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Africa

South Africa: Treatment Action Campaign turns 14

For more on the Treatment Action Campaign, click HERE.

December 10, 2012 -- TAC Electronic newsletter -- The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was launched on December 10, 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. TAC turns 14 years old on international human rights day. This birthday comes at a time where many celebrate the good progress made with regards to expanded access to antiretrovirus medicines (ARVs), but its not yet uhuru [liberation]. This does not mean the war against HIV and AIDS is over as many of us tend to forget where we come from and much focus is still needed on the road ahead. Many global leaders have started to reverse their commitment to see this struggle through and get to the zero-infection, zero-deaths and zero-discrimination target.

TAC campaigns for the realisation of the right to health including socioeconomic rights and the right to equality for poor people. Our main focus is the right to access quality health care that includes access to life-saving HIV treatment enshrined in the South Africa constitution. Between 1998 to 2012 TAC has created a profile as an organisation that fights for the realisation of the right to health for poor people living with HIV.

South Africa: The tortuous road from 1996 to Mangaung

By Terry Bell

December 13, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The tortuous road to the governing African National Congress' (ANC) centennial conference at Mangaung ends next week. And, not to put too fine a point on it, much of the country is gatvol [fed up] with the route it has taken and where it has arrived.

Potholed with corruption, meandering in no fixed direction to the profit of cronies, and riddled with damaging scandal, it should long ago have been resurfaced, rebuilt and given a clear destination. But it has remained in place as a national project and, in the process, has pushed into the background the ongoing — and often more subtle — unethical dealings outside of government circles.

In recent years and despite occasional grumbles, the country’s major trade union federation, the congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU), has continued to stumble along that road, praising its supposed promise. The federation was committed to it, especially after declaring, at its congress in 2006, that a “Zuma tsunami” would cure the ills on the road ahead. In the event, the leapfrogghing into power of President Jacob Zuma has proved even more destructive.

The commodification of crap and South Africa’s toilet apartheid

By Patrick Bond, Durban

December 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The December 3-6, 2012, World Toilet Summit offers an opportunity to contemplate how we curate our crap. Increasingly the calculus seems to be cash, generating contradictions ranging from local to global scales, across race, gender, generation and geography. Nowhere are they more evident than in the host city, my hometown of Durban. We’ve suffered an 18-year era of neoliberal-nationalist malgovernance including toilet apartheid, in the wake of more than 150 years of colonialism and straight racial-apartheid.

Patrick Bond: Doha climate talks another ‘conference of polluters’

Professor Patrick Bond.

By Busani Bafana

November 27, 2012 -- Inter Press Service -- There is no political will among rich nations to find funding for developing countries experiencing the brunt of changes in global weather patterns, and the current climate change conference will fail to do so, according to Professor Patrick Bond, a leading thinker and analyst on climate change issues.

“The elites continue to discredit themselves at every opportunity. The only solution is to turn away from these destructive conferences and avoid giving the elites any legitimacy, and instead, to analyse and build the world climate justice movement and its alternatives”, Bond, a political economist and also the director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, told IPS.

Egypt: Independent workers' federation rejects president’s power grab

November 25, 2012 -- MENA -- The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) issued this statement rejecting the Consitutional Declaration announced by President Mohamed Morsi and calling on workers to mobilise against the decree. Mass demonstrations have been called by opposition groups in protest at Morsi’s announcement.

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Dear Brother and sister workers,

When we heard about the Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi on 21 November, all of us starting asking our colleagues:

“What has this declaration got to do with us?” “Will it be useful for us, or against our interests?”

Let’s look together at what is in the declaration, and what the president said in his speech in front of the Ittihadiyya Palace in front of his supporters.

South Africa after Marikana massacre: Strike wave and new workers' organisations challenge old compromises

Thousands of Amplats mineworkers rally in Rustenburg, South Africa.

By Leonard Gentle

November 12, 2012 -- International Labour Research and Information Group -- Over the November 10-11, 2012, weekend striking mineworkers of the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) corporation gathered at a mass rally in Rustenburg and howled their defiance of a series of ultimatums issued by the company. At De Doorns, farm workers are on a "wildcat" strike -- the latest of a series that has become a feature of the South African landscape over the last three months, knocking the African National Congress conference in Mangaung off the front pages. Something is stirring from below … and it is time we got beyond the fear and trepidation that have become the stock response in the media.

Land grabbing: A new colonialism

A nascent oil palm plantation in southeastern Sierra Leone owed by Socfin Agriculture Company, which in March 2011 signed a 50-year lease with the government of Serra Leone. Photo by Felicity Thompson/IRIN.

By Alan Broughton

November 6, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the global financial crisis of 2008 and its associated food crisis that sent another 200 million people into malnutrition, there has been a massive grab for land by large corporations around the world. Worst hit has been Africa, where food security is already non-existent for many people. Governments, including the Australian government, welcome this “investment” in agriculture, some bizarrely claiming that food security will be increased.

South Africa: What has Hurricane Sandy taught the ruling elite?

Storm surge from the cyclone in Durban, March 2007.

By Patrick Bond

November 6, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What did Hurricane Sandy teach us in South Africa, just as $30 billion of state funds are being committed to the dig out of vast new Durban port capacity over the next three decades, plus billions more nearby for petro-chemical industry expansion in Africa’s largest oil-refining complex?

Not much, judging by the dunces I’ve met during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, which on October 31 included an Open Day for discussion sponsored by the biggest investor, the state-owned Transnet port and railroad operator.

Africa’s largest harbour, Durban is facing stiff competition: from Maputo in Mozambique for shipments to the huge Johannesburg market; and from other ports along the coast attempting to set up regional freight hubs and export processing zones. Transnet and Durban municipal officials are reacting like clumsy dinosaurs.

South Africa: Latest ANC/police attack on militant miners condemned

SACP's Blade Nzimande leads COSATU members prior to clashes with striking Anglo Platinum miners. October 27, 2012, Rustenburg, North West. Photo by Greg Marinovich, Daily Maverick.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

October 29, 2012 -- The Democratic Left Front condemns the police for shooting workers in Rustenburg on October 27. Two workers who work at Amplats were hit by live ammunition, and one, hit in the chest, is in a critical condition in hospital. Eleven other mineworkers were injured by rubber bullets. The DLF also condemns Blade Nzimande, SACP general secretary and minister for higher education, for condoning this shooting by the police. This so-called “Communist” defends the shooting of workers in the interests of the capitalist bosses.

South Africa's political economy after the Marikana massacre

Marikana miners protest against the August 16, 2012, massacre by police.

For more on the Marikana mine massacre, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

October 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When a ruling party in any African country sinks to the depths of allowing its police force to serve white-dominated multinational capital by killing dozens of black workers so as to end a brief strike, as happened in South Africa in August, it represents not just human rights and labour relations travesties. The incident offers the potential for a deep political rethink.

But that can only happen if the society openly confronts the chilling lessons learned in the process about the moral degeneration of a liberation movement that the world had supported for decades. Support was near universal from progressives of all political hues, because that movement, the African National Congress (ANC), promised to rid this land not only of formal apartheid but of all unfair racial inequality and indeed class and gender exploitation as well. And now the ANC seems to be making many things worse.

There are five immediate considerations about what happened at Marikana, 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, beginning around 4 pm on August 16, 2012:

South African metalworkers' union: 'For a class struggle approach to climate change and energy transition'

Karl Cloete addresses NUMSA's February 2012 International Conference on Building a Socially Owned Renewable Energy Sector in Johannesburg.

Click HERE for more discussion on radical workers' solutions to the environemntal crisis.

By Karl Cloete, deputy general-secretary, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)

[The following paper was presented on October 10, 2012, at a conference at Cornell University. NUMSA is South Africa's second-largest union, with alomost 290,000 members in the smelting, maunufacturing, auto and electricity generation industries.]

Our starting point as NUMSA is that to effect an energy transition, we as the global union movement DO need a perspective to guide us as well as strategies to be utilised by the movement. While such a perspective and accompanying strategies will definitely not come fully formed and in one go, we HAVE to keep working on them through discussions, through struggles, through experimentation and through learning from experiences of those in the forefront of energy struggles (within and outside of the labour movement).

Washington in Africa, 2012: Who will Obama ‘whack’ next?

Graphic from the Economist.

By Patrick Bond

[Address to the Muslim Youth Movement 40th Anniversary Conference, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, September 30, 2012. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.]

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends. – Former US president Jimmy Carter, 25 June 2012, New York Times

South Africa: (Updated) Marikana Lonmin workers win 22% wage rise, but the struggle for justice goes on

victory-for-marikana

Amandla! editorial

September 20, 2012 -- Amandla! -- A heroic struggle has tasted its first victory. The reported wage settlement with the mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine -- site of the terrible August 16 massacre of workers by police -- of R11, 000 is a massive victory, nothing less than the murder and sacrifice of so many workers dictated.

With an unholy alliance of Lonmin bosses, the bosses of the entire platinum sector, the army, police, government and even the leadership of the South African Communist Party and the pro-government National Union of Mineworkers rangeed against them, Lonmin workers can turn from their wage struggle to the struggle for justice with enormous pride and their dignity restored. This struggle has already rewritten the history of the international labour movement. In the eyes of the world, Marikana is not a place but an expression that workers' struggle -- class struggle -- is not yesterday's language and ideology, but lives in the struggles of the exploited and oppressed from below who continue to fight the good fight.

South Africa: 'The SACP has become a vanguard of ANC power factionalism'

South Africa's ANC president Jacob Zuma (right) dances with SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.

By Dale T. McKinley

September 10, 2012 -- South African Civil Society Information Service -- If ever we needed to be reminded of Milan Kundera’s famous axiom that, "the struggle … against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting", then it is in respect of the post-apartheid history of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Why? Because it is a history that shows us, in so many different ways, how and why the SACP has gradually but systematically become a vanguard of African National Congress (ANC) factionalist politics as opposed to its self-proclaimed role as an independent, progressive force representing and leading the "national democratic, anti-capitalist struggle" of the working class.

South Africa: Dying for growth -- World Bank's role in Marikana massacre mine, carbon pollution

More than 3000 mineworkers take part in a march at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa on September 5, 2012. Photograph by Mike Hutchings/REUTERS.

For more on the Marikana mine massacre, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond

September 5, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “One of the things you learn as an anthropologist, you don’t come in and change the culture”, Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim told wealthy alumni when contemplating the institution’s notorious hazing practices, prior to US President Barack Obama’s request last February that he move to the World Bank.

Kim’s Harvard doctorate and medical degree, his founding of the heroic NGO Partners in Health and his directorship of the World Health Organization’s AIDS division make him the best-educated, most humane World Bank president yet. A decade ago, he co-edited the book, Dying for Growth, pointing out that "Washington Consensus" policies and projects had a sharply adverse impact on health.

South Africa: Hamba Kahle Comrade Neville Alexander (1936-2012)

August 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of tributes to Neville Alexander, a great South African revolutionary, who died on August 27, 2012. Following the tributes is an extensive biographical essay by the South African History Online project.

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Tribute to Neville Alexander from comrades and friends of the Workers' Organisation for Socialist Action (WOSA)

August 29, 2012 -- Comrades and friends who have known Neville Alexander through the Workers Organisation for Socialist Action mourn the passing of this great socialist and revolutionary. Neville Alexander dedicated his life to the struggle against oppression and injustice and for the upliftment of his fellow human beings.

From the early days of student struggles to his arrest and imprisonment on Robben Island to his latter years working on language and education, Neville Alexander’s deep humanitarian spirit, his respect for the ordinary people and his humility were always present.

South Africa: Marikana massacre – a turning point?

Marikana mineworkers on strike for higher pay.

For more coverage of South Africa, click HERE.

By Martin Legassick

August 27, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The massacre of 34, and almost certainly more, striking mineworkers at Marikana (together with more than 80 injured) on August 16 has sent waves of shock and anger across South Africa, rippling around the world. It could prove a decisive turning point in our country’s post-apartheid history.

Marikana is a town situated in barren veld, dry brown grass in the winter, with occasional rocky outcrops (kopjes, hillocks). The Lonmin-owned mines – there are three, Karee, West and East Platinum – are situated on the outskirts of the town. Alongside two of them is a settlement of zinc-walled shacks festooned with lines of washing called Enkanini, where most of the mineworkers live.

South Africa: 'Sorting fact from fiction at Marikana' -- Terry Bell on the massacre of mineworkers

For more coverage of South Africa, click HERE.

August 27, 2012 -- Terry Bell is a widely respected labour reporter and activist based in Cape Town, South Africa. His "Inside  labour" columns in Amandla! magazine and on his blog, Terry Bell Writes, are essential reading for those interested in developments in South Africa's labour movement. Below, with Terry Bell's permission, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts some of his recent columns dealing with Marikana massacre and the background to it.

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By Terry Bell

August 23, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes --  The deaths at Lonmin amount to the bloodiest tragedy of the post-apartheid era. As a result, the blame game is in full swing and is likely to continue in the weeks ahead.

South Africa: (updated Aug. 29) Justice now for the Marikana workers and community!

August 24, 2012 -- In the aftermath of the terrible Marikana massacre on August 16, 2012, a number of statements have been released by South Africa's left condemning and explaining the murder of more than 34 minerworkers on the day, and a number of others in the weeks previously. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a selection of the most significant. They include an article by veteran South African Communist Party member and former ANC government minister Ronnie Kasrils and statements by the Democratic Left Front (and a report of a public meeting), the South African Municipal Workers Union, Amandla!, Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Unemployed Workers Movement and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. More will be added as they come to hand.

See also "South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new".

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