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Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle

Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa, on February 11, 1990. That historic victory was the product of the long and courageous struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa. It was also a victory for the international movement against apartheid. Revolutionary Cuba played a vital role in the international movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as the following article describes. (See also "Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom".)

* * *

By Nicole Sarmiento

January 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Cuba's relations with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s, and shortly after the triumph of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front (Gleijeses, 1996a). Che Guevara's trip around the African continent in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba's relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

What is 'left' about 'the left' in South Africa?

There was uproar over SACP general secretary and government minister Blade Nzimande's 1.2 million rand luxury BMW. Cartoon by Zapiro. For more Zapiro cartoons, please visit http://www.zapiro.com.

By Dale T. McKinley

November 5, 2009 -- For several years now, but particularly since the ascendancy of Jacob Zuma and his South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) allies within both the African National Congress (ANC) and the state, ``the left'' in South Africa has come to be almost completely associated with (and presented as) the SACP, COSATU and, to a lesser extent, the ANC itself. Even though this state of affairs ignores a wide range of organisations and people that can stake a serious claim to being part of ``the left'', the fact is that contemporary politics in South Africa are dominated, in one way or another, by these three alliance partners. As such, it is a good time to pose a critically important question: What is ``left'' about ``the left'' in South Africa?

South Africa: Time for a new democratic left party?

Mazibuko Jara.

By Mazibuko K. Jara

October 30, 2009 -- Our country is in crisis. There is deepening inequality, many people live in permanent poverty and millions are unemployed for most of their adult lives. Women continue to suffer from social oppression, violence and poverty. The very ecological and biophysical conditions for our human existence are under threat.

Retrogressive ideologies in our society are gaining ground: we are going back to ethnic identity, we have retrogressive notions of womanhood, we have seen the rise in the power of undemocratic rule of unelected chiefs. The state is dysfunctional, corrupt and fraudulent. The state seems unwilling to confront the economic system that produces all these crises. Together, none of these socioeconomic problems can be addressed by a South Africa that reproduces capitalism. These problems require solutions that go beyond capitalist accumulation.

Is it correct to regard the Jacob Zuma-led African National Congress (ANC) as left? Whilst the Zuma-led ANC is much friendlier to the left than Thabo Mbeki's, neoliberal capitalism survives in South Africa.

South Africa: Democracy’s everyday death -- the ANC's coup in Kennedy Road; Shack dwellers: `Our movement is under attack!'

Protest in iRhini against attacks on Kennedy Road shack dwellers.

By Nigel Gibson and Raj Patel

October 8, 2009 -- Pambazuka News -- You don’t need presidential palaces, or generals riding in tanks, or even the CIA to make a coup happen. Democracy can be overthrown with far less pomp, fewer props and smaller bursts of state violence. But these quieter coups are no less deadly for democracy.

At the end of September 2009, just such a coup took place in South Africa. It wasn’t the kind involving parliament or the inept and corrupt head of the African National Congress (ANC) Jacob Zuma. Quite the opposite. It involved a genuinely democratic and respected social movement, the freely elected governing committee of the shack settlement at Kennedy Road in Durban. And this peaceful democracy was overthrown by the South African government.

South Africa: `The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road' shack settlement

A statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo president S'bu Zikode. S'bu and his family have been living as refugees since the September 26-27 violence by the African National Congress targeting Abahlali leaders at Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban, South Africa. He appeals for continued support for the Shack Dwellers Movement in these dire times of government repression and lies. It can be said without exaggeration that the so-called democratic government of South Africa is attempting to silence and disband the country's largest social movement of the poor. 

By Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement)

`Amanzi Ngawethu' (water is ours); Health and environmental victories for South African activists

On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.

Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.

The crisis of the left in contemporary South Africa

Shack dwellers protest in Durban.

By Dale T. McKinley

The ideological, political, organisational and socioeconomic realities of contemporary South Africa do not paint a flattering picture for the left:

South Africa: At the end of the wage

By Dale T. McKinley and Ahmed Veriava, Johannesburg

“I'm collecting a register for the indigent people and I had 37,000 applications from Emfuleni only. Each and every day I come across children who are left in their homes -- the parents are deceased -- they are hungry. When I knock at the door, I say how you are surviving and they say we have been hungry for three days, we haven't got food. You wouldn't think it's a reality in an urban area like this but it is a reality. People are unemployed, a lot of people are unemployed.”

-- Priscilla Ramagale-Ramakau, government social worker in Sebokeng

July 5, 2009 -- It wasn't always this way for Sebokeng, one of the older urban ``townships'' in South Africa, a place synonymous with the early settlement and subsequent massive growth of the black industrial working class.

South Africa: Political balance shifts left -- though not enough to quell grassroots' anger

South African doctors on strike on May 29, 2009.

By Patrick Bond

June 13, 2009 -- With high-volume class strife heard in the rumbling of wage demands and the friction of township ``service delivery'' protests, rhetorical and real conflicts are bursting open in every nook and cranny of South Africa. The big splits in society are clearer now. Distracting internecine rivalries within the main left bloc have subsided. From 2005-09, the ruling African National Congress' huge wedge between camps allied to Thabo Mbeki and to the new president, Jacob Zuma, cleaved the ANC in two, but Zuma's troops have mostly flushed out the former's from the state and party.

So the bigger story now is the deep-rooted economic crisis. Government fiddling at the margins with Keynesian policies is not having any discernable impact. A lower interest rate -- down 4.5% from last year's peak (to around 10% prime with around 8% inflation) -- and a probable 5% state deficit/GDP ratio (last year's was a 0.5% surplus) are not nearly enough tinkering to stave off a serious depression.

South African election: Zuma elite will maintain ANC's pro-capitalist course

Jacob Zuma (right) will maintain Thabo Mbeki's course.

By John Appolis and Dale McKinley, for the Anti-Privatisation Forum

April 16, 2009 -- We are now in a world radically different from what it was a mere four months ago. The world economy is collapsing, torn apart by an economic recession. Thousands of workers are being thrown out of work; millions find themselves hungry in the midst of plenty of food; millions are homeless in the midst of houses being repossessed and standing empty. Factories that once produced bricks and cement are standing idle when millions require shelter. Neoliberal capitalism has over the past 30 years inflicted untold misery onto the world's poor whilst simultaneously making a very small minority filthy rich.

South Africa: A critique of the ANC and COPE election manifestos

Neither the ANC or COPE offer answers for South Africa's poor.

On April 22, 2009, South African voters go to the polls to elect a new national government. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) government will be opposed by a new split-away group, the Congress of the People (COPE), led by former ANC leaders opposed to the current ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Below, the Anti-Privatisation Forum's Dale McKinley assesses their policies.

South Africa's new opposition party: Face to face with `Terror'

The following was presented by social movement activist Ashwin Desai as part of t

South Africa’s ANC: things fall apart

BY Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

November 15, 2008 -- At some point in the not-too-distant future, we might just look back at 2008 as the year in which things really started to fall apart for the African National Congress (ANC).

Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which has enjoyed overwhelming political hegemony and electoral success since South Africa’s democratic breakthrough in 1994, is in deep trouble.

Crucially, this is not mainly as a result of the more recent domestic manifestations of the ever-widening crisis of capitalism nor of any kind of immediate threat to its 18-year hold on political power.

It is rather more simple — the “big happy family” whose members range from crypto-communists to die-hard capitalists, from ethno-nationalist chauvinists to cosmopolitan liberals — is beginning to break apart because there remains little to hold the heterogeneous clan together anymore.

New African resistance from below to global finance

By Patrick Bond

October 25, 2008 -- A far-reaching strategic debate is underway about how to respond to the global financial crisis, and indeed how the North's problems can be tied into a broader critique of capitalism.

The 2008 world financial meltdown has its roots in the neoliberal export-model (dominant in Africa since the 1981 World Bank Berg Report and onset of structural adjustment during the early 1980s) and even more deeply, in 35 years of world capitalist stagnation/volatility. Africa has always suffered a disproportionate share of pressure from the world economy, especially in the sphere of debt and financial outflows. But for those African countries which made themselves excessively vulnerable to global financial flows during the neoliberal era, the meltdown had a severe, adverse impact.

South African Communist Party on capitalist economic crisis, right-wing split in the ANC

NUMSA members

Speech to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) 8th national congress by Blade Nzimande, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary

October 14, 2008 -- The SACP wishes to express its appreciation for the invitation to come and address this august body, the 8th national congress of this giant affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Your congress is taking place at very crucial domestic and international conjunctures which though may seem distinct but are deeply interrelated developments: the global crisis of finance capital and the splinter group from the African National Congress (ANC). I say these are related because we are part of a global capitalist system, whose impact on our shores go beyond just the economic realm, but has had disproportionate influence on our politics as well.

John Pilger: The downfall of Mbeki -- The hidden truth

By John Pilger

October 7, 2008 -- The political rupture in South Africa is being presented in the outside world as the personal tragedy and humiliation of one man, Thabo Mbeki. It is reminiscent of the beatification of Nelson Mandela at the death of apartheid.

This is not to diminish the power of personalities, but their importance is often as a distraction from the historical forces they serve and manage. Frantz Fanon had this in mind when, in The Wretched of the Earth, he described the "historic mission" of much of Africa's post-colonial ruling class as "that of intermediary [whose] mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged".

Mbeki's fall and the collapse of Wall Street are concurrent and related events, as they were predictable. Glimpse back to 1985 when the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the apartheid regime defaulted on its mounting debt and the chieftains of South African capital took fright.

South Africa: Dennis Brutus on Thabo Mbeki's fall and Jacob Zuma

From Democracy Now!

September 23, 2008 -- In South Africa, the deputy leader of the African National Congress has been chosen to serve as interim president following the resignation of South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki resigned on Sunday over allegations of interference in a corruption case against political rival and current ANC party president Jacob Zuma. We speak to South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus.

 

South African and Zimbabwe politicos join global financiers in self-destruction

By Patrick Bond

September 21, 2008 -- The past week has been a wild roller-coaster ride in and out of Southern African ruling-party politics, down the troughs of world capitalism, and up the peaks of radical social activism. Glancing around the region and the world from those peaks, we can see quite a way further than usual.

Looking first to South Africa, September 20's dumping of state president Thabo Mbeki by Jacob Zuma -- president of the African National Congress (ANC) -- and his temporary replacement (until next April 2009's election) by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, was an excellent reflection of ruling elite fragility in neoliberal regimes. Some of Mbeki's main supporters, including Mbhazima Shilowa, the former trade union leader and now premier of Gauteng province, in the economic heartland of Johannesburg -- are apparently considering the launch of a competing party.

South Africa: The state, xenophobia and nationalism

By Dale T. McKinley

Johannesburg, September 2008 -- While the violent intensity and geographical spread of the recent attacks on immigrants across South Africa certainly surprised most of us, we should not have been surprised that such attacks happened — or at the state’s response.

We shouldn’t be surprised given the political and socio-economic context within which the post-1994 South African state was formed and has functioned. It is only by analysing this context, with particular reference to the “marriage” of nationalist politics and “nation-building” alongside economic neoliberalism, that we can understand and critically appraise the reaction of the South African state to the recent xenophobic pogroms.

When the dominant force in South Africa’s liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), came to power in the 1994 elections, it took political control of an existent state that had been built to secure the interests of a national capitalist class.

In defence of Naomi Klein's analysis of South Africa

By Patrick Bond

In response to Beware Electocrats: Naomi Klein on South Africa by Ronald Suresh Roberts in Radical Philosophy commentaries, July-August 2008, http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2187&editorial_id=26668

Klein’s chapter on South Africa follows this exchange.

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