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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.
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.]
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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:
South African metalworkers' union: 'For a class struggle approach to climate change and energy transition'
Karl Cloete addresses NUMSA's February 2012 International Conference on Building a Socially Owned Renewable Energy Sector in Johannesburg.
By Karl Cloete, deputy general-secretary, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)
[The following paper was presented on October 10, 2012, at a conference at Cornell University. NUMSA is South Africa's second-largest union, with alomost 290,000 members in the smelting, maunufacturing, auto and electricity generation industries.]
Our starting point as NUMSA is that to effect an energy transition, we as the global union movement DO need a perspective to guide us as well as strategies to be utilised by the movement. While such a perspective and accompanying strategies will definitely not come fully formed and in one go, we HAVE to keep working on them through discussions, through struggles, through experimentation and through learning from experiences of those in the forefront of energy struggles (within and outside of the labour movement).
Marikana mineworkers on strike for higher pay.
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.
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.
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.
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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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.