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Africa

Raymond Suttner: 'The ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance has sold its soul'

Raymond Suttner.

By Raymond Suttner

September 27, 2013 -- Weekly Mail & Guardian (South Africa) -- For some time political commentators have been proved wrong when predicting the collapse of the tripartite alliance (made up of the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and suggesting that splits in these organisations could lead to the formation of a new political party that might displace the ANC.

At this moment, for the first time one can say without any sense of exaggeration, the ANC, South African Communist Party, COSATU alliance, insofar as it exists, has no ideological coherence or significance and provides little political leadership and direction. It may exist as a name but it no longer captures the moral fervour that led millions to place their hopes in them.

The glue that binds survives at the leadership level, where the spoils of office have been spread to a significant number of members of the SACP leadership and a fair number of former COSATU leaders. With the absorption of the top COSATU leadership into the ANC's national executive committee, the relationship is consolidated by the prospect of their being offered cabinet posts or other rewards, which are part of the largesse that the ANC in government can dispense.

Swaziland: Communist Party leader arrested during 'election' boycott campaign

Statement by the Communist Party of Swaziland

September 15, 2013 -- On September 14, Swaziland’s police special unit Lukhozi arrested Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) deputy general secretary Musa Dube while he was campaigning for a boycott of the “elections” being staged by the regime of King Mswati on September 20.

Comrade Dube has been confined at the notorious Manzini police station, and is due to appear in court this week on a charge of sedition.

The CPS has called for his immediate release, and for all progressive organisations and parties to condemn Dube’s arrest and detention.

“Sedition is the term Mswati uses to describe pro-democracy work”, said CPS general secretary in response to news of the arrest. “Our comrade was conducting campaign work to promote the message that the only elections that should be held in Swaziland are free and fair ones, where all political are able to take part on whatever platform they want. Mswati’s elections are the exact opposite of that. They are merely a way of selecting who will serve him best.”

South Africa: World’s longest running current industrial dispute sets example for us all

By Mike Marqusee

“Ex-Midrand Council Workers in Dispute Since 1994! Dismissed for fighting corruption in 1994 and still fighting today! 20 years of Sacrifice! 20 Years of Poverty! 20 Years of Solidarity!” -- ex-Midrand Council workers' banner

September 13, 2013 -- Mikemarqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- South Africa’s ex-Midrand Council workers are engaged in what is surely the world’s longest running industrial dispute, a Burston for our times. It started back in 1994, in the midst of the birth pains of South African democracy, when more than 500 workers employed by Midrand Council took industrial action against corrupt employment practices.

At that time, local government structures had not yet been subject to democratic "transformation"; they were still the creations of the apartheid era. Midrand was run by remnants of the old regime with no interest in reaching a settlement. Under pressure, some strikers returned to work, but the great majority remained in dispute.

Motsotso wa NUMSA (The NUMSA moment): South Africa's most radical trade union (video)

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is the most radical and most political trade union in South Africa today. It opposes the deepening neoliberal economic policies of the South African government, which is led by the African National Congress. It is opposed to recent attacks on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) aimed at weakening that body's political independence and militancy, and it campaigns for socialist policies and serious approaches to the question of workers' rights and climate change.

This video, produced by UhuruProductionsJHB, looks at what NUMSA is and who it stands up for.

Read more about NUMSA HERE.

Marikana massacre: A wake up call ignored

[Click HERE for more on the Marikana massacre.]

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

August 16, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Shortly after this column below was written and blogged, the South African Communist Party (SACP) issued its statement on the first anniversary of the Marikana massacre that reveals the deep and dangerous sectarianism of that organisation. Here, I feel, is exposed one of the roots of the problem. I include here the final paragraph of that statement as an introduction to this "Inside Labour" column:

South Africa: Behind the suspension of COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi

For more on COSATU, click HERE.

Statement of the Democractic Left Front, South Africa

August 15, 2013 -- As expected the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee took a decision to suspend Zwelinzima Vavi, its general secretary. An internal probe will now sit and in all likelihood find him guilty of bringing COSATU into disrepute and he will be permanently removed from the leadership of COSATU. [Vavi admitted to having sex with a junior staff member at the federation’s headquarters in January.]

Abuse of women is a very serious offence. Abuse of power is very serious. No-one should be above the law. In this case Vavi’s guilt has not been established. And it is obvious that the rapid and determined way some in the CEC went about taking up this issue is part of the bigger campaign to rid COSATU of Vavi’s leadership. If Vavi, or any official is guilty of serious abuse, the workers’ movement must act principally.

Zimbabwe: Why Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC 'lost' the election

[Click HERE for more on Zimbabwe.]

By Munyaradzi Gwisai

August 6, 2013 -- For a good part of his 33 years in power, Robert Mugabe has presided over a ruthless dictatorship. From the thousands killed in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and misery for millions under ESAP [structural adjustment plan], Operation Murambatsvina and hyper-inflation of 2008.

Yet in the July 31 general election, endorsed by Southern African Development Community and African Union, the 89-year -old ruler annihilated the hitherto iconic working-class leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), who beat him in March 2008.

Mugabe got 61% to Tsvangirai’s 34%. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won a 76% parliamentary majority, enough to re-write the new constitution and doing better than it did in 1980.

What happened?

BRICS lessons from Mozambique

Floods in Mozambique have worsened.

By Bobby Peek

July 24, 2013 -- Pambazuka News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Just across the border in Mozambique there is neo-colonial exploitation underway. It is not Europe or the United States that are dominating, but rather countries that are often looked up to as challengers, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). This is a dangerous statement to make but let us consider the facts.

South Africa is extracting 415 megawatts of electricity from Mozambique through the Portuguese developed Cahora Bassa Dam, which has altered permanently the flow of the Zambezi River, resulting in severe flooding on a more frequent basis over the last years. In the recent floods earlier this year it is reported that a women gave birth on a rooftop of a clinic, this follows a similar incident in 2000, when Rosita Pedro was born on a tree after severe flooding that year.

Exclusive excerpt: 'Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid' (Monthly Review Press)

The following is an excerpt from Alan Wieder's new book, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE.

You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below. Nadine Gordimer's foreword is available at HERE.

July 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ruth First and Joe Slovo, husband and wife, were leaders of the war to end apartheid in South Africa. Communists, scholars, parents, and uncompromising militants, they were the perfect enemies for the white police state. Together they were swept up in the growing resistance to apartheid, and together they experienced repression and exile.

Obama in South Africa: Washington tells Pretoria how to ‘play the game’ in Africa

Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.

[For more on South Africa, click HERE. For more by Patrick Bond, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

July 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – US President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.

Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we're going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: the myths and the man

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 28, 2013 -- Bulletin & Record, Zambia and Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It was all quite predictable, I suppose, that when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was rushed to hospital for the fourth time in almost as many months, the media would flock, much like vultures around an expiring stag, to take up positions outside the hospital. That they would be joined by prayerfull well wishers and others was also inevitable, as was the massive media outpouring that probably exhausted almost every aspect of the equally inevitable obituaries to come.

One Scandinavian news editor at least had the presence of mind to adopt a slightly different tack: he instructed his Africa correspondent to try to establish who would “carry forward the legacy of Mandela”. Of course, this begs the essential question: what is the Mandela legacy? Where does reality end and myth begin? However, the news editor was reacting to the myth, to the idea of the saintly reconciliator, the virtual demi-god who had spent 27 years in prison before emerging to stride confidently into the spotlight of the world’s media.

South Africa: ANC sees 'Swedes and Irish' behind miners' anger; Solidarity forces ANC back-down

Liv Shange returns to South Africa, July 14, 2013.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

June 27, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- According to African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe those responsible for “the anarchy that is happening in the platinum industry” are the “Swedes and Irish”. It was a comment that left many commentators dumbstruck.

Citizens of Sweden and Ireland seemed a rather strange choice as scapegoats to take the place of the former “counter revolutionaries” of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). But AMCU, certainly over the past week or two, no longer fits the scapegoat bill: the ANC has stated that that earlier pro-National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and anti-AMCU comments by prominent ANC figures have been “resolved”; that AMCU and NUM are now regarded equally.

But why the use of “Swedes and Irish”? Some commentators saw in this parallels with the apartheid government’s claims of “foreign agitators” and “white communists” being behind the mass uprisings against their regime.

Ordinary Brazilians foot the FIFA bill -- some lessons from South Africa

[For more on Brazil, click HERE. For more on the soccer World Cup, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last fortnight, Brazil’s millions of street protesters in 80 cities supporting the Free Fare Movement have declared how fed up they are with making multiple sacrifices to neoliberalism as revitalised by one Sepp Blatter, the Swiss emperor of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). While right-wing opportunists have been involved in some of the recent protests, the core grievances are apparently those of the left and of the disaffected youth.

South Africa: Since 1994, a massive wealth shift from already poor to the 'uber-rich'

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

May 13, 2013 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- If capital is to be believed, it is the worker who is the main source of our contemporary social and economic problems.

Every time the annual South African season of wage negotiations is about to begin, as it is now, representatives of capital unleash a tsunami of propaganda about workers’ "high and unaffordable" wage demands. Dire warnings of destructive social unrest/conflict, high inflation rates, poor competitiveness and generalised economic devastation roll off their silver-lined tongues. The underlying message is neither subtle nor sanguine: wage demands of workers are to blame for just about everything bad that is happening in our society.

Swaziland: South Africa's high commissioner rejects democratic transformation

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Joint statement

May 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the new South African High Commissioner to Swaziland, His Excellency Happy Mahlangu, presented his credentials to King Mswati, the Swazi Observer on May 3 reported him as saying:

I further wish to make use of this opportunity to express South Africa's best wishes to Your Majesty and the people of Swaziland for success during the forthcoming elections. I also want to assure you of South Africa's support regarding the Swaziland elections.

To make matters worse, here is what "His Excellency" had to say in the May 13 Swazi Times:

South Africa’s ‘sub-imperial’ seductions

By Patrick Bond

May 9, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Thanks are due to an odd man, the brutally frank Zambian vice-president Guy Scott who last week pronounced, “I dislike South Africa for the same reason that Latin Americans dislike the United States”. Thanks are also due to South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma for forcing a long-overdue debate, just as the World Economic Forum Africa summit opens in Cape Town: is Pretoria a destructive sub-imperialist power?

Mali under occupation: France extends combat mission, UN readies a force

[Click HERE for more on Mali.]

By Roger Annis

May 8, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/The Bullet -- France’s National Assembly and Senate have voted to extend the country’s military intervention in Mali. A resolution passed both houses of parliament on April 22. Not a single vote was cast in opposition.

Three days later, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2100, creating a policing mission beginning July 1, 2013. The mission is called by its French acronym MINUSMA. Its projected size is 11,200 soldiers and 1440 police.

South Africa: Centenary of the 1913 Land Act

By Colin Bundy

April 18, 2013 -- Amandla!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  Why consider the history of a hundred-year old law? Surely the Marikana massacre and farm-workers' strikes are more urgent? In fact, there are direct links between the Natives' Land Act of 1913 and current struggles. The Land Act and its consequences still shape rural South Africa and complicate contemporary programmes of restitution and land reform.

The Land Act was not a sudden departure, nor did it transform the countryside. It followed a long history of colonial conquest and dispossession; it codified and ratified various discriminatory practices established in colonies and Boer republics. In order to understand the Act's core features, we need to recall how land alienation took place in British colonies and Boer republics before Union.

South Africa: Pro-government faction attacks COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi is under attack for being too critical and independent of the ANC government.

By Benjamin Fogel

April 12, 2013 -- Amandla!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal with the author's permission -- the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is in the midst of the biggest crisis in its 27-year history. This crisis has arisen from a South African Communist Party (SACP)-driven attempt to oust democratically elected COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, under the guise of corruption charges. The conflict's roots are in longstanding political contradictions and ideological tensions between COSATU and its Alliance partners – the ruling African National Congress and the SACP. At stake is not only the leadership of COSATU, but its political and moral direction.

COSATU sources reveal that the anti-Vavi faction is an alliance between the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and elements of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). COSATU president Sidomu Dlamini leads this faction, which is in all likelihood driven by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe.

Mauritius: Flash flood hits Lalit de Klas’s offices and archives

By Lindsay Collen

[Please contact Lalit de Klas at lalitmail@intnet.mu to offer solidarity or assistance.]

April 5, 2013 -- Lalit -- Mauritius' revolutionary socialists, organised in the Lalit de Klas party (Lalit), have been in total crisis mode after the terrible flash floods in and around the capital Port Louis, floods in which people lost their lives in the centre of town, caught in underpasses and underground parking garages. Others were stranded on top of their houses or left hanging on to mango tree branches in the flood waters. Others still were trapped inside vehicles carried away like Dinky toys, all ending up jumbled up in a mess. There was 153 mm of rain in two hours in Port Louis.

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