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COSATU

COSATU: Actions against Israel's barbarism and in support of Palestinian resistance an unprecedented success

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is humbled by the inspirational messages from all over the world for our boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel.

By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations officer

February 12, 2009 -- The South African week of action against Israeli barbarism and in support of Palestinian heroism and resistance has been an unprecedented success. COSATU, its affiliates, particularly the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) and the rest of Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa are humbled by the large number of letters of support we have received from trade unions, solidarity groups, workers, activists and people of conscience from all over the world for our stance in solidarity with the people of Palestine. In particular, letters congratulated SATAWU dock workers in Durban for their determined refusal to off-load goods from Israel carried on the Johanna Russ.

Messages of support included those from the Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, dock workers in Liverpool, trade unions in Australia and Canada, and solidarity organisations from around the world.

South Africa: Victory for workers' solidarity as Israeli ship sneaks out of Durban still loaded

Congress of South African Trade Unions and Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)

[See http://links.org.au/node/888 for more background information.]

February 6, 2009 -- The Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) is pleased to announce that its members, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), achieved a victory last night when they stood firm by their decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. This, despite threats to COSATU members from sections of the pro-Israel lobby, and despite severe provocation.

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship; Palestinians salute decision

FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL!

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launch Week of Action for Palestine supported by the Young Communist League and other progressive organisations

February 3, 2009 -- In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!

Protesters call for boycott of apartheid Israel, Johannesburg, January 2, 2009.

By Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

January 14, 2009 -- From our own experience, we know how painful and dehumanising is the system of segregation, otherwise known as apartheid. Apartheid is a system based on the assumption that one group or race is superior to others and therefore has a right to all the privileges and virtues associated with that particular status. It has a right to run and determine the lives of others, excluding them from certain privileges, merely because they do not belong to the “chosen” group.

What other definition would so fittingly define a system based on different rights and privileges for Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? The bantustanisation of Palestine into pieces or strips -- West Bank, Ramallah, Gaza Strip and so on -- run by Israel and with no rights whatsoever for the Palestinians, is definitely an apartheid system.

`We are all Palestinians!' -- International left solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine (updated Jan. 13)

Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a range of statements from left parties and groups around the world. More will be added as they come to hand.

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Respect's George Galloway on January 8, 2009, addresses a London meeting organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Palestinians, solidarity activists condemn Israel's mass slaughter in Gaza, call for protests and sanctions (updated Jan. 3)

December 27 demonstration in Bethlehem against the massacre in Gaza (Photo: Ghassan Bannoura-IMEMC)

By the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee

Occupied Ramallah, Palestine -- December 27, 2008 -- Today, the Israeli occupation army committed a new massacre in Gaza, causing the death and injury of hundreds of Palestinian civilians [latest reports place the death toll at more than 200], including a yet unknown number of schoolchildren who were headed home from school when the first Israeli military strikes started. This latest bloodbath, although far more ruthless than all its predecessors, is not Israel's first. It culminates months of an Israeli siege of Gaza that should be widely condemned and prosecuted as an act of genocide against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied coastal strip.

South African and Zimbabwe politicos join global financiers in self-destruction

By Patrick Bond

September 21, 2008 -- The past week has been a wild roller-coaster ride in and out of Southern African ruling-party politics, down the troughs of world capitalism, and up the peaks of radical social activism. Glancing around the region and the world from those peaks, we can see quite a way further than usual.

Looking first to South Africa, September 20's dumping of state president Thabo Mbeki by Jacob Zuma -- president of the African National Congress (ANC) -- and his temporary replacement (until next April 2009's election) by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, was an excellent reflection of ruling elite fragility in neoliberal regimes. Some of Mbeki's main supporters, including Mbhazima Shilowa, the former trade union leader and now premier of Gauteng province, in the economic heartland of Johannesburg -- are apparently considering the launch of a competing party.

The struggle for democracy in Swaziland

Two speeches by leaders of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO -- Swaziland's liberation movement) on the developing struggle for democracy and social justice in the small southern African country of Swaziland. Mario Masuku is president of PUDEMO; Bongani Masuku is a former secretary general of the Swaziland Solidarity Network and is the Congress of South African Trade Unions' international secretary.

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The xenophobia outbreak in South Africa: Strategic questions facing the new social movements

By Oupa Lehulere

June 2008 -- The township of Alexandra outside Johannesburg, South Africa, has a long history of resistance to oppression and exploitation. In the late 1950s Alex (as it is popularly referred to) was the centre of bus boycotts against increases in fares and of struggles against apartheid, in the 1980s Alex was the centre of building street committees that represented what were then called ``organs of people’s power’’ – forms of alternative government to the apartheid state, and in 2002 the event that announced the presence of the new social movements on the South African post-apartheid political landscape – the 20,000-strong march led by the Social Movements United – took place in Alex.

The fact that it was Alex that would go down in history as the township that expressed most publicly the reactionary attitudes held by working-class people against fellow working-class people from other parts of Africa throws into sharp relief the process of political and organisational decline that has been underway within the South Africa’s working class since 1994.

Building trade union solidarity with Palestine

By Adam Hanieh

``International solidarity is fundamental to a progressive and fighting labour movement. It is not an optional part of labour activism or a form of charity. International solidarity goes to the heart of what it means to be a labour activist. It means seeing the struggle of our sisters and brothers in other countries as our own struggle. Their victories as our victories'' -- Canadian Union of Public Employees International Solidarity Committee: What We Stand For.

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May 20, 2008 -- In July 2005, more than 170 Palestinian organisations urged the world to adopt a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the manner of [the campaign against] South Africa's apartheid regime. This call was signed by all the main Palestinian trade union federations, as well as refugee, women's and student organisations from across Palestine and the Arab world. It represented the broadest political statement in Palestinian history, precipitating a powerful global solidarity campaign that has grown dramatically over the last few years.

`Our struggle knows no borders!' -- South African left, unions respond to xenophobic attacks

STOP PRESS: Read the memorandum and pledge delivered by the thousands who marched against xenophobia in Johannesburg on May 24, and the statement of the Anti-Privatisation Forum following the successful march.

See also ``Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class'' by Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond.

Watch South Africa: The New Apartheid, on the South African government's treatment of migrant workers and refugees and the involvement of racist white farmers.

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May 21, 2008 -- According to the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, as of May 19, 2008, the death toll in a wave of attacks targeting foreigners around South Africa's main city of Johannesburg has risen to at least 32, with an estimated 6000 people seeking shelter in police stations, churches and community halls. The violence has spread to Zandspruit, northwest of Johannesburg, and Tembisa, Primrose, Reiger Park and Thokoza, on the eastern perimeter of the city, as well as other working-class communities.

South Africa: A victory for workers' solidarity with the Zimbabwean people

By Patrick Craven, COSATU

April 22, 2008 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman that the China Ocean Shipping Company which owns the An Yue Jiang, has decided to recall the ship because Zimbabwe cannot take delivery of the 77 tonnes of weapons and ammunition onboard.

If true, this is an historic victory for the international trade union movement and civil society, and in particular for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), whose members refused to unload or transport its deadly cargo.

Protest banner being removed from China's Pretoria embassy.

Protest banner being removed from China's Pretoria embassy. 

 

Zuma, the centre-left and the left-left

By Patrick Bond
December 21, 2007 – Congratulations are due Jacob Zuma – apparently far more Machiavellian than even his arch-opponent since 2005, Thabo Mbeki – and the tireless band of warriors from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), SA Communist Party (SACP) and African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) who kept his political life support on when everyone else declared him dead.

Debate and opposition within the ANC and the Tripartite Alliance since 1994

By Dale T. McKinley

The device by which content is replaced by form and ideas by phrases has produced a host of declamatory priests … whose last offshoots had of course to lead to democracy. Karl Marx[1]

The political economy of the rise of social movements in South Africa

By Dale T. McKinley

CONTENTS

Class struggle revisited

New resistances

Facing realities

Notes

 

 

 

When South Africa's first democratic elections in April 1994 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the African National Congress, there still remained a broad-based (but mistaken) expectation amongst the black majority that the new ANC state would immediately begin to pursue a more socialist—or, at the least, radically redistributive—political economy.

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