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Africa

(Updated Sept. 8) Raj Patel: Food rebellion -- Mozambicans know which way the wind blows

Democracy Now! on September 8 spoke to Raj Patel about the protests in Mozambique and the floods in Pakistan. Click HERE for the full transcript.
 
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* * *STOP PRESS: Price rises reversed* * *

September 7, 2010 -- MOZAMBIQUE News reports & clippings mailing list -- Price rises which triggered the riots last week have been reversed, the government announced September 7 after an emergency cabinet meeting.

Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy

In Swaziland you can get locked up for wearing this T-shirt.

[The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), formed by trade unions, political parties, civil society groups and churches, has called for a global day of action on September 7, 2010. It will include a mass protest and show of “defiance” in Swaziland. Delegates from the international labour movement will join the action in Swaziland and messages of support for the SDC are to be delivered to Swazi embassies worldwide. Click HERE to download the international call, or read the document below the article.]

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By Mike Marqusee

August 23, 2010 -- MikeMarqusee.com -- Swaziland is a small country with a big problem. The 1.3 million inhabitants of the land-locked southern African kingdom live under the thumb of one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, a venal and repressive regime whose plunder of the country is systematic and comprehensive.

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".

Is Africa still being looted? World Bank dodges its own research

Oil riches and poverty in the Niger Delta.

By Patrick Bond

August 15, 2010The continent’s own elites, together with the West and now China, are still making Africans progressively poorer, thanks to the extraction of raw materials. Reinvestment is negligible and the prices, royalties and taxes paid are inadequate to compensate the wasting away of Africa’s natural wealth. Anti-extraction campaigns by (un)civil society are the only hope for a reversal of these neocolonial relations.

Though it’s easy to prove, even using the World Bank’s main study of natural resource economics, the looting allegation is controversial. When I made it during a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interview last week, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa Shanta Devarajan, immediately contradicted me, claiming (twice) that I am not in command of the “facts”.

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

August 6, 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.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

Zimbabwe: Liberation nationalism, old and born again

Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. "The [government of national unity] increasingly appears to have been most efficient in serving the instrumental needs of the ZANU-PF elite."

[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 Richard Saunders

iPhone 4: Capitalism, inbuilt obsolescence and `blood' phones

The high demand for coltan is helping fuel the bloody civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo as rival armies fight over reserves.

By Stuart Munckton

August 1, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- “Yes, the notable features with iPhone 4 — both the device and the iOS4 — are mostly tweaks”, said a June 22 review on the popular site BoingBoing.net. “But what tweaks they are.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll admit I have no idea what “iOS4” means. But my eye was caught by the admission that the iPhone 4, launched in Australia on July 29, was almost the same as the iPhone 3.

Corporations use “inbuilt obsolescence” as part of artificially creating markets. This means the products they sell are deliberately made to break down — so we have to keep buying more.

In the case of products tied to ongoing innovations, the trick has a variation. Makers will hold back innovations in order to release, a short while later, a new version of the same product with a few extra features.

South Africa loses its ‘War on Poverty’

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 6, 2010 – Shortly before Pretoria’s presidential power change from Thabo Mbeki to Jacob Zuma two years ago, the South African state announced its War on Poverty. What news from the front, in the immediate wake of World Cup host duties that showed observers how very pleasant life is for the rich and middle class here?

We don’t know, because the War on Poverty is one of the most clandestine operations in South African history, with status reports kept confidential by a floundering army in rapid retreat from the poor, who are estimated at half the society.

Initially the War on Poverty appeared as a major national project. Early hubris characterised the war, as happens in most, with victory claimed even before Mbeki officially launched it in his February 2008 State of the Nation speech.

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.

South African soccer: For the love of the game or of money and power?

South African soccer star, the late Pule "Ace" Ntsoelengoe: “Soccer in South Africa needs to go back to where it was … the love of the game needs to be restored, especially in the administration. Soccer fans want to see us serve much better than we do today. The challenge is not how much money I leave behind when I die but to leave a legacy for my children and the youth of this country.”

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

July 7, 2010 -- The sun has almost set on the soccer World Cup and its seeming suspension of our South African "normalcy". No doubt, many will try their best to continue to bask in its positively proclaimed "developmental legacy"; but, as sure as the sun will rise on the morning after, so too will the reality of that "normalcy" bite us like an unhappy dog. Nowhere will this be more apparent than in the world of South African soccer itself.

Mozambique's `recolonisation'

Frelimo poster for its third congress in 1977.

[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 John S. Saul

Memperjuangkan Sepakbola: Apakah `permainan sedunia' ini permainan rakyat?

Oleh Duroyan Fertl

5 Juli 2010 -- Berdikari -- Piala Dunia FIFA 2010 di Afrika Selatan telah memulai putaran final 16 besarnya pada 26 Juni. Ia hadir di tengah dengungan terompet vuvuzela yang tak pernah surut, kekalahan tim-tim besar seperti Italia dan Perancis, dan aksi-aksi protes di jalanan oleh warga setempat yang marah atas dana 40 miliar rand yang dibelanjakan pemerintah untuk membiayai acara yang dikelola swasta ini. Sementara itu, kaum miskin Afrika Selatan menderita karena perumahan dan akses layanan mendasar yang di bawah standar.

Sepakbola adalah “permainan dunia” yang dimainkan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia dan ditonton oleh ratusan juta lainnya. Tapi benarkah itu “permainan rakyat”?

Sepakbola itu sendiri seringkali merupakan suatu pertunjukan menegangkan yang menampilkan kepiawaian manusia. Suatu pertandingan sepakbola yang bermutu tinggi dapat dibandingkan dengan seni. Maka tak heran ia begitu populer di seluruh dunia.

South Africa: FIFA forbids free speech at World Cup

FIFA's attempts to silence anti-xenophobia activists hits the headlines in Durban.

By Patrick Bond

July 7, 2010 -- Acting against our alleged "ambush marketing" and "incitement" (sic), the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us here in Durban last weekend. We were simply exercising freedom of expression at our favourite local venue, the South Beach Fan Fest, whose half-million visitors is a record.

Wearing hidden microphones so as to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling, for they have received orders from Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe that the property rights of the world soccer body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), overrule our foundational constitutional rights.

“We can charge you and detain you until the 11th of July, [when] FIFA is over!”, a top officer shouted at me during my second interrogation, on Saturday, July 3.

Film: `A Place in the City' -- A world class city for whom? World Cup tourists and the rich, or the poor majority?

July 7, 2010 -- Abahlali baseMjondolo -- Sixteen years since apartheid ended, and amid the hoopla and false hopes promoted by the 2010 soccer World Cup, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks – without sanitation, adequate water supplies or electricity. In Durban, almost in the shadow of the massive multibillion-rand Moses Mabhida stadium [paradoxically named after a veteran leader of South Africa's Communist Party], poor people are fighting for their right to live near work, schools and health facilities.

The Flame, June-July 2010 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

July 6, 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.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

The fight for football: Is the `world game’ the people’s game?

Argentina's 2010 World Cup football team call for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

By Duroyan Fertl

June 27, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa began its final round of 16 on June 26. It came amid the unrelenting drone of vuvuzela horns, the knockout of big teams such as Italy and France, and street protests by local residents angry at the 40 billion rand the government has spent on the corporatised event. Meanwhile, South Africa’s poor suffer substandard housing and access to basic services.

Football, or “soccer”, is the “world game”, played by millions of people around the world and watched by hundreds of millions more. But is it truly the “people’s game”?

On its own terms, football is an often thrilling exhibition of human skill. A high-quality football match commands comparisons with art. Little wonder, then, that it is so popular worldwide.

Zimbabwe: Struggle, dictatorship and the response of the social movements

"The MDC roots were in the popular challenge to ZANU-PF in the late 1990s and the social movements on which it rested."

By Leo Zeilig

June 28, 2010 – Zimbabwe’s economy has been in free fall. Between 2000 and 2005, the economy contracted by more than 40 per cent. Today GDP per capita is estimated to be the same as it was in 1953. Before the replacement of the Zimbabwe dollar with the US dollar and the South African rand in 2009, the country had the highest inflation rate in the world, soaring to 165,000 per cent in February 2008.

South Africa: FIFA, not migrants, are the real tsotsis

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 25, 2010 -- South Africa's soccer-loving critics have long predicted the problems now growing worse here because of its World Cup hosting duties:

  • loss of large chunks of government’s sovereignty to the world soccer body FIFA;
  • rapidly worsening income inequality;
  • future economic calamities as debt payments come due;
  • dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (more than twice Germany’s in 2006); and
  • humiliation and despondency as the country’s soccer team Bafana Bafana (ranked #90 going into the games) became the first host to expire before the competition’s second round.

Soon, it seems, we may also add to this list a problem that terrifies progressives here and everywhere: another dose of xenophobia from both state and society.

The crucial question in coming weeks is whether, instead of offering some kind of resistance from below, as exemplified by the Durban Social Forum network’s 1000-strong rally against FIFA on June 16 at City Hall, Durban, will society’s sore losers adopt right-wing populist sentiments, and frame the foreigner?

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