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Africa

Zimbabwe socialists: `No to a government of national unity! Only united mass action will defeat Mugabe!

By the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe

* * *

June 23, 2008 -- After the publication of the original article (see below), Movement for Democratic Change presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai held a press conference at which he issued a statement to the effect that the MDC is pulling out of the presidential run-off election because conditions for a free and fair election do not exist, [due to the] the massive violence against his party and civic society. The press conference followed the disruption of his final rally in Harare by ZANU-PF vigilantes on June 22. Tsvangirai stated that the MDC was to carry out further consultations and would announce the details of the way forward.

We welcome the position taken by the MDC, and initial reports indicate that this position has been accepted by MDC and civic society activists and supporters.

Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom

By Barry Healy

June 14, 2008 -- This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a heroic struggle in which, between October 1987 and June 1988, in some of the fiercest fighting in Africa since the Second World War, the South African Defence Force (SADF) were humiliatingly defeated by liberation forces in Angola.

Cuban assistance to Angolan resistance to the SADF invasion was vital. Defeat at Cuito Cuanavale spelled the doom of apartheid and the victory of the South African liberation movement.

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro famously observed that “the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale”. In South Africa’s Freedom Park, outside Pretoria, 2070 names of Cubans who fell in Angola are inscribed alongside those of South Africans who died during the anti-apartheid struggle.

His Excellency Comrade Robert: How Mugabe's ZANU clique rose to power

By Stephen O’Brien

Towards the end of 1975 a movement of young radicals organised in the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) took charge of Zimbabwe’s liberation war. ZIPA’s fusion of inclusive politics, transformational vision and military aggression dealt crippling blows to the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith. However, it’s success also paved the way for a faction of conservative nationalists led by Robert Mugabe to wrest control of the liberation movement for themselves.

How Europe underdevelops Africa (but how some fight back)

By Patrick Bond and Richard Kamidza

ADDIS ABABA, June 11, 2008 -- In even the most exploitative African sites of repression and capital accumulation, sometimes corporations take a hit, and victims sometimes unite on continental lines instead of being divided and conquered. Turns in the class struggle might have surprised Walter Rodney, the political economist whose 1972 classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa provided detailed critiques of corporate looting.

In early June, the British-Dutch firm Shell Oil –- one of Rodney's targets -- was instructed to depart the Ogoniland region within the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, where in 1995 Shell officials were responsible for the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. After decades of abuse, women protesters, local NGOs and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) gave Shell the shove. France's Total appears to be the next in line to go, in part because of additional pressure from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

South Africa: Water struggles from Johannesburg and beyond

By Dale T. McKinley

It’s been five years since residents of the poor community of Phiri (Soweto) were first confronted with the practical consequences of the City of Johannesburg’s corporatisation and commodification (read: privatisation) of water delivery. That was when Phiri was chosen as the first community in the Johannesburg Metro to ``benefit'' from the implementation of its Operation Gcin’amanzi. What subsequently happened has now been well documented many times over: the surreptitious and forcible installation of pre-paid water meters under the pretext of fixing ageing infrastructure; the victimisation and cutting-off of supply to those who refused; and, sustained resistance pitting community residents – organised through the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and the newly formed Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) -- against an ``unholy alliance'' of Johannesburg Water, the City of Johannesburg, state prosecutors, the South African Police Services and private security firms.

Nigerian socialist: A tribute to Fidel Castro

Kola Ibrahim of the Democratic Socialist Movement of Nigeria looks at the legacy of Fidel Castro, the internationalisation of struggle and calls for ``working-class activists from Kenya to Venezuela to Georgia to Pakistan and the rest of the world'' to build a genuine working people's political platform.

Musical interlude: Abdullah Ibrahim's Mannenberg (Is Where It's Happening)

Mannenberg


Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) is seen here visiting Mandela's cell on Robben Island, and wandering in and around Cape Town -- including the famed District Six and Mannenberg -- to the soundtrack of his now classic South African jazz tune Mannenberg (Is Where It's Happening).

Migrant workers in South Africa: Photography and social justice struggles

Born in Durban and the author of a forthcoming book on Wentworth in Durban, Peter Mckenzie was a co-founder of the photo collective Afrapix agency under the auspices of the South African Council of Churches and the chief photographer for Drum magazine until the late 1980s before going freelance. He was also the co-ordinator and facilitator of the photojournalism department at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism from 1996 to 1999. Mckenzie has published and exhibited both in South Africa and internationally, and is recognised as one of South Africa's greatest photographers.

Below, McKenzie provides a commentary on aesthetics and representation strategies for popular movements committed to social justice.


 

 

Pre-post: A trajectory in South African photography

By Peter Mckenzie, Sean O’ Toole and Jo Ractliffe

Sean: Very often in discussions of contemporary South African photography, and I would say I’m a guilty culprit here too, commentators have tended to speak of the 1990s signalling a break in continuity. After decades of socially committed photography, Drum magazine in the 1950s and early 1960s, and more pointedly the socially committed vision of the Afrapix collective in the 1980s, it seems that after Mandela’s release and the transition to a non-racial democracy photography splintered. At least so goes the master narrative. Or will history, which is good at flattening things, simply define the 1990s as the identity decade?

Sudanese communists discuss prospects for peace

By Kerryn Williams,

Khartoum January 18, 2007-- Late last year, Green Left Weekly’s Kerryn Williams spoke to the assistant secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), Suleman Hamid El Haj, in Khartoum about political developments in Sudan since the January 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended the two-decade-long war between Sudan’s central government in Khartoum and the south.

Sudanese Communist Party on the crisis and tragedy of Darfur

By the Sudanese Communist Party

June 19, 2007 -- In the ancient history of Darfur, the existing region had been characterized by waves of migrations due to the movements of Arab and African tribes. These waves of migrations had significantly influenced the shaping of Darfur history as well as its norms, traditions and customs. Clearly, migrants had brought with them cultural, social, economic and religious currents, some of which had made radical changes in Darfur. Due to Darfur’s natural and climatic diversity, a number of tribes had settled in different parts of the area. Each tribe had its own chief assuming the management of its affairs independent of any other authority. The tribal customs were the term of reference that had governed the relations between different tribes in Darfur. Indeed, Darfur had been known to the world since the ancient history. It has been mentioned that some pharos had once visited the area, while the Romans had made attempts to subjugate Darfur in order to exploit its resources. Admittedly, the 40 Days Road linked Darfur to the Egyptian Governorate of Asute. Moreover, a number

Sudan and Darfur: The Problem Is Political

By Fathi M. El Fadl People's Weekly World

June 10, 2006

The following is a response to questions posed by the People’s Weekly World editorial board to Fathi M. El Fadl, a leader of the Sudanese Communist Party, about the current situation in Sudan and in particular Darfur.

Founded in 1946, the Sudanese Communist Party has been a political force in the country for 60 years, despite harsh repression against it. Although relatively small, it was considered the best organized political party when Sudan won its independence from Britain in 1956. Sudan’s current president, Omar al-Bashir, took power in a 1989 coup. Since then, “the SCP has emerged as one of the Bashir government’s most effective internal opponents, largely through fairly regular publication and circulation of its underground newspaper, Al Midan,” according to sudan.net.

Taking issue with many western media reports, El Fadl says the crisis in Sudan is not one of race or ethnicity (Arab vs. African), but a political and economic one that requires political and economic solutions.

Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class

By Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond

May 26, 2008 -- The low-income black township here in Durban which suffered more than any other during apartheid, Cato Manor, was the scene of a test performed on a Mozambican last Wednesday morning (May 21). At 6:45am, in the warmth of a rising subtropical winter sun, two unemployed men strolling on Belair Road approached the middle-aged immigrant. They accosted him and demanded, in the local indigenous language isiZulu, that he say the word meaning ``elbow'' (this they referred to with their hand). The man answered ``idolo'', which unfortunately means ``knee''. The correct answer is ``indololwane''. His punishment: being beaten up severely, and then told to ``go home''.

 

March against xenophobia, Johannesburg, May 24, 2008.

`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.

* * *

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.

US covered up Somalia massacre

8 April 1998

By Norm Dixon

US “peacekeepers” in Somalia in 1993 massacred more than 1000 people, including civilians and children, in a single afternoon. While western media reports focused on the deaths of 18 US soldiers, broadcasting shocking pictures of a dead pilot being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, the fact that hundreds of Somalis (200, according to the US government) died in the clash was barely mentioned. A US journalist's investigation has revealed the US covered up the terrible extent of the bloodbath.

Mark Bowden from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who is researching a book on the US occupation of Somalia, interviewed former US soldiers and officials as well as Somali witnesses. His findings were published in the London Observer on March 22.

The US invaded Somalia on December 9, 1992, under the guise of a “humanitarian” operation to protect aid workers distributing food. The US handed over control to the United Nations in May 1993. At its height, the operation involved 35,000 troops from 20 countries, 24,000 of them from the US.

SUDAN: Can the northern elite allow peace to flourish?

8 March 2006

Norm Dixon

January 9 marked the first anniversary of the historic “comprehensive peace agreement” (CPA), which ended the devastating 21-year war in the south between the central government in Khartoum and the impoverished people of southern Sudan. Despite the enthusiasm of the anniversary celebrations in the ramshackle southern capital of Juba, there are growing concerns that Sudan’s powerful northern elite is not committed to peace and may again plunge the south into war.

Zimbabwe and the strategy of resistance

By Dale T. McKinley

April, 2008 -- The character and content of the past and ongoing political, economic, social/humanitarian and (progressive) organisational crisis in Zimbabwe has received huge amounts of analytical and empirical attention from the broad left in Southern Africa and, to a lesser extent, from the global left. Several books, numerous essays/articles, frequent seminars/workshops and countless blogs and emails have been offered on almost every aspect of the crisis. While these efforts have certainly provided much-needed intellectual stimulation/debate, important information, degrees of organisational impetus and knowledge-generation about the crisis, and have often catalysed practical efforts to assist, and be in solidarity with, progressive forces in Zimbabwe, the Achilles heel of the struggle for a new Zimbabwe -- the strategy and tactics of resistance/opposition -– has, for the most part, been treated as a ``poor cousin'', forever condemned to sit on the margins of the main ``conversation'' and struggle.

Zimbabwe: Only mass mobilisation can defeat the Mugabe dictatorship

By the International Socialist Organization (Zimbabwe)

April 11, 2008 -- The March 29, 2008, elections have brought into sharp relief the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe. [At the time of writing] the government–appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has not announced the results of the presidential election, which the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- MDC(T) [a marginal faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara, also stood] claims to have won by a margin of more than 50%. The results for the parliamentary election show that the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, has lost its majority to the opposition for the first time since independence.

John Pilger on South Africa: Honouring the 'unbreakable promise'

March 28, 2008 -- Fourteen years after South Africa's first democratic elections and the fall of racial apartheid, John Pilger describes, in an address at Rhodes University, the dream and reality of the new South Africa and the responsibility of its new elite. (See video clips of John Pilger's visit here.)

***

By John Pilger

On my wall in London is a photograph I have never grown tired of looking at. Indeed, I always find it thrilling to behold. You might even say it helps keep me going. It is a picture of a lone woman standing between two armoured vehicles, the notorious ‘hippos’, as they rolled into Soweto. Her arms are raised. Her fists are clenched. Her thin body is both beckoning and defiant of the enemy. It was May Day 1985 and the uprising against apartheid had begun.

African agriculture and the World Bank: Development or impoverishment?

By Kjell Havnevik, Deborah Bryceson, Lars-Erik Birgegård, Prosper Matondi & Atakilte Beyene

December, 2007 -- Agriculture's dominant role in Sub-Saharan Africa's local, national and regional economies and cultures throughout pre-colonial history has been foundational to 20th century colonial and post-colonial development. No other continent has been so closely identified with smallholder peasant farming. Nonetheless, smallholder farming has been eroding over the last three decades, perpetuating rural poverty and marginalising remote rural areas. Donors' search for rural ``success stories'' merely reinforces this fact. Certainly many farmers have voted with their feet by increasingly engaging in non-agricultural livelihoods or migrating to urban areas. In so doing, the significance of agriculture for the majority of Africa's population has altered.

Video: Chavez on food sovereignty

Click here to see and hear Venezela's President Hugo Chavez discuss food sovereignty in Latin America, Africa and the world.

http://www.links.org.au/node/262

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