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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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Liv Shange returns to South Africa, July 14, 2013.
By Terry Bell, Cape Town
June 27, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- According to African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe those responsible for “the anarchy that is happening in the platinum industry” are the “Swedes and Irish”. It was a comment that left many commentators dumbstruck.
Citizens of Sweden and Ireland seemed a rather strange choice as scapegoats to take the place of the former “counter revolutionaries” of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). But AMCU, certainly over the past week or two, no longer fits the scapegoat bill: the ANC has stated that that earlier pro-National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and anti-AMCU comments by prominent ANC figures have been “resolved”; that AMCU and NUM are now regarded equally.
But why the use of “Swedes and Irish”? Some commentators saw in this parallels with the apartheid government’s claims of “foreign agitators” and “white communists” being behind the mass uprisings against their regime.
By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg
May 13, 2013 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- If capital is to be believed, it is the worker who is the main source of our contemporary social and economic problems.
Every time the annual South African season of wage negotiations is about to begin, as it is now, representatives of capital unleash a tsunami of propaganda about workers’ "high and unaffordable" wage demands. Dire warnings of destructive social unrest/conflict, high inflation rates, poor competitiveness and generalised economic devastation roll off their silver-lined tongues. The underlying message is neither subtle nor sanguine: wage demands of workers are to blame for just about everything bad that is happening in our society.
The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.
May 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the new South African High Commissioner to Swaziland, His Excellency Happy Mahlangu, presented his credentials to King Mswati, the Swazi Observer on May 3 reported him as saying:
I further wish to make use of this opportunity to express South Africa's best wishes to Your Majesty and the people of Swaziland for success during the forthcoming elections. I also want to assure you of South Africa's support regarding the Swaziland elections.
To make matters worse, here is what "His Excellency" had to say in the May 13 Swazi Times:
Zwelinzima Vavi is under attack for being too critical and independent of the ANC government.
By Benjamin Fogel
April 12, 2013 -- Amandla!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal with the author's permission -- the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is in the midst of the biggest crisis in its 27-year history. This crisis has arisen from a South African Communist Party (SACP)-driven attempt to oust democratically elected COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, under the guise of corruption charges. The conflict's roots are in longstanding political contradictions and ideological tensions between COSATU and its Alliance partners – the ruling African National Congress and the SACP. At stake is not only the leadership of COSATU, but its political and moral direction.
COSATU sources reveal that the anti-Vavi faction is an alliance between the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and elements of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). COSATU president Sidomu Dlamini leads this faction, which is in all likelihood driven by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe.
By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa
April 10, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 10, 1993, the serving general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) and popular leader Comrade Chris Hani was gunned down by Janusz Walus outside his home in New Dawn Park, Boksburg.
On the very same day then ANC President Nelson Mandela addressed the nation on national television, and had this to say; “The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. Our grief and anger is tearing us apart. What has happened is a national tragedy that has touched millions of people, across the political and colour divide… Our decisions and actions will determine whether we use our pain, our grief and our outrage to move forward to what is the only solution for our country -- an elected government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Hugo Chavez's funeral, March 8, 2013.
[Below are statements issued by left and progressive organisations in Africa. More will be posted as they come to hand.]
* * *
Taking forward the revolutionary life and symbolism of hugo Rafael Chavez Frias
March 10, 2013 -- The Democratic Left Front (DLF) of South Africa joins the millions of poor and working people and their mass movements in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Latin America and across the world who celebrate the revolutionary and emancipatory life and symbolism of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. Since his tragic passing away on March 5, our hearts have drawn inspiration and courage from his example and symbolism.
As the 9 million people who attended his funeral on March 8 showed, Chavez represented and personified immense hope and possibility: hope for the wretched of the Earth, hope and faith in the ability of the mass of exploited and oppressed people to self-organise and challenge inordinate power relations in society, and thereby be their own liberators, and realistic hope in the possibility of constructing a socialist alternative to the barbarism of capitalism.
Patrick Bond, director of the Center for Civil Society and professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, was interviewed by the Real News Network on February 14, 2013. Bond discussed the "resource curse" and the influence of the mining corporations on the ruling African National Congress, in particular the role of former anti-apartheid activist, now mining magnate, Cyril Ramaphosa. A full transcript is available HERE.
By Terry Bell
Lover of fast cars, vintage wine, trout fishing and game farming and the second richest black businessperson in South Africa (global financial publication Forbes puts his wealth at $675 million or £416 million), Cyril Ramaphosa (left) celebrates his election as deputy president of the ANC with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa demanded that police break the Marikana mineworkers' strike; police massacred 34 minerworkers and wounded 78 others.
By Patrick Bond
December 20, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the official judicial investigating commission into the Marikana Massacre draws to a close in 2012, with many weeks of testimony in 2013 still ahead, what did the South African Police Service (SAPS) learn from their behaviour?
SAPS Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi – who heads "public order policing" and hence control of demonstrations – was asked this by commission chair Ian Farlam last week, and judging by his four answers, the SAPS has not begun to grasp the reality of the crime they committed on August 16, 2012:
By Terry Bell
December 13, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The tortuous road to the governing African National Congress' (ANC) centennial conference at Mangaung ends next week. And, not to put too fine a point on it, much of the country is gatvol [fed up] with the route it has taken and where it has arrived.
Potholed with corruption, meandering in no fixed direction to the profit of cronies, and riddled with damaging scandal, it should long ago have been resurfaced, rebuilt and given a clear destination. But it has remained in place as a national project and, in the process, has pushed into the background the ongoing — and often more subtle — unethical dealings outside of government circles.
In recent years and despite occasional grumbles, the country’s major trade union federation, the congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU), has continued to stumble along that road, praising its supposed promise. The federation was committed to it, especially after declaring, at its congress in 2006, that a “Zuma tsunami” would cure the ills on the road ahead. In the event, the leapfrogghing into power of President Jacob Zuma has proved even more destructive.
South Africa after Marikana massacre: Strike wave and new workers' organisations challenge old compromises
Thousands of Amplats mineworkers rally in Rustenburg, South Africa.
By Leonard Gentle
November 12, 2012 -- International Labour Research and Information Group -- Over the November 10-11, 2012, weekend striking mineworkers of the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) corporation gathered at a mass rally in Rustenburg and howled their defiance of a series of ultimatums issued by the company. At De Doorns, farm workers are on a "wildcat" strike -- the latest of a series that has become a feature of the South African landscape over the last three months, knocking the African National Congress conference in Mangaung off the front pages. Something is stirring from below … and it is time we got beyond the fear and trepidation that have become the stock response in the media.
SACP's Blade Nzimande leads COSATU members prior to clashes with striking Anglo Platinum miners. October 27, 2012, Rustenburg, North West. Photo by Greg Marinovich, Daily Maverick.
Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)
October 29, 2012 -- The Democratic Left Front condemns the police for shooting workers in Rustenburg on October 27. Two workers who work at Amplats were hit by live ammunition, and one, hit in the chest, is in a critical condition in hospital. Eleven other mineworkers were injured by rubber bullets. The DLF also condemns Blade Nzimande, SACP general secretary and minister for higher education, for condoning this shooting by the police. This so-called “Communist” defends the shooting of workers in the interests of the capitalist bosses.
Marikana miners protest against the August 16, 2012, massacre by police.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
October 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When a ruling party in any African country sinks to the depths of allowing its police force to serve white-dominated multinational capital by killing dozens of black workers so as to end a brief strike, as happened in South Africa in August, it represents not just human rights and labour relations travesties. The incident offers the potential for a deep political rethink.
But that can only happen if the society openly confronts the chilling lessons learned in the process about the moral degeneration of a liberation movement that the world had supported for decades. Support was near universal from progressives of all political hues, because that movement, the African National Congress (ANC), promised to rid this land not only of formal apartheid but of all unfair racial inequality and indeed class and gender exploitation as well. And now the ANC seems to be making many things worse.
There are five immediate considerations about what happened at Marikana, 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, beginning around 4 pm on August 16, 2012: