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Africa

The ticking time bomb of Swaziland

South Africa's ANC President Jacob Zuma gives Swaziland tyrant Mswati III the red-carpet treatment.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 19, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament this month launched protests about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic.”

But apart from a few verbal sallies from non-governmental groups, there has been silence from South Africa. And this should be deeply worrying to those who are concerned about deepening democracy on the continent and in ensuring that a wealthy, often corrupt — if not entirely melanin deficient — elite do not continue to dominate.

Namibia 25 years on: What happened to our dreams?

By Henning Melber

[April 9, 2015 -- The following article appeared in the Namibian newspaper’s March 21, 2015, 25th independence anniversary supplement. Henning Melber joined the South-West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO) in 1974. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Melber’s permission.]

In Namibia … we are clear … No exploitation of man by man. That will not be allowed here – Namibia’s President Sam Nujoma in an interview in a Namibia special report of the New African magazine in 2003.

South Africa: Slow-motion disintegration of COSATU likely to continue

"COSATU's highly respected national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, announced his resignation, after Vavi's expulsion noting: 'I could not defend the indefensible.' Several other senior COSATU figures are also discussing whether to take a similar step."

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 6, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The fact that COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has refused to accept his dismissal from the federation should have come as no surprise to readers of this blog. This column has pointed out for months now that the central executive committee (CEC) of COSATU has no constitutional authority to finally dismiss, suspend or expel any office bearer or affiliate; that only a national congress may do that.

South Africa: United Front condemns COSATU's expulsion of Zwelinzima Vavi

COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been expelled from the federation by its pro-ANC leadership.

Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.

March 31, 2015 -- United Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As expected, yesterday the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decided to expel Zwelinzima Vavi from his position as its general secretary. The United Front (UF) regards this decision as the final nail in the regrettable terminal decline of what was once a mighty, principled, independent and militant federation of workers’ trade unions.

Adam Hanieh: Power, wealth and inequality in the Arab world

[For more articles by or about Adam Hanieh, click HERE.]

By Adam Hanieh

March 1, 2015 -- Middle East Monitor, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over four years since mass uprisings ousted sclerotic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these movements lie in tatters. Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more within and across borders.

In the pivotal case of Egypt, military rule has returned through the violent crushing of protests, the arrests of an estimated 40,000 people and the rebuilding of the repressive structures of the Hosni Mubarak era. Elsewhere, autocratic governments look more secure in their rule today than they have for many years.

South Africa: NUMSA and the troubled ANC-led Alliance

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

March 20, 2015 --The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The expulsion of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in November 2014 was a watershed moment in the post-apartheid labour movement. The expulsion was a product of, and has deepened further, the crisis in the Alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), as well as the internal crises of each of the three component parts of the Alliance.

Defend Swaziland unions! Free Mario Masuku!

Mario Masuku, jailed president of the People's United Democratic Movement.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Patrick Craven

March 17, 2015 -- Congress of South African Trade Unions, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns recent violent attacks by Swaziland police on trade union meetings and sends a message of solidarity and support to the Swazi workers struggling for democracy and the right to organise in free and independent trade unions.

On March 14, 2015, King Mswati’s police broke up a meeting of the executive board of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and injured a union leader who was taking part. According to TUCOSWA leaders and the Swazi Observer, more than 300 plainclothed police forced participants to end the meeting in the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre and blocked the gates to the building. TUCOSWA has reported that Muzi Mhlanga, SNAT secretary general, was assaulted and had to seek medical care.

Mining, energy, climate, capitalism: Why don’t NGOs connect the dots?

Alternative Mining Indaba Feb 2015

Click for more by Patrick Bond.

March 14, 2015 -- Despite making powerful criticisms of multinational mining corporations, an NGO-organised conference in Cape Town ignored essential links with related struggles.

In southern Africa, the Zulu and Xhosa word Indaba is used for important gatherings or conferences. February’s Alternative Mining Indaba, challenging a pro-corporate conference held at the same time, was organised by the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, in assocation with  Norwegian Church Aid, Oxfam, Benchmarks Foundation, Diakonia and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.

* * *

Intersectionality missing-in-action at Cape Town’s Alternative Mining Indaba

By Patrick Bond

South Africa: NUMSA's message to Australian workers

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

NUMSA national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo's address to the Australian Workers Union, Australia

March 3, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I greet you in the name of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). I am here to give you an update since our general secretary, Irvin Jim, addressed your 2013 conference. I am happy to report that, despite the shrinking of South Africa's manufacturing sector, NUMSA has continued to grow.

In 2013 we reported to you a membership of 300,000. Today it stands at 360,000. We are the biggest union in the history of the African continent. Despite massive deindustrialisation in our country, during which hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been destroyed, NUMSA's membership has grown by nearly 65% over the last six years. NUMSA is truly a dominant force.

The key development since Comrade Jim's address to you in 2013 was our Special National Congress at the end of 2013.

South Africa: 'We are not prepared to remain paralysed', eight militant COSATU unions declare

For more on South Africa, click HERE.

Group of eight COSATU unions statement

March 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa continues to be ravaged by the crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality and the black and African working class are its worst victims. Black working class women and youth are in a state of hopelessness, desperation and despondency. Increasing numbers of school leavers are swelling the accumulating pool of the unemployed.

We are fighting for a militant, independent trade union movement

The congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is in a state of paralysis and that has given our government an opportunity to pursue its neoliberal policy direction, as articulated in the National Development Plan. This was not going to be easier for the state if the federation remained the militant defender of the working class that it has been throughout its history.

The leaderships of the eight unions have consistently refused attempts to turn COSATU into a passive and non-campaigning federation. We have rejected all attempts to get COSATU becoming a conveyor belt and an apologist of neoliberal policies.

Radical objects: MaThoko’s post box and the LGBT movement in South Africa

Simon Nkoli visits the Non-Stop Picket of the South African Embassy in London, 13 July 1989 (photo thought to be by Gordon Rainsford). All photos courtesy of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)

Simon Nkoli visits the non-stop picket of the South African embassy in London, July 13, 1989 (photo thought to be by Gordon Rainsford). All photos courtesy of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA).

By John Marnell

February 17, 2015 -- History Workshop, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sometime in the early 1980s, an unassuming house in KwaThema, a township just outside of Johannesburg, became a safe haven for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Like the other houses in the township, it was small – only four rooms – and simple, matchboxes made on the cheap by the apartheid state. It belonged to Thokozile Khumalo, known affectionately as MaThoko, who for the next decade opened her home and her heart to countless young people.

Thomas Sankara and Burkina Faso's 'Black Spring'

Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary
By Ernest Harsch,
Ohio University Press, 2014.
163 pages

Review by Ernest Tate

February 9, 2015 -- The Bullet, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Ernest Tate -- A press report in 1983 that a popular uprising in Upper Volta, a small and poor land-locked country in Western Africa, had led to an obscure, but charismatic army officer becoming head of state was truly inspiring news for all those looking for some kind of breakthrough against imperialism in that part of the world.

It had come after the depressing news that Margaret Thatcher's Britain had defeated Argentina in the Malvinas and Ronald Reagan's USA had crushed Grenada, a clear message to the world that, on a moment's notice, imperialism would brutally crush anything that threatened its power.

But because the US empire had been taken by surprise by the Cuban Revolution 24 years earlier, many of us were then hopeful that maybe we were witnessing such a possibility again, in Africa.

Africa: How the IMF worsens the Ebola crisis

Cuban doctors on their way to help with the Ebola outbreak.

By Jérôme Duval, translated by John Catalinotto

February 6, 2015 -- Committee ofr the Abolition of Third World Debt, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims it is part of the solution, the IMF is really part of the problem of underdevelopment and has been for decades. The latest proof of this is that the conditions imposed on countries in need have had serious impacts on the development of these countries’ public health services. In some countries this means letting epidemics destroy the lives of thousands of people. The latest example involves the Ebola epidemic.

The IMF is responsible for serious restrictions at this time in developing adequate healthcare systems

Interview: South African metalworkers' leader Irvin Jim at the centre of a storm

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

January 28-30, 2015 -- Real News Network, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this three-part interview, Irvin Jim, leader of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) -- the largest trade union in South Africa with 340,000 members that is calling for a return to the principles of the Freedom Charter -- describes his early life and radicalisation and explains why his union withdrew its support for the governing African National Congress (ANC).

Workers must build a united front to implement the Freedom Charter, which includes participating in electoral politics, and fight for socialism. The workers movement can't just be about marching, he says.

The full rough transcript continues below the videos.

South Africa: NUMSA's Irvin Jim builds solidarity in USA for a socialist South Africa

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

January 11, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), South Africa's largest trade union, has toured the United States to report on the fight for socialism in South Africa. He delivered this presentation on January 11, 2015, at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 offices in New York City.

Irvin Jim's message to Americans can be read in full HERE. For more information on NUMSA, go to http://www.numsa.org.za.

This was video recorded by Ken Nash of WBAI Pacific Building Bridges radio show, a production of the Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org.

Nigeria: 'Je Suis Baga'? The world ignores the tragedy of Baga

Nigerian troops patrol Baga after the previous massacre in 2013.

For more on Nigeria, click HERE.

By Baba Aye

January 17, 2015 – Links International Journnal of Socialist Renewal -- The fishing community of Baga, by Lake Chad in Borno state, Nigeria, was under siege by Boko Haram for a week at the beginning of January. Amnesty International described the ensuing bloodbath as Boko Haram’s “deadliest massacre”, estimating that some 2000 persons were killed. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, who condemned the “dastardly terrorist attack” against Charlie Hebdo cartoonists within hours of the tragic event in Paris, did not say a word about this tragedy.

South Africa's 'freedom journey' stalled by poverty, unemployment and inequality

Photo: WBUR Boston's NPR News Station/flickr.

For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Dale T. McKinley

January 13, 2015 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Evidently, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) thinks that the people of South Africa do not know their own history.

That’s more or less what ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said the other day when addressing the media in the lead-up to the organisation’s 103rd anniversary celebrations. In his words: “We will be reminding people of their history. They don’t know the journey and the complexity of the journey. Freedom is not a destination. It is a journey.”

Besides their astoundingly arrogant and patronising nature, such utterances surface a much more profound blind spot in the ANC’s understanding and appreciation of the historical and present freedom journey of the South African people.

How citizens’ revolt in Burkina Faso unfolded

By Ernest Harsch

December 9, 2014 -- African Futures, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Even the long months of demonstrations and strikes that came before did not fully prepare the people of Burkina Faso for what they would accomplish during the last week of October 2014. In Ouagadougou, the capital, hundreds of thousands—organisers claimed a million—packed the central square on Tuesday, October 28, to protest President Blaise Compaoré’s “constitutional coup”, as they called his plan to force through an amendment enabling him to run for reelection yet again, after more than a quarter century in power.

Namibia: SWAPO wins presidency with 86% vote but grassroots frustration mounts

By Henning Melber

December 8, 2014 -- Nordic Africa Institute, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On November 28, 2014, close to 900,000 Namibians of a registered electorate of some 1.2 million (a bit more than half of Namibia’s total population, estimated at 2.3 million) voted in the country’s fifth parliamentary and presidential elections since independence.

The result was predictable, though the dimensions of the overwhelming dominance of the former liberation movement SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organisation) did surprise. While SWAPO secured in every election since 1994 well above a two-thirds majority, this time the result crossed the 80% mark. The party’s presidential candidate Hage Geingob topped this by a whopping 86%.

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