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South Africa

South Africa: Two warriors die, alongside the right to water

Thulisile Christina Manqele.

By Patrick Bond

July 3, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two of South Africa’s greatest water warriors were not actually killed in conflict, though at the time of their deaths on June 22 and 23, both were furious with their traditional political party home, the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

For former ANC cabinet minister Kader Asmal (whom Nelson Mandela once proposed be ANC chairperson), the party’s proposed legislation to snuff state information, nicknamed the “Secrecy Bill”, warranted spirited condemnation, and the airwaves rang with his principled liberal critique up through his last week. The day after he died (age 76), the ANC authorised sufficient revision to the bill that he probably would have declared victory. His funeral and memorial were given exceptionally high-profile coverage in the state press, befitting his status as a senior human rights lawyer and party intellectual.

From Copenhagen and Cancun to Bonn and Durban, climate meetings are conferences of polluters

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 21, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Judging by what transpired at last week’s global climate negotiations in the former West German capital, Bonn, it appears certain that in just over five months’ time, the South African port city of Durban will host a conference of climate procrastinators, the COP 17 (Conference of Parties), dooming the Earth to the frying pan. Further inaction on climate change will leave our city’s name as infamous for elite incompetence and political betrayal as is Oslo’s in the Middle East.

It appears certain that Pretoria’s alliance with Washington, Beijing, New Delhi and Brasilia, witnessed in the shameful 2009 Copenhagen Accord, will be extended to other saboteurs of the Kyoto Protocol, especially from Ottawa, Tokyo and Moscow, along with Brussels and London carbon traders.

South Africa: 35 years since the Soweto uprising -- `Past struggles must not be misused to silence the struggles of today'

Hector Petersen was one of the first victims of the apartheid regime's attempts to crush the 1976 Soweto youth uprising.

By Abahlali baseMjondolo Youth League

June 14, 2011 -- Abahlali baseMjondolo -- On Youth Day, June 16, this year the nation will be celebrating 35 years since the struggle of the youth for freedom, democracy, justice and equality in 1976. We as Abahlali youth agree that the courage of the youth of 1976 must be celebrated. But we also wish to bring back the truth and the dignity of those youth who sacrificed with their lives in 1976. We need to make that truth and dignity a living force now. The struggles of the past must not be misused to silence the struggles of the present. The struggles of the past must be used to support the struggles of the present. Every generation must be free to take their own struggle forward.

Stand up for Africa! Stand up for climate justice!

June 4, 2011 -- From May 24 to 26, 2011, representatives of African trade unions, farmers, women and faith-based groups, as well as key African non-governmental organisations and networks concerned with the climate change crisis met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss shared strategies to confront this crisis and its root causes.

Under the joint sponsorship of the Africa Trade Network (ATN), the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa (ITUC-Africa) and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the meeting deliberated on the threats posed to the peoples of Africa and the world over by climate change, as well as the continuing inaction by governments in the face of these threats. The meeting reached shared understandings and adopted the conclusions that follow.

World Bank’s neoliberal Africa strategy signals worsening uneven development

By Patrick Bond

May 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s 10-year strategy document, Africa's Future and the World Bank‘s Support to it. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are US$2-4 a day).

Climate finance leadership risks global bankruptcy

By Patrick Bond

April 24, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa’s most vocal neoliberal politician, Trevor Manuel (pictured above), has just been named as co-chair of the Green Climate Fund. On April 28-29, 2011, in Mexico City, Manuel and other elites met to design the world’s biggest-ever replenishing pool of aid money: a promised US$100 billion of annual grants by 2020, more than the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and allied regional banks put together.

The Climate Justice lobby is furious because, as the network of 90 progressive organisations wrote to the United Nations, “The integrity and potential of a truly just and effective climate fund has already been compromised by the 2010 Cancún decisions to involve the World Bank as interim trustee.” A Friends of the Earth International study earlier this month attacked the World Bank for increased coal financing, especially $3.75 billion loaned to South Africa’s Eskom a year ago.

Solidarity with the Palestinians: A view from South Africa on the need to unfriend Israeli universities

South Africans march against Israeli apartheid (image from bdsmovement.net).

By Patrick Bond

A presentation to the Association of American Geographers Annual Meetings, Seattle, Washington, April 12, 2011. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Patrick Bond’s permission.

This panel is not only devoted to considering arguments about implementing the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, but also about broader problems of progressive political positioning and backlash in the academy.

South Africa: As Durban climate summit approaches, industrial policy hits green wall

South Africa’s trade and industry minister Rob Davies.

By Patrick Bond

April 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Hosting the Durban COP17 – let’s rename it the “Conference of Polluters” – starting in late November puts quite a burden on the African National Congress government in Pretoria: to pretend to be pro-green.

Embarrassingly, last week’s US Export-Import Bank loan of US$805 million to South Africa will feed huge profits to the notorious US corporations Black & Veatch so that a vast coal-fired power plant, “Kusile”, can be constructed, mainly on behalf of huge smelters run by BHP Billiton and Anglo American Corporation – whose profits soar away to Melbourne and London.

Reading 'The Shock Doctrine' in Cairo

[The following article was provided by Cairo-based Australian journalist Austin Mackell and first appeared at his website, Moon Under Water. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.]

* * *

Story and photos by Austin G. Mackell, Cairo

April 12, 2011 -- Moon Under Water -- The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein, is the duck's fucking nuts. The most fitting endorsement I have heard of it comes from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “The only book of the last few years in American publishing that I would describe as a mandatory must-read. Literally the only one.”

South Africa: Victory for BDS campaign as university cuts Israel ties

University of Johannesburg terminates relationship with Israeli institution

By the Coalition for a free Palestine

March 24, 2011 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) led Coalition for a free Palestine (CFP) welcomes the March 23 decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to terminate its relationship with the Israeli institution, Ben Gurion University.

The termination translates into the first South African institutional boycott of an Israeli institution and is a watershed moment in the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign. This resonates with us in South Africa, as we are aware of the importance of international solidarity and realise the role that it played in dismantling South African apartheid. 

Libya and the London School of Economics: When civil-societyism fronts for barbarism

Gaddafi's son Saif addressing the London School of Economics in 2010.

By Patrick Bond

March 14, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If Muammar Gaddafi’s wicked son Saif is to be believed, we will soon be witnessing “rivers of blood” in Benghazi to shame even the Middle East’s most murderous tyrants, worse even than Israel’s massacre of 1400 Gaza residents two years ago and its 2006 invasion of Lebanon (although probably shy of the US army’s depopulation of Iraq by what The Lancet medical journal estimated to be a million dead civilians courtesy of oil-crazed Washington’s 2003 invasion).

The regime’s attacks on its citizenry, Saif warned the BBC and Sky News on March 13, will intensify in coming days: “This is our country, we will never, ever give up and we will never, ever surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya, we die here in Libya.”

Give Israel the South African treatment

“I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, New York 1989.

By Antony Loewenstein & Moammar Mashni

March 6, 2011-- Green Left Weekly -- When Desmond Tutu made this comment, the South African apartheid regime was still in power. In 1994, after 45 years of racial segregation, the apartheid era was officially over. When watershed moments like this occur, multiple factors can be attributed. But history is clear that one of the many reasons this tyranny finally succumbed was an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS).

South Africa: The history and character of `black economic empowerment'

One of South Africa's new breed of capitalist tycoons, multimillionaire Kenny Kunene. Others include former mineworkers' union leader Cyril Ramaphosa and former ANC Gauteng leader Tokyo Sexwale.

By Dale McKinley

January 10/February 9, 2011 -- South African Civil Society Information Service -- Amid all the usual political propaganda and grandstanding at the African National Congress (ANC)’s 99th anniversary rally in Polokwane on January 8, 2011, it was none other than ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema who came up with the most honest statement of the day. Defending himself against charges that he and his ANC Youth League cronies were continuing to economically benefit from associated businesses awarded government tenders; he argued that business is intrinsically elitist. As such, Malema claimed, “BEE will never be broad” – and in this rare case, he got it right. 

The ‘mubaraking’ of Gaddafi, Maliki, Mugabe and others

By Patrick Bond

February 27, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The late South African anti-apartheid poet-activist Dennis Brutus occasionally used “Seattle”, the name of a city in the northwestern United States, as a verb. We should “seattle Copenhagen”, he said in late 2009, to prevent the global North from doing a climate deal in their interests, against Africa’s.

South Africa: The ANC government’s ‘talk left, walk right’ climate policy

Dumping on Africans. "Durban's methane-electricity conversion at three local landfills shows the futility of the CDM, not to mention the historic injustice of keeping the Bisasar Road dump (Africa’s largest) open in spite of resident objections to environmental racism."

By Patrick Bond

February 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It’s worth downloading a copy of the South African government’s new National Climate Change Response Green Paper (http://www.climateresponse.co.za) to prepare for the local deluge of technical and political debate for the next round of UN climate talks that Durban will host in eight months’ time.

COSATU salutes Egyptian and Tunisian working classes

From the album Women of Egypt by Leil-Zahra Mortada.

By Bongani Masuku, Congress of South African Trade Unions international relations secretary

January 31, 2011 -- The African working class has come of age. With the massive revolutionary struggles underway in both Tunisia and Egypt against despots, the history of the continent has been rewritten.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the developments that have dramatically changed the political and class landscape on the continent, particularly in a region known for a false sense of stability and peace, yet brutally repressive against workers and the poor.

We also note that the big powers, particularly the US, invested a lot of resources into both countries, particularly Egypt, as the pioneer agent of their interests in that part of the world and the second-biggest recipient of US aid after Israel. The repressive machinery of Egypt has been built through the resources provided by the US, while that of Tunisia has been primarily through France.

South Africa: Declaration of the Democratic Left Front; New left seeks revamped SA

By the steering committee of the Democratic Left Front (previously the Conference of the Democratic Left)

January 24, 2011 -- Post-apartheid capitalism is leaving a trail of hunger, poverty, anger and misery. The wealthy elite, the bosses and their hangers-on refuse to concede a single inch to the urgent needs of the majority. They label even the most modest reforms as the thin edge of the wedge of communism. And as always the government shakes and concedes … And a new round of suffering begins for our people.

From January 20 to 23, 2011, at Wits University in Johannesburg, 250 delegates from around the country representing a diverse range of social movements, popular organisations and anti-capitalist formations gathered to forge a united political front to break this cycle which has made South Africa the most unequal country on Earth. The cry of the Conference of the Democratic Left is KWANELE, KWANELE, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, GENOEG IS GENOEG.

ANC managing capitalism

El capitalismo climático gana en Cancún -- todos los demás pierden

Por Patrick Bond, Cancún

12 de diciembre -- Bolpress/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- La clausura el 11 de diciembre de la 16 Conferencia de las Partes –la cumbre global del clima– en Cancún fue mostrada por la mayoría de los participantes y periodistas de los medios dominantes como una victoria, un ‘paso adelante’. El jefe negociador del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU., Todd Stern, alardeó: “El año pasado las ideas fueron esquemáticas y no se aprobaron, ahora se han elaborado y se han aprobado”.

South Africa: `COSATU has waged titanic battles' -- COSATU marks its 25th anniversary

Workers celebrate COSATU’s 25th anniversary. Picture: Gallo Images.

The following speeches, by COSATU's president and general secretary, were delivered at a ceremony in Johannesburg on December 3, 2010, to celebrate the Congress of South African Trade Unions' 25th anniversary.

* * *

By Sidumo Dlamini, COSATU president

December 3, 2010 -- Cyril Ramaphosa was prophetic when he declared that “a giant has arisen!” That giant has grown from 130,000 members when it was launched to well over 2 million paid up members today.

While still barely walking, the young giant launched itself into titanic battles against employers and the apartheid regime. In his speech at the launch, founding COSATU president Elijah Barayi gave apartheid ruler P.W. Botha a six-month deadline to do away with passes. Indeed Botha succumbed and the hated pass laws that had humiliated millions for decades were scrapped. Today we carry proper identity documents.

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