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COSATU

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: Nine COSATU unions call for Zwelinzima Vavi's reinstatement

Zwelinzima Vavi.

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

January 29, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This press conference has been called to explain why the nine Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliated unions have taken the unprecedented step of coming together in an attempt to rescue and regenerate COSATU.

Our main and overriding purpose is to work openly towards freeing COSATU from its current state of organisational and political paralysis, for it to become once again a vibrant, independent, progressive worker-controlled federation. The working class at this critical time demands nothing less!

What crisis in COSATU?

We hold the view that COSATU is in deep crisis, and denying the scale and extent of the crisis makes matters worse. A review of what COSATU was supposed to implement following its 2012 congress reveals an organisation unable to move forward on any significant area, and especially in relation to economic and social matters. Meanwhile millions of our people continue to face unemployment, poverty and worsening inequality.

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?

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

'I am no messiah': Mandela and the dangers of deification

'Farewell to an icon', by Zapiro.

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

December 13, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As everyone from monarchs to the labouring masses this week sought to share in the Mandela memorial moment, the myth machine went into overdrive, the very machine Mandela had so disparaged when I sat with him in his Johannesburg office in 1992. One sentence he uttered then has resonated with me throughout the years: “I am no messiah.”

The virtual deification of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would almost certainly have been anathema to the man. Especially since it has been peppered with hypocrisy in the laudatory comments by the likes of President Robert Mugabe, and the statements by, and selection of, some of the VIP delegations to his memorial and funeral.

Ashwin Desai: Nelson Mandela’s long walk

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By Ashwin Desai, Johannesburg

December 10, 2013 -- The Unrepentant Marxist -- Nelson Mandela’s best-selling autobiography, published in 1994, is entitled Long Walk to Freedom. It tells the powerful story of the journey of a rural Transkei boy who was a cow-herd and son of a deposed tribal chief, to guerilla fighter to decades-long prisoner on an Island fortress and then to the first black and democratic president of his nation, South Africa.

This story came at a time when the world was witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union, the toppling of statues of many socialist icons and the quagmire of many post-colonial states in Africa. Mandela’s story was rightfully seen as one example of vindication for resistance, righteousness, principle and steadfastness. With the African National Congress (ANC) victory seen as a rare move forward during the 1990s, it reminded us all that to sacrifice for justice will finally find redemption.

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: Zwelinzima Vavi explains the real cause of the crisis in COSATU

Zwelinzima Vavi.

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.

South Africa: 'Beacon of hope' still flickers faintly

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

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.

South Africa: World’s longest running current industrial dispute sets example for us all

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.

Motsotso wa NUMSA (The NUMSA moment): South Africa's most radical trade union (video)

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.

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.

South Africa: 'The conflict in COSATU is about its political direction'

Zwelinzima Vavi.

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.

South Africa: ANC sees 'Swedes and Irish' behind miners' anger; Solidarity forces ANC back-down

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.

South Africa: Since 1994, a massive wealth shift from already poor to the 'uber-rich'

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.

Swaziland: South Africa's high commissioner rejects democratic transformation

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Joint statement

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:

South Africa: Pro-government faction attacks COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi

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.

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