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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

South Africa: Historic win for striking platinum miners (+ video report)

June 25, 2014 -- Real News Network -- Patrick Bond provides an update on platinum miners' strike in South Africa is Patrick Bond. Patrick Bond is the director of the Centre for Civil Society and a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Bond is also the author of the book, South Africa: The Present as History and Elite Transition.

By Gillian Schutte and Sipho Singiswa

June 25, 2014 -- SACIS -- The stadium in Phokeng outside Rustenberg exploded in jubilation when the end of the longest strike in South African history was announced on June 23. Men and women waved their arms victoriously in the air and resounding ululations and cheering reverberated as a great burden of domestic hardship lifted. Workers had changed history.

They had valiantly resisted the dogged state and corporate attempt to smash their strike despite the personal hardships that they had to endure to reach this point. It was they who dealt a blow to capital because it was they who held out determinedly and who accumulated five months of unpaid accounts, became black listed, kept their kids out of schools through necessity and went without food. They are indeed, the central heroes in this story.

South Africa: 'Labour and community in transition: Alliances for public services'

By Dale McKinley

June 26, 2014 -- Municipal Service Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- This paper critically analyses the context and practical experience of labour-community alliances to oppose privatisation and promote public services, as they have evolved in South Africa since 1994.

While 1980s South Africa was rich in such broad and politically independent alliances against the oppressive apartheid system and the ravages of neoliberal capitalism, following the 1994 democratic transition the labour movement largely embraced the neoliberal corporatism promoted by the African National Congress-run state, which increased the social distance between employed workers and poor communities.

Consistent attempts to repress community-led dissent in response to the political and socio-economic failures of the "new" democracy, and the resulting delegitimisation of community struggles related to the nature of public institutions and delivery of public services, undermined further the bases for unity.

The real story of South Africa's national election

For more on South African politics, click HERE.

By Dale McKinley

May 11, 2014 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- No sooner had the final results of the just concluded 2014 national elections been announced than President Jacob Zuma gave a predictably self-congratulatory speech lauding the result as “the will of all the people”. The reality however is that the African National Congress’ victory came from a distinct minority of “the people”. The real "winner", as has been the case since the 2004 elections, was the stay-away "vote".

Since South Africa’s first-ever democratic election in 1994, the hard facts are that there has been a directly proportionate relationship between the overall decline in support for the ANC and the rise of the stay-away "vote". A quick look at the relevant percentages/numbers from each election confirms the reality.

1994: Of the 23,063,910 eligible voters, 85.53 per cent (19,726,610) voted while the remaining 14.47 per cent (3,337,300) stayed away. The ANC received support from 53,01 per cent (12,237,655) of the eligible voting population.

South Africa: 20 years on, ‘very good story’ of ANC ‘social democracy’ needs tough questioning

South Africa experiences thousands of strikes, protests and confrontations annually with a police force willing to take extraordinary steps to defend capital’s property rights.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

April 27, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two decades ago, liberation was won in South Africa. In two weeks, the May 7 election will confirm the popularity of the African National Congress (ANC) with a landslide victory.

South Africa: Ronnie Kasrils calls for 'no vote' for African National Congress

Former ministers Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and Ronnie Kasrils at the media launch of the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake Up! We are Fed Up!) Vote No! campaign at Wits University. Photo by Antoine de Ras.

For more on South Africa, click HERE.

April 21, 2014 -- Former leading member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and former government minister Ronnie Kasrils, together with another former minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has launched the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake up! We are fed up!) Vote No! campaign. It calls on South Africans to "vote no" at the May 7, 2014, general election to the corruption and neoliberal economic policies of the African National Congress (ANC) and the right-wing oppostion, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Kasrils' call has provoked widespread debate on the South African left and condemnation from the SACP and the ANC.

Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes an article by Kasrils on the reasons behind the campaign, as well as some commentary from the left.

* * *

By Ronnie Kasrils

South Africa: 'Challenge the neoliberal ANC government and its capitalist allies'

Striking platinum workers, January 30, 2014.

'We are looking forward to the mass workers party to challenge the neoliberal ANC government and its capitalist allies'

Statement of the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

April 2, 2014 -- On the eve of the May 2014 national elections the Democratic Left Front held its second conference since its formation in 2011 at Stay City in Berea, Johannesburg, from March 27-30, 2014.

One hundred and forty delegates representing a number of important popular movements, independent trade unions, women, youth, socialist and environmental organisations from around the country met and were decisive in embracing the NUMSA break with the Tripartite [[African National Congress, Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African Communist Party] Alliance and the building of a mass united front and a movement for socialism. We believe that this represents the most significant opportunity for placing democratic, left socialist politics at the centre of our country’s political system.

Suddenly politics has become interesting. The dominance of the ANC’s exhausted nationalism and the [opposition] Democratic Alliance’s [the former apartheid parties] regurgitation of big-business interests will be decisively challenged and, we have no doubt, defeated. Tweedledee and Tweedledummer will meet their match.

South Africa: Irvin Jim (NUMSA) on new working-class leadership and prospects for socialist politics

In three parts.

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

Presentation by Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa; chaired by John S. Saul.

March 6, 2014 -- Left Streamed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The dramatic upsurge of popular grass-roots protest in South Africa's townships and rural areas in recent years has marked a “rebellion of the poor” in that country. The working-class itself has also been assertive, prompting the African National Congress administered state's horrific massacre of dissident mineworkers at Marikana in 2012.

Until recently, leading trade unions have confined been within the tripartite governing coalition of the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country's largest trade union federation.

South Africa: Workers' guide to the crisis in COSATU; Reply to Jeremy Cronin

Tens of thousands of workers across South Africa responded to the call from NUMSA for a general strike on March 19, 2014, against neoliberal government policies.

Break the paralysis of COSATU!

Why the attacks on Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi and NUMSA will fail!

Our call for a special COSATU national congress

[Posted March 20, 2014 at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal]

Statement by the nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary

Almost 29 years ago at the height of mass struggles by workers, youth, women, students and communities, despite repression, detention without trial, a state of emergency, killings and assassinations of activists and leaders, the workers of South Africa declared; “A giant is born”. And so the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), by the blood, sacrifices and sweat of many generations before it, was launched.

How did the giant help to defeat apartheid?

South Africa: NUMSA to hold socialist conferences across the country; critical election looming

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

By Terry Bell

March 6, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite media claims to the contrary there is no move by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) to start a political party. What the union plans to organise is a series of “socialist consultative conferences” in the nine provinces of South Africa— and this is in line with a 21-year-old Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decision that has apparently never been rescinded.

The jargon used at the NUMSA press conference at which general secretary Irvin Jim referred to the establishment of a united front or movement that may in future contest elections was the probably cause of media confusion. Neither a movement nor the more formal united front is a political party in the traditional sense. Both are groupings of individuals and organisations that share broadly common aims.

South Africa: 'Leadership faction wants COSATU to be a toothless giant', declare nine affiliates

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

Statement by nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary

February 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The outcome of the special central executive council (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) that was shunned by those affiliates who had formally called for a Special National Congress has confirmed our worst fears.

The current leadership faction that currently controls the boardroom manipulated the quorum, the agenda and the discussion to reach outcomes that have nothing to do with protecting the rights of workers or their organisations. It is clear that this faction is prepared to sacrifice COSATU and turn it into a toothless giant in order to please its political masters. We cannot and will not allow this to happen without a determined struggle and we believe that we have the support of the majority of COSATU workers.

South Africa: 'ANC in lucrative alliance with international capital', says NUMSA's Irvin Jim

Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary.

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

Presentation by Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at the Cape Town Press Club

February 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December 2013 – the parliament we called the NUMSA Special National Congress. In that parliament there was vigorous debate. Every delegate knew that they would have to account to their constituency. We are justifiably proud of our democratic heritage. We know that what we decided has the backing of our members. We don’t have to change decisions after the congress has spoken, as some do, even though there are those who would urge us to “come to our senses” and take NUMSA in another direction from the decisions of that Congress.

South Africa: Nine COSATU unions call for Zwelinzima Vavi's reinstatement

Zwelinzima Vavi.

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

January 29, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This press conference has been called to explain why the nine Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliated unions have taken the unprecedented step of coming together in an attempt to rescue and regenerate COSATU.

Our main and overriding purpose is to work openly towards freeing COSATU from its current state of organisational and political paralysis, for it to become once again a vibrant, independent, progressive worker-controlled federation. The working class at this critical time demands nothing less!

What crisis in COSATU?

We hold the view that COSATU is in deep crisis, and denying the scale and extent of the crisis makes matters worse. A review of what COSATU was supposed to implement following its 2012 congress reveals an organisation unable to move forward on any significant area, and especially in relation to economic and social matters. Meanwhile millions of our people continue to face unemployment, poverty and worsening inequality.

Forging a new movement: NUMSA and the shift in South Africa's politics

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

By Leonard Gentle

January 28, 2014 -- SACSIS -- The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the African National Congress (ANC) has received poor analysis. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019 or whether all this means that suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back.

The greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, rather than the line up to the right is being missed.

Klassenapartheid: Die Wirtschaftspolitik der Mandela-Ära war geprägt von Zugeständnissen an das »big business«

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3620.]

Von Patrick Bond

Analyse & Kritik -- Die Welt trauert um Nelson Mandela, der am 5. Dezember 2013 im Alter von 95 Jahren starb. Wie hat Mandela Südafrika verändert? Und wie viel politischen Spielraum hatte er dabei überhaupt? Südafrika taumelt heute von Krise zu Krise, weshalb sich viele nach Mandelas Regierungszeit zurücksehnen. Diese habe sich grundsätzlich unterschieden vom jetzigen kumpel-kapitalistischen, durch und durch korrupten, auf einer brutalen Sicherheitspolitik beruhenden Regime – so lautet der Tenor. Doch vielleicht wurde die Saat des heutigen politischen Übels schon früher gesät?

Democratic Left Front: Together, a new South Africa is possible

Democratic Left Front salutes the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa special national congress

By the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

December 23, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is a spectre haunting the ruling class and government in South Africa: it is the radical anti-capitalist movement that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has given birth to at its historic special national congress held last week. The Democratic Left Front (DLF) congratulates NUMSA for this congress that united metalworkers in spite of the sustained attempts to divide NUMSA.

South Africa: NUMSA calls for new movement for socialism, end to ANC alliance

Delegates to NUMSA's special congress greet suspended COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (centre).

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

Declaration of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) Special National Congress, held in Boksburg, December 17-20, 2013. This document had been abridged.

This and other congress documents are available in full at http://www.numsa.org.za.

* * *

1. Introduction

NUMSA’s Special National Congress convened from December 17 to December 20, 2013. It was attended by 1200 delegates representing 338,000 metalworkers from 50 Locals throughout the provinces of South Africa. NUMSA was proud to announce in the congress that it is the biggest union in the history of the African continent. In the last 17 months, since our 9th Congress in Durban, we have grown from 300,000 members to 338,000 members. We are ahead of schedule in our goal to organise 400,000 workers by the time of our 10th Congress in 2016.

2. The passing of Madiba

'I am no messiah': Mandela and the dangers of deification

'Farewell to an icon', by Zapiro.

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

December 13, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As everyone from monarchs to the labouring masses this week sought to share in the Mandela memorial moment, the myth machine went into overdrive, the very machine Mandela had so disparaged when I sat with him in his Johannesburg office in 1992. One sentence he uttered then has resonated with me throughout the years: “I am no messiah.”

The virtual deification of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would almost certainly have been anathema to the man. Especially since it has been peppered with hypocrisy in the laudatory comments by the likes of President Robert Mugabe, and the statements by, and selection of, some of the VIP delegations to his memorial and funeral.

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