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South Africa

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)

The persecution of Caster Semenya -- sport and intersex people's rights

Caster Semenya.

By Farida Iqbal

September 20, 2009 -- Eighteen-year-old South African track athlete Caster Semenya has done nothing wrong. Yet she has been accused of deceiving the world about her sex. There is nothing wrong with Semenya’s body. Yet her body has been paraded in front of the world by the mass media as if she were a sideshow freak.

Semenya is a talented athlete. Yet her career is at stake.

Semenya won the 800 metres in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships on August 19. She was accused by the international media of having won the race due to her unfair disadvantage of “really” being a man.

Semenya, like many other female athletes, has been subjected to sexist judgement of what a female body is supposed to look like.

Semenya is an intersex woman. But intersex women are not the only women who have been subjected to such scrutiny. The accusation of looking “too masculine” has always been used to degrade female athletes, including tennis great Martina Navratilova. For years the media focused on her highly developed biceps.

Semenya was subjected to invasive “gender tests” (actually testing biological sex, not gender). The test results were leaked to the international mass media. Australia’s Daily Telegraph was the first to run the story, revealing Semenya has internal testes and no womb. This may or may not be true.

`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.

Hillary Clinton in Africa: Promoting US corporate and military interests

Hillary Clinton and South African President Jacob Zuma.

By Firoze Manji

August 6, 2009 -- International media attention is focused on the August 3-14 visit of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to seven countries in Africa. Judging by the behaviour of representatives of many African governments, there are great expectations that this visit –- following so closely after US President Barack Obama's two earlier visits to Egypt and Ghana this year -– holds out vast hope for Africa.

But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); oil and natural resource exploitation; and security.

How the West exploits Africa

Ghana's elected President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1966.

By Tony Iltis

July 18, 2009 -- US President Barack Obama used his African heritage in his July 11 speech to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra as justification for proceeding to blame Africa’s problems on its own people. 

He acknowledged historical Western crimes, but denied that ongoing suffering is caused by the current policies of the West. Western aggression and exploitation, Obama claims, are things of the past. A July 15 Los Angeles Times editorial said: “It was the same message about good governance they’d heard from presidents [Bill] Clinton and George W. Bush. No new programs or initiatives for Africa. But just because the message is old doesn't mean it's not worth repeating.”

Obama played up his own ancestry to appeal to his audience. He referred to the indignities his grandfather suffered under British colonial rule in Kenya, including being briefly imprisoned during the independence struggle of the 1950s and ’60s.

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:

COSATU: Working-class internationalism in the era of deepening global economic crisis

COSATU-supported protest in solidarity with the people of Swaziland.

Declaration of the Congress of South African Trade Unions International Solidarity Conference, Johannesburg, June 24-26, 2009.

COSATU -- Gathered at this historic International Solidarity Conference of COSATU are workers, activists and internationalists committed to a new and just world order, free from poverty, hunger and injustice. We have concluded two days of intensive engagements, critical reflections and dedicated work to assess and ascertain the revolutionary mood of workers and the poor masses of the world, the ebbs and flows of the global class struggle and the state of readiness by working-class forces and their organisations to wage a decisive battle for the new and just global economic system.

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.

Patrick Bond, Adam Hanieh: World slump and class struggles in the global South


Part 1: Adam Hanieh.

Toronto, June 28, 2009 - Left Streamed -- The political period that has opened up since the financial turbulence of 2007 began to grip the world market has led to both a crisis of neoliberalism and an attempt to reconstruct it. The overaccumulation of capital in key sectors in the US and Europe, particularly in real estate markets, auto production and financial services, has led to an economic contraction that has spread across global capitalism.

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.

Zimbabwe: The struggle enters a new stage

Munyaradzi Gwisai of the ISOZ at the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Munyaradzi Gwisai

[Read or download the May 2009 issue of the ISOZ's newspaper, Socialist Worker, at the end of this article.]

May 6, 2009 -- The formation of the government of national unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in February 2009 was the logical outcome of the agreement made between them in the middle of last year. The final negotiations had stalled as Mugabe tried to manipulate the details to exact maximum concessions from the MDC.

African lives -- silent casualty of the global economic crisis

By the Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, RAVANE+ PVVIH Network for the Indian Ocean Region (Mauritius) and the Grassroots Empowerment Trust (Kenya)

HIV is not in recession! TB is not in recession!

May 6, 2009 -- On the occasion of the Conference of African Ministers of Health in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a coalition of health advocates from sub-Saharan Africa warn that the lives of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa are in jeopardy because of the lack of political will and investment to realise the right of access to life-saving treatment. Only one third of HIV-positive people in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to survive have access to treatment in the African region. The coalition fears that national and donor governments are betraying their health commitments, particularly promises to support the universal roll-out of ART by 2010.

Ronnie Kasrils -- South Africa and Palestine: Long roads to freedom

Ronnie Kasrils spoke at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on March 20, 2009, at a talk organised by Pulsemedia.org and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. During the years of apartheid rule in South Africa, Ronnie Kasrils was a leader in the banned South African Communist Party and African National Congress, and its military wing Umkonto we Sizwe. Hunted by the security police, he was described as ``armed and dangerous''. Kasrils served as a government minister in post-spartheid South Africa until 2008.

Today Kasrils is an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa, which recently won support from Durban dock workers to adopt a policy of boycotting Israeli ships that dock in South African ports.

`Worse than South African apartheid'

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.

Salim Vally: The campaign to isolate apartheid Israel -- lessons from South Africa

By Salim Vally

[Salim Vally, a leading member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa and a veteran anti-apartheid activist, will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.] 

Who said nearly 50 years ago that Israel was an apartheid state?

By Ronnie Kasrils

"...a colonial racist mentality which rationalised the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, in Africa from Namibia to the Congo and elsewhere, most clearly has its parallels in Palestine."

March 17, 2009 -- Media Monitors Network -- At the onset of international “Israel Apartheid Week” in solidarity with the embattled Palestinian people, I want to start by quoting a South African who emphatically stated as far back as 1963 that “Israel is an apartheid state”. Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Joe Slovo, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.

He was irked by the criticism of apartheid policy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech, in contrast to the West’s unconditional support for Zionist Israel.

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.

COSATU: Actions against Israel's barbarism and in support of Palestinian resistance an unprecedented success

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is humbled by the inspirational messages from all over the world for our boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel.

By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations officer

February 12, 2009 -- The South African week of action against Israeli barbarism and in support of Palestinian heroism and resistance has been an unprecedented success. COSATU, its affiliates, particularly the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) and the rest of Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa are humbled by the large number of letters of support we have received from trade unions, solidarity groups, workers, activists and people of conscience from all over the world for our stance in solidarity with the people of Palestine. In particular, letters congratulated SATAWU dock workers in Durban for their determined refusal to off-load goods from Israel carried on the Johanna Russ.

Messages of support included those from the Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, dock workers in Liverpool, trade unions in Australia and Canada, and solidarity organisations from around the world.

South Africa: Victory for workers' solidarity as Israeli ship sneaks out of Durban still loaded

Congress of South African Trade Unions and Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

[See http://links.org.au/node/888 for more background information.]

February 6, 2009 -- The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) is pleased to announce that its members, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), achieved a victory last night when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. This, despite threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israel lobby, and despite severe provocation.

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship; Palestinians salute decision

FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL!

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launch Week of Action for Palestine supported by the Young Communist League and other progressive organisations

February 3, 2009 -- In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

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