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Patrick Bond

South Africa: Politics, profits and policing after the Marikana Massacre

Lover of fast cars, vintage wine, trout fishing and game farming and the second richest black businessperson in South Africa (global financial publication Forbes puts his wealth at $675 million or £416 million), Cyril Ramaphosa (left) celebrates his election as deputy president of the ANC with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa demanded that police break the Marikana mineworkers' strike; police massacred 34 minerworkers and wounded 78 others.

By Patrick Bond

December 20, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the official judicial investigating commission into the Marikana Massacre draws to a close in 2012, with many weeks of testimony in 2013 still ahead, what did the South African Police Service (SAPS) learn from their behaviour?

SAPS Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi – who heads "public order policing" and hence control of demonstrations – was asked this by commission chair Ian Farlam last week, and judging by his four answers, the SAPS has not begun to grasp the reality of the crime they committed on August 16, 2012:

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.

BRICS bloc’s rising ‘sub-imperialism’: the latest threat to people and planet?

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa pose prior to the BRICS summit in New Delhi on March 29, 2012.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

November 22, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The heads of state of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) network of governments are coming to Durban, South Africa,  in four months, meeting on March 26-27 at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Africa’s largest venue. Given their recent performance, it is reasonable to expect another “1%” summit, wreaking socioeconomic and ecological havoc. And that means it is time for the first BRICS countersummit, to critique top-down “sub-imperialist” bloc formation, and to offer bottom-up alternatives.

After all, we have had some bad experiences at the Durban ICC.

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'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:

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: 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: Who will surf the protest wave?

Johannesburg's Orange Farm revolts against local elites.

By Patrick Bond

July 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The recent surge of unconnected community protests across South Africa confirms the country’s profound social, economic and environmental contradictions. But if activists fall before a new hail of police bullets, or if they lack an overarching, unifying political strategy, won’t their demonstrations simply pop up and quickly fall back down again – deserving the curse words "popcorn protests" – as they simply run out of steam, or worse, get channelled by opportunists into a new round of xenophobic attacks?

It’s been a hot winter, and we’re just halfway through July (the Centre for Civil Society’s Social Protest Observatory keeps tabs at http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za). Consider evidence from just the past two weeks, for example, in Johannesburg’s distant Orange Farm township south of Soweto, where residents rose up against city councillors and national electricity officials because of the unaffordable $250 installation charged for hated pre-payment (i.e. self-disconnection) meters, not to mention a 130% increase in electricity prices.

‘Closing the doors of learning’ to the Israeli state opens the doors of freedom

By Patrick Bond and Muhammed Desai

May 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One of South Africa’s largest tertiary institutions, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, is a site of multiple controversy but a near-disaster on May 21 deserves more reflection because it points us in a positive direction: away from allying with the Israeli state and its apartheid policies during a time of heightened racism. A representative of Israel had been invited to speak but was then disinvited, after the university was called on by staff and students to respect the “academic boycott” of Israel.

From South Africa, the African continent and everywhere else, it is a critical time to step up pressure against the rogue regime in Tel Aviv. Israel’s hard-right leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, is in a dangerous career phase, preparing to bomb Iran; illegitimately holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners in worsening conditions; expanding settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank; terrorising Gaza; and tightening his militaristic hold over the region.

Promise-breaking at the World Bank: Why Jim Yong Kim will be a heartbreaker

Jim Yong Kim is also known for his rapping and dancing with talented Dartmouth College kids.

By Patrick Bond

April 5, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- That 66th birthday month of his, March 2012, was auspicious for adding a little spice to his dreary life, but no, it just can’t last. Born in March 1946 alongside his evil twin, IMF, in Savannah Georgia, after conception in what must have been a rather sleazy New Hampshire hotel (the Bretton Woods) in mid-1944, the old geezer known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or much better by his nickname World Bank (but let me just use WB), really ought to be considering retirement.

Not to be ageist (ok just this once), but still, it’s patently obvious that WB’s relentless WashCon ideology is so last-century, so discredited by recent world financial melting, and so durably dangerous in today’s world. His presidents have reflected the worst of the old yankee imperialist mindset. And let’s not even start on IMF’s extremist lads and lass, who in recent years have migrated their austerity dogma from North Africa to Southern Europe and to my native Ireland, meeting growing resistance along the way.

The contradictions of Ronnie Kasrils: The leftist spy who came in from cold Pretoria

Ronnie Kasrils speaks out against Israel's apartheid policies, March 5, 2009.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

March 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- ‘I don’t have the stomach or the taste to serve any more at this level,’ said the normally ebullient minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils, as he quit after 14 years of service to the South African government. It was late September 2008, just after Thabo Mbeki was replaced in palace coup.

Kasrils’ intelligence service was by then an international laughing stock, with spy-versus-spy intrigue spilling out wide across the political landscape. His own troops were locked in unending, ungovernable, internecine battles against each other’s factions, using hoax emails, other disinformation and extraordinary political contortions unknown in even the ugliest Stalinist traditions of the African National Congress (ANC). Recall that Mbeki’s police chief Jackie Selebi was also the head of Interpol, and to have the mafia penetrate such high levels made South African security farcical at best.

'Uneven and combined Marxism' within South Africa’s urban social movements

A protest by Kliptown Concerned Residents and the Anti Privatisation Forum.

By Patrick Bond, Ashwin Desai and Trevor Ngwane

February 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The political dynamics of contemporary South Africa are rife with contradiction. On one hand, it is among the most consistently contentious places on earth, with insurgent communities capable of mounting disruptive protest on a nearly constant basis, rooted in the poor areas of the half-dozen major cities as well as neglected and multiply-oppressed black residential areas of declining towns. On the other hand, even the best-known contemporary South African social movements, for all their sound, lack a certain measure of fury.

Will IMF neoliberalism make a comeback in Africa via Tunisia?

The neoliberal government of Ben Ali was overthrown by popular rebellion in 2010. Can the IMF co-opt the Arab Spring?

By Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife

February 2, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde in Tunisia today, the stage is set for ideological war over the progress of democratic revolutions.

Until 27-year-old fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi committed suicide by immolation in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia was packaged as an IMF success story. In 2008, dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was embraced by Lagarde’s predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn: "Economic policy adopted here is a sound policy and is the best model for many emerging countries.”

Climate debt owed to Africa: What to demand and how to collect?

By Patrick Bond

May 5, 2010 -- The “climate debt” that the industries and over-consumers of the global North owe Africans and other victims of climate change not responsible for causing the problem has accrued by virtue of the North’s excessive dumping of greenhouse gas emissions into the collective environmental space. Damage is being accounted for, including the more constrained space the South has for emissions. This historical injustice – and “debt” -- is now nearly universally acknowledged (aside from Washington holdouts), and reparations plus adaptation finance are being widely demanded.

In Copenhagen, the 2009 United Nations summit on climate change witnessed a great deal of theatre over conceptual problems, including, who should make emissions cuts and to what degree; should markets be the main mechanism; who owes a climate debt; how much is owed; and how the debt should be collected. The willingness of African heads of state to raise the matter publicly beginning in mid-2009 was notable, but their inability to ensure political solidarity led to the imposition of the Copenhagen Accord on December 18, in a manner that sets back the cause.

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