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South Africa: 20 years on, ‘very good story’ of ANC ‘social democracy’ needs tough questioning

South Africa experiences thousands of strikes, protests and confrontations annually with a police force willing to take extraordinary steps to defend capital’s property rights.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

April 27, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two decades ago, liberation was won in South Africa. In two weeks, the May 7 election will confirm the popularity of the African National Congress (ANC) with a landslide victory.

South Africa: Ronnie Kasrils calls for 'no vote' for African National Congress

Former ministers Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and Ronnie Kasrils at the media launch of the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake Up! We are Fed Up!) Vote No! campaign at Wits University. Photo by Antoine de Ras.

For more on South Africa, click HERE.

April 21, 2014 -- Former leading member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and former government minister Ronnie Kasrils, together with another former minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has launched the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake up! We are fed up!) Vote No! campaign. It calls on South Africans to "vote no" at the May 7, 2014, general election to the corruption and neoliberal economic policies of the African National Congress (ANC) and the right-wing oppostion, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Kasrils' call has provoked widespread debate on the South African left and condemnation from the SACP and the ANC.

Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes an article by Kasrils on the reasons behind the campaign, as well as some commentary from the left.

* * *

By Ronnie Kasrils

South Africa: 'Challenge the neoliberal ANC government and its capitalist allies'

Striking platinum workers, January 30, 2014.

'We are looking forward to the mass workers party to challenge the neoliberal ANC government and its capitalist allies'

Statement of the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

April 2, 2014 -- On the eve of the May 2014 national elections the Democratic Left Front held its second conference since its formation in 2011 at Stay City in Berea, Johannesburg, from March 27-30, 2014.

One hundred and forty delegates representing a number of important popular movements, independent trade unions, women, youth, socialist and environmental organisations from around the country met and were decisive in embracing the NUMSA break with the Tripartite [[African National Congress, Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African Communist Party] Alliance and the building of a mass united front and a movement for socialism. We believe that this represents the most significant opportunity for placing democratic, left socialist politics at the centre of our country’s political system.

Suddenly politics has become interesting. The dominance of the ANC’s exhausted nationalism and the [opposition] Democratic Alliance’s [the former apartheid parties] regurgitation of big-business interests will be decisively challenged and, we have no doubt, defeated. Tweedledee and Tweedledummer will meet their match.

South Africa: Irvin Jim (NUMSA) on new working-class leadership and prospects for socialist politics

In three parts.

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Presentation by Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa; chaired by John S. Saul.

March 6, 2014 -- Left Streamed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The dramatic upsurge of popular grass-roots protest in South Africa's townships and rural areas in recent years has marked a “rebellion of the poor” in that country. The working-class itself has also been assertive, prompting the African National Congress administered state's horrific massacre of dissident mineworkers at Marikana in 2012.

Until recently, leading trade unions have confined been within the tripartite governing coalition of the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country's largest trade union federation.

South Africa: Workers' guide to the crisis in COSATU; Reply to Jeremy Cronin

Tens of thousands of workers across South Africa responded to the call from NUMSA for a general strike on March 19, 2014, against neoliberal government policies.

Break the paralysis of COSATU!

Why the attacks on Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi and NUMSA will fail!

Our call for a special COSATU national congress

[Posted March 20, 2014 at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal]

Statement by the nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary

Almost 29 years ago at the height of mass struggles by workers, youth, women, students and communities, despite repression, detention without trial, a state of emergency, killings and assassinations of activists and leaders, the workers of South Africa declared; “A giant is born”. And so the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), by the blood, sacrifices and sweat of many generations before it, was launched.

How did the giant help to defeat apartheid?

South Africa: NUMSA to hold socialist conferences across the country; critical election looming

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Terry Bell

March 6, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite media claims to the contrary there is no move by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) to start a political party. What the union plans to organise is a series of “socialist consultative conferences” in the nine provinces of South Africa— and this is in line with a 21-year-old Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decision that has apparently never been rescinded.

The jargon used at the NUMSA press conference at which general secretary Irvin Jim referred to the establishment of a united front or movement that may in future contest elections was the probably cause of media confusion. Neither a movement nor the more formal united front is a political party in the traditional sense. Both are groupings of individuals and organisations that share broadly common aims.

South Africa: 'Leadership faction wants COSATU to be a toothless giant', declare nine affiliates

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Statement by nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary

February 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The outcome of the special central executive council (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) that was shunned by those affiliates who had formally called for a Special National Congress has confirmed our worst fears.

The current leadership faction that currently controls the boardroom manipulated the quorum, the agenda and the discussion to reach outcomes that have nothing to do with protecting the rights of workers or their organisations. It is clear that this faction is prepared to sacrifice COSATU and turn it into a toothless giant in order to please its political masters. We cannot and will not allow this to happen without a determined struggle and we believe that we have the support of the majority of COSATU workers.

South Africa: 'ANC in lucrative alliance with international capital', says NUMSA's Irvin Jim

Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary.

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Presentation by Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at the Cape Town Press Club

February 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December 2013 – the parliament we called the NUMSA Special National Congress. In that parliament there was vigorous debate. Every delegate knew that they would have to account to their constituency. We are justifiably proud of our democratic heritage. We know that what we decided has the backing of our members. We don’t have to change decisions after the congress has spoken, as some do, even though there are those who would urge us to “come to our senses” and take NUMSA in another direction from the decisions of that Congress.

Forging a new movement: NUMSA and the shift in South Africa's politics

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Leonard Gentle

January 28, 2014 -- SACSIS -- The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the African National Congress (ANC) has received poor analysis. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019 or whether all this means that suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back.

The greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, rather than the line up to the right is being missed.

Klassenapartheid: Die Wirtschaftspolitik der Mandela-Ära war geprägt von Zugeständnissen an das »big business«

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3620.]

Von Patrick Bond

Analyse & Kritik -- Die Welt trauert um Nelson Mandela, der am 5. Dezember 2013 im Alter von 95 Jahren starb. Wie hat Mandela Südafrika verändert? Und wie viel politischen Spielraum hatte er dabei überhaupt? Südafrika taumelt heute von Krise zu Krise, weshalb sich viele nach Mandelas Regierungszeit zurücksehnen. Diese habe sich grundsätzlich unterschieden vom jetzigen kumpel-kapitalistischen, durch und durch korrupten, auf einer brutalen Sicherheitspolitik beruhenden Regime – so lautet der Tenor. Doch vielleicht wurde die Saat des heutigen politischen Übels schon früher gesät?

Democratic Left Front: Together, a new South Africa is possible

Democratic Left Front salutes the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa special national congress

By the Democratic Left Front, South Africa

December 23, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is a spectre haunting the ruling class and government in South Africa: it is the radical anti-capitalist movement that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has given birth to at its historic special national congress held last week. The Democratic Left Front (DLF) congratulates NUMSA for this congress that united metalworkers in spite of the sustained attempts to divide NUMSA.

South Africa: NUMSA calls for new movement for socialism, end to ANC alliance

Delegates to NUMSA's special congress greet suspended COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (centre).

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

Declaration of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) Special National Congress, held in Boksburg, December 17-20, 2013. This document had been abridged.

This and other congress documents are available in full at http://www.numsa.org.za.

* * *

1. Introduction

NUMSA’s Special National Congress convened from December 17 to December 20, 2013. It was attended by 1200 delegates representing 338,000 metalworkers from 50 Locals throughout the provinces of South Africa. NUMSA was proud to announce in the congress that it is the biggest union in the history of the African continent. In the last 17 months, since our 9th Congress in Durban, we have grown from 300,000 members to 338,000 members. We are ahead of schedule in our goal to organise 400,000 workers by the time of our 10th Congress in 2016.

2. The passing of Madiba

From Marxism to neoliberalism: Ronnie Kasrils on how Mandela & ANC shifted

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

December 12, 2013 -- Democracy Now! -- Speaking from Johannesburg, leading anti-apartheid activist and former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils discusses the evolution of the African National Congress’ economic views from its time as a liberation movement to leading South Africa after the fall of apartheid. Kasrils says the ANC was forced to make a "Faustian pact" with neoliberalism in order to bring apartheid to an end and avoid civil war. He also discusses recent reports that Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party. Kasrils was on the National Executive Committee of the ANC for 20 years, serving as minister for intelligence services from 2004 to 2008.

Transcript

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

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.

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,

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.

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.

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