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South Africa

Cuba’s Raúl Castro praises Nelson Mandela’s 'unwavering dedication to the revolutionary struggle'

December 10, 2013 -- Democracy Now! -- Cuban President Raúl Castro was among the speakers at today’s memorial to Nelson Mandela.

"Let us pay tribute to Nelson Mandela”, Castro said. "The ultimate symbol of dignity and unwavering dedication to the revolutionary struggle, to freedom and justice, a prophet of unity, peace and reconciliation. As Mandela’s life teaches us, only the concerted effort of all nations will empower humanity to respond to the enormous challenges that today threatens its very existence." We also air a video clip of the 1991 meeting between Mandela and Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

'To truthfully honour Mandela, we must renew the freedom struggle of the working class and rural poor'

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

December 8, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) joins the people of South Africa, and the world, in mourning the passing on of our freedom fighter, political prisoner, people’s hero, people’s servant, leader of our people and founding father of our post-1994 democratic dispensation, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Metalworkers across the length and breadth of our country mourn the sad passing of this arguably greatest world inspirational leader of the 20th century.

We lower our red banners not as a sign of respect to death’s vengeance, but as a tribute to President Mandela who was a symbol of our people’s resilience and struggle for a free, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

We shed our tears in grief with the rest of the working and masses of our country for losing this great son of Africa. His exemplary revolutionary political life will be celebrated by different generations to come.

President Mandela will forever be admired and adored by the militant and fighting Metalworkers of our country.

Philippines, Malaysian socialists: 'Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013, Mabuhay!'

By the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines)

December 7, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa salutes Nelson Mandela, the great freedom fighter, who led the struggle to smash apartheid in South Africa. The dismantling of the political institutions of the apartheid state is a historic contribution of Nelson Mandela to the struggle of the international working-class movement.

Here in the Philippines, during the height of the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s, we were inspired by our South African comrades-in-arms and Nelson Mandela. We understood then, that our struggles were interlinked and that the stakes were high internationally, for the outcome of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The defeat of the apartheid government, and the victory of the liberation movement in South Africa, was also our victory.

The current chairperson of PLM had the honour of representing the Philippines movement at the first congress of the African National Congress after winning power, in December 1994, where he met Nelson Mandela and had discussions with the South African Communist Party comrades. We, in the Philippines movement, were thus able to participate, albeit to a small extent, in the celebration of the victory of the South African liberation movement.

Nelson Mandela’s years in power: Was he pushed or did he jump?

"Mandela led fight against apartheid, but not against extreme inequality", Patrick Bond told the Real News Network on December 5, 2013. Full transcript at The Real News.

[Read more on Nelson Mandela and South African politics.]

By Patrick Bond[1]

December 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The death of Nelson Mandela, at age 95 on December 5, 2013, brings genuine sadness.

BRICS lessons in (un)sustainable urbanisation

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance takes on climate, BRICS, Transnet, truckers and big oil.

By Patrick Bond

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap CO2 emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs de-legitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed. 

South Africa: Zwelinzima Vavi explains the real cause of the crisis in COSATU

Zwelinzima Vavi.

Below are suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi's speaking notes for his address to the National Union of Metalworkers KwaZulu-Natal congress, on November 23 2013.

* * *

I am speaking strictly in my personal capacity and not in any way as a representative of anybody.

A. Very lazy, shallow and extremely misleading explanations of the bases and causes of the paralysing crisis in Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) suggest the following:

a. That the current general secretary of COSATU, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi has fallen out with a pro Jacob Zuma leadership faction inside COSATU, and that he is himself is supported by an anti-Zuma faction. This is arguably the most publicly punted explanation for the crisis in COSATU by the media.

b. That both the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) national leaders are unhappy with Zwelinzima Vavi and his anti-government corruption crusade, oppositional stance and public criticism of the ANC.

South Africa: 'Beacon of hope' still flickers faintly

By Terry Bell

October 25, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “South Africa has rather fallen off the radar”, the BBC journalist noted. This was similar to comments voiced by former anti-apartheid activists and by several one-time strugglista exiles, mainly in London, who never returned home to settle. Because, in the mainstream media of Europe, there is little mention of South Africa; and, after six weeks abroad, it was for me a useful reminder of how minor is our role in global political and economic affairs.

And the moral high ground bequeathed to the country and its post-apartheid government by the global struggle against apartheid has also all but evaporated, depositing a residue of concern and disillusionment among many of those who once saw South Africa as a global beacon of hope. “What on Earth is happening there?” was a common, and concerned query, expressed by those who seek out what news they can of the country.

South Africa: 'Political power without economic power is like an empty tin' -- NUMSA leader Irvin Jim

Irvin Jim.

For more on NUMSA, click HERE.

It is obvious that the black capitalist class favours capitalism and that it will do its best to influence the post-apartheid society in this direction.

It is obvious that the black middle and upper classes who take part in a broad liberation alliance will jostle for hegemony and attempt to represent their interests as the interests of all Africans.

It is obvious that (like their counterparts in every part of the world) the black middle and upper strata, who find themselves on the side of the people’s struggle, are often inconsistent and vacillating. They are usually the enemy’s softest targets for achieving a reformist, rather than a revolutionary, outcome.

-- Joe Slovo, The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution, 1988.

Irvin Jim, general secretary, National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA), presented the 2013 Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture, on October 20, 2013

Comrade chairperson,

Nelson Mandela: Between fact and fiction

Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia treason trial.

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By Dimitris Fasfalis

October 16, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There are many ways in which the capitalist rulers of the world manage to contain the empowering hope borne by revolutionary leaders: slander, silence -- and in some cases outright embezzlement. The latter is the case today with Nelson Mandela.

Here is an excerpt from a BBC News report about the latest African tour by US President Barack Obama, at the end of June:

Raymond Suttner: 'The ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance has sold its soul'

Raymond Suttner.

By Raymond Suttner

September 27, 2013 -- Weekly Mail & Guardian (South Africa) -- For some time political commentators have been proved wrong when predicting the collapse of the tripartite alliance (made up of the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and suggesting that splits in these organisations could lead to the formation of a new political party that might displace the ANC.

At this moment, for the first time one can say without any sense of exaggeration, the ANC, South African Communist Party, COSATU alliance, insofar as it exists, has no ideological coherence or significance and provides little political leadership and direction. It may exist as a name but it no longer captures the moral fervour that led millions to place their hopes in them.

The glue that binds survives at the leadership level, where the spoils of office have been spread to a significant number of members of the SACP leadership and a fair number of former COSATU leaders. With the absorption of the top COSATU leadership into the ANC's national executive committee, the relationship is consolidated by the prospect of their being offered cabinet posts or other rewards, which are part of the largesse that the ANC in government can dispense.

South Africa: World’s longest running current industrial dispute sets example for us all

By Mike Marqusee

“Ex-Midrand Council Workers in Dispute Since 1994! Dismissed for fighting corruption in 1994 and still fighting today! 20 years of Sacrifice! 20 Years of Poverty! 20 Years of Solidarity!” -- ex-Midrand Council workers' banner

September 13, 2013 -- Mikemarqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- South Africa’s ex-Midrand Council workers are engaged in what is surely the world’s longest running industrial dispute, a Burston for our times. It started back in 1994, in the midst of the birth pains of South African democracy, when more than 500 workers employed by Midrand Council took industrial action against corrupt employment practices.

At that time, local government structures had not yet been subject to democratic "transformation"; they were still the creations of the apartheid era. Midrand was run by remnants of the old regime with no interest in reaching a settlement. Under pressure, some strikers returned to work, but the great majority remained in dispute.

Motsotso wa NUMSA (The NUMSA moment): South Africa's most radical trade union (video)

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is the most radical and most political trade union in South Africa today. It opposes the deepening neoliberal economic policies of the South African government, which is led by the African National Congress. It is opposed to recent attacks on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) aimed at weakening that body's political independence and militancy, and it campaigns for socialist policies and serious approaches to the question of workers' rights and climate change.

This video, produced by UhuruProductionsJHB, looks at what NUMSA is and who it stands up for.

Read more about NUMSA HERE.

Extreme weather, more extreme greenhouse gas emissions beckon urgent activism

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 28, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The northern hemisphere summer has just peaked and though the torrid heat is now ebbing, it is evident the climate crisis is far more severe than most scientists had anticipated. The latest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a notoriously conservative research agency – will be debated in Stockholm next month, but no one can deny its projections: “widespread melting of land ice, extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food and massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including a wave of extinctions.”

Marikana massacre: A wake up call ignored

[Click HERE for more on the Marikana massacre.]

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

August 16, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Shortly after this column below was written and blogged, the South African Communist Party (SACP) issued its statement on the first anniversary of the Marikana massacre that reveals the deep and dangerous sectarianism of that organisation. Here, I feel, is exposed one of the roots of the problem. I include here the final paragraph of that statement as an introduction to this "Inside Labour" column:

South Africa: Behind the suspension of COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi

For more on COSATU, click HERE.

Statement of the Democractic Left Front, South Africa

August 15, 2013 -- As expected the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee took a decision to suspend Zwelinzima Vavi, its general secretary. An internal probe will now sit and in all likelihood find him guilty of bringing COSATU into disrepute and he will be permanently removed from the leadership of COSATU. [Vavi admitted to having sex with a junior staff member at the federation’s headquarters in January.]

Abuse of women is a very serious offence. Abuse of power is very serious. No-one should be above the law. In this case Vavi’s guilt has not been established. And it is obvious that the rapid and determined way some in the CEC went about taking up this issue is part of the bigger campaign to rid COSATU of Vavi’s leadership. If Vavi, or any official is guilty of serious abuse, the workers’ movement must act principally.

South Africa: 'The conflict in COSATU is about its political direction'

Zwelinzima Vavi.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

July 29, 2013

1. Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi [secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU] has handed his opponents a Samurai sword to behead him. Allegations of rape and extra-marital sex* with a junior employee are serious. These allegations have to be investigated regardless of our strong suspicions that they are being used by supporters of the [Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa and on the ruling African National Congress,] faction in COSATU to get rid of a hated independently minded critic of government policy. The workers’ movement must be seen to always act in defence of women particularly in South Africa where the violence, abuse and rape of women is completely out of hand.

2. Vavi's opponents are trying to bring charges of financial impropriety and political misleadership against him. This is because he has been outspoken against the Zuma government’s continuity with neoliberalism, corruption and cronyism. He has also been a critic of South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande for sacrificing the SACP’s independence. He has also angered the party elite by working more closely with civil society formations.

BRICS lessons from Mozambique

Floods in Mozambique have worsened.

By Bobby Peek

July 24, 2013 -- Pambazuka News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Just across the border in Mozambique there is neo-colonial exploitation underway. It is not Europe or the United States that are dominating, but rather countries that are often looked up to as challengers, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). This is a dangerous statement to make but let us consider the facts.

South Africa is extracting 415 megawatts of electricity from Mozambique through the Portuguese developed Cahora Bassa Dam, which has altered permanently the flow of the Zambezi River, resulting in severe flooding on a more frequent basis over the last years. In the recent floods earlier this year it is reported that a women gave birth on a rooftop of a clinic, this follows a similar incident in 2000, when Rosita Pedro was born on a tree after severe flooding that year.

Exclusive excerpt: 'Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid' (Monthly Review Press)

The following is an excerpt from Alan Wieder's new book, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE.

You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below. Nadine Gordimer's foreword is available at HERE.

July 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ruth First and Joe Slovo, husband and wife, were leaders of the war to end apartheid in South Africa. Communists, scholars, parents, and uncompromising militants, they were the perfect enemies for the white police state. Together they were swept up in the growing resistance to apartheid, and together they experienced repression and exile.

Obama in South Africa: Washington tells Pretoria how to ‘play the game’ in Africa

Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.

[For more on South Africa, click HERE. For more by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – US President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.

Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we're going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: the myths and the man

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 28, 2013 -- Bulletin & Record, Zambia and Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It was all quite predictable, I suppose, that when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was rushed to hospital for the fourth time in almost as many months, the media would flock, much like vultures around an expiring stag, to take up positions outside the hospital. That they would be joined by prayerfull well wishers and others was also inevitable, as was the massive media outpouring that probably exhausted almost every aspect of the equally inevitable obituaries to come.

One Scandinavian news editor at least had the presence of mind to adopt a slightly different tack: he instructed his Africa correspondent to try to establish who would “carry forward the legacy of Mandela”. Of course, this begs the essential question: what is the Mandela legacy? Where does reality end and myth begin? However, the news editor was reacting to the myth, to the idea of the saintly reconciliator, the virtual demi-god who had spent 27 years in prison before emerging to stride confidently into the spotlight of the world’s media.

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