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Terry Bell

The ticking time bomb of Swaziland

South Africa's ANC President Jacob Zuma gives Swaziland tyrant Mswati III the red-carpet treatment.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 19, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament this month launched protests about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic.”

But apart from a few verbal sallies from non-governmental groups, there has been silence from South Africa. And this should be deeply worrying to those who are concerned about deepening democracy on the continent and in ensuring that a wealthy, often corrupt — if not entirely melanin deficient — elite do not continue to dominate.

South Africa: Slow-motion disintegration of COSATU likely to continue

COSATU's highly respected national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, announced his resignation, after Vavi's expulsion noting: 'I could not defend the indefensible.' Several other senior COSATU figures are also discussing whether to take a similar step."

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 6, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The fact that COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has refused to accept his dismissal from the federation should have come as no surprise to readers of this blog. This column has pointed out for months now that the central executive committee (CEC) of COSATU has no constitutional authority to finally dismiss, suspend or expel any office bearer or affiliate; that only a national congress may do that.

South Africa: ANC elite media meltdown reveals crony capitalist shenanigans

Click for more by Patrick Bond. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

October 30, 2014 -- Originally published at Telesur English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The biggest credibility crisis ever to hit South Africa’s independent media is unfolding. There is a serious risk that fewer than a half-dozen power-crazed corporate managers will destroy the waning integrity – and at minimum, the ownership structure – of the country’s most popular TV news station, eTV, which had aspired to become Africa’s answer to Al-Jazeera.

South Africa: Workers need to speak with 'one voice', but whose voice?

[For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

September 14, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  The labour movement is coming under increasing pressure as the global economic crisis continues to bite. On the South African front the pressure is growing as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) labour federation fails to deal with the internal divisions that threaten to tear the federation apart. Or at least further fragment the country’s largest union organisation.

This much has been admitted by COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. He noted in August that “unions are in a state of paralysis”. Addressing the Food and Allied Workers’ Union congress in Johannesburg he said that “workers’ issues are being sidelined even by COSATU itself”. And it is the unions themselves that should sort these matters out.

South Africa: Overpopulation? Hindsight is also a blinkered perspective

[More on the population debate HERE. More by Terry Bell HERE.]

By Terry Bell

July 13, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “The misery of people here is very great, with beggars innumerable and increasing every day ... pigs and calves live better than they.” That rhyming comment could apply to the legions of the poor in many parts of the world today. And South Africa is no exception.

But that statement was made nearly 300 years ago by the Archbishop of Dublin, writing about conditions in England’s first colony, Ireland. Land seizures and a system of gross exploitation had reduced most of the Irish population to destitution.

What has this to do with South Africa today? Actually a lot. Because one of the arguments by the powers that be — and their supporters — at that time in Ireland was that the misery of the mass of Irish people was a consequence of them breeding too much. There were simply too many poor, too many children “in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers”, as the great Irish satirist Jonathan Swift noted.

'I am no messiah': Mandela and the dangers of deification

'Farewell to an icon', by Zapiro.

For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

December 13, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As everyone from monarchs to the labouring masses this week sought to share in the Mandela memorial moment, the myth machine went into overdrive, the very machine Mandela had so disparaged when I sat with him in his Johannesburg office in 1992. One sentence he uttered then has resonated with me throughout the years: “I am no messiah.”

The virtual deification of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would almost certainly have been anathema to the man. Especially since it has been peppered with hypocrisy in the laudatory comments by the likes of President Robert Mugabe, and the statements by, and selection of, some of the VIP delegations to his memorial and funeral.

South Africa: 'Beacon of hope' still flickers faintly

By Terry Bell

October 25, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “South Africa has rather fallen off the radar”, the BBC journalist noted. This was similar to comments voiced by former anti-apartheid activists and by several one-time strugglista exiles, mainly in London, who never returned home to settle. Because, in the mainstream media of Europe, there is little mention of South Africa; and, after six weeks abroad, it was for me a useful reminder of how minor is our role in global political and economic affairs.

And the moral high ground bequeathed to the country and its post-apartheid government by the global struggle against apartheid has also all but evaporated, depositing a residue of concern and disillusionment among many of those who once saw South Africa as a global beacon of hope. “What on Earth is happening there?” was a common, and concerned query, expressed by those who seek out what news they can of the country.

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:

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.

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: '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.

* * *

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.

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