Global movement comes to the Bay

Kholeka Kumalo

THE contentious global movement Occupy, characterised by anti-capitalism protests in centres like New York and London, has reached the shores of Nelson Mandela Bay. So far the movement appears to be one man strong – its soul representative is Summerstrand resident Rick Simpson.

Simpson has been setting up camp outside Summerstrand flats Retief Plein for the past two weeks in his impassioned fight against “economic apartheid”.

The block, Simpson claims, is a link to colonial oppression and slavery. His message is clearly emblazoned on banners tied up around him.

“The only solution is global revolution. Pick a side – 1% or 99%. Make your voice heard,” he said yesterday.

His message is one which unifies Occupy movements around the world, as is his call to empower ordinary citizens and oppose systems which “occupiers” believe exploit the majority solely to benefit the ruling elite.

Simpson, who last week protested alongside aggrieved Walmer township residents, registered his local movement, Occupy iBhayi, on the home page of the Occupy movement online. He was the 2950th member.

From 7am until sunset, he advocates the necessity of self-sustenance.

“A system based on greed can’t survive on limited resources. We need to buy what we need and not what we want, with real money, not credit,” Simpson said.

“What’s stopping the man in the street from planting his own seeds and growing his own food in his own garden instead of buying food at prices he can’t afford?”

He broke down in tears explaining why this cause was necessary and urgent.

“I’ve been unemployed since March last year. I am hungry and I’ve had enough. This suffering all has to end now before it’s too late.”

Simpson said he and his wife and child had had to resort to squatting in derelict premises in the city.

“Our purpose is to inform people about a form of economic slavery that allows banking systems to separate the rich from the poor,” Simpson said.

“We need more awareness. There are none so easily enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.”

Simpson said he could not say how much longer he would continue at Retief Plein.

He said he planned to organise “a people’s general assembly” on June 16 – Youth Day – and hoped to create a formal sustainability development plan.

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