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South Africa

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.

Climate and collusion: 'The window to halt runaway climate change is closing fast'

Environmental activists attempt to gain access to the plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 30, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- – The movement from below to tackle climate change is gathering pace in South Africa and elsewhere in the world in advance of the September 21 mass march against the United Nations. 

Environmentalists lead, but this struggle invokes the world’s greatest class-race-gender-North-South conflicts, too. Ban Ki-Moon’s heads-of-state summit on September 23 may generate greater publicity for the cause, but if, as anticipated, world rulers simply slap each other on the back, activists will have to even more urgently intensify the pressure.

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: NUMSA hosts international symposium of left parties and movements, August 7-10, 2014

Internationalism: Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa sing their solidarity with the people of Gaza. Filmed at a demonstration in Port Elizabeth on July 25, 2014.

For more on NUMSA, click HERE.

By Castro Ngobese, NUMSA national spokesperson

August 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will be hosting an International Symposium of Left Parties/Movements in Benoni, Kopanong Hotel, from August 7-10, 2014, under the theme: “Building our own Movement for Socialism: Learning the Lessons First Hand”.

The symposium is in line with NUMSA’s groundbreaking resolutions taken at our special national congress held in December 2013. The NUMSA delegates who attended the special national congress mandated the national leadership structures to “explore” the establishment of a Movement for Socialism given that the working class needs a political organisation committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a Socialist South Africa.

In Fortaleza, BRICS became co-dependent upon eco-financial imperialism

BRICS leaders in Fortaleza, Brazil.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 31, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Contrary to rumour, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) alliance confirmed it would avoid challenging the unfair, chaotic world financial system at the Fortaleza, Brazil, summit on July 15, 2014.

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: Overpopulation? Hindsight is also a blinkered perspective

[More on the population debate HERE. More by Terry Bell HERE.]

By Terry Bell

July 13, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “The misery of people here is very great, with beggars innumerable and increasing every day ... pigs and calves live better than they.” That rhyming comment could apply to the legions of the poor in many parts of the world today. And South Africa is no exception.

But that statement was made nearly 300 years ago by the Archbishop of Dublin, writing about conditions in England’s first colony, Ireland. Land seizures and a system of gross exploitation had reduced most of the Irish population to destitution.

What has this to do with South Africa today? Actually a lot. Because one of the arguments by the powers that be — and their supporters — at that time in Ireland was that the misery of the mass of Irish people was a consequence of them breeding too much. There were simply too many poor, too many children “in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers”, as the great Irish satirist Jonathan Swift noted.

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

Nigeria: Africa’s number one economy -- for wealth evaporation

In 2012, neoliberalism catalysed a national “Occupy Nigeria” strike that nearly overthrew the government the removal of a petrol subsidy, under direct pressure from the IMF.

Click for more on Nigeria; and on BRICS. More articles by Patrick Bond.

By Patrick Bond

April 10, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Jim O’Neill – the Goldman Sachs banker who in 2001 coined the idea of Brazil-Russia-India-China or “BRIC” serving as “building bricks of the 21st century world economy” – has another bright idea. [With South Africa this bloc is now known as BRICS.] He recently announced a new fascination with the Mexico-Indonesia-Nigeria-Turkey (MINTs) countries, which “all have very favourable demographics for at least the next 20 years, and their economic prospects are interesting”.

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