South Africa

World of work: Deep, systemic crisis signals the union form may have outlived its usefulness

By Dale T McKinley

June 26, 2021  — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — There can be little argument that the world of work in South Africa, and indeed globally, is in the throes of a deep, systemic crisis, made all the worse by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, if we allow ourselves, we can see the current and coming period as heralding a different kind of transition, one of possibility.

Grave diggers: the grim tale of states, capitalism and COVID-19

By Shawn Hattingh

July 7, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it often seems as if we are stuck in a dystopian movie. In this movie death is stalking us, hospitals overflow with the sick and dying, and the grave diggers are at work. We know more victims will soon die as the folly of millions of workers being forced by circumstances to return into cramped mines, banks, factories and warehouses is so evident. Those that are no longer needed by the billionaires who own the companies are marshalled daily by the police and military dishing out violence and on occasion, humiliation, to underline their power and the power of their bosses. It all feels so unreal, a ghastly movie playing out before our eyes. 

Numsa strike against sexual harassment is a ‘powerful moment in labour history’

By Erica Emdon

July 28, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Mail & Guardian — What does it require to get management to take a sexual harassment complaint seriously? If the recent National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) strike is anything to go by, it takes about 290 striking workers remaining underground without food and clean water for nine days.

South Africa: The urban crisis is a crisis of capitalist democracy (and the struggle to remove its chains)

By Trevor Ngwane

July 28, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Amandla — There were protests galore during the build-up to the 2019 May 8 South African national elections. The elections took place after 25 years of freedom and democracy and the people’s victory against apartheid. The protests happened in many parts of the country but mainly in Gauteng, the industrial heartland, and in the Western Cape, with its palpable legacy of colonialism. In Caledon, Western Cape, two protesters were shot dead by private security during a march and a land occupation. In Alexandra, the state president, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the protesting community after a tumultuous week, including a march to nearby ultra-rich Sandton.

Protesters were not celebrating their freedom and their right to vote. Many were saying they saw no need to vote because politicians and political parties habitually abused their vote, promising heaven and earth, but never honouring those promises. There were threats of disrupting the elections. As things turned out, they proceeded smoothly, albeit with a low turnout, especially by the youth, and a few sporadic instances of disruption.

The coincidence of protests and elections is not new in this country. What was new was the ferocity and proliferation of the protests. The images of chaos in the country’s urban working class townships during the elections implied that there was a crisis underlying South African politics.