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South Africa: 'The conflict in COSATU is about its political direction'

Zwelinzima Vavi.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

July 29, 2013

1. Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi [secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU] has handed his opponents a Samurai sword to behead him. Allegations of rape and extra-marital sex* with a junior employee are serious. These allegations have to be investigated regardless of our strong suspicions that they are being used by supporters of the [Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa and on the ruling African National Congress,] faction in COSATU to get rid of a hated independently minded critic of government policy. The workers’ movement must be seen to always act in defence of women particularly in South Africa where the violence, abuse and rape of women is completely out of hand.

2. Vavi's opponents are trying to bring charges of financial impropriety and political misleadership against him. This is because he has been outspoken against the Zuma government’s continuity with neoliberalism, corruption and cronyism. He has also been a critic of South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande for sacrificing the SACP’s independence. He has also angered the party elite by working more closely with civil society formations.

Exclusive excerpt: 'Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid' (Monthly Review Press)

The following is an excerpt from Alan Wieder's new book, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE.

You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below. Nadine Gordimer's foreword is available at HERE.

July 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ruth First and Joe Slovo, husband and wife, were leaders of the war to end apartheid in South Africa. Communists, scholars, parents, and uncompromising militants, they were the perfect enemies for the white police state. Together they were swept up in the growing resistance to apartheid, and together they experienced repression and exile.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: the myths and the man

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 28, 2013 -- Bulletin & Record, Zambia and Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It was all quite predictable, I suppose, that when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was rushed to hospital for the fourth time in almost as many months, the media would flock, much like vultures around an expiring stag, to take up positions outside the hospital. That they would be joined by prayerfull well wishers and others was also inevitable, as was the massive media outpouring that probably exhausted almost every aspect of the equally inevitable obituaries to come.

One Scandinavian news editor at least had the presence of mind to adopt a slightly different tack: he instructed his Africa correspondent to try to establish who would “carry forward the legacy of Mandela”. Of course, this begs the essential question: what is the Mandela legacy? Where does reality end and myth begin? However, the news editor was reacting to the myth, to the idea of the saintly reconciliator, the virtual demi-god who had spent 27 years in prison before emerging to stride confidently into the spotlight of the world’s media.

South Africa: ANC sees 'Swedes and Irish' behind miners' anger; Solidarity forces ANC back-down

Liv Shange returns to South Africa, July 14, 2013.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 27, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- According to African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe those responsible for “the anarchy that is happening in the platinum industry” are the “Swedes and Irish”. It was a comment that left many commentators dumbstruck.

Citizens of Sweden and Ireland seemed a rather strange choice as scapegoats to take the place of the former “counter revolutionaries” of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). But AMCU, certainly over the past week or two, no longer fits the scapegoat bill: the ANC has stated that that earlier pro-National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and anti-AMCU comments by prominent ANC figures have been “resolved”; that AMCU and NUM are now regarded equally.

But why the use of “Swedes and Irish”? Some commentators saw in this parallels with the apartheid government’s claims of “foreign agitators” and “white communists” being behind the mass uprisings against their regime.

Ordinary Brazilians foot the FIFA bill -- some lessons from South Africa

[For more on Brazil, click HERE. For more on the soccer World Cup, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last fortnight, Brazil’s millions of street protesters in 80 cities supporting the Free Fare Movement have declared how fed up they are with making multiple sacrifices to neoliberalism as revitalised by one Sepp Blatter, the Swiss emperor of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). While right-wing opportunists have been involved in some of the recent protests, the core grievances are apparently those of the left and of the disaffected youth.

South Africa: Since 1994, a massive wealth shift from already poor to the 'uber-rich'

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

May 13, 2013 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- If capital is to be believed, it is the worker who is the main source of our contemporary social and economic problems.

Every time the annual South African season of wage negotiations is about to begin, as it is now, representatives of capital unleash a tsunami of propaganda about workers’ "high and unaffordable" wage demands. Dire warnings of destructive social unrest/conflict, high inflation rates, poor competitiveness and generalised economic devastation roll off their silver-lined tongues. The underlying message is neither subtle nor sanguine: wage demands of workers are to blame for just about everything bad that is happening in our society.

Swaziland: South Africa's high commissioner rejects democratic transformation

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Joint statement

May 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the new South African High Commissioner to Swaziland, His Excellency Happy Mahlangu, presented his credentials to King Mswati, the Swazi Observer on May 3 reported him as saying:

I further wish to make use of this opportunity to express South Africa's best wishes to Your Majesty and the people of Swaziland for success during the forthcoming elections. I also want to assure you of South Africa's support regarding the Swaziland elections.

To make matters worse, here is what "His Excellency" had to say in the May 13 Swazi Times:

South Africa: Pro-government faction attacks COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi is under attack for being too critical and independent of the ANC government.

By Benjamin Fogel

April 12, 2013 -- Amandla!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal with the author's permission -- the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is in the midst of the biggest crisis in its 27-year history. This crisis has arisen from a South African Communist Party (SACP)-driven attempt to oust democratically elected COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, under the guise of corruption charges. The conflict's roots are in longstanding political contradictions and ideological tensions between COSATU and its Alliance partners – the ruling African National Congress and the SACP. At stake is not only the leadership of COSATU, but its political and moral direction.

COSATU sources reveal that the anti-Vavi faction is an alliance between the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and elements of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). COSATU president Sidomu Dlamini leads this faction, which is in all likelihood driven by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe.

South Africa: Chris Hani would be angry at ANC 'adopting our class opponents' policies'

By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

April 10, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 10, 1993, the serving general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) and popular leader Comrade Chris Hani was gunned down by Janusz Walus outside his home in New Dawn Park, Boksburg.

On the very same day then ANC President Nelson Mandela addressed the nation on national television, and had this to say; “The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. Our grief and anger is tearing us apart. What has happened is a national tragedy that has touched millions of people, across the political and colour divide… Our decisions and actions will determine whether we use our pain, our grief and our outrage to move forward to what is the only solution for our country -- an elected government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

From Bangui to BRICS: If you carve Africa, Africa may carve you too

South African troops in the Central African Republic.

[See also "South Africa: brics-from-below!" For more on BRICS click HERE. For more articles by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife, Durban

March 27, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The reach of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) leaders far into the African continent was palpable this week, not just here in Durban where they are gathering to plan investments and infrastructure, but everywhere up-continent where extraction does extreme damage.

BRICS: ‘Anti-imperialist’ or ‘sub-imperialist’?

South African President Jacob Zuma and friend.

[See also "South Africa: brics-from-below!" For more on BRICS click HERE. For more articles by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond

March 20, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “We reaffirm the character of the ANC as a disciplined force of the left, a multi-class mass movement and an internationalist movement with an anti-imperialist outlook” -- so said Jacob Zuma, orating to his masses at the year’s largest African National Congress celebration, in Durban on January 12, 2013.[1]

South Africa: brics-from-below! Civil society gathering during the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit

Whose turn to carve?

March 18, 2013 -- In Durban, South Africa, five heads of state meet on March 26-27, 2013, to assure the rest of Africa that their countries’ corporations are better investors in infrastructure, mining, oil and agriculture than the traditional European and US multinationals. The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit will also include 16 heads of state from Africa, including some notorious tyrants. A new $50 billion bank will probably be launched.

African solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution and tributes to Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez's funeral, March 8, 2013.

[Below are statements issued by left and progressive organisations in Africa. More will be posted as they come to hand.]

* * *

Taking forward the revolutionary life and symbolism of hugo Rafael Chavez Frias

March 10, 2013 -- The Democratic Left Front (DLF) of South Africa joins the millions of poor and working people and their mass movements in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Latin America and across the world who celebrate the revolutionary and emancipatory life and symbolism of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. Since his tragic passing away on March 5, our hearts have drawn inspiration and courage from his example and symbolism.

As the 9 million people who attended his funeral on March 8 showed, Chavez represented and personified immense hope and possibility: hope for the wretched of the Earth, hope and faith in the ability of the mass of exploited and oppressed people to self-organise and challenge inordinate power relations in society, and thereby be their own liberators, and realistic hope in the possibility of constructing a socialist alternative to the barbarism of capitalism.

South Africa: Inauspicious start to the ANC’s year; COSATU needs to get back to first principles

Patrick Bond, director of the Center for Civil Society and professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, was interviewed by the Real News Network on February 14, 2013. Bond discussed the "resource curse" and the influence of the mining corporations on the ruling African National Congress, in particular the role of former anti-apartheid activist, now mining magnate, Cyril Ramaphosa. A full transcript is available HERE.

By Terry Bell

South Africa: ANC endorses 'boycott Israel' campaign

By Ali Abunimah

December 21, 2012 -- Electronic Intifada -- For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, today made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel part of its official policy.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa said the decision “by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign”.

In a press release, BDS South Africa explained: "In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

"Today, Lindiwe Zulu announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement .... Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

South Africa: Harvesting discontent -- farmworkers rebel; Stop rural slavery! Respect the farmworkers!

This elderly couple has been forced to live for years in this former outhouse (toilet) on a farm near Rawsonville. The husband worked on the farm for approximately 20 years until 2010, when he stopped working due to ill health. ©2011 Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch.

By Mercia Andrews

January 13, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The protests and mobilisation that started in the small town of De Doorns on November 6, 2012, galvanised the anger of farm dwellers against decades of discontent at extreme exploitation and oppression that persist on farms, in rural towns and South Africa's agricultural sector.

South Africa: Politics, profits and policing after the Marikana Massacre

Lover of fast cars, vintage wine, trout fishing and game farming and the second richest black businessperson in South Africa (global financial publication Forbes puts his wealth at $675 million or £416 million), Cyril Ramaphosa (left) celebrates his election as deputy president of the ANC with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa demanded that police break the Marikana mineworkers' strike; police massacred 34 minerworkers and wounded 78 others.

By Patrick Bond

December 20, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the official judicial investigating commission into the Marikana Massacre draws to a close in 2012, with many weeks of testimony in 2013 still ahead, what did the South African Police Service (SAPS) learn from their behaviour?

SAPS Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi – who heads "public order policing" and hence control of demonstrations – was asked this by commission chair Ian Farlam last week, and judging by his four answers, the SAPS has not begun to grasp the reality of the crime they committed on August 16, 2012:

South Africa: Treatment Action Campaign turns 14

For more on the Treatment Action Campaign, click HERE.

December 10, 2012 -- TAC Electronic newsletter -- The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was launched on December 10, 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. TAC turns 14 years old on international human rights day. This birthday comes at a time where many celebrate the good progress made with regards to expanded access to antiretrovirus medicines (ARVs), but its not yet uhuru [liberation]. This does not mean the war against HIV and AIDS is over as many of us tend to forget where we come from and much focus is still needed on the road ahead. Many global leaders have started to reverse their commitment to see this struggle through and get to the zero-infection, zero-deaths and zero-discrimination target.

TAC campaigns for the realisation of the right to health including socioeconomic rights and the right to equality for poor people. Our main focus is the right to access quality health care that includes access to life-saving HIV treatment enshrined in the South Africa constitution. Between 1998 to 2012 TAC has created a profile as an organisation that fights for the realisation of the right to health for poor people living with HIV.

South Africa: The tortuous road from 1996 to Mangaung

By Terry Bell

December 13, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The tortuous road to the governing African National Congress' (ANC) centennial conference at Mangaung ends next week. And, not to put too fine a point on it, much of the country is gatvol [fed up] with the route it has taken and where it has arrived.

Potholed with corruption, meandering in no fixed direction to the profit of cronies, and riddled with damaging scandal, it should long ago have been resurfaced, rebuilt and given a clear destination. But it has remained in place as a national project and, in the process, has pushed into the background the ongoing — and often more subtle — unethical dealings outside of government circles.

In recent years and despite occasional grumbles, the country’s major trade union federation, the congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU), has continued to stumble along that road, praising its supposed promise. The federation was committed to it, especially after declaring, at its congress in 2006, that a “Zuma tsunami” would cure the ills on the road ahead. In the event, the leapfrogghing into power of President Jacob Zuma has proved even more destructive.

The commodification of crap and South Africa’s toilet apartheid

By Patrick Bond, Durban

December 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The December 3-6, 2012, World Toilet Summit offers an opportunity to contemplate how we curate our crap. Increasingly the calculus seems to be cash, generating contradictions ranging from local to global scales, across race, gender, generation and geography. Nowhere are they more evident than in the host city, my hometown of Durban. We’ve suffered an 18-year era of neoliberal-nationalist malgovernance including toilet apartheid, in the wake of more than 150 years of colonialism and straight racial-apartheid.

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