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Thursday, 10 May 2012 15:00

Kota steps down

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At the Annual General Meeting of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) this year, founder and long-running leader of the movement, Ayanda Kota stepped down. He was replaced by Asanda Ncwadi and redeployed as the publicity secretary of the movement.

Kota founded the UPM in August 2009 explaining, as he put it in a statement on Activate Online, to “respond to the crisis of unemployment and the commodification of essential services in a society dominated by corruption and greed.” The UPM has since been involved in many protests in the Grahamstown area and has been met with alleged municipal stone-walling and police brutality.

Kota himself was the subject of a controversial theft case involving Rhodes academic Claudia Martinez-Mullen earlier this year. He was also charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. He filed a counter-charge of assault against the officers in question.

“This is not our movement. We [the Executive Committee of the UPM] have to understand that is a movement of the people. The UPM is not only Ayanda Kota,” Kota said when asked about his reasons for stepping down. He added that democratic processes had to respected, that no position in the UPM was a lifetime appointment and that it was time for some new leadership.

“Excited” was the term he used to describe his feelings about his new position. “I will serve the UPM in whatever position they put me,” he added. As part of his duties as Publicity Secretary, Kota has started a Facebook page for the UPM and instituted a newsletter dubbed The Truth. The first edition was distributed on Friday 20 April.

Kota described the greatest achievement during his tenure as Chairperson was the rapid growth of the UPM as a social movement and the raising of its profile nationwide. He added that they had done this with absolutely no financial support whatsoever: “We give everything to the movement.” Kota was also at great pains to state that none of these achievements were ‘his’, they belonged to every man and woman of the UPM and the collective progress that they made. He also stressed that the UPM could “never be happy” with where it was and continued to build itself and to grow outside of Grahamstown in places such as East London and Port Elizabeth, and to then extend its reach to other provinces.

Kota also stated that he had absolute faith in Ncwadi as the new chairperson of the movement and called on all members and allies of the UPM to collectively support his successor.

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