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South Africa: Dying for growth -- World Bank's role in Marikana massacre mine, carbon pollution

More than 3000 mineworkers take part in a march at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa on September 5, 2012. Photograph by Mike Hutchings/REUTERS.

For more on the Marikana mine massacre, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond

September 5, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “One of the things you learn as an anthropologist, you don’t come in and change the culture”, Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim told wealthy alumni when contemplating the institution’s notorious hazing practices, prior to US President Barack Obama’s request last February that he move to the World Bank.

Kim’s Harvard doctorate and medical degree, his founding of the heroic NGO Partners in Health and his directorship of the World Health Organization’s AIDS division make him the best-educated, most humane World Bank president yet. A decade ago, he co-edited the book, Dying for Growth, pointing out that "Washington Consensus" policies and projects had a sharply adverse impact on health.

South Africa: "A travesty of justice" -- miners charged with murder after police kill 34; Metalworkers condemn state murder


The Democratic Left Front's Vishwas Satgar interviewed on the Real News Network, August 31, 2012. Transcript below DLF statement. More at The Real News.

STOP PRESS, September 2, 2012 -- Following national and international outrage, South African prosecutors have provisionally dropped murder charges against 270 miners whose 34 colleagues were massacred by police. Acting national director of prosecutions for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Nomgcobo Jiba said that after having sought an explanation from the department's lead prosecutors, she had taken the decision to review the charge.

A final decision would be taken on the charges after a series of investigations into the shootings had delivered their findings. The workers have been held in custody since they were arrested on the day of the shooting -- August 16 -- at Lonmin's mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg. Courts will start releasing them after police verify their addresses. The first batch of at least 140 miners is due to be freed on September 3 while the rest should go home on September 6.

South Africa: Hamba Kahle Comrade Neville Alexander (1936-2012)

August 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of tributes to Neville Alexander, a great South African revolutionary, who died on August 27, 2012. Following the tributes is an extensive biographical essay by the South African History Online project.

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Tribute to Neville Alexander from comrades and friends of the Workers' Organisation for Socialist Action (WOSA)

August 29, 2012 -- Comrades and friends who have known Neville Alexander through the Workers Organisation for Socialist Action mourn the passing of this great socialist and revolutionary. Neville Alexander dedicated his life to the struggle against oppression and injustice and for the upliftment of his fellow human beings.

From the early days of student struggles to his arrest and imprisonment on Robben Island to his latter years working on language and education, Neville Alexander’s deep humanitarian spirit, his respect for the ordinary people and his humility were always present.

South Africa: Marikana massacre – a turning point?

Marikana mineworkers on strike for higher pay.

For more coverage of South Africa, click HERE.

By Martin Legassick

August 27, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The massacre of 34, and almost certainly more, striking mineworkers at Marikana (together with more than 80 injured) on August 16 has sent waves of shock and anger across South Africa, rippling around the world. It could prove a decisive turning point in our country’s post-apartheid history.

Marikana is a town situated in barren veld, dry brown grass in the winter, with occasional rocky outcrops (kopjes, hillocks). The Lonmin-owned mines – there are three, Karee, West and East Platinum – are situated on the outskirts of the town. Alongside two of them is a settlement of zinc-walled shacks festooned with lines of washing called Enkanini, where most of the mineworkers live.

South Africa: 'Sorting fact from fiction at Marikana' -- Terry Bell on the massacre of mineworkers

For more coverage of South Africa, click HERE.

August 27, 2012 -- Terry Bell is a widely respected labour reporter and activist based in Cape Town, South Africa. His "Inside  labour" columns in Amandla! magazine and on his blog, Terry Bell Writes, are essential reading for those interested in developments in South Africa's labour movement. Below, with Terry Bell's permission, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts some of his recent columns dealing with Marikana massacre and the background to it.

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By Terry Bell

August 23, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes --  The deaths at Lonmin amount to the bloodiest tragedy of the post-apartheid era. As a result, the blame game is in full swing and is likely to continue in the weeks ahead.

South Africa: (updated Aug. 29) Justice now for the Marikana workers and community!

August 24, 2012 -- In the aftermath of the terrible Marikana massacre on August 16, 2012, a number of statements have been released by South Africa's left condemning and explaining the murder of more than 34 minerworkers on the day, and a number of others in the weeks previously. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a selection of the most significant. They include an article by veteran South African Communist Party member and former ANC government minister Ronnie Kasrils and statements by the Democratic Left Front (and a report of a public meeting), the South African Municipal Workers Union, Amandla!, Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Unemployed Workers Movement and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. More will be added as they come to hand.

See also "South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new".

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South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new

By Leonard Gentle, director of the International Labour Research and Information Group (South Africa)

August 23, 2012 -- ILRIG -- The story of Marikana has so far been painted shallowly as an inter-union spat. In the first few days after the August16 police killing of  34 striking mineworkers, employed by the Lonmin mining corporation, and the shock and horror of watching people being massacred on TV, there have correctly been howls of anger and grief. Of course no one wants to take responsibility because to do so would be to acknowledge blame.

Some pundits have even gone the way of warning at anyone “pointing figures” or “stoking anger”. That buffoon, African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, stepped forward as if scripted, and promptly lent credibility to those warnings. So South African President Jacob Zuma’s setting up of an inquiry and his call for a week of mourning for the deceased and their families could come across as “statesmanlike”.

South Africa: The ANC's 'second transition' to what?

A demonstrator protests against the passing of the Protection of Information Bill, known as the "secrecy bill", outside parliament in Cape Town, November 22, 2011. Photo: Mike Hutchings / Reuters.

By Vishwas Satgar, Johannesburg

July 13, 2012 -- Amandla! --The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa's ruling party for almost two decades, held a policy conference in June. There are many ideas and policy perspectives up for discussion but the "big idea" framing the discussion is captured in a 47-page long document entitled: The Second Transition? Building a National Democratic Society and the Balance of Forces in 2012.

South Africa: Who will surf the protest wave?

Johannesburg's Orange Farm revolts against local elites.

By Patrick Bond

July 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The recent surge of unconnected community protests across South Africa confirms the country’s profound social, economic and environmental contradictions. But if activists fall before a new hail of police bullets, or if they lack an overarching, unifying political strategy, won’t their demonstrations simply pop up and quickly fall back down again – deserving the curse words "popcorn protests" – as they simply run out of steam, or worse, get channelled by opportunists into a new round of xenophobic attacks?

It’s been a hot winter, and we’re just halfway through July (the Centre for Civil Society’s Social Protest Observatory keeps tabs at http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za). Consider evidence from just the past two weeks, for example, in Johannesburg’s distant Orange Farm township south of Soweto, where residents rose up against city councillors and national electricity officials because of the unaffordable $250 installation charged for hated pre-payment (i.e. self-disconnection) meters, not to mention a 130% increase in electricity prices.

South Africa's Democratic Left Front: 'Solidarity with the women and workers of Greece'

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

July 2, 2012 -- The Democratic Left Front (DLF – South Africa) expresses its full solidarity with the women, workers, progressive mass movements and the SYRIZA party of Greece as they face the deep effects of the EU-inspired austerity onslaught. The Greek austerity plan involves cuts of 11.6 billion euros ($14.5 billion) by 2014. This amount will come from brutal cuts in budgets for health, wages and pensions. It will also mean hundrends of thousands of job losses in the Greek public sector. This austerity plan is meant to make the workers and the poor pay.

South African workers and unemployed people have faced a similar onslaught for the last 18 years under neo-liberal African National Congress (ANC) rule.

In the June 17 elections, the anti-austerity SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) came a close second with 26.9% of the vote. The right-wing New Democracy won the elections with more than 29%, amid huge blackmail and threats from major European governments and financial institutions.

‘Closing the doors of learning’ to the Israeli state opens the doors of freedom

By Patrick Bond and Muhammed Desai

May 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One of South Africa’s largest tertiary institutions, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, is a site of multiple controversy but a near-disaster on May 21 deserves more reflection because it points us in a positive direction: away from allying with the Israeli state and its apartheid policies during a time of heightened racism. A representative of Israel had been invited to speak but was then disinvited, after the university was called on by staff and students to respect the “academic boycott” of Israel.

From South Africa, the African continent and everywhere else, it is a critical time to step up pressure against the rogue regime in Tel Aviv. Israel’s hard-right leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, is in a dangerous career phase, preparing to bomb Iran; illegitimately holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners in worsening conditions; expanding settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank; terrorising Gaza; and tightening his militaristic hold over the region.

South African metalworkers: 'Workers must lead the transition to a green economy'


Frank Hammer interviews Cedric Gina, president of the 287,000-member National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), about the need for workers to lead the transition to a green economy and the creation of green jobs. NUMSA advocates public ownership to achieve the necessary changes required to combat global warming. The interview, broadcast on the Real News Network on February 12, 2012, followed a NUMSA-sponsored conference on fighting climate change. More details on the conference can be found on Frank Hammer's Converge2Convert website.

South Africa: Interview with Soweto socialist councillor

Operation Khanyisa Movement banners at a march in Johannesburg, 2008.

April 5, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following interview appears in the South African left magazine Amandla!. The latest issue has just been released. Click here for the full contents. The new issue of Amandla! features analysis of the African National Congress' centenary.

The contradictions of Ronnie Kasrils: The leftist spy who came in from cold Pretoria

Ronnie Kasrils speaks out against Israel's apartheid policies, March 5, 2009.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

March 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- ‘I don’t have the stomach or the taste to serve any more at this level,’ said the normally ebullient minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils, as he quit after 14 years of service to the South African government. It was late September 2008, just after Thabo Mbeki was replaced in palace coup.

Kasrils’ intelligence service was by then an international laughing stock, with spy-versus-spy intrigue spilling out wide across the political landscape. His own troops were locked in unending, ungovernable, internecine battles against each other’s factions, using hoax emails, other disinformation and extraordinary political contortions unknown in even the ugliest Stalinist traditions of the African National Congress (ANC). Recall that Mbeki’s police chief Jackie Selebi was also the head of Interpol, and to have the mafia penetrate such high levels made South African security farcical at best.

COSATU general strike shakes South Africa

By Ashley Fataar, Cape Town

March 12, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- March 7 saw South Africa’s largest protest in several years when more than 200,000 workers took to the streets in 32 towns and cities across the country. More than 1.5 million workers stopped work.

The strike – called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to protest against the growing role of labour brokers and the introduction of road tolls -- was prompted by worsening poverty and working conditions in South Africa. There has been a steady decline in the wage share of national income, down from 56% in 1996 to less than 47% today.

After the Durban climate talks: State and market climate failures amplified by civil society failure

Durban, December 3, 2011. Photo by Anne Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

February 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 2007, former World Bank chief economist Nick Stern termed climate change the worst "market failure" in history – since those who pollute with greenhouse gases are not charged, and since they threaten future generations and vast swathes of natural life – and at that moment, even the 1991 ravings of another former World Bank chief economist, Larry Summers, made sense.

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up that", according to a memo with Summers’ signature, although actually Summers was a mere plagiarist of Harvard economist Lant Pritchett’s genius, insiders allege.

'Uneven and combined Marxism' within South Africa’s urban social movements

A protest by Kliptown Concerned Residents and the Anti Privatisation Forum.

By Patrick Bond, Ashwin Desai and Trevor Ngwane

February 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The political dynamics of contemporary South Africa are rife with contradiction. On one hand, it is among the most consistently contentious places on earth, with insurgent communities capable of mounting disruptive protest on a nearly constant basis, rooted in the poor areas of the half-dozen major cities as well as neglected and multiply-oppressed black residential areas of declining towns. On the other hand, even the best-known contemporary South African social movements, for all their sound, lack a certain measure of fury.

‘Global sustainability’ wilts in South Africa’s political hot air

By Patrick Bond, Durban

February 15, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The latest acts in South Africa’s’s intensifying political drama include a sizzling summer-long battle between young and old within the African National Congress (ANC), the February 10 State of the Nation speech by President Jacob Zuma and the release of the ANC’s “research” on alternatives to mining nationalisation, a demand by the ANC Youth League which is now one of the main issues dividing the ruling party.

Amid the chaos, stepping over the political corpse of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema (about to be expelled for “throwing the ANC into disrepute”), Zuma apparently also wants to be considered a world eco-visionary. As co-chairs of the United Nations’ High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, he and Finland’s President Tarja Halonen published an article last week entitled “Seizing sustainable development”. Zuma and Halonen ask, “How do we begin to tackle the massive challenge of retooling our global economy, preserving the environment, and providing greater opportunity and equity, including gender equality, to all?”

South Africa: ANC centenary a display of elite power

[Stop press: Soon after the publication of this article in South Africa, the author was beaten and arrested by police on trumped-up charges, see below.]

By Ayanda Kota

January 12, 2012 -- Pambazuka News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) are being used to persuade the people that a movement that has betrayed the people is our government; a government that obeys the people, instead of a government of the elites, for the elites and by the elites. It is a hugely expensive spectacle designed to drug us against our own oppression and disempowerment.

1912-2012: African National Congress at 100

By John S. Saul

January 6, 2012 -- The Bullet -- There is good and obvious reason to celebrate the long history of the African National Congress (ANC): the organisation's marked dedication over 100 years -- since its founding in 1912 -- to the cause of the betterment of the lot of the oppressed African people in South Africa. It has also sustained an honourable commitment to a multiracial, pan-ethnic outcome to the struggle against the unequivocally racist system that both segregation and apartheid came to represent for so long in South Africa. And, not least important, the ANC is now in power.

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