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South Africa: (Updated) Marikana Lonmin workers win 22% wage rise, but the struggle for justice goes on

victory-for-marikana

Amandla! editorial

September 20, 2012 -- Amandla! -- A heroic struggle has tasted its first victory. The reported wage settlement with the mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine -- site of the terrible August 16 massacre of workers by police -- of R11, 000 is a massive victory, nothing less than the murder and sacrifice of so many workers dictated.

With an unholy alliance of Lonmin bosses, the bosses of the entire platinum sector, the army, police, government and even the leadership of the South African Communist Party and the pro-government National Union of Mineworkers rangeed against them, Lonmin workers can turn from their wage struggle to the struggle for justice with enormous pride and their dignity restored. This struggle has already rewritten the history of the international labour movement. In the eyes of the world, Marikana is not a place but an expression that workers' struggle -- class struggle -- is not yesterday's language and ideology, but lives in the struggles of the exploited and oppressed from below who continue to fight the good fight.

South Africa: 'The SACP has become a vanguard of ANC power factionalism'

South Africa's ANC president Jacob Zuma (right) dances with SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.

By Dale T. McKinley

September 10, 2012 -- South African Civil Society Information Service -- If ever we needed to be reminded of Milan Kundera’s famous axiom that, "the struggle … against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting", then it is in respect of the post-apartheid history of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Why? Because it is a history that shows us, in so many different ways, how and why the SACP has gradually but systematically become a vanguard of African National Congress (ANC) factionalist politics as opposed to its self-proclaimed role as an independent, progressive force representing and leading the "national democratic, anti-capitalist struggle" of the working class.

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.

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.

'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.

South African Communist Party at 90: Is it still relevant? Two views

By Jeremy Cronin

July 31, 2011 -- Amandla! -- Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the liquidation of his own communist party, is not generally well regarded in communist circles. There is, however, at least one pertinent observation in his book, Perestroika. There he writes that he realised there was need for change in the former Soviet Union when the program of the party was increasingly determined by the march of the calendar, by a ritualistic commemoration of historical dates.

This weekend [July 31] the South African Communist Party (SACP) marks its 90th anniversary. But it would be a mistake for us to celebrate the occasion as mere ritual.

As a young operative I was proud of being recruited into a party that, from its outset in the early 1920s, had pioneered non-racialism -- not just in principle, but shoulder to shoulder in active struggle. It was the party that started night schools and literacy classes [for blacks].

Swaziland: (Updated April 15) Monarchy cracks down on pro-democracy protests

Swazi regime’s 'victory' is a pyrrhic one

By Peter Kenworthy

(Earlier reports and statements below.)

April 14, 2011 -- Pambazuka News -- Swaziland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Lutfo Dlamini, called the brutally crushed peaceful protest or uprising against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy, that lets a small elite live in luxury while two thirds of the population live below the poverty line, a “failure” yesterday.

I beg to differ. In fact, the so-called “victory” of the regime against the demonstrators, whose call for democracy and rule of law in the absolute monarchy that is Swaziland, may turn out to be a pyrrhic one,  making Swazi’s less likely to accept reformist measures once the inevitable change that most people want comes.

Because while the demonstrators didn’t manage to amass the numbers they had hoped for, this was mainly due to the intimidation, blocking tactics and violence of the police and security forces that did everything they could to stop people from assembling in Manzini.

(Updated April 1) Left statements on Libya: Stop the bombing, victory to the Arab revolution

March 24, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are a number of statements on the situation in Libya issued by left parties and organisations around the world following the start of the US-led bombing campaign. Statements include those by the Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt),  Via Campesina, Socialist Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Fourth International, France's New Anti-Capitalist Party, the South African Communist Party, Focus on the Global South, Sinistra Critica (Critical Left, Italy), Portugal's Left Bloc, Brazil's PSOL. There is also a statement signed by 58 communist and workers' parties. More will be posted as they come to hand. See also statements by Socialist Alliance (Australia), the Socialist Party of Malaysia, the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippines), the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the New Zealand Greens.

* * *

South Africa: The history and character of `black economic empowerment'

One of South Africa's new breed of capitalist tycoons, multimillionaire Kenny Kunene. Others include former mineworkers' union leader Cyril Ramaphosa and former ANC Gauteng leader Tokyo Sexwale.

By Dale McKinley

January 10/February 9, 2011 -- South African Civil Society Information Service -- Amid all the usual political propaganda and grandstanding at the African National Congress (ANC)’s 99th anniversary rally in Polokwane on January 8, 2011, it was none other than ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema who came up with the most honest statement of the day. Defending himself against charges that he and his ANC Youth League cronies were continuing to economically benefit from associated businesses awarded government tenders; he argued that business is intrinsically elitist. As such, Malema claimed, “BEE will never be broad” – and in this rare case, he got it right. 

(Updated Feb. 6) International left in solidarity with the Arab revolution


Socialist Alliance local councillor Sam Wainwright addresses a rally in support of the Egyptian revolution, outside Wesley Church, Perth, Western Australia, on February 5, 2011. Organised by the Egyptian Community in Perth.

February 4, 2011 -- Most trends in the socialist left internationally have rallied to offer solidarity to revolutionary upsurge in Egypt, Tunisia and the wider Arab world.

South Africa: `COSATU has waged titanic battles' -- COSATU marks its 25th anniversary

Workers celebrate COSATU’s 25th anniversary. Picture: Gallo Images.

The following speeches, by COSATU's president and general secretary, were delivered at a ceremony in Johannesburg on December 3, 2010, to celebrate the Congress of South African Trade Unions' 25th anniversary.

* * *

By Sidumo Dlamini, COSATU president

December 3, 2010 -- Cyril Ramaphosa was prophetic when he declared that “a giant has arisen!” That giant has grown from 130,000 members when it was launched to well over 2 million paid up members today.

While still barely walking, the young giant launched itself into titanic battles against employers and the apartheid regime. In his speech at the launch, founding COSATU president Elijah Barayi gave apartheid ruler P.W. Botha a six-month deadline to do away with passes. Indeed Botha succumbed and the hated pass laws that had humiliated millions for decades were scrapped. Today we carry proper identity documents.

South Africa: ANC leaders attack COSATU

By John Haylett

November 5, 2010 -- Morning Star -- Relations between the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and sections of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) plumbed new depths this week following a union-initiated Civil Society conference.

The October 27 conference was organised by COSATU and human rights bodies Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). More than 50 independent organisations took part, debating how to encourage community-based activism to achieve social justice and improve poor people's lives. [Read the declaration of the civil society conference. Read Zwelimzima Vavi's speech to the conference.]

So far so uncontroversial, but the organisers had agreed to make the conference non-party political, which meant that neither the ANC nor the South African Communist Party (SACP) were invited to take part.

Cuban Communist Oscar Martinez: `Our economic reforms are based on socialist principles'

"We are reorganising the workforce, not firing workers. We are directing them to other areas of work vital for the economy, mainly food production."

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

November 3, 2010 -- Umsebenzi -- A South African Communist Party (SACP) delegation recently visited Cuba a part of its political interaction between South Africa and Cuba, and its quest to build socialism and strengthen ties between it and the Communist Party of Cuba.

Yunus Carrim, editor of  the SACP's monthly journal, Umsebenzi, interviewed Oscar Martinez, the deputy head of the International Relations Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. Published below is the full interview, as it appeared in Umsebenzi.

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Yunus Carrim: What is the nature of the economic problems Cuba is currently experiencing?

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