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COSATU

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:

Swaziland: Crackdown on eve of protests, PUDEMO leader arrested

Protest march in Manzini, September 7, 2010.

[See also "Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy".]

By Lucky Lukhele and Norm Dixon

September 8, 2010 -- The deputy president of Swaziland's People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Sikhumbuzo Phakathi was arrested on September 6 at the Phongola border post as the Swazi police and army were deporting a delegation of South African activists from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). PUDEMO president Mario Masuku was detained before the start a protest march on September 7 to mark the global day for democracy in Swaziland. He was "escorted home" by police to prevent his participation.

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.

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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.

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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.

`Intensify pressure!' -- (updated June 8) Call by Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee gains support

By the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Occupied Palestine, June 1, 2010 -- Palestinian civil society calls for intensifying boycott and sanctions as Israel massacres humanitarian relief workers and international solidarity activists.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) strongly condemns last night’s fatal attack by the Israeli navy on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The BNC conveys Palestinian civil society’s condolences to the families and friends of those killed by the Israeli assault and warmly salutes the principled solidarity and moral commitment of all those involved in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

In response, the BNC calls on international civil society to:

(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).

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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.]

COSATU on the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche: `an enemy of democracy, a racist and a fascist'

By Patrick Craven, COSATU national spokesperson

April 6, 2010 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) condemns the brutal murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche on April 3, 2010, and sends its condolences to his family. Murder and violent assaults can never be condoned, even against your worst enemy. His killing however highlights the following issues:

COSATU will remember Terre’Blanche as an enemy of democracy, a racist and a fascist. His Nazi AWB tried to sabotage our transition to majority rule, when they forced their way into the World Trade Centre when our democracy was being negotiated, and when they invaded Bophuthatswana to defend a hated Bantustan system our people had rejected [in 1994].

He was also typical of the worst type of employer on South Africa’s farms. The reported circumstances of his murder speak volumes about the appalling state of labour relations on farms.

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.

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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.

Swaziland Democracy Campaign launched: `Justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere'

Swaziland's absolute monarch and tyrant, King Mswati III.

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Campaigning for democracy in Swaziland NOW!

February 25, 2010 -- Johannesburg, South Africa --  On February 21, 2010, the world witnessed the launch of a global initiative to support pro-democracy forces in Swaziland: the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). This is a product of many years of working together between South African and Swaziland organisations, which includes political parties, trade unions, churches, youth and students organisations.

The SDC is an expression of the just and legitimate struggles waged by the Swazi people in their quest for human dignity, justice, democracy and human rights. It endorses the principle of justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere. Further, that the freedom of all the peoples of the world remains incomplete without the freedom of the people of Swaziland.

Our program

In this regard we wish to state that immediate campaigning priorities will be:

South Africa: 20 years after Mandela's release, class apartheid continues

Jacob Zuma.

By Patrick Bond

February 16, 2010 -- Recall that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma came to power last year as a result, mainly, of trade union and South African Communist Party mobilisations in 2006-08, culminating in the rude but welcome dismissal of president Thabo Mbeki.

And now, because he is unable to galvanise momentum for any sort of political project aside from survival [following another round of scandals surrounding his private life and dubious attitude towards women], Zuma appears to be drifting rightwards, towards the Afican National Congress' solid financial-support base of white capital and aspiring black entrepreneurs.

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?

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:

COSATU: Working-class internationalism in the era of deepening global economic crisis

COSATU-supported protest in solidarity with the people of Swaziland.

Declaration of the Congress of South African Trade Unions International Solidarity Conference, Johannesburg, June 24-26, 2009.

COSATU -- Gathered at this historic International Solidarity Conference of COSATU are workers, activists and internationalists committed to a new and just world order, free from poverty, hunger and injustice. We have concluded two days of intensive engagements, critical reflections and dedicated work to assess and ascertain the revolutionary mood of workers and the poor masses of the world, the ebbs and flows of the global class struggle and the state of readiness by working-class forces and their organisations to wage a decisive battle for the new and just global economic system.

Honduras: (Updated July 3) Solidarity and left movements condemn coup, demand elected president be returned to power

Solidarity protest in Sydney, Australia, July 1, 2009. Photos by Peter Boyle.

Below are just some of the statements released by solidarity groups, left parties and governments, and international organisations demanding the return to power of Honduras' elected presidet Manuel Zelaya. They have been compiled by Australia's Green Left Weekly.To view the complete list, click HERE.

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Statement by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN)

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.

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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