No Land! No House! No Vote!

No Land! No House! No Vote! is the name of a campaign by a number of poor people's movements in South Africa that calls for the boycotting of the vote and a general rejection of party politics and vote banking.[1] The name is meant to imply that if government does not deliver on issues important to affected communities (such as land and housing) these movements will not vote.


Protesters outside the Constitutional Court in 2009

The No Land! No House! No Vote! campaign began as a national campaign by the South African Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) in 2004.[2] Originally called the No Land! No Vote! campaign, the Landless People's Movement and the National Land Committee argued that voters have to be registered in their home ward to vote and that it would be impossible to vote if families were under threat of eviction or had no secure tenure.[3] Amnesty International has reported that LPM activists were tortured during the 2004 national government elections after taking on a 'No Land! No Vote' position.[4]

In 2006, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and Abahlali baseMjondolo[5] movements boycotted the municipal elections under the banner of this campaign. The AEC held an election day march in Cape Town saying they would abstain from voting. A march by Abahlali baseMjondolo under the banner of the No Land! No House! No Vote! campaign was illegally banned by the Durban Municipality and was met with police repression.[6][7]

In 2008, the Landless Peoples Movement, the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign and Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Rural Network joined to form the Poor People's Alliance. In 2009, the Alliance voted to boycott the national elections under the No Land! No House! No Vote! banner.[8]

During the 2009 national election campaign, the No Vote! campaign suffered severe repression by political parties and police. On 8 February 2009, the South African Police allegedly beat and tear-gassed Gugulethu residents who were holding a meeting about housing because the ANC provincial chairperson Mcebisi Skwatsha claimed they were disrupting voters registration.[9][10] Eight members of the Landless Peoples Movement were also arrested in March 2009 and some claim that this is related to the No Vote! campaign by the Poor Peoples Alliance. [11]

In the 2009 elections 39% of potential voters supported the ANC.[12]

Abahlali baseMjondolo called for a boycott of the 2011 local government elections.[13][14][15] They were joined by a range of other social movements including the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Mandela Park Backyarders, Sikhula Sonke, the South African Unemployed Peoples' Movement and the Landless People's Movement.[16] Local community organisations also organised vote strikes in a number of towns around the country including, for instance, King William's Town,[17] Ficksburg,[18] Grahamstown[19] and Cato Ridge.[20] A total of 42% of registered voters did not vote in the elections.[21] It has been reported that "Nearly 75% of South Africans aged 20–29 did not vote in the 2011 [local government] elections" and that "South Africans in that age group were more likely to have taken part in violent (sic) street protests against the local ANC than to have voted for the ruling party".[22]

Reasoning behind the campaign

Proponents of the No Land! No House! No Vote! campaign have explained the reasons behind their campaign. There are a variety of reasons for boycotting elections[23] but most people who take this position say that they have been voting since 1994 but have seen no positive result from voting.[24][25] They also often claim that politicians are all corrupt and that there are no political parties that represent the poor.[26] Proponents also make the structural argument that the electoral process itself is undemocratic, that poor people must speak for themselves, and that the movements should be unaligned and pressure whichever political party comes into power.[27][28][29][30][31]

Variations on the campaign

Proponents of the No Land! No House! No Vote! Campaign have come up with similar slogans which have included the statements 'No Jobs!', 'No Electricity!', 'No Water!', 'No Respect!', 'No Freedom!' as part of the 'No Vote!' boycott campaign.[32][33][34][35]

International connections

The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign has used the slogan 'No House No Vote'.[36]

Criticisms of the campaign

According to South African President Jacob Zuma "If you do not vote, you are depriving yourself of a freedom we have fought for and given you. You are deciding to oppress are failing yourself and the nation.[37]

See also


  1. By Voting We Are Only Choosing Our Oppressors, Soundz of the South
  2. ""No Vote" Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy". Mail & Guardian. South Africa.
  3. "An anatomy of new power". Mail & Guardian. South Africa.
  4. "2005 Annual Report for South Africa". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 29 November 2008.
  5. Battle to be Heard Archived 18 July 2012 at, by Carol Paton, Financial Mail, 17 February 2006
  6. "Sekwanele! (Enough is enough!): Post-apartheid land and housing struggles". Pambazuka.
  7. ""No Vote" Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy". Mail & Guardian. South Africa.
  8. Resistance Not Ballots; Mass Organisation Not Authoritarian Leaders Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, 9 May 2010
  9. "AEC members tear gassed, beaten and arrested; residents lay blame on ANC". Anti-Eviction Campaign. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009.
  10. "Elections: A Dangerous Time for Poor People's Movements in South Africa". SACSIS. Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  11. "8 Landless People's Movement Comrades Under Arrest in Johannesburg". Landless Peoples Movement. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011.
  12. SA rulers need to find new ways to carry citizens with them, Anthony Butler, Business Day, 27 July 2009
  13. SOUTH AFRICA: Poor people's movement draws government wrath, IRIN,UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 22 April 2010
  14. W Cape voters ‘not predictable’, Quinton Mtyala and Babalo Ndenze, The Cape Argus, 18 May 2011
  15. ‘No Land! No House! No Vote!’, The Mercury, By SINEGUGU NDLOVU AND BRONWYN FOURIE, 19 May 2011
  16. The revolt of South Africa’s untouchables, Pambazuka Press, 9 March 2011
  17. We won’t vote for ‘a stranger’ Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Vuvu Vena, The Daily Dispatch, 19 May 2011
  18. Disillusioned voters snub Ficksburg poll, Kwanele Sosibo, Mail & Guardian, 20 May 2011
  19. Unhappy Tantyi residents stay away from polls Archived 2 August 2012 at by Thembeni Plaatjie, Grocott's Mail, 20 May 2011
  20. ANC choice of candidate sparks political unrest 20 May 2011, KARREN BOWDEN AND LEANNE JANSEN, The Mercury
  21. Elephant will ignore the DA ‘ant’ at its own peril, AUBREY MATSHIQI, Business Day, 23 May 2011
  22. Deep Read: 'Born free' voters may not choose ANC, JON HERSKOVITZ, Mail & Guardian, 29 January 2013
  23. The Thoroughly Democratic Logic of Refusing to Vote Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, SACSIS, 2 April 2009
  24. "No house, no jobs – no vote". News24. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009.
  25. South Africa: 'No Land! No House! No Vote!' Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, News & Letters, May – June 2011
  26. SA's poor must shun the polls, Andile Mngxitama,Mail & Guardian, 2011
  27. "The No Land, No House, No Vote Campaign Still on for 2009" (PDF). SARPN.
  28. ""No Vote" Campaigns are not a Rejection of Democracy, November 2005". Abahlali baseMjondolo.
  29. "Anti Eviction Campaign urges poor to boycott elections". Cape Times.
  30. "Apathetic youth a thing of the past". The Mercury.
  31. The revolt of South Africa’s untouchables, Pedro Alexis Tabensky, Pambazuka, March 2011
  32. No electricity, no vote, say protesters, Mail & Guardian, 30 October 2008
  33. Devastating Fire in RR Section Khayelitsha – No Electricity! No Vote!,
  34. Invitation to All Those Seeking Political Office to Come Down to the People,, 18 March 2011
  35. Abahlali baseMjondolo to March on the KwaZulu/Natal Premier on Human Rights Days,, 18 March 2011
  36. Chicago Communities Demand Eviction Moratorium, by MILES KAMPF-LASSIN, In these Times, 10 August 2012
  37. Zuma, Malema gun for votes Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Paddy Harper, City Press, 8 May 2011
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