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South Africa

South Africa loses its ‘War on Poverty’

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 6, 2010 – Shortly before Pretoria’s presidential power change from Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma two years ago, the South African state announced its War on Poverty. What news from the front, in the immediate wake of World Cup host duties that showed observers how very pleasant life is for the rich and middle class here?

We don’t know, because the War on Poverty is one of the most clandestine operations in South African history, with status reports kept confidential by a floundering army in rapid retreat from the poor, who are estimated at half the society.

Initially the War on Poverty appeared as a major national project. Early hubris characterised the war, as happens in most, with victory claimed even before Mbeki officially launched it in his February 2008 State of the Nation speech.

COSATU leader on SACP's 89th anniversary: `Mass power is the best defence'

By Zwelinzima Vavi

August 1, 2010 -- July 29, 2010, marks the 89th anniversary of a revolutionary organ of the working class, the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Being the only communist party in the African continent, the SACP (or Communist Party of South Africa as it was known then) has been a wagon that advanced and carried working-class struggles in the country and also in the continent. The formation of the CPSA is inseparable from the history of the Great October Revolution of 1917 and the launch of the Communist International in 1919.

South African soccer: For the love of the game or of money and power?

South African soccer star, the late Pule "Ace" Ntsoelengoe: “Soccer in South Africa needs to go back to where it was … the love of the game needs to be restored, especially in the administration. Soccer fans want to see us serve much better than we do today. The challenge is not how much money I leave behind when I die but to leave a legacy for my children and the youth of this country.”

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

July 7, 2010 -- The sun has almost set on the soccer World Cup and its seeming suspension of our South African "normalcy". No doubt, many will try their best to continue to bask in its positively proclaimed "developmental legacy"; but, as sure as the sun will rise on the morning after, so too will the reality of that "normalcy" bite us like an unhappy dog. Nowhere will this be more apparent than in the world of South African soccer itself.

Memperjuangkan Sepakbola: Apakah `permainan sedunia' ini permainan rakyat?

Oleh Duroyan Fertl

5 Juli 2010 -- Berdikari -- Piala Dunia FIFA 2010 di Afrika Selatan telah memulai putaran final 16 besarnya pada 26 Juni. Ia hadir di tengah dengungan terompet vuvuzela yang tak pernah surut, kekalahan tim-tim besar seperti Italia dan Perancis, dan aksi-aksi protes di jalanan oleh warga setempat yang marah atas dana 40 miliar rand yang dibelanjakan pemerintah untuk membiayai acara yang dikelola swasta ini. Sementara itu, kaum miskin Afrika Selatan menderita karena perumahan dan akses layanan mendasar yang di bawah standar.

Sepakbola adalah “permainan dunia” yang dimainkan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia dan ditonton oleh ratusan juta lainnya. Tapi benarkah itu “permainan rakyat”?

Sepakbola itu sendiri seringkali merupakan suatu pertunjukan menegangkan yang menampilkan kepiawaian manusia. Suatu pertandingan sepakbola yang bermutu tinggi dapat dibandingkan dengan seni. Maka tak heran ia begitu populer di seluruh dunia.

South Africa: FIFA forbids free speech at World Cup

FIFA's attempts to silence anti-xenophobia activists hits the headlines in Durban.

By Patrick Bond

July 7, 2010 -- Acting against our alleged "ambush marketing" and "incitement" (sic), the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us here in Durban last weekend. We were simply exercising freedom of expression at our favourite local venue, the South Beach Fan Fest, whose half-million visitors is a record.

Wearing hidden microphones so as to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling, for they have received orders from Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe that the property rights of the world soccer body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), overrule our foundational constitutional rights.

“We can charge you and detain you until the 11th of July, [when] FIFA is over!”, a top officer shouted at me during my second interrogation, on Saturday, July 3.

Film: `A Place in the City' -- A world class city for whom? World Cup tourists and the rich, or the poor majority?

July 7, 2010 -- Abahlali baseMjondolo -- Sixteen years since apartheid ended, and amid the hoopla and false hopes promoted by the 2010 soccer World Cup, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks – without sanitation, adequate water supplies or electricity. In Durban, almost in the shadow of the massive multibillion-rand Moses Mabhida stadium [paradoxically named after a veteran leader of South Africa's Communist Party], poor people are fighting for their right to live near work, schools and health facilities.

The fight for football: Is the `world game’ the people’s game?

Argentina's 2010 World Cup football team call for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

By Duroyan Fertl

June 27, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa began its final round of 16 on June 26. It came amid the unrelenting drone of vuvuzela horns, the knockout of big teams such as Italy and France, and street protests by local residents angry at the 40 billion rand the government has spent on the corporatised event. Meanwhile, South Africa’s poor suffer substandard housing and access to basic services.

Football, or “soccer”, is the “world game”, played by millions of people around the world and watched by hundreds of millions more. But is it truly the “people’s game”?

On its own terms, football is an often thrilling exhibition of human skill. A high-quality football match commands comparisons with art. Little wonder, then, that it is so popular worldwide.

South Africa: FIFA, not migrants, are the real tsotsis

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 25, 2010 -- South Africa's soccer-loving critics have long predicted the problems now growing worse here because of its World Cup hosting duties:

  • loss of large chunks of government’s sovereignty to the world soccer body FIFA;
  • rapidly worsening income inequality;
  • future economic calamities as debt payments come due;
  • dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (more than twice Germany’s in 2006); and
  • humiliation and despondency as the country’s soccer team Bafana Bafana (ranked #90 going into the games) became the first host to expire before the competition’s second round.

Soon, it seems, we may also add to this list a problem that terrifies progressives here and everywhere: another dose of xenophobia from both state and society.

The crucial question in coming weeks is whether, instead of offering some kind of resistance from below, as exemplified by the Durban Social Forum network’s 1000-strong rally against FIFA on June 16 at City Hall, Durban, will society’s sore losers adopt right-wing populist sentiments, and frame the foreigner?

South Africa: `World Cup for all! People before profit!'

By Kamcilla Pillay

June 17, 2010, Durban -- Daily News -- The sound of vuvuzelas cut through the air in Durban on June 16 -- but for one large group there was little to celebrate. Amid cries of phansi ngama-fat cats, phansi (down with fat cats, down) and a sea of banners proclaiming the government cared only for the rich, civil rights organisations took to the streets protesting against poor service delivery and the World Cup.[Photos below.]

Abahlali Base Mjondolo, KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fisher's Forum, Clairwood Social Forum and about 17 other organisations gathered for what they dubbed an "anti-Thiefa" protest march which started at Dinizulu Park and ended at City Hall yesterday.

South Africa: The myths and realities of the FIFA soccer World Cup

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

June 15, 2010 -- Offering an unapologetic public critique of the FIFA Soccer World Cup at the height of the collective frenzy of positive expectation, feel-good nationalism and general public excitement that now exists in our country is a risky thing to do. But it is a risk that needs to be taken precisely because, no matter what the context, myths always need to be separated from realities. In the case of the "greatest show on Earth", leaving aside the very real beauty and enjoyment of the game of soccer, the myth-making has created a situation akin to inhaling tik -– a short-lived high/euphoria that obscures all reality, followed by a rapid, depressing "come down" back to that reality.

World Cup in South Africa: Six red cards for FIFA


Democracy Now! June 11, 2010 -- Raj Patel on how South Africa has cracked down on the poor and the shack dwellers’ movement ahead of the World Cup. Read the full transcript HERE.

[See also ``2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure''.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 11, 2010 -- The soccer World Cup began this weekend here in South Africa, with the home team playing a 1-1 draw with Mexico before 95,000 fans at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.
Regardless of whether South Africa’s Bafana Bafana (our boys), ranked #90 in the world, can survive its next matches against France and Uruguay to advance a round, we know this society is already a big loser. The reason: egregious mistakes made by national and municipal governments, apparently under the thumb of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

A barrage of flag-waving, vuvuzela-blowing hypernationalist publicity cannot drown out at least six critiques of the World Cup:

1) dubious priorities and overspending;

2) FIFA super profits and political corruption;

3) heightened foreign debt and imports amidst generalised economic hardships;

2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure


PowerPoint slideshow by Patrick Bond.

[See also South Africa: Will the World Cup party be worth the hangover? by Patrick Bond.]

By Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed

[This article first appeared at Soccer & Society, volume 11, issue 1 & 2, January 2010.]

`Intensify pressure!' -- (updated June 8) Call by Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee gains support

By the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Occupied Palestine, June 1, 2010 -- Palestinian civil society calls for intensifying boycott and sanctions as Israel massacres humanitarian relief workers and international solidarity activists.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) strongly condemns last night’s fatal attack by the Israeli navy on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The BNC conveys Palestinian civil society’s condolences to the families and friends of those killed by the Israeli assault and warmly salutes the principled solidarity and moral commitment of all those involved in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

In response, the BNC calls on international civil society to:

The legacy of anti-colonial struggles in Southern Africa: Liberation movements as governments

SWAPO's Sam Nujoma.

By Henning Melber

This paper explores some aspects of the narrow translation of a liberation movement -- an agency of transformation -- into an exclusivist apparatus claiming to represent the interest of all people and a total monopoly in advocating the public interest. It thereby tries to explain to some extent the dominant party syndrome under liberation movements, which have been in power since Independence.[1]

Neville Alexander: South Africa – An unfinished revolution?

Neville Alexander.

[The following address -- the fourth Strini Moodley Annual Memorial Lecture, held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on May 13, 2010 – was delivered by renowned South African revolutionary socialist and theorist Neville Alexander. From 1964 to 1974 he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Strinivasa Rajoo "Strini" Moodley (December 22, 1945–April 27, 2006) was a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. In 1976, he was convicted of terrorism in a trial involving members of the South African Students' Organisation and the Black People's Convention, and imprisoned on Robben Island. The speech is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Neville Alexander’s permission.]

South Africa: Will the World Cup party be worth the hangover?

Construction workers protest outside the new Soccer City Stadium near Soweto.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

May 15, 2010 -- On June 11, South Africans start joling [jol -- to have fun, to party] like no time since liberation in April 1994, and of course it is a huge honour for our young democracy to host the most important sporting spectacle short of the Olympics. All the ordinary people who have worked so hard in preparation deserve gratitude and support, especially the construction workers, cleaners, municipal staff, health-care givers and volunteers who will not receive due recognition.

Southern Africa: The liberation struggle continues

[The following is the editorial in the latest edition of AfricaFile's At Issue Ezine, vol. 12 (May-October 2010), which examines the development of the southern African liberation movement-led countries. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

By John S. Saul

Climate debt owed to Africa: What to demand and how to collect?

By Patrick Bond

May 5, 2010 -- The “climate debt” that the industries and over-consumers of the global North owe Africans and other victims of climate change not responsible for causing the problem has accrued by virtue of the North’s excessive dumping of greenhouse gas emissions into the collective environmental space. Damage is being accounted for, including the more constrained space the South has for emissions. This historical injustice – and “debt” -- is now nearly universally acknowledged (aside from Washington holdouts), and reparations plus adaptation finance are being widely demanded.

In Copenhagen, the 2009 United Nations summit on climate change witnessed a great deal of theatre over conceptual problems, including, who should make emissions cuts and to what degree; should markets be the main mechanism; who owes a climate debt; how much is owed; and how the debt should be collected. The willingness of African heads of state to raise the matter publicly beginning in mid-2009 was notable, but their inability to ensure political solidarity led to the imposition of the Copenhagen Accord on December 18, in a manner that sets back the cause.

South Africa's poor to pay for dirty World Bank loan

By Patrick Bond, Durban

April 14, 2010 -- Just how dangerous is the World Bank and its neo-conservative president Robert Zoellick to South Africa and the global climate? Notwithstanding South Africa's existing US$75 billion foreign debt, on April 8 the bank added a $3.75 billion loan to South Africa's electricty utility Eskom for the primary purpose of building the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant, at Medupi. It will spew 25 million tons of the climate pollutant carbon dioxide into the air each year. [For more background go to http://links.org.au/node/1570.]

South Africa's finance minister Pravin Gordhan has repeatedly said that this is theWorld Bank's "first" post-apartheid loan, yet the bank's 1999 and 2008 Country Assistance Strategy documents show conclusively that Medupi is the 15th credit since 1994.

COSATU on the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche: `an enemy of democracy, a racist and a fascist'

By Patrick Craven, COSATU national spokesperson

April 6, 2010 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) condemns the brutal murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3, 2010, and sends its condolences to his family. Murder and violent assaults can never be condoned, even against your worst enemy. His killing however highlights the following issues:

COSATU will remember Terre’Blanche as an enemy of democracy, a racist and a fascist. His Nazi AWB tried to sabotage our transition to majority rule, when they forced their way into the World Trade Centre when our democracy was being negotiated, and when they invaded Bophuthatswana to defend a hated Bantustan system our people had rejected [in 1994].

He was also typical of the worst type of employer on South Africa’s farms. The reported circumstances of his murder speak volumes about the appalling state of labour relations on farms.

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