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Zwelinzima Vavi: The 'root cause' of the crisis in COSATU

For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

Speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to mark the 40th anniversary of the South African Labour Bulletin

November 21, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First let me say congratulations to the South African Labour Bulletin on its remarkable achievement of 40 years of uninterrupted critical publishing. Thank you for the honour of this invitation. For 40 years you have provided a voice to the voiceless; you exposed the brutality of the capitalist system that continue to brutally exploit workers; you have created space for policy debates that shaped the policies not only of trade unions but of the liberation movement as a whole.

Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. More from the Democratic Left Front.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In December 1985, millions of oppressed and exploited in South Africa and indeed across the world celebrated the birth of a giant of the working class, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU).

Forged in struggles on factory floors, mine shafts, farms and homes of the rich across the country, the independent trade union movement became a powerful expression of the unity of the working class. COSATU embodied the principles of workers’ democracy and unity, fought for improvements in the lives of ordinary workers and played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid and for socialism.

On the eve of its 30th anniversary, COSATU’s rich legacy of independent workers’ struggles is being torn asunder. The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) by the leadership clique of COSATU threatens the very existence of the federation.

South Africa: World Bank shrugs at inequality and corporate subsidies

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's Lonmin's Bermuda-based "marketing" operations were revealed as a major source of tax avoidance.

Click for more by Patrick Bond. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa is achieving a sizable reduction in poverty and inequality through its fiscal tools" -- that was the main claim by the World Bank’s Pretoria-based country director Asad Alam last week, in the foreword to the November 2014 report, Fiscal Policy and Redistribution in an Unequal Society.

South Africa: 'I can’t defend the expulsion of NUMSA' -- COSATU general secretary

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

November 13, 2104 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured above) was absent from the COSATU media briefing on November 11, in the aftermath of the November 8 expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). In the letter below, he explains why.

* * *

Letter from COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to the COSATU affiliates and others, November 11, 2014

To: COSATU president
COSATU affiliated general secretaries
COSATU provincial secretaries

November 11, 2014

Dear Comrades

RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION

Philippines socialists: 'We are squarely behind NUMSA and the principles it is fighting for'

November 12, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

To the comrades of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA),

The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses), a socialist political party in the Philippines, sends its strongest solidarity to the comrades and leaders of NUMSA who are now fighting for the renewal of militant trade unionism and socialism in South Africa.

NUMSA was recently expelled in the Congress of South African Trade Unions federation through the maneouverings of its central executive committee. The central executive committee of COSATU supports the neoliberal program of the African National Congress government, while NUMSA does not. NUMSA has consistently opposed the neoliberal policies of the ANC government and stood for an independent trade union federation.

From the NUMSA press statement itself, we gathered that the real reason for NUMSA’s expulsion has been its consistent rejection of the ANC governmental policies which harm the interests of the workers and the South African masses.

South Africa: The political significance of NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU

NUMSA members dance at a demonstration.

By Dale McKinley, Johannesburg

November 10, 2014 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It is arguably the most important political development of South Africa’s post-1994 era. In the early hours of November 8, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), was expelled by the majority of the leadership belonging to South Africa’s largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The political significance of NUMSA’s expulsion derives from three key, inter-related areas of impact.

South Africa: NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU is 'an attack on the poor and an attack on workers'

Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What we have warned the South African workers and broader public about has come to pass. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) with its 350,000 members was expelled as an affiliate by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the early hours of Saturday morning (after 1 am), November 8, 2014, at a Special Central Executive Committee meeting (SCEC). This expulsion took place through a vote which was 33 for our expulsion and 24 against.

South Africa: 'We will continue to mobilise the working class for socialism', NUMSA's defiant response to COSATU

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary

November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are the speaking notes Jim's presentation to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee meeting to discuss the union's expulsion from the federation, on November 7, 2014. After meeting through the night, delegates voted 33-24 in favour of expelling NUMSA, South Africa's biggest trade union, the largest union in the federation and a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma's neoliberal regime.

* * *

Comrades,

I stand here as the General Secretary of the biggest affiliate of this federation, as a founding member at the Congress of 1985. I will be reminding comrades here of our common history.

South Africa: 'Labour movement is at a crossroads', nine COSATU affiliates declare

NUMSA members.

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

November 5, 2014 -- Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

By the nine COSATU affiliates

A. Our objectives

After the 11th COSATU Congress in 2012, the Federation was gripped by a paralysing ideological, political, administrative and organisational crisis. We have analysed this crisis, and at our first joint press conference, stated the following, as the basis of our common approach:

1. To explicitly clarify what the progressive forces inside COSATU are campaigning for and what they are seeking to achieve.

2. To provide a clear set of demands to serve as the basis for mobilising a majority of workers in COSATU for a decisive break with class collusion and for trade union independence.

3. To regenerate a vibrant worker controlled organisational culture in COSATU with a leadership that is committed to the highest democratic and accountable processes.

South Africa: ANC elite media meltdown reveals crony capitalist shenanigans

Click for more by Patrick Bond. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

October 30, 2014 -- Originally published at Telesur English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The biggest credibility crisis ever to hit South Africa’s independent media is unfolding. There is a serious risk that fewer than a half-dozen power-crazed corporate managers will destroy the waning integrity – and at minimum, the ownership structure – of the country’s most popular TV news station, eTV, which had aspired to become Africa’s answer to Al-Jazeera.

South Africa: NUMSA rejects ANC attempts to split COSATU, turn it against socialism

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)

October 27, 2014 -- NUMSA, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was born in 1985, the federation brought together many different trade unions with different organisational, political and administrative cultures and traditions.

From 1981, it took four long hard years to emerge from the unity talks with the establishment of the largest federation in South Africa in December 1985.

The COSATU we formed, over its 29 years of existence, has grown and been united, by the following values:

1. COSATU is an independent, fearless and democratic trade union federation: it confronted the Apartheid regime and survived! COSATU is shaped and had existed premised on the following key and core values;

a. COSATU is a revolutionary socialist federation.

b. COSATU is an anti-imperialist federation: it fights against foreign capitalist domination.

The ‘World versus Bank’ seen from South Africa

The World Bank has made the world a worse place: socially, politically, economically and environmentally.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

October 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Washington DC and 10 countries across the globe, protests on October 10 targetted the World Bank during its annual meeting. Many are asking, isn’t 70 a dignified age for institutional retirement, especially for policies and practices long considered destructive but now seemingly back in official favour?

Founded in 1944 to finance war-torn Europe’s reconstruction, the World Bank is now suffering one of its most severe credibility crises, accentuated by a new civil society campaign, "WorldVsBank". South Africa’s three largest cities host teach-ins because this country, after all, was the model "Knowledge Bank" pilot after 1990.

South Africa: Climate alarm is ringing but ANC government is failing to act! Signs nukes deal with Russia

South Africa's massive new Medupi coal-fired power plant under construction.

By Oliver Meth

September 24, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The climate alarm is ringing and until now the African National Congress (ANC) led government has failed to act.

While scientific evidence and information on climate change gets more and more overpowering every day, the government still ignores its findings – by refusing to act.

Luthuli House and the Pretoria headquarters have not been vocal on the issue.

Now, the announcement of Russia and South Africa’s nuclear deal is no surprise, as the Voice of Russia in November last year was quoted as saying a deal on nuclear power in South Africa had been struck with the government. More recently, minister of energy Tina Joematt-Pettersson said in her budget speech on July 21 that "nuclear expansion option is a central feature in our future energy mix".

Sudáfrica: “Hay que volver a reivindicar la Carta de la Libertad”

Nelson Mandela con el también acusado Ruth First (centro) y el Congreso de los demócratas apoya Rose Schlachte durante el juicio de la traición, que comenzó en 1957.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4004.]

"Esta es la tarea revolucionaria del momento: la construcción de órganos democráticos de la clase obrera, los sindicatos, el movimiento cívico y un partido revolucionario de vanguardia socialista para derrotar al capitalismo colonial y racista sudafricano" -- Irvin Jim.

21/09/2014 -- Sinpermiso -- Irvin Jim, secretario general del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), leyó el siguiente texto en la 12ª Conferencia Anual en memoria de Ruth First (1), en la Universidad de Witswatersrand de Johannesburgo. Puedo decir simplemente: Señoras y señores, compañeros y amigos reunidos en esta 12 Conferencia Conmemorativa de Ruth.

Por favor, permítanme agradecer a la Universidad de Witwatersrand por su enorme coraje al invitar a un humilde dirigente iletrado de un sindicato negro para pronunciar la 12 ª Conferencia en memoria de Ruth First. Gracias, muchas gracias.

South Africa: Workers need to speak with 'one voice', but whose voice?

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

September 14, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  The labour movement is coming under increasing pressure as the global economic crisis continues to bite. On the South African front the pressure is growing as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) labour federation fails to deal with the internal divisions that threaten to tear the federation apart. Or at least further fragment the country’s largest union organisation.

This much has been admitted by COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. He noted in August that “unions are in a state of paralysis”. Addressing the Food and Allied Workers’ Union congress in Johannesburg he said that “workers’ issues are being sidelined even by COSATU itself”. And it is the unions themselves that should sort these matters out.

Neue Befreiungskräfte debattieren die Zukunft eines post-Apartheid-Südafrika

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4015.]

Federico Fuentes

27. August 2014 -- Einartysken -- Etwa 30 Gäste aus der ganzen Welt und 120 Ordnungskräfte der Nationalen Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter Südafrikas (NUMSA) trafen vom 7. - 10. August in Johannisburg zusammen, um die Aussichten und Herausforderungen des Aufbaus einer neuen linken politischen Alternative zur Herrschft des African National Congress (ANC), die Partei des verstorbenen Nationalhelden Nelson Mandela zu diskutieren.

Dieser Aufruf der größten Gewerkschaft des Landes mit über 400 000 Mitgliedern hat Widerhall in der gesamten Arbeiterklasse gefunden und manche in den Medien zur Aussage veranlasst, diesen Prozess als Möglichkeit zu sehen, "die Geburt einer Arbeiterpartei hervorzurufen, die am Ende [die ANC] herausfordern könnte".

NUMSAs Herausforderung des etablierten status quo hat auch die vielen Gefahren beleuchtet, die ihr bevorstehen, was drastisch durch den Mord an drei Ordnungskräften am Vorabend des Symposiums illustriert wurde.

Post-Apartheid Südafrika

Dass der Aufruf der NUMSA so viel Aufmerksamkeit erhalten hat, kann durch die Realität der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft zwanzig Jahre nach dem Fall der Apartheid erklärt werden.

South Africa: Two years on, Marikana massacre still reverberates

Dead miners massacred by police outside the Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg, August 16, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

By Federico Fuentes, Johannesburg

August 29, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- On August 16, activities were held across South Africa to mark the second anniversary of the Marikana massacre in which 34 striking mineworkers were slain by state security forces.

The killings occurred one week into a strike over pay by several thousand rock drill operators at the Lonmin-operated platinum mine in Marikana. Despite the massacre, workers remained on strike and a month later won a settlement that went a substantial way towards meeting their initial pay claim.

South Africa: New liberation forces debate post-apartheid future

Striking NUMSA members, July 2014.

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Federico Fuentes, Johannesburg

August 23, 2014 -- A version of this article was first published at TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Around 30 guests from across the globe and 120 shop stewards from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met August 7-10, 2014, in Johannesburg to discuss the prospects and challenges of building a new, left political alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party of deceased national hero Nelson Mandela.

South Africa: 'Return to the Freedom Charter'! -- NUMSA leader Irvin Jim's Ruth First Memorial Lecture

Nelson Mandela with fellow accused Ruth First (centre) and Congress of Democrats supporter Rose Schlachte during the Treason Trial, which began in 1957.

“The revolutionary task of the moment: building democratic organs of the working class, trade unions, the civic movement and a revolutionary socialist vanguard party to defeat South African colonial and racist capitalism.” -- Irvin Jim.

August 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), presented the 12th annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, in memory of the revolutionary activist who was assassinated by the apartheid regime in 1982.

* * *

May I simply say: Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends gathered at this 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.

Please allow me to thank the University of the Witwatersrand for taking a very brave and big risk: inviting a humble, unlettered leader of a black trade union to give the 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.

We thank you, very much.

South Africa: James Kilgore on 'returning to where the heart is'

James Kilgore.
[Editorial note: This essay was the winner of the Daniel Singer Prize for 2013. Kilgore lived in South Africa from 1991-2002. During that time he was a fugitive from US justice -- arising from activities as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army -- living under the pseudonym “John Pape”. He worked as an educator and researcher for trade unions and social movements. In 2002 he was arrested in Cape Town, then extradited to the United States where he served six and a half years in prison. Following his release he has campaigned for prison reform and has written a number of novels. In July 2012 he returned to South Africa for the first time since his arrest. Here he presents his reflections on the journey.]

By James Kilgore

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