Donate to Links
Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box
- General Secretary Tassos Koronakis resigns from SYRIZA
3 days 22 hours ago
- 53 member of Syriza's Central Committee resign
3 days 23 hours ago
- "The development of IFRs, if
4 days 4 hours ago
- SYRIZA on the verge of total disintegration
4 days 22 hours ago
- Adam Smith and the downside of the division of labor
5 days 1 hour ago
- Varoufakis new standard-bearer for radical left -- France24
5 days 22 hours ago
- Varoufakis won't join Popular Unity
5 days 22 hours ago
- Greek Left Platform Creates New Popular Unity Party
1 week 18 hours ago
- Tsipras Resigns, New Elections Called
1 week 1 day ago
- SYRIZA split: Left Platform to run for elections
1 week 1 day ago
COSATU: Working-class internationalism in the era of deepening global economic crisis
Declaration of the Congress of South African Trade Unions International Solidarity Conference, Johannesburg, June 24-26, 2009.
COSATU -- Gathered at this historic International Solidarity Conference of COSATU are workers, activists and internationalists committed to a new and just world order, free from poverty, hunger and injustice. We have concluded two days of intensive engagements, critical reflections and dedicated work to assess and ascertain the revolutionary mood of workers and the poor masses of the world, the ebbs and flows of the global class struggle and the state of readiness by working-class forces and their organisations to wage a decisive battle for the new and just global economic system.
With the economic crisis becoming more pronounced in both the advanced capitalist states and developing countries, it presents a special opportunity for more international working-class solidarity, deeper co-ordination of global struggles and the sharpening of our strategic focus.
Accordingly, we believe that this era we live in is best captured by the fact that, as Yash Tandon, the executive director of the South Centre states: “Capitalism has been a predatory system of 400 years with dire ecological consequences…What we are witnessing is not just melting of the global financial markets. We are witnessing the meltdown of the capitalist and ecological systems…”
The planet’s warming continues to accelerate; water wars are already underway, unending droughts and expanding desertification are affecting the livelihood of millions; the rapid melting of glaciers increase devastating downstream floods in highly populated areas; climate-related migrations, often intertwined within local and regional conflicts are growing, and substantial rises in food prices and energy costs throw millions into abject poverty.
We are however, very conscious of the massive wave of working and poor people’s struggles for political and economic democracy, gender equality, workers' rights, social justice and popular participation in global affairs. We believe that we are proud of our own contribution to this mighty force for change and recommit ourselves to do all within our power to take forward this critical part of our work.
We further took the opportunity to reflect on the most pressing global issues and how best to strengthen the efforts of the struggling forces towards principled unity, maximum cohesion and renewed militancy against the forces of global capitalism.
In this regard, we reflected on the following key issues.
On climate change
Climate change is mostly the responsibility of developed countries, though unfortunately, developing countries are adopting same predatory economic growth patterns of the developed countries that brought us to this disastrous situation. It is in this light that we affirm our profound belief that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is an appropriate response.
Owing to the destructive legacy of apartheid capitalism, South Africa for example, is one of the biggest producers of carbon emissions and stands at no.11 globally. South Africa is a middle-income country; it has one of the highest levels of CO2 emissions per capita in the world and beats China and India, which have bigger economies and populations.
Climate change is a workers' issue. Climate change provides an opportunity to change our productive model. The transition to a “green” and low-carbon economy must address workers' concerns and the impact of climate change on employment.
The possibilities for green jobs in the adaptation and mitigation measures must take into account “just transition” measures in the climate change agenda. Research and development into mitigation measures such as clean-coal technologies and carbon capture and storage measures will be necessary measures for a “just transition” towards a low carbon economy. “Just transition” measures recognise the reality of fossil fuel, particularly coal, as factor of production in both developed and developing economies.
A “just transition” recognises the right of society -- in consultation with stakeholders -- to decide, even in a precautionary manner about environmental issues. Without “Just Transition”, workers, families and communities will pay most of the cost of mitigation and adaptation.
Ajust transition is more flexible and more extensive than traditional labour market adjustment programs. It includes support for communities, industries and a period of income protection for workers. It moves workers from existing jobs to emerging ones, and to prepare them for the next phase in their lives. “Just transition” proposes the protection of trade union rights and enhanced successor rights, to create institutional stability throughout the transition period.
Governments and business unequivocally agree climate change is real and have to a large degree, a genuine interest in taking action, but they have adopted market-driven and trade-led solutions. These are false solutions because they do not challenge the paradigm but they seek to stabilise global capitalism.
On the global economic crisis
The financial crisis of 2007–2009 has been characterised as the most devastative and far-reaching financial crisis since the Great Depression, with its global effects marked by the failure of big businesses, declines in consumer buying power estimated to be around trillions of US dollars, substantial financial commitments incurred by governments, and a significant decline in economic activity. In this regard, market-based and regulatory solutions have been implemented or are under consideration, while conditions continue to worsen for the majority of poor and working people all over the world, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The more and deeper are the crises of capitalism, the more and deeper are the desperate attempts to bail it out by the global ruling class, acting in their own interests and on behalf of global corporations.
With the situation reaching critical proportions in the US and other advanced economies, the developing world is beginning to feel the impact more harshly, particularly the African continent. This is a result of the thorough integration of this continent into the global capitalist economy as a peripheral part of it since the 19th century.
In many regions of the world, including in parts of the Middle East, we see encouraging progress toward new and stronger anti-imperialist organisations and leadership. By far the most important gains in this respect have been registered in Venezuela. This provides hope for the struggle against neoliberalism and its destructive growth path in many parts of the world.
For many years, working-class and progressive movements internationally have been on the defensive. The movement in Venezuela provides an opportunity to link up with the power of a living revolution and to win a new generation of militants inspired by its example. It confirms the need for movements of working people and the oppressed to struggle for political power. In the short term, the defence of quality jobs is key.
On Africa’s position and role in the global economy
It is the raw materials, cheap labour power and unfair market access to our economies that have proven to be an indispensable factor for the industrialisation of Western Europe and North America. Now that there is a marked decline of commodity prices and wages for workers and farmers in Africa, the threat is real that a total economic collapse is abound, though that should also lead to the intensification of class struggle.
The lending terms by the IMF and World Bank to African and other developing countries created serious debt problems for many African countries that led to the imposition of the Structural adjustment programmes that literally arrested any prospect for genuine development in these countries.
According to a World Bank report, “The economic crisis is projected to increase poverty by around 46 million people in 2009. The principal transmission channels will be via employment and wage effects as well as declining remittance flows.”
The global economic crises that have wrecked the nations of Africa in the post-colonial period are many and complex. However, the truth of the matter is that they are a crisis of capitalism. They reflect the accumulation of massive poverty on the one hand, and extreme wealth on the other, with the unsustainable trends of greed being mostly responsible for this occurrence. This trend only benefits global elites and their counterparts in Africa in whose interests undemocratic regimes loot our economies, plunder our resources and destroy our environment, hence the maintenance of oppressive regimes to keep their interests safe from the challenge of workers and the poor.
There is a steady growth of African countries that are exploring for oil, which creates a pull factor towards Africa and the push factor away from the Middle East according to some experts, who also note technological advances in off-shore drilling and the discovery of new oil deposits in such countries as Mauritania, Chad and Ghana. This is also compounded by the China factor, which has become the second largest consumer of oil after the US, hence its expanded presence in Africa to secure natural resources.
Linked to this is the threat of increased US military presence on the continent, with AFRICOM as the most immediate danger facing the future of our continent, as the US involvement in securing oil supplies has led to increased imperialist wars in other parts of the world. This is the reason why some analysts see AFRICOM as putting a velvet glove of humanitarian aid over the fist of the military”.
The following factors are noted on the position of our continent in the global economy;
The continent was once partitioned by European powers at the Berlin conference of 1873 and today it is part of the mainstream global capitalist economy, though as an extraction zone of raw materials that are beneficiated in the advanced countries and provide much needed jobs and economic expansion and sustainability in those countries. This was the role assigned by imperialism to our countries.
China has joined the West as the new economic imperialist power on the continent, through the dumping of finished goods and the exploitation of oil deposits and wells in Angola, while Russia is also competing for that same space.
Revenue arising from the sale of commodities is not equitably shared and distributed in African countries, like oil in Sudan, Nigeria and Angola, minerals in South Africa and the DRC.
Agricultural produce from Africa has to compete with the heavily subsidised American and European farm products in the world market, while the WTO, IMF and the WB insist that Africa further deregulates its economies to ensure more de-subsidisation
- Multinational Corporations sell energy generating resources to governments, extracted from the African soil, in dollars or at Import Parity Pricing (IPP) rates, making them to be expensive and potentially out of reach in order to make massive profits, the instance of coal for electricity, extracted and sold by BHP Billiton to ESKOM in South Africa, is a case in point.
- Trade relations and languages are influenced by colonial designs, which in turn have a bearing on the political and economic development of our continent, and that trade unions on the continent are no exception to this influence.
- African states have low level of infrastructure and development which in turn impedes the movement of goods, services and people.
- Some African countries prefer to trade and receive foreign direct investment from their erstwhile colonial masters or countries from Europe. Bilateral trade agreements that our governments negotiate with the developed countries, actually take away our rights and sovereignty.
- Tariffs, customs and excise duties are still maintained by countries as a source of revenue and some countries rely on remittances and donor aid from European and North American governments, to an extent that some budgets of other countries are ratified and sanctioned by the IMF, instead of their own treasury department or national parliament.
- Countries are still facing the problem of poor-quality education, illiteracy and skills shortages that do not match what their economies require, meaning that there will be perpetual unemployment in the economy and the continent lags behind in ICT. Unemployment is huge, the continent is largely rural and peasant.
- Big business (MNCs) have a leverage to set the socioeconomic and political agenda whereas the trade unions do not engage or are indifferent on same, particularly due to weak and undemocratic structures or the absence of enabling resources for research.
- There is an observed jobless economic growth in some African countries, particularly in Angola and Mozambique. People from these countries are still migrating to other countries as if there was no pronounced growth in their countries and largely flock to South Africa.
- African trade unions tend to mimic those in Europe, in structures and political orientation. We have to set the pace and agenda on issues and trade unions in Africa should be the anchor of a consistent, progressive movement throughout the continent in all spheres of development and practical solidarity.
- We take note of the growing movement for democracy and economic justice on our continent, but remain convinced that more work needs to be done in building a strong continental force against oppression, dictatorships, wars, hunger and underdevelopment. It is workers and the poor, particularly women and youth, who suffer the disproportionately.
There are three critical areas of our focus as regards Africa;
Transformation and democratisation of the state (state)
Alternative paths to neoliberal economic development (economy)
Creating institutional capacity for sustained participation of the people in public life as a way of life (society)
On building a solidarity movement as a global social force
We continue to note the importance of actively participating in the World Social Forum as an alternative space for critical reflection and inspiration. We must harness the Africa region and our sub-continent into an all-round and effective force for global change in the true spirit of a new world is possible. However, we are worried about the trend that seek to replace popular social forces and mass-based movements with highly bureaucratic, largely, northern-based NGOs which, through the massive resources at their disposal, now wield too much power and have begun to influence the direction of the forum, without any popular mandate of the poor and affected, mostly from the south.
COSATU must further ensure the full participation of the African trade union movement in the activities of the World Social Forum and its regional structures, particularly the African Social Forum and the Southern African Social forum.
The efforts by COSATU to unite and harmonise solidarity activities of different structures should be encouraged, though the principle of building a co-ordinating structure that will bring together all these organisations and activities to maximise cohesion and avoid competition, remains primary. This shall ensure sharing and pooling together of resources and capacity, sharing of experiences and lessons, as well as support for smaller solidarity initiatives by those with much bigger capacity. It shall further ensure that COSATU is also not over-stretched in its solidarity work and support activities.
In this regard, the following issues are critical to our work in building a solidarity movement in our country
- It It must be rooted amongst, and led by, South Africans, always acting in solidarity with those in need of support. In this regard, it shall always be guided by the momentum in the actual countries of struggle and respect those in whose name solidarity is waged.
- There is a need to develop a united front/common understanding/approaches with social movements when dealing with local, regional and global issues, in the true traditions of our social movement unionism.
- There must be one broad solidarity movement, instead of the current fragmentation, which calls for the unification of all solidarity networks, irrespective of country-focus, into one movement. This will make COSATU’s role much more focused and effective. This would also promote solidarity action on the part of people from different countries, instead of each group acting around its own issues by itself. This, however, does not mean an end to the currently existing individual solidarity organisations, but a co-ordination mechanism.
- COSATU should look at the specific needs of each solidarity network, and act to support according to identified needs, without compromising its ability to engage and raise issues that are of mutual concern. However, it should not be the centre of co-ordination, substituting the initiative referred to above, which must act as the convenor and forum co-coordinating all solidarity work for maximum cohesion.
- In many instances, our international solidarity work is not result-oriented, but activity-driven, e.g., marches, border blockades, pickets, demonstrations. However, a lot more could be done (capacity building of fighting forces in various countries, exchange programmes, documentation, food and material support, shelter for refugees, research and policy development, studying laws, conferences, etc.), which could increase the numbers of those involved in supporting different struggles and broaden the understanding of the issues involved.
- Solidarity requires need clearly defined goals; short term, medium term and long term, that would assist build common themes and a flowing momentum between those involved in solidarity and those in actual struggle in the particular country.
- It is very important that South Africans are mobilised to demonstrate real solidarity with all oppressed and struggling peoples. In this regard, it is key that we conduct consistent political education among the masses in order for them to understand the importance and need for international solidarity with other peoples.
- Though we recognise the centrality of alliance-driven processes, the solidarity movement should be politically non-partisan, but broadly involving of all social forces and people interested in supporting a particular cause, without allowing local politics to interfere with solidarity work.
- The international solidarity movement must be nation-wide, fully organised and strong in all provinces, i.e. rooted amongst the people.
- International solidarity must be unconditional, with no expectations for personal gain and glory. It must be an act of love and care for others, with full respect for the people in whose name solidarity is waged.
international solidarity movement must have a definite character; progressive,
democratic, accountable and involving all people interested in participating.
On multilateral Institutions
The main institutions analysed were the UN, WB, IMF and the WTO. An effective multilateral framework is necessary for maintaining cohesion and stability in the global system. This requires institutions and a rule systems founded on equity, equality, democracy, inclusiveness, justice and fairness. When viewed in the context of these principles, the reality of the existing multilateral system is found wanting. The design and functioning of the system is arranged in favour of the rich countries and capital at the expense of developing nations and the poor. In particular, the following practices dominate:
- The prevailing rule system is a reflection of power relations that favour the powerful developed countries at the expense of weak poor countries.
- In the economic arena, benefits of the global system are accrue to rich countries of the North, with poor countries of the South emerging continuously as losers.
- The system is not inclusive; it is based mainly on membership and participation by nation states, with civil society excluded.
- The poor and rich -- weak and strong -- are governed by same rules and provisions.
An analysis of the UN system revealed some positives:
- Some level of democracy prevails in the UN, especially at the level of the General Assembly.
- Due to the democratic functioning of the assembly, some untoward behaviour of big players like the US is sometimes contained. This explains the tendency of the US to sometimes act unilaterally to pursue its interests.
- Most of the UN agencies -- such as the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation provide for participation of civil society organisations, thereby ensuring inclusiveness.
It is noted however that at the level of the UN Security Council a lot still needs to change. In particular the composition and consensus-based operation are out of touch with requirements of sound governance. A call is hereby made for the urgent restructuring of the UN Security Council to be inclusive and democratic.
Reflections on the finance and economic institutions: IMF, WB and the WTO
The economic and finance institutions are the multilateral terrain in which most unfairnesses and brutalities of the global system are found. Both the rules and programmes bring about inequalities, unsustainable development and imbalances in the global system. The rules and programmes are famous in developing countries for engendering impoverishment, de-industrialisation, and commodification of key social services and reduced state role in society.
A fundamental review of the institutions is necessary and urgent, based on the following:
- Dissolution of the existing institutions -- WB, IMF, WTO -- and their replacement by a new single integrated institution, to the effect of a Global Economic Council.
- The new entity should be based on both nation state and regional economic blocs’ membership. Where the regional economic blocs -- e.g. NAFTA -- are not enjoying confidence of the people, they should be reconstituted properly in order to gain membership of the new multilateral structure.
- The new multilateral structure should have agencies similar to those of the UN system.
- It should be inclusive enough to provide for participation of mass civil society formations like trade unions, gender bodies, environmental formations, formations for rural communities, etc.
- It should embrace democratic practices, with no provisions for veto rights.
- It should have tribunal and other acceptable dispute resolution mechanisms.
- It should promote sustainable development and equitable sharing of benefits of the world economy.
As prelude to the shift to the new system the following should apply.
- All rules and programmes which affect developing countries negatively should be revoked. This demand must be a global campaign issue initiated immediately.
- Resources and other support must be provided for countries that suffered any negative effects of past and present rules and programmes of the existing institutions.
- The UN must constitute an inclusive interim multilateral structure for finance and economic issues until a proper one is instituted.
On the renewal of the international trade union movement
The most organised and relatively cohesive social force within the ranks of the oppressed peoples of the world is the trade union movement, yet its effectiveness in decisively shifting the global balance of power in favour of the poor and working people is nowhere near its massive political and organisational strength. Amongst other attributes for this sad state of affairs is the lack of ideological clarity, narrow focus and lack of political will by the key leading elements of the international trade union movement to confront the global ruling class effectively; by marshalling its massive energies, taking advantage of its broad space and effectively utilising its wide networks towards the goal of global economic justice and a new world order.
In many instances, the trade union movement is found guilty of collaboration, either with elements of capital or the state or other fragments of the ruling class in the further subjugation of the working class. The struggles of workers all over the world are uneven and so is their impact, owing to the uneven levels of development, relative strengths of different workers' organisations and the class orientation of its leading layers, most of who are not driven by a revolutionary outlook to the problems facing workers and the poor, but by varying degrees of reformism, opportunism, aristocratic leadership styles, materialistic careerism and bureaucratic centralism.
The history of the international trade union movement is informed by the terrain of struggle in which workers find themselves. At its emergence, the trade union movement arose from the very womb of capitalism as an attempt by workers to contest and secure their own space within the capitalist system. But through their own experience and accumulated wisdom, acquired in bitter struggles, workers began to learn that the problem is not just the excesses of capitalist exploitation, but the very capitalist system and its foundations.
In this regard, the following considerations are important in our struggle to renew the international trade union movement.
- There is an absolute need to make sure that our international linkages are not blind to the situation faced by workers in the South, and that the ``Northern perspective'' which often dominates international trade union relations is challenged and ``democratised''.
We need to ensure that in the process of making international trade unionism more effective, we lead by example, and provide support and practical solidarity to comrades in South Africa, the region and continent as part of a process of renewing our own structures.
- That every effort should be made to ensure that information and evidence of the good work of our internationals is made available to members, and that its relevance is explained and engagement with it encouraged.
- That we should use the experience and knowledge of our own union comrades who are in the leadership of the international trade union movement to strengthen the strategies we seek to develop to rebuild and strengthen the movement.
- That we should strive to ensure that our international linkages are not restricted to leadership activity, bureaucratic matters or trade union trips, but play a crucial role in strengthening worker-to-worker contact and solidarity.
- That we build alliances with progressive social and political movements around achieving key demands, and acknowledge that the crisis of capitalism that we face requires of us a greater commitment to building unity in action amongst the poor, and the oppressed and the organised working class.
- That we pledge full support to measures to build and strengthen trade union organisation across the continent and embrace the creative approaches of the new leadership of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which is placing considerable emphasis on organising at grassroots levels. We consider this to be a prerequisite to transforming trade unionism.
- That we must encourage transparency, accountability and above all, a commitment to practical action in those internationals we participate in.
- That as a progressive trade union federation, we should strive to make open and common cause with like-minded movements elsewhere, and perhaps on a platform of workers' control (involving accountability, transparency and union democracy), a commitment to fighting against all divisive elements in terms of racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia, and trade union independence. The positive experience of working within Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) confirms this approach.
- Finally that we should state that we are explicitly for a socialist alternative to neoliberalism, and for measures that empower workers by working towards the building of a vibrant, mass-based movement.
Fraternal support and calls for more solidarity with all who are still struggling against oppression
We continue to pledge full support and solidarity to all struggling and poor people all over the world, in their desire to fight for their freedom, dignity and economic justice for all. In this regard, we particularly note the following.
On Palestine – We continue to call for the intensification of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid state of Israel, which still occupies Palestinian lands and even expand colonial settlements in wars of conquest as was recently waged on Gaza. We must call for the isolation of Histadrut, Israel’s racist trade union, which supports unconditionally the occupation of Palestine and the inhumane treatment of the Arab workers in Israel. We also note the need to formally launch a cultural boycott campaign against Israel here in South Africa, which should be part of the global movement involved in that area of work.
On Zimbabwe – We note the composition of the government of national unity (GNU) and the evolving constitution-making process. However we remain fully supportive of the call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the whole civil society of Zimbabwe, for a people-driven constitution-making process that should lead to democratic elections in the country, resulting in a legitimate government being put in place. In this regard, we remain ready to work with and assist our counterparts in putting more pressure on the ruling regime to accede to people’s demands. We also note the continued harassment and persecution of political and civil society activists even under a cloud of a supposedly new and changed environment. We also support the civil society initiatives led by COSATU, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum for a conference in Botswana to assess the situation under the GNU in Zimbabwe, conditions under terrorism law in Swaziland, the transformation of SADC and the task of building a regional solidarity movement, through the effective harnessing of all the solidarity efforts towards maximum cohesion.
On Swaziland – We continue to note that there is a need for a more radical and decisive strategy to force the tinkhundla regime to release People's United Democratice Movement (PUDEMO) president Mario Masuku and unban political parties for the speedy move towards a genuinely democratic environment in the country. We also note the need to build an effective global force acting in full solidarity with the oppressed people of Swaziland, guided and led by the struggling people of Swaziland themselves and their representative organisations, particularly the democratic movement. This force shall prioritise the building and strengthening of the people’s fighting forces and seek to complement their work on the ground. Special attention must be paid to mobilising support for the people’s organisations in the form of resources and capacity, as well as their call for smart sanctions against the Mswati regime.
On Western Sahara – We note the systematic and ongoing plunder of the natural resources of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco and cooperation foreign interests. These activities are in clear breach of the international legal principles applicable to the utilisation of the natural resources of Western Sahara as a recognised non-self-governing territory under the Charter of the United Nations.
The territory of Western Sahara and its offshore areas are rich in natural resources. Phosphate reserves, including those in the BuCraa mine, are estimated to contain 1.13 billion cubic metres of phosphate rock. Areas offshore of Western Sahara’s 1200-kilometre coastline contain some of the world’s richest and most productive fisheries and, according to numerous geological surveys, the Western Saharan continental shelf is thought to have significant reserves of oil and methane gas.
call for the building of a strong and effective solidarity movement in South
Africa that raises the plight of the suffering people of Western Sahara with
the full involvement of all progressive forces in our country. In this regard,
we shall build on the already laid basis of the existing initiative working on
the issue. We call for the effective and full involvement of all alliance
partners and structures of the mass democratic movement.
On Burma – Rich in natural resources, Burma was once one of the wealthiest countries in Southeast Asia. Today, after 37 years of military rule and isolationist policies, it is one of the poorest; and it has one of the worst human rights record in the world. Burma is situated in Southeast Asia bordering Thailand, India, Laos and China. Burma was a colony of Great Britain for more than 200 years. We must intensify our work with the Burmese people and their organisations for the unconditional release of the democratically elected leader of the progressive forces, Aung Suu Kyi and for the isolation of military junta all over the world.
On Cuba – We continue to draw inspiration from the heroic achievements of the Cuban Revolution which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and are determined to learn more from their historic advances in areas of health, education, sustainable development, ecological justice and popular participation in public life and decision-making of their country. In this regard, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of the ``Cuban Five'' comrades in US jails and the ending of the embargo by the US supported by the EU. We also call for humanitarian support for the victims of the latest hurricanes in Cuba, particularly hurricane Gustuv. In this regard, we need to intensify our effective participation in the campaign in support of Cuba, including waging and sustaining an ideological engagement in defence of Cuba.
It is now one year since the worst of the xenophobic attacks took place that resulted in the deaths of at least 62 innocent working-class people.
The legacy of those fateful days has been plain to see. Despite the fact that refugee camps have come and gone, queues to obtain refugee status have remained staggeringly long, attacks on immigrants have continued unabated and in some cases have involved the police.
The crisis in Zimbabwe has continued despite the elections to force migration in search of survival and has been compounded by the outbreak of cholera, mass poverty, political instability and mass unemployment.
To date there have been no convictions for the murders and other acts of violence during the xenophobic disturbances. Despite more than 1600 arrests, only a small number of convictions have taken place in relation to theft and damage to property. No one has been charged with murder or rape despite an abundance of filmed and other forms of evidence having been assembled.
Sporadic attacks are in fact taking place in many different parts of the country, and have resulted in further deaths and serious injury. This is not helped by the actions of the police who have continued to undertake so-called ``fishing raids'' in communities, particularly where immigrant families have settled, and this has increased insecurity in those communities.
Of late there have been unhelpful statements by certain politicians and public figures about the need for especially Zimbabweans to return to their country now that some form of ``stability'’ has been restored. This however does not take into account the levels of poverty, unemployment and repression that continue to blight Zimbabwean society.
South Africa's home affairs department continues to act in an inhumane manner, and although this has been recognised by the new minister there is considerable evidence of corruption and illegal detentions in places like Lindela detention centre, a privatised facility that arranges for deportations.
A way forward
It will be important to hold a (one day) workshop of all unions as soon as possible to undertake the following:
To examine what unions have done to date to tackle xenophobia and make this information known to the broader public and our own members.
To explore how best to deepen a workers' internationalist perspective on issues related to the migration of labour, immigration and safety and security.
To share ideas for maintaining a progressive anti-xenophobia campaign that can be taken into workplaces, communities and unions.
To prepare for an effective input into affiliates’ and COSATU congresses.