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COSATU

COSATU leader on South African and Israeli apartheid

Address by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, District Six Museum, Cape Town. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine's Cape Town hearings concluded that Israel is guilty of apartheid crimes. Its panel of jurists ruled that Israel's actions against the Palestinians breach the prohibition of apartheid under international law. Click here for more details of the tribunal's findings.

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Black South African workers -- especially a mineworker like myself -- who bore the brunt of South African racial capitalism, and understood the purposes and mechanisms of apartheid, know that when we talk about the conditions faced by our Palestinian comrades we are talking about apartheid . -- Zwelinzima Vavi

Eyewitness Swaziland: The birth of ‘Liberation Friday!’; 'The struggle for a democratic Swaziland continues'

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

September 10, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Friday,  September 9, marked the last day in the second Global Week of Action on Swaziland, culminating in a large protest march in Mbabane that resulted in pitched battles between a heavily armed and aggressive security detachment, and mostly poor workers, students and the unemployed, who gathered legally and peacefully as they have done all week.

On September 5 and 6 (Monday and Tuesday) only minor skirmishes took place, and the security services were restrained and largely non-provocative. This is as it should be. The marches were legal, and the organisers made it clear that they wanted to exercise the few rights that they have.

There have been more than 20 protests across the world, and seven inside South Africa. These took place outside of the various offices of the Reserve Bank of South Africa in order to draw attention to the ill-advised bailout of R2.4 billion that is being offered to the Swazi regime through the Reserve Bank, "facilitated" by the South African African National Congress (ANC) government. The protests were also about the need for solidarity with the democratic forces inside Swaziland.

Swaziland: Thousands defy monarchy in second global week of protest


On September 6, 2011, the king's portrait is burned during a pro-democracy demonstration in Swaziland's biggest town, Manzini.

By Mike Marqusee

September 7, 2011 -- Red Pepper, via MikeMarqusee.com -- The second Global Week of Action in Swaziland, organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, which concludes September 9, has already scored remarkable successes amid terrible sacrifices. The week marks a new highpoint in the ongoing confrontation between an absolute monarchy that for decades has plundered the country and an increasingly emboldened democracy movement.

Events kicked off on September 5 with a mass demonstration through the heart of the capital city, Mbabane. One of the COSATU delegates who joined the protest reported: “The streets of Mbabane have been occupied by a range of different people, including workers, students, the legal profession, community and church activists, and all marching in unison and toyi-toying for freedom. They are united in one purpose, to challenge the continuing rule of Africa’s last absolute monarchy. There is an almost carnival atmosphere in the air!”

South Africa: ANC government shuts door on Swaziland democracy movement

King Mswati III: sitting pretty after ANC "bail out".

August 5, 2011 -- South Africa's African National Congress government has defied supporters of democracy in Swaziland and granted the repressive absolute monarchy a five-year, R2.4 billion loan. The bailout, which was announceded by King Mswati III on August 3, has been condemned by the Swazi democracy movement and its supporters in South Africa. While its conditions do not require democratic reforms, the Swazi people will be subject to harsh austerity in order for the regime to repay the loan.

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August 4, 2011 -- The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is calling upon the South African government to stop dilly dallying at a time when it has a genuine opportunity to exert pressure on Swazi authorities to stop human rights abuses and end the Tinkhundla dictatorship.

Swaziland: Urgent action needed: Trade unionists arrested; COSATU condemns arrests

Urgent action needed: Trade unionists arrested in Swaziland: Repression continues!

May 14, 2011 -- The Swaziland Democracy Campaign has just received urgent news that a group of leading trade unionists have been arrested by the security police in the Lubombo Region of Swaziland. The comrades were attending a meeting to discuss the establishment of a regional division of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) the new democratic trade union federation that was launched on May Day this year, and which brings together all the trade unions in Swaziland into a historic single organisation.

Those arrested include the following:

Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS formed at historic conference

In commemoration of the International Workers’ Day, the Palestinian trade union movement holds its first BDS conference and announces the formation of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS).

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Statement of principles and call for international trade union support for BDS

Occupied Palestine, May 4, 2011 – BDS Movement – In commemoration of the first of May – a day of workers struggle and international solidarity – the first Palestinian trade union conference for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) was held in Ramallah on 30 April 2011, organised by almost the entirety of the Palestinian trade union movement, including federations, professional unions, and trade union blocks representing the entire spectrum of Palestinian political parties.

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.

South Africa: Victory for BDS campaign as university cuts Israel ties

University of Johannesburg terminates relationship with Israeli institution

By the Coalition for a free Palestine

March 24, 2011 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) led Coalition for a free Palestine (CFP) welcomes the March 23 decision by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to terminate its relationship with the Israeli institution, Ben Gurion University.

The termination translates into the first South African institutional boycott of an Israeli institution and is a watershed moment in the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign. This resonates with us in South Africa, as we are aware of the importance of international solidarity and realise the role that it played in dismantling South African apartheid. 

COSATU supports democracy, but condemns foreign military attack on Libya

"Humanitarian" US bombs being prepared for delivery in Libya.

By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations secretary

March 22, 2011 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) reiterates its position in support of the legitimate and genuine struggles of the people and workers of the Middle East and North Africa for democracy, human dignity and social justice. In doing so, however, we seek to exercise caution in the manner Western powers claim to be advancing the struggle for democracy in that region.

In their own imaginations, military occupation can deliver democracy to the masses. Is it not the same doctrine that failed in Iraq before, Afghanistan recently and is it not inevitably bound to fail in Libya? This can be best described as helicopter democracy, which disempowers the masses in whose name the struggle for democracy is waged and renders them spectators as foreign powers arrogate themselves the role of liberators, in the process, relegating the masses and their role in their own struggle.

Immanuel Wallerstein: Libya and the world left

By Immanuel Wallerstein

March 15, 2011 -- There is so much hypocrisy and so much confused analysis about what is going on in Libya that one hardly knows where to begin. The most neglected aspect of the situation is the deep division in the world left. Several left Latin American states, and most notably Venezuela, are fulsome in their support of Colonel Gaddafi. But the spokespersons of the world left in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and indeed North America, decidedly don’t agree.

Hugo Chavez’s analysis seems to focus primarily, indeed exclusively, on the fact that the United States and western Europe have been issuing threats and condemnations of the Gaddafi regime. Gaddafi, Chavez and some others insist that the Western world wishes to invade Libya and “steal” Libya’s oil. The whole analysis misses entirely what has been happening, and reflects badly on Chavez’s judgment – and indeed on his reputation with the rest of the world left.

Support the Libyan people! No imperialist intervention in Libya! Left solidarity with the Libyan people's uprising

March 9, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- International left organisations continue to express their solidarity with the Libyan people as they struggle to throw off the Western-backed dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. At the same time, they are rejecting moves by Western imperialism for military intervention to hypocritically take adavantage of the situation and try to reestablish a bridgehead in the oil-rich region. Below are statements by the Labour Party Pakistan, the US-based Kasama Project, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Municipal Workers Union. See also the statements by the Socialist Party of Malaysia and the Socialist Alliance in Australia. More will be posted as they come to hand.

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Support the Libyan people! No imperialist intervention in Libya!

Labour Party Pakistan statement on Libya

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 March 4) Zimbabwe: Socialists and Egypt solidarity activists charged with treason! Protest urgently needed!

46 arrested activists charged with treason, tortured

February 25, 2011 -- It has now been confirmed that detained labour movement activist and leading member of the International Socialist Organization Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Gwisai (pictured) and 45 other activists detained by the Zimbabwe state on February 19 have been charged with treason. If found guilty of treason, the activists risk a sentence of death or life imprisonment. They are being tortured to extract bogus confessions. The arrests followed a raid on a closed meeting that was discussing the implications of the revolutions in the Arab world. Gwisai is director of the Labor Law Centre and former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP.

COSATU salutes Egyptian and Tunisian working classes

From the album Women of Egypt by Leil-Zahra Mortada.

By Bongani Masuku, Congress of South African Trade Unions international relations secretary

January 31, 2011 -- The African working class has come of age. With the massive revolutionary struggles underway in both Tunisia and Egypt against despots, the history of the continent has been rewritten.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the developments that have dramatically changed the political and class landscape on the continent, particularly in a region known for a false sense of stability and peace, yet brutally repressive against workers and the poor.

We also note that the big powers, particularly the US, invested a lot of resources into both countries, particularly Egypt, as the pioneer agent of their interests in that part of the world and the second-biggest recipient of US aid after Israel. The repressive machinery of Egypt has been built through the resources provided by the US, while that of Tunisia has been primarily through France.

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.

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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: First national Conference of the Democratic Left called

A call to the 1st national Conference of the Democratic Left

Unite to make Another South Africa and World possible!

A call for united anti-capitalist action and for democratic left politics

Issued by the Interim Steering Committee of the Conference of the Democratic Left 

December 7, 2010 -- This is a call to social movements, trade unions, other progressive mass organisations, progressive civil society organisations, left forces and supportive individuals committed to an anti-capitalist politics to come together in unity and action in the 1st national Conference of the Democratic Left (CDL), a conference against capitalism and for democratic left politics.

Through this conference, the momentum of the two-year old CDL process is reaching an important milestone. The conference will take place as follows:

Date: 13h00 on Thursday, January 20, 2011, ending 13h00 on Sunday, January 23, 2011.

Venue: Wits University, Johannesburg.

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.

Swaziland: Historic unity and merger of trade union federations

By Bheki Ntshalintshali, COSATU deputy general secretary

October 2010 -- COSATU has welcomed the great leap forward and giant step taken by workers of Swaziland in resolving to unite by merging the two federations; Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), together with the independent Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to form a new giant federation. It marks the deepening and strengthening of the most progressive, militant and revolutionary traditions constantly being evolved by the working class movement the world over.

This breakthrough comes after years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice behind the scenes to diagnose, confront and clear all obstacles in the way of unity. Frank and brutally honest engagements, painful and demanding persuasions, as well as engaging feedbacks to members are all the hallmarks of a transparent, democratic and accountable process characterised by traditions of worker control. Once this part of the journey has been travelled with success, the nearing horizons only serve to inspire the march on.

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

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