And we will do this with a smile. We will love and dance our way to victory with unity and solidarity in our minds.

In the Amadiba Crisis Committee:

We know, and we will always remember Comrade Ayanda as a militant socialist fighter and an educator of his community and us all. He was at the forefront in the fight against budget cuts, austerity and for service delivery. As ACC, we have lost a human rights defender and an ally in the struggle at a very difficult time. His passing is a loss to all progressive social movements in South Africa, not only to the working class.

In the Back to Work Campaign:

We are left with only fond memories of him where in 2020, he was addressing B2WC masses at the Cape Town Civic Centre. This is where he shared their victory against their Municipality in Makhanda and pleaded with comrades to continue to fight for municipal services and always fight for the poor. As the B2WC we want to say we left with a void. The Back To Work Campaign (B2WC) would like to send its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of our beloved Comrade Ayanda Kota.

In the Botshabelo Unemployed Movement:

Tower Ayanda Kota, you have died empty, for you have fulfilled your purpose in this corrupt world, and your struggle towards fighting for the poor working class and the marginalized was not in vain. You are gone from our sight but not from our hearts. The community in Makhanda and your fellow activists in the Assembly of the Unemployed and Cry of the Xcluded bid farewell, but the baton will not fall. We will continue to fight against the brutal war of austerity the government is waging against the poor and the unemployed, particularly women and youth. Aluta Continua!

In the Amandla PE Collective:

We will always remember Ayanda for what he was. One of South Africa’s greatest collaborators and a builder of unity. We have seen how he always encouraged us through our work in the Water Crisis Committee to draft joint statements as we are both affected by the Water Crisis, whether it is Gqeberha or Makhanda. We have seen his solidarity in practice through his drive to co-test the quality of water in Makhanda and Nelson Mandela Bay. How he was always open for Op-eds: between the Crisis Committee and UPM. We will remember his calls to not forget to join a worker’s rally or protest. We will always remember Ayanda as a person who went out of his way, if it meant renting a taxi for 15 comrades to join a protest in solidarity with that certain community and municipality. We have lost a mentor, a teacher, and a comrade in arms.

In the Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC)

Comrade Ayanda Kota was a dedicated and selfless activist who sacrificed and suffered to build a better world in which people would live in solidarity with each other and uphold human rights.

In the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC):

The Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) was invited by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) to participate in its Capacity Activists Training Program aimed to enhance activists’ critical skills on the NHI draft bill discussion and climate crisis through neo-liberal analytical lenses. Ayanda together with UPM and Students for Social Justice at Rhodes University, participated in these enriching discussions, paving the way for AIDC’s new strategic direction to Climate Jobs in 2011 and the organising of ourselves to the Alternative Civil Society COP 17 meetings/workshops in Durban. Ayanda had a deep understanding of the interrelationship between health, land for sustainable livelihoods and food production, unemployment, and climate crises, all of which are a result of the global economic policies meant to starve the working class. Ayanda believed that fighting against such policies requires strong movements from youth, students, women, labour, religious groups, and everyone on board. We extend our sincere condolences and support to UPM, Assembly of the Unemployed, Cry of the Xcluded, Makanda Citizens Front, Ayanda’s family, comrades, and friends.

Ayanda understood the risks involved in his activism but remained resolute. He saw beyond the dangers, focusing instead on the urgent need for change. His courage inspired many others to join the cause, creating a ripple effect of activism that continues to this day. His legacy lives on through his work in building food gardens, running soup kitchens, launching the Back to School Campaign for needy and deserving children, organizing sports and recreational activities, and assisting struggling communities and families in organizing funeral arrangements. Ayanda’s dedication to the UPM and MCF built confidence in the community, even during difficult times of COVID-19. Rest in peace Tower, you played your role with diligence, and now the baton has been passed to those you left behind.

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