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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.

Musical interlude: `MaStreets', by Comrade Fatso (Zimbabwe) & Chabvondoka, featuring Outspoken

Comrade Fatso (Zimbabwe) & Chabvondoka ft. Outspoken: "MaStreets" from Nomadic Wax on Vimeo.

Official video for "MaStreets" from Comrade Fatso's album House of Hunger (banned in Zimbabwe).
Visit comradefatso.com and nomadicwax.com.

Director: Magee McIlvaine

Artists: Comrade Fatso & Chabvondoka ft. Outspoken

Album: House of Hunger

Song: "MaStreets"

DP/editor: Magee McIlvaine.

 

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.

Crisis in Zimbabwe -- a long walk to freedom! Latest issue of ISO Zimbabwe's `Socialist Worker'

Robert Mugabe (centre) and GNU partners Morgan Tsvangirai (left) and Arthur Mutambara.

[The following article appears in the December 2010 edition of the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe's magazine Socialist Worker. You can download the latest edition of Socialist Worker (PDF)  HERE or read it on screen below the article.]

By T. Sando

November 30, 2010 -- Socialist Worker (Zimbabwe) -- Several significant events in the political and constitutional framework of Zimbabwe have occurred in recent months. First, are the controversies surrounding the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) outreach exercise carried out from June 2010 to date. Second is the crisis in the Government of National Unity (GNU) following various unilateral state executive appointments by President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Samir Amin: Global currency wars, US imperialism and the global South

November 25, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Marxist economist Samir Amin speaks to Pambazuka's Firoze Manji on the misleading rhetoric over the so-called currency war. The real problem, he argues, is the disequilibrium in the global integrated monetary and financial system, in which the US insists on the right to control its currency, but denies the same rights to others, such as China. The countries of the global South need to leave the US and its allies to sort out their own problems and concentrate on developing regional currencies and exercising strict control over capital flows, Amin argues.

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`Leave the oil in the soil!' -- Oil curses, climate conferences and fake Norwegian ‘Good Samaritans’

A humpback whale at the Bluff Whaling Station, South Durban, in 1909. From "Facts About Durban".

By Patrick Bond

November 23, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The stench of rotting blubber would hang for days over The Bluff in South Durban, South Africa, thanks to Norwegian immigrants whose harpooning skills helped stock the town with cooking fat, margarine and soap, starting about a century ago. The fumes became unbearable, and a local uproar soon compelled the Norwegians to move the whale processing factory from within Africa’s largest port to a less-populated site a few kilometres southeast.

There, on The Bluff’s glorious Indian Ocean beachfront, the white working-class residents of Marine Drive (perhaps including those in the apartment where I now live) also complained bitterly about the odour from flensing, whereby blubber, meat and bone were separated at the world’s largest onshore whaling station.

South Africa: Workers' factory takeover to defend jobs enters second month

November 17 video made by Workers' World Media, Cape Town.

November 17, 2010 -- A militant factory occupation by South African metalworkers is about to enter its second month. On October 20, 2010, workers at the Mine Line/TAP Engineering factory in Krugersdorp, just outside Soweto, began the occupation to prevent the removal of machinery and other assets and to fight to save their jobs. The workers are demanding the state take over the factory, so that it can be reopened as a democratically run workers' cooperative.

The workers are organised by the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA), in which the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International in South Africa) plays a leading role.

Will Zimbabwe again regress?

A mid-2011 election announced by Mugabe promises a return to outright violence and poll thievery.

[You can listen to talks presented to the "Progress in Zimbabwe" conference, and read summaries of the presentations, at the conference website here.]

By Patrick Bond, Bulawayo

November 12, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – If leaders of a small African country stand up with confidence to imperialist aggression, especially from the US and Britain, it would ordinarily strike any fair observer as extremely compelling. Especially when the nightmare of racist colonialism in that country is still be to exorcised, whites hold a disproportionate share of economic power and state’s rulers appear serious about changing those factors.

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.

The Flame, October-November 2010 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

Soubhi Iskander.

November 2, 2010 -- With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- publishes a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame covers news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. Editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander is a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

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.

Grameen Bank and `microcredit': The `wonderful story' that never happened

Mohammad Yunus accepts the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Far from being a panacea for fighting rural poverty, microcredit can impose additional burdens on the rural poor, without markedly improving their socio-economic condition, write Patrick Bond and Khorshed Alam.

October 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- For years, the example of microcredit in Bangladesh has been touted as a model of how the rural poor can lift themselves out of poverty. This widely held perception was boosted in 2006 when Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the microfinance institution he set up, jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize. In South Asia in particular, and the world in general, microcredit has become a gospel of sorts, with Yunus as its prophet.

Consider this outlandish claim, made by Yunus as he got started in the late 1970s: "Poverty will be eradicated in a generation. Our children will have to go to a `poverty museum' to see what all the fuss was about."

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

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:

Third World health: Video -- Universal access by 20-when? Global leaders renege on promised aid

By the Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)

September 28, 2010 -- The communities delegation on the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+) released a video (watch above) on September 28, 2010, as part of the global day of action activities, highlighting the potential effectiveness and achievements of the Global Fund, and pointing out how miniscule the needed US$20 billion dollars is when compared to the amounts of money that has been spent on war and Wall Street banking bail outs.

Namibia: A trust betrayed – again?

[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.]

"As Namibian youth, and as Africans, you must therefore be on the full alert and remain vigilant against deceptive attempts by opportunists and unpatriotic elements that attempt to divide you. As the future leaders of our country, you should act with dedication and commitment; to always promote the interests of the SWAPO Party and the national interests before your own. It is only through that manner that the SWAPO Party will grow from strength to strength and continue to rule Namibia for the next ONE THOUSAND YEARS". -- Sam Nujoma, Founding Father1 of the Republic of Namibia, in a speech to the SWAPO Youth League in 2010

By Henning Melber

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: Communist youth leader -- `Black economic empowerment becomes Zuma economic empowerment'

By David Masondo, Young Communist League chairperson

September 5, 2010 -- City Press -- There was cautious optimism among many leftists in the African National Congress (ANC) that the ousting of Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane [the ANC's 2007 national conference] might mark a shift towards a much more egalitarian economic policy, including "Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

Instead, BEE is increasingly becoming too narrow, amounting to ZEE – that is, Zuma Economic Empowerment.

The recent ­multibillion-rand Arcelor-Mittal BEE deal involving Duduzane, President Jacob ­Zuma’s son, is another example of how BEE has become too narrow.

To crown it all, the president’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, seems to have suddenly become an African imperialist, amassing oil resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa: Strike ends, workers' anger remains

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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

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