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South Africa

Lessons from South Africa for the fight against Israeli apartheid

Salim Vally of the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa (http://psc.za.org/), addressing a meeting on February 7, 2008, part of Toronto's Israeli Apartheid Week (http://www.apartheidweek.org/), draws on the experiences of the South African anti-apartheid movement to inspire the Palestinian anti-apartheid movement. Salim Vally was deeply involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement.

`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

South Africa's new opposition party: Face to face with `Terror'

The following was presented by social movement activist Ashwin Desai as part of t

COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!

Protesters call for boycott of apartheid Israel, Johannesburg, January 2, 2009.

By Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

January 14, 2009 -- From our own experience, we know how painful and dehumanising is the system of segregation, otherwise known as apartheid. Apartheid is a system based on the assumption that one group or race is superior to others and therefore has a right to all the privileges and virtues associated with that particular status. It has a right to run and determine the lives of others, excluding them from certain privileges, merely because they do not belong to the “chosen” group.

What other definition would so fittingly define a system based on different rights and privileges for Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? The bantustanisation of Palestine into pieces or strips -- West Bank, Ramallah, Gaza Strip and so on -- run by Israel and with no rights whatsoever for the Palestinians, is definitely an apartheid system.

Talking points and background on Israel's murderous assault on Gaza

Melbourne, December 30, 2008. Photo by by Margarita Windisch

By the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Canada) and the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

December 31, 2008

End of neoliberalism? Sorry, not yet

South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign and Anti-Privatisation Forum have won gains against commodification and corporate globalisation

By Patrick Bond

December 26, 2008 -- Those who declare that the Great Crash of Late 2008 heralds the end of free market economic philosophy -- "neoliberalism" for short -- are not paying close enough attention.

This includes the Swedish Bank's Economic Nobel Prize laureate, Princeton professor Paul Krugman. "Everyone's talking about a new New Deal, for obvious reasons", he told his New York Times column readers. "In 2008, as in 1932, a long era of Republican political dominance came to an end in the face of an economic and financial crisis that, in voters' minds, both discredited the free-market ideology and undermined its claims of competence. And for those on the progressive side of the political spectrum, these are hopeful times."

But notwithstanding some promised fiscal stimulation and public works projects in the US, a more realistic -- and also radical -- approach requires us to first humbly acknowledge that a dangerous period lies immediately ahead, because of at least three factors:

South Africa’s ANC: things fall apart

BY Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

November 15, 2008 -- At some point in the not-too-distant future, we might just look back at 2008 as the year in which things really started to fall apart for the African National Congress (ANC).

Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which has enjoyed overwhelming political hegemony and electoral success since South Africa’s democratic breakthrough in 1994, is in deep trouble.

Crucially, this is not mainly as a result of the more recent domestic manifestations of the ever-widening crisis of capitalism nor of any kind of immediate threat to its 18-year hold on political power.

It is rather more simple — the “big happy family” whose members range from crypto-communists to die-hard capitalists, from ethno-nationalist chauvinists to cosmopolitan liberals — is beginning to break apart because there remains little to hold the heterogeneous clan together anymore.

Poster: Makeba presente

By Ricardo Levins Morales

Miriam Makeba passed away on November 10 at a concert in Italy. The link below is to a poster I made in tribute to Makeba as soon as I heard the news.

When I was a child, my father would occasionally travel to the United States. When he returned to Puerto Rico he would sometimes bring back a music record. Sometimes it would be Makeba. I only understood the words to a few of the songs she was singing (Makeba sang in many languages), but I understood the sprit and the rhythms. The sounds of drumming has always made sense to me. I also new that she was in some way connected to the struggle for a better world.

Miriam Makeba was banned from her homeland by the apartheid regime after addressing the United Nations committee on apartheid and spent the next thirty years in exile. As with all of those who pass out of this world she will continue to be with us as long as we carry her. This poster tribute is one more vessel in which to bring her along with us. The road toward justice is a long one. I know that as long as I walk it Miriam Makeba's songs will be with me.

Hamba kahle Mama Africa (Miriam Makeba)

Mama Afrika (Miriam Makeba) passes, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba addresses the UN, 1964

‘Transformation’ from above: the upside-down state of the `beautiful game' in South Africa

Bafana Bafana (and Kaizer Chiefs) supporter

By Dr Dale T. McKinley

For the better part of the past century, the most popular sport in South Africa (both in relation to public entertainment and active participation) has been soccer. From its initial introduction into South Africa as a sport played almost solely by the propertied (white) gentry, soccer quickly became, by the turn of the twentieth century, the sport of choice amongst the non-white population and white lower classes.

Two poems by Dennis Brutus in Caracas

[Sad news. Comrade Dennis Brutus died on December 26, 2009. Please visit Links'tribute to this great poet-revolutionary HERE.]

Below are two poems presented by veteran anti-apartheid and global social justice activist Dennis Brutus, in Venezuela for the eighth meeting of the Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defence of Humanity and the World Forum for Alternatives, October 18, 2008.

Dennis Brutus

New African resistance from below to global finance

By Patrick Bond

October 25, 2008 -- A far-reaching strategic debate is underway about how to respond to the global financial crisis, and indeed how the North's problems can be tied into a broader critique of capitalism.

The 2008 world financial meltdown has its roots in the neoliberal export-model (dominant in Africa since the 1981 World Bank Berg Report and onset of structural adjustment during the early 1980s) and even more deeply, in 35 years of world capitalist stagnation/volatility. Africa has always suffered a disproportionate share of pressure from the world economy, especially in the sphere of debt and financial outflows. But for those African countries which made themselves excessively vulnerable to global financial flows during the neoliberal era, the meltdown had a severe, adverse impact.

South African Communist Party on capitalist economic crisis, right-wing split in the ANC

NUMSA members

Speech to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) 8th national congress by Blade Nzimande, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary

October 14, 2008 -- The SACP wishes to express its appreciation for the invitation to come and address this august body, the 8th national congress of this giant affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Your congress is taking place at very crucial domestic and international conjunctures which though may seem distinct but are deeply interrelated developments: the global crisis of finance capital and the splinter group from the African National Congress (ANC). I say these are related because we are part of a global capitalist system, whose impact on our shores go beyond just the economic realm, but has had disproportionate influence on our politics as well.

The financial meltdown: Roots of the economic crisis in overaccumulation, financialisation and ‘global apartheid’

By Patrick Bond

October 3, 2008 -- The global economy’s vast financial sector expansion – in the context of productive sector stagnation tendencies – has increased the leading powerbrokers’ capacity to devalue large parts of the Third World (including major emerging market sites), as well as to write down selected financially volatile and vulnerable markets in the North (e.g. dot.com and real estate bubbles). In contrast to the 1930s, this set of partial write-downs of overaccumulated financial capital has not yet created such generalised panic and crisis contagion as to threaten the entire system’s integrity. Shifting and stalling the necessary devalorisation of overaccumulated capital, particularly as it bubbles up via financial sectors into speculative markets, entailed spatial and temporal fixes.

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Click HERE to view the accompanying PowerPoint slideshow

[Read more on the capitalist economic crisis HERE.]

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John Pilger: The downfall of Mbeki -- The hidden truth

By John Pilger

October 7, 2008 -- The political rupture in South Africa is being presented in the outside world as the personal tragedy and humiliation of one man, Thabo Mbeki. It is reminiscent of the beatification of Nelson Mandela at the death of apartheid.

This is not to diminish the power of personalities, but their importance is often as a distraction from the historical forces they serve and manage. Frantz Fanon had this in mind when, in The Wretched of the Earth, he described the "historic mission" of much of Africa's post-colonial ruling class as "that of intermediary [whose] mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged".

Mbeki's fall and the collapse of Wall Street are concurrent and related events, as they were predictable. Glimpse back to 1985 when the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the apartheid regime defaulted on its mounting debt and the chieftains of South African capital took fright.

South Africa: Dennis Brutus on Thabo Mbeki's fall and Jacob Zuma

From Democracy Now!

September 23, 2008 -- In South Africa, the deputy leader of the African National Congress has been chosen to serve as interim president following the resignation of South African President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki resigned on Sunday over allegations of interference in a corruption case against political rival and current ANC party president Jacob Zuma. We speak to South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus.

 

South African and Zimbabwe politicos join global financiers in self-destruction

By Patrick Bond

September 21, 2008 -- The past week has been a wild roller-coaster ride in and out of Southern African ruling-party politics, down the troughs of world capitalism, and up the peaks of radical social activism. Glancing around the region and the world from those peaks, we can see quite a way further than usual.

Looking first to South Africa, September 20's dumping of state president Thabo Mbeki by Jacob Zuma -- president of the African National Congress (ANC) -- and his temporary replacement (until next April 2009's election) by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, was an excellent reflection of ruling elite fragility in neoliberal regimes. Some of Mbeki's main supporters, including Mbhazima Shilowa, the former trade union leader and now premier of Gauteng province, in the economic heartland of Johannesburg -- are apparently considering the launch of a competing party.

South Africa: The state, xenophobia and nationalism

By Dale T. McKinley

Johannesburg, September 2008 -- While the violent intensity and geographical spread of the recent attacks on immigrants across South Africa certainly surprised most of us, we should not have been surprised that such attacks happened — or at the state’s response.

We shouldn’t be surprised given the political and socio-economic context within which the post-1994 South African state was formed and has functioned. It is only by analysing this context, with particular reference to the “marriage” of nationalist politics and “nation-building” alongside economic neoliberalism, that we can understand and critically appraise the reaction of the South African state to the recent xenophobic pogroms.

When the dominant force in South Africa’s liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), came to power in the 1994 elections, it took political control of an existent state that had been built to secure the interests of a national capitalist class.

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