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South Africa: What would Chris Hani say today?

Chris Hani.

"Being a staunch believer in the dictum that the masses are the makers of history, Chris Hani would urge all of us to push the workers' wagon forward. He would warn that without mass power, we must all forget about liberating ourselves from the shackles of capitalism and apartheid. I want to be like Chris Hani! Let all of us be inspired by his examples and deeds that need to be emulated."

Chris Hani Memorial Lecture by Zwelinzima Vavi, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary, delivered in Queenstown, October 23, 2010

I am extremely honoured by your invitation to deliver the Chris Hani memorial lecture here in Queenstown today. It was over fifteen years ago, on April 10, 1993, when "Chris" Martin Thembisile Hani was cruelly taken from us by an assassin's bullet. We remember too all the other heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle whom we lost in the month of April, including Solomon Mahlangu and Oliver Tambo.

Chris Hani's story and my own interaction with him after his return from exile have inspired me and millions of others. He remains a shining example of what we mean when we talk about an authentic, genuine, true revolutionary leader. He is the best embodiment of the finest traditions and principles of our liberation movement.

South African splinters: From `elite transition' to `small-a alliances'

"The [ANC-SACP-COSATU] Alliance has stuck together through thick and thin for two decades, and is likely to outlast this latest conflagration for at least a few more years."

[The following article first appeared in AfricaFile's At Issue Ezine, vol. 12 (May-October 2010), edited by John S. Saul, which examines the development of the southern African liberation movement-led countries. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

By Patrick Bond

South Africa's development goals won't be met

While South Africa's pollies and "BEE" elite party, there is little for poor to celebrate.

By Patrick Bond

September 28, 2010 -- Last week’s meeting of global leaders at the United Nations was predictable: more posturing about unmet global needs in relation to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a decade ago. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was too busy to attend, staying in Durban to restore order at a major African National Congress (ANC) leadership conference.

Since coming to power after a palace coup against Thabo Mbeki exactly two years ago, the new government’s performance has been miserable. For example, roughly 1.5 million jobs have been lost, in spite of a major economic burst before and during the mid-2010 World Cup.

The country’s elites congratulated themselves on their management of the soccer games, but honest observers would concede a destructive political-economic logic, with a tendency to:

South Africa: Communist youth leader -- `Black economic empowerment becomes Zuma economic empowerment'

By David Masondo, Young Communist League chairperson

September 5, 2010 -- City Press -- There was cautious optimism among many leftists in the African National Congress (ANC) that the ousting of Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane [the ANC's 2007 national conference] might mark a shift towards a much more egalitarian economic policy, including "Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

Instead, BEE is increasingly becoming too narrow, amounting to ZEE – that is, Zuma Economic Empowerment.

The recent ­multibillion-rand Arcelor-Mittal BEE deal involving Duduzane, President Jacob ­Zuma’s son, is another example of how BEE has become too narrow.

To crown it all, the president’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, seems to have suddenly become an African imperialist, amassing oil resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa: Strike ends, workers' anger remains

* * * STOP PRESS* * *

On September 6, the major trade unions representing South Africa's 1.3 million public servants and teachers announced that the 20-day strike for higher wages and allowances had been "suspended". See union statements below. Union leaders said the move would allow members to consider the latest government offer. Public servants went on strike demanding an 8.6% pay rise, while the government has offered 7.5%. According to the BBC, workers who came to hear union officials shouted in protest when they announced that the strike was being suspended. Meanwhile, workers in many other industries are taking or threatening industrial action.

* * *

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

South Africa: Public sector strike highlights post-apartheid’s contradictions

By Patrick Bond

August 22, 2010 -- The two major civil service unions on strike against the South African government have vowed to intensify pressure in coming days, in a struggle pitting more than a million members of the middle and lower ranks of society against a confident government leadership fresh from hosting the World Cup.

Along with many smaller public sector unions, educators from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and nurses from the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) continued picketing schools, clinics and hospitals, leading to widespread shutdowns starting on August 18. Skeleton teams of doctors and military personnel were compelled to send non-emergency cases home.

In several confrontations with police at town centres, clinics and schools late last week, workers were shot with rubber bullets and water cannon. On August 21, the courts enjoined workers to return to jobs considered “emergency services”. In dozens of hospitals and clinics, military health workers took over.

South Africa: COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi's Ruth First Memorial Lecture

Ruth First with Joe Slovo (left).

Zwelinzima Vavi presents the 2010 Ruth First Memorial Lecture, Wits University, Johannesburg, August 17, 2010. Vavi is secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Ruth First  (May 4, 1925–August 17, 1982) was a South African anti-apartheid activist and communist born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was killed by the apartheid regime with a parcel bomb in Mozambique in 1982, where she worked in exile from South Africa.

* * *

I will always cherish this moment. It is such an honour to deliver the annual lecture in memory of Ruth First.

The theme is "How policy is affecting the marginalised and its impact on poverty".

As we recall the immense contribution of Ruth First to our struggle, let me begin with a quote from Karl Marx, which describes Ruth First's life. In a letter to his father in 1837, Karl Marx says: "If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people".

COSATU leader on SACP's 89th anniversary: `Mass power is the best defence'

By Zwelinzima Vavi

August 1, 2010 -- July 29, 2010, marks the 89th anniversary of a revolutionary organ of the working class, the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Being the only communist party in the African continent, the SACP (or Communist Party of South Africa as it was known then) has been a wagon that advanced and carried working-class struggles in the country and also in the continent. The formation of the CPSA is inseparable from the history of the Great October Revolution of 1917 and the launch of the Communist International in 1919.

(Updated June 4) Condemn Israel's attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, break ties with murderous Israel!


June 1, 2010 -- Emergency rally in Sydney to protest Israeli commando assault on Gaza aid flotilla, attended by 4000 people. Photos by Darrian Perry for Green Left Weekly.

Statements by International Solidarity Movement (Palestine), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah (Palestine), Socialist Alliance (Australia), Labour Party Pakistan, Socialist Party of Malaysia, People's Democratic Party (Indonesia), Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippines), Working People's Association (PRP) (Indonesia), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Coalition for a Free Palestine (South Africa), Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African Communist Party, Socialist Party USA, Fourth International, Sinn Fein (Ireland) (check back for more).

* * *

Neville Alexander: South Africa – An unfinished revolution?

Neville Alexander.

[The following address -- the fourth Strini Moodley Annual Memorial Lecture, held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on May 13, 2010 – was delivered by renowned South African revolutionary socialist and theorist Neville Alexander. From 1964 to 1974 he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Strinivasa Rajoo "Strini" Moodley (December 22, 1945–April 27, 2006) was a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. In 1976, he was convicted of terrorism in a trial involving members of the South African Students' Organisation and the Black People's Convention, and imprisoned on Robben Island. The speech is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Neville Alexander’s permission.]

Conference of the Democratic Left: Unite to make another South Africa and world possible!

The following call was issued by the Conference of the Democratic Left, a left unity project in South Africa. It first appeared at the Conference of the Democratic Left web site.

* * *

A call to a national people’s conference against capitalism and for democratic left politics

A Call for united anti-capitalist action …

This is a call to come together in unity in a Conference Against Capitalism and for Democratic Left Politics.

1.   The world is in crisis

Global capitalism threatens our world with disaster. If it is left to plunder the natural resources of our planet and pollute the atmosphere, the oceans and the soil, life itself will be under grave threat.

Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle

Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa, on February 11, 1990. That historic victory was the product of the long and courageous struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa. It was also a victory for the international movement against apartheid. Revolutionary Cuba played a vital role in the international movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as the following article describes. (See also "Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom".)

* * *

By Nicole Sarmiento

January 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Cuba's relations with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s, and shortly after the triumph of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front (Gleijeses, 1996a). Che Guevara's trip around the African continent in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba's relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

What is 'left' about 'the left' in South Africa?

There was uproar over SACP general secretary and government minister Blade Nzimande's 1.2 million rand luxury BMW. Cartoon by Zapiro. For more Zapiro cartoons, please visit http://www.zapiro.com.

By Dale T. McKinley

November 5, 2009 -- For several years now, but particularly since the ascendancy of Jacob Zuma and his South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) allies within both the African National Congress (ANC) and the state, ``the left'' in South Africa has come to be almost completely associated with (and presented as) the SACP, COSATU and, to a lesser extent, the ANC itself. Even though this state of affairs ignores a wide range of organisations and people that can stake a serious claim to being part of ``the left'', the fact is that contemporary politics in South Africa are dominated, in one way or another, by these three alliance partners. As such, it is a good time to pose a critically important question: What is ``left'' about ``the left'' in South Africa?

South Africa: Time for a new democratic left party?

Mazibuko Jara.

By Mazibuko K. Jara

October 30, 2009 -- Our country is in crisis. There is deepening inequality, many people live in permanent poverty and millions are unemployed for most of their adult lives. Women continue to suffer from social oppression, violence and poverty. The very ecological and biophysical conditions for our human existence are under threat.

Retrogressive ideologies in our society are gaining ground: we are going back to ethnic identity, we have retrogressive notions of womanhood, we have seen the rise in the power of undemocratic rule of unelected chiefs. The state is dysfunctional, corrupt and fraudulent. The state seems unwilling to confront the economic system that produces all these crises. Together, none of these socioeconomic problems can be addressed by a South Africa that reproduces capitalism. These problems require solutions that go beyond capitalist accumulation.

Is it correct to regard the Jacob Zuma-led African National Congress (ANC) as left? Whilst the Zuma-led ANC is much friendlier to the left than Thabo Mbeki's, neoliberal capitalism survives in South Africa.

South Africa: ‘The African Communist': 50 years of mobilisation, analysis

The African Communist, 1991.

By Blade Nzimande

October 26, 2009 -- A browse through the very first edition of the African Communist in 1959 not only gives an insight into the time and context during which it was launched but also the courageous and defiant character of those who breathed life into our historic journal.

This magazine, the African Communist, has been started by a group of Marxist-Leninists in Africa, to defend and spread the inspiring and liberating ideas of Communism in our great Continent, and to apply the brilliant scientific method of Marxism to the solution of its problems.

It is being produced in conditions of great difficulty and danger. Nevertheless we mean to go on publishing it, because we know that Africa needs Communist thought, as dry and thirsty soil needs rain.

The crisis of the left in contemporary South Africa

Shack dwellers protest in Durban.

By Dale T. McKinley

The ideological, political, organisational and socioeconomic realities of contemporary South Africa do not paint a flattering picture for the left:

South Africa: Political balance shifts left -- though not enough to quell grassroots' anger

South African doctors on strike on May 29, 2009.

By Patrick Bond

June 13, 2009 -- With high-volume class strife heard in the rumbling of wage demands and the friction of township ``service delivery'' protests, rhetorical and real conflicts are bursting open in every nook and cranny of South Africa. The big splits in society are clearer now. Distracting internecine rivalries within the main left bloc have subsided. From 2005-09, the ruling African National Congress' huge wedge between camps allied to Thabo Mbeki and to the new president, Jacob Zuma, cleaved the ANC in two, but Zuma's troops have mostly flushed out the former's from the state and party.

So the bigger story now is the deep-rooted economic crisis. Government fiddling at the margins with Keynesian policies is not having any discernable impact. A lower interest rate -- down 4.5% from last year's peak (to around 10% prime with around 8% inflation) -- and a probable 5% state deficit/GDP ratio (last year's was a 0.5% surplus) are not nearly enough tinkering to stave off a serious depression.

Ronnie Kasrils -- South Africa and Palestine: Long roads to freedom

Ronnie Kasrils spoke at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on March 20, 2009, at a talk organised by Pulsemedia.org and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. During the years of apartheid rule in South Africa, Ronnie Kasrils was a leader in the banned South African Communist Party and African National Congress, and its military wing Umkonto we Sizwe. Hunted by the security police, he was described as ``armed and dangerous''. Kasrils served as a government minister in post-spartheid South Africa until 2008.

Today Kasrils is an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa, which recently won support from Durban dock workers to adopt a policy of boycotting Israeli ships that dock in South African ports.

`Worse than South African apartheid'

South African election: Zuma elite will maintain ANC's pro-capitalist course

Jacob Zuma (right) will maintain Thabo Mbeki's course.

By John Appolis and Dale McKinley, for the Anti-Privatisation Forum

April 16, 2009 -- We are now in a world radically different from what it was a mere four months ago. The world economy is collapsing, torn apart by an economic recession. Thousands of workers are being thrown out of work; millions find themselves hungry in the midst of plenty of food; millions are homeless in the midst of houses being repossessed and standing empty. Factories that once produced bricks and cement are standing idle when millions require shelter. Neoliberal capitalism has over the past 30 years inflicted untold misery onto the world's poor whilst simultaneously making a very small minority filthy rich.

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