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The xenophobia outbreak in South Africa: Strategic questions facing the new social movements

By Oupa Lehulere

June 2008 -- The township of Alexandra outside Johannesburg, South Africa, has a long history of resistance to oppression and exploitation. In the late 1950s Alex (as it is popularly referred to) was the centre of bus boycotts against increases in fares and of struggles against apartheid, in the 1980s Alex was the centre of building street committees that represented what were then called ``organs of people’s power’’ – forms of alternative government to the apartheid state, and in 2002 the event that announced the presence of the new social movements on the South African post-apartheid political landscape – the 20,000-strong march led by the Social Movements United – took place in Alex.

The fact that it was Alex that would go down in history as the township that expressed most publicly the reactionary attitudes held by working-class people against fellow working-class people from other parts of Africa throws into sharp relief the process of political and organisational decline that has been underway within the South Africa’s working class since 1994.

Can reparations for apartheid profits be won in US courts?

By Patrick Bond

Dennis Brutus 

Durban, July 6, 2008 -- A telling remark about US imperialism's double standards was uttered by Clinton-era deputy treasury secretary Stuart Eizenstat, who a decade ago was the driver of reparations claims against pro-Nazi corporations, assisting plaintiffs to gain $8 billion from European banks and corporations which ripped off Holocaust victims' funds or which were 1930s beneficiaries of slave labour (both Jewish and non-Jewish).

But how about reparations for corporate profits made under South Africa's racist apartheid system? As a November 2002 keynote speaker for the “USA Engage” lobby of 650 multinational corporations organised to fight the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), Eizenstat warned that South African reparations activists “can galvanise public opinion and generate political support,” and “may achieve some success despite legal infirmities''.

Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom

By Barry Healy

June 14, 2008 -- This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a heroic struggle in which, between October 1987 and June 1988, in some of the fiercest fighting in Africa since the Second World War, the South African Defence Force (SADF) were humiliatingly defeated by liberation forces in Angola.

Cuban assistance to Angolan resistance to the SADF invasion was vital. Defeat at Cuito Cuanavale spelled the doom of apartheid and the victory of the South African liberation movement.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro famously observed that “the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale”. In South Africa’s Freedom Park, outside Pretoria, 2070 names of Cubans who fell in Angola are inscribed alongside those of South Africans who died during the anti-apartheid struggle.

South Africa: Water struggles from Johannesburg and beyond

By Dale T. McKinley

It’s been five years since residents of the poor community of Phiri (Soweto) were first confronted with the practical consequences of the City of Johannesburg’s corporatisation and commodification (read: privatisation) of water delivery. That was when Phiri was chosen as the first community in the Johannesburg Metro to ``benefit'' from the implementation of its Operation Gcin’amanzi. What subsequently happened has now been well documented many times over: the surreptitious and forcible installation of pre-paid water meters under the pretext of fixing ageing infrastructure; the victimisation and cutting-off of supply to those who refused; and, sustained resistance pitting community residents – organised through the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and the newly formed Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) -- against an ``unholy alliance'' of Johannesburg Water, the City of Johannesburg, state prosecutors, the South African Police Services and private security firms.

Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class

By Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond

May 26, 2008 -- The low-income black township here in Durban which suffered more than any other during apartheid, Cato Manor, was the scene of a test performed on a Mozambican last Wednesday morning (May 21). At 6:45am, in the warmth of a rising subtropical winter sun, two unemployed men strolling on Belair Road approached the middle-aged immigrant. They accosted him and demanded, in the local indigenous language isiZulu, that he say the word meaning ``elbow'' (this they referred to with their hand). The man answered ``idolo'', which unfortunately means ``knee''. The correct answer is ``indololwane''. His punishment: being beaten up severely, and then told to ``go home''.

 

March against xenophobia, Johannesburg, May 24, 2008.

John Pilger on South Africa: Honouring the 'unbreakable promise'

March 28, 2008 -- Fourteen years after South Africa's first democratic elections and the fall of racial apartheid, John Pilger describes, in an address at Rhodes University, the dream and reality of the new South Africa and the responsibility of its new elite. (See video clips of John Pilger's visit here.)

***

By John Pilger

On my wall in London is a photograph I have never grown tired of looking at. Indeed, I always find it thrilling to behold. You might even say it helps keep me going. It is a picture of a lone woman standing between two armoured vehicles, the notorious ‘hippos’, as they rolled into Soweto. Her arms are raised. Her fists are clenched. Her thin body is both beckoning and defiant of the enemy. It was May Day 1985 and the uprising against apartheid had begun.

15 years since the murder of Chris Hani

On April 10, 1993, South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani was asassinated by right-wing extremists hoping to derail South Africa's transtion to democratic rule. On the 15th anniversary of his death, Links reproduces a speech by socialist and African National Congress (ANC) veteran Pallo Jordan delivered to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination.

***

By Dr Pallo Jordan

Allow me first to thank the leadership of the SACP and the central executive committee of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) for inviting me to deliver this inaugural Chris Hani Memorial Lecture. I consider it a great honour to have been chosen for this task because Comrade Chris was a close and very dear friend of mine.

South Africa: Two economies - or one system of superexploitation

By Patrick Bond
[The following is the introduction to ``Transcending two economies – renewed debates in South African political economy'', a special issue of Africanus, Journal of Development Studies (Vol. 37 No. 2 2007, ISSN 0304-615x). It is republished with permission.The full issue is available for free download at http://www.nu.ac.za/ccs/files/africanus_1.pdf ]

Debate and opposition within the ANC and the Tripartite Alliance since 1994

By Dale T. McKinley

The device by which content is replaced by form and ideas by phrases has produced a host of declamatory priests … whose last offshoots had of course to lead to democracy. Karl Marx[1]

Principles, strategies and tactics of decommodification in South Africa

By Patrick Bond

Patrick Bond is the author of two recent books: Unsustainable South Africa: Environment, Development and Social Protest and Fanon's Warning: A Civil Society Reader on the New Partnership for Africa's Development. Both are available from Africa World Press (http://www.africanworld.com). His 2001 book Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets the World Bank, IMF and International Finance, will be republished by Zed Press this year, as will a new edition of Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa from Pluto Press.

The political economy of the rise of social movements in South Africa

By Dale T. McKinley

CONTENTS

Class struggle revisited

New resistances

Facing realities

Notes

 

 

 

When South Africa's first democratic elections in April 1994 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the African National Congress, there still remained a broad-based (but mistaken) expectation amongst the black majority that the new ANC state would immediately begin to pursue a more socialist—or, at the least, radically redistributive—political economy.

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