Archives for posts with tag: South Africa

In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony. This was designed to force blacks from agriculture into an army of cheap labour, principally for the mining of newly discovered gold and other precious minerals. As a result of this social Darwinism, Rhodes’s De Beers companyquickly developed into a world monopoly, making him fabulously rich. In keeping with liberalism in Britain and the United States, he was celebrated as a philanthropist supporting high-minded causes.

Today, the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University is prized among liberal elites. Successful Rhodes scholars must demonstrate “moral force of character” and “sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship”. The former president Bill Clinton is one; General Wesley Clark, who led the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, is another. The wall known as apartheid was built for the benefit of the few, not least the most ambitious of the bourgeoisie.

Transmission line

This was something of a taboo during the years of racial apartheid. South Africans of British descent could indulge their contempt for the Boers, while providing the façades behind which an inhumane system guaranteed privileges based on race and, more importantly, on class.

The new black elite in South Africa, whose numbers and influence had been growing steadily during the latter racial apartheid years, understood the part they would play following “liberation”. The “historic mission” of such elites, wrote Frantz Fanon in The Wretch ed of the Earth, “has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.

This applied to leading figures in the African National Congress (ANC), such as Cyril Rama – phosa, head of the National Union of Mine – workers, now a corporate multimillionaire, who negotiated a power-sharing “deal” with the regime of F W de Klerk and Nelson Mandela himself, whose devotion to a “historic compromise” ensured that freedom for the majority from poverty and inequity was a freedom too far. This became clear as early as 1985, when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia and both sides agreed, in effect, that racial apartheid would be replaced by economic apartheid, known as the “free market”.

Secret meetings subsequently took place in a stately home in England, Mells Park House, at which a future president of liberated South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, supped malt whisky with the heads of corporations that had shored up racial apartheid. The British giant Consolidated Gold Fields supplied the venue and the whisky. The aim was to divide the “moderates” – the likes of Mbeki and Mandela – from an increasingly revolutionary multitude in the townships who evoked memories of uprisings following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and at Soweto in 1976, without ANC help.

Once Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the ANC’s “unbreakable promise” to take over monopoly capital was seldom heard again. On his triumphant tour of the US that summer, Mandela said in New York: “The ANC will reintroduce the market to South Africa.” When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms: “The policy of the ANC is privatisation.”

Enveloped in the hot air of corporate-speak, the Mandela and Mbeki governments took their cues from the World Bank and the IMF. While the gap between the majority living beneath tin roofs without running water and the newly wealthy black elite in their gated estates became a chasm, the finance minister Trevor Manuel was lauded in Washington for his “macroeconomic achievements”. South Africa, noted George Soros in 2001, had been delivered into “the hands of international capital”.

Advertisements

During its long liberation struggle, South African organisations were known by initials like ANC, PAC, AZAPO, COSATU etc. It was a well-known alphabet of activism.

In today’s South Africa, nearly 20 years after the arrival of a multi-racial democracy, there are three letters that are not as well known but central to understanding the conflicts that continue to swirl here from the recent massacre of 34 striking miners by police to almost daily protests against poor service delivery and outrage against growing corruption: PUI.

PUI stands for Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality, all social phenomena that are growing and some say worse today than when Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.

To assess the feelings of South Africans, surveyors from the Gallup Poll organisation put this question to a carefully selected sample in February and March of this year: “Now I am going to read you a lot of issues the Government of South Africa could address in the next twelve months. Please tell me which is the most important.”  The questions dealt with corruption, education, healthcare and the economy.

Fifty one per cent of the respondents put “Create New Jobs” at the top of their list.

Notes Gallup: “Currently, 28 per cent of South Africans overall say it is a good time to find a job in their community, while 69 per cent say it is a bad time. Those job opportunities that do exist are disproportionately concentrated in the cities, so that South Africans living in urban areas are almost twice as likely as those living in small towns or rural areas to say it is a good time to find a job – 40 per cent vs. 22 per cent, respectively. Correspondingly, the richest 20 per cent of South Africans are about twice as likely as the remaining 80 per cent to perceive job opportunities as good in the city or area where they live.”

The issue of jobs is of course a global challenge with unemployed and underemployed workers clamouring for job creation in every country. But, in South Africa, where workers fought so hard against a racial system of apartheid, many now find themselves stuck in an economic one.

An Afrikaner intellectual, Solomon Johannes (Sampie) Terreblanche is emerging as the country’s leading and hardest-hitting analyst of growing and worsening inequality and poverty that impacts as many as 50 per cent of all black South Africans.

Unlike others who are just critical of the African National Congress government, he offers a structural and global analysis showing that the political transition that took place here in the early 90s was not accompanied by a social and economic transformation.

He explains how these inequalities have their roots in a long history of colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

His new book Lost in Transformation (KMM Review Publishing) goes in to how what he calls the Mining Energy Complex (MEC) subverted the demands for fundamental reform through secret deal making behind the scenes of the negotiations for a new order.

He then ties what happened locally to the growth of an international American-driven neo-liberal global economic agenda that limited local sovereignty and policy options.

Terreblanche is a serious researcher, not a conspiracy theorist, but followers of Noam Chomsky and many critics of the economic strategies of the World Bank and the IMF will find a great deal to learn from his incisive analysis.

“The PUI problem that was bequeathed to the ANC government by the apartheid regime in 1994 was already almost unsolvable,” he writes.

“The ANC has proclaimed repeatedly that addressing the PUI problem is its highest priority. But this is true only in the rhetorical sense of the word. The policy measures implemented by the government over the past 1 years have given strong preference to black elite formation and to promoting the interests of local and foreign corporations while it has shamelessly neglected the impoverished black majority.”

This is the deeper background to the conflicts now surfacing in this country which are far more economic than political. When you hear about more uprisings and confrontation, think PUI – and what must be done about it.

The tragic events in the Marikana mine, in South Africa, which outcome resulted in the death of many miners, unionists and policemen, are serious and have an unquestionable political importance.

For what they objectively represent, but also by the symbolic and political power they acquired within a country, historically marked by the apartheid violence. Violence which took place, and specially the police action, cannot but offer an expressive condemnation by forces, as the PCP, have a common cause , with the workers struggle, the defence of their rights and have always been side by side with that people’s struggle against social and racial oppression and by the achievement and deepening of the democratic and national revolution, initiated with the over throwing of the apartheid. But this unquestionable condemnation and solidarity expression to workers of the millionaire mine extraction industry ought not to, nor cannot, ignore these events real causes and the political situation evolution in South Africa and of their social and political forces.

Upon two decades on the South African people’s and the ANC’s victory, the major reason for all these events resides in the maintenance of a situation which, in multiple aspects, can be considered as “social apartheid”. Although the existence of some positive evolutions, serious problems persist, inherited from the racial segregation system, such as unemployment ( which in strict sense achieves about 25% of the population and in latu sensu around 40%) ; poverty ; high employment rate in the so-called “informal economy” ( around 40% of the employment) and, moreover, a huge inequality in the wealth and land reallocation , which carries on a very strong racial component.

Policies carried out by the ANC, in order to correct the asymmetries in wealth distribution, access to employment and land, together with the participation in the economic activity, although with the best of intentions, did not resolve these problems in the essential, and one of the features of the evolution since 1994, was the emergence of a new powerful black bourgeoisie, which in many cases, assumes the role of the “visible face” of the colonial powers great economic groups, which influence the South African state apparatus and , during the Mbeki “era” won importance within the ANC, introducing interior contradictions and amid one of the main pillars of the tripartite alliance: the powerful COSATU, the class trade-union, of which the NUM, the miner union, is affiliated, its next month’s congress will precede the ANC congress in December, and during which, the ANC’s current leadership( headed by Jacob Zuma) and policy will be discussed, and which, in many aspects broke off , although not totally, with the policies proceeded unto 2009.

In the light the complex and explosive South African situation; the contradictions and the clarification processes in progress amid the ANC and the COSATU; some South African workers strata black population frustration regarding the ANC; the mining industry international companies action. in the attempt to dynamite the collective contract agreements, instigate divisions among the workers’ movement and finance populist trade-unions, such as the AMCU ( that some identify as holding a tribal nature and for several times, were accused of arising violence among workers), one ought to analyse the Marikana events. Events which, stand on a real frustration and revolt basis of over-exploited workers, suggest to observe the presupposition of the social and political orchestration in order to open up space for populism and “smash” the tripartite alliance via the COSATU debility, an important strategy for whom had in mind to jeopardize or subject the developments amid the ANC. Events which, once again prove, the major role of the workers’ class in societies and political evolution, and advise never to forget imperialism’s action which, as proved in Zimbabwe’s recent history, always attempted to create and profit from difficulties and mistakes in order to defer the African decolonizing history.

Winners invariably believe that they are entitled to rewrite the past from the vantage point of history’s vindication, but official histories are always challenged by the ‘losers’.

With the approach of the 25th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, the controversy over who won this pivotal engagement in southern African history is being revisited. It is as if the battle has been rejoined as protagonists from both sides of the conflict press their claims as victors.

I was young then but I was against Apartheid and I supported, then and now all the peoples fighting against oppression. To me, Cuito Cuanavale was a great defeat of UNITA and the racist South Africa.

This Union is completely shocked that murder charges have been laid against the 270 people who were arrested on August 12th in Marikana, during the massacre of 34 workers who were killed by the police. It is not just this Union and our Federation COSATU that is alarmed and shocked by this turn of events, but also respected constitutional lawyers. Pierre de Vos, a respected constitutional lawyer based at the University of Cape Town has called the development bizarre and shocking and a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system.

To use ‘common purpose’ law in this case is also deeply provocative and insulting. This is legislation that was internationally condemned when it was used to collectively silence and condemn anti-apartheid activists, and to criminalise all those who were fighting for democracy in South Africa.

These developments are deeply worrying and all concerned citizens must ask a very basic question; the most recent comments from the Minister of Justice, seeking an explanation of this situation makes the question even more pressing, and that is ‘What is happening in the State?’

On the one hand we have seven days of official morning declared by the President, a high level governmental and judicial enquiry, the payment from the public fiscus of funeral expenses to the families of those who were killed, government intervention to stop the dismissal of those still on strike, and serious attempts via the Minister of Labour to establish the basis for a peace accord towards a negotiated settlement.

On the other hand, there is the bizarre and legally indefensible application of the common purpose laws, accompanied by the abuse of prisoners basic human and legal rights, strong evidence emerging that many of those who were killed by police were shot while retreating (and out of view of the media), and corroborated reports of the illegal and heartless mistreatment of those arrested, including the denial of medical treatment.

South Africa and the world was shocked at the gunning down of 34 workers, but are now completely perplexed to hear that those who were shot at by the police, and who fled for their lives, have been charged with the murderous actions they so luckily escaped. The reputation of our beloved country is being tarnished. Decisive action is now required from our leadership. This tragic and confused legal approach to the Marikana crisis is simply making matters far worse.

Now is the time for honest, open and firm leadership. Those who are currently directing the legal case against the 270 must be changed immediately. The murder charges must be withdrawn pending the outcome of the Judicial Enquiry. Bail facilities must be fast-tracked to allow those who have been traumatised by this experience to return to their families, to grieve the neighbours and fellow workers they have lost, and to visit those who are still in hospital receiving treatment. Communities must be allowed to return to some degree of normality.

Efforts to secure a peace accord must be given utmost priority as must efforts at finding an acceptable negotiated settlement between all concerned parties to allow for a return to work. These constructive measures require a calm and stable environment if they are to succeed. At present they are being critically disabled by those who seem hell bent on exacting vengeance above all else. This is unacceptable.

In addition, the Judicial Enquiry must speedily start its work and report within a time frame that reassures the public. All those with evidence to submit, must be ready, and resist the temptation to derail progress. All those who are seeking to exploit this crisis for their own self-serving interests must be persuaded by an overwhelming popular acclaim, to curtail their ambitions, for the common good.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Eastern Cape Province held a successful bilateral meeting on the 28 August 2012 in East London. (…)

The bilateral meeting observed a moment of silence for those who lost their lives, their family members, colleagues and their parents in Lonmin Marikana Platinum Mine during strike, the ten school children who lost during a road accident in Kwazulu Natal and Professor Neville Alexander, may their souls rest in peace.

The bilateral welcomed the announcement by President Jacob Zuma on the commission of enquiry that will lead in clarifying the role of various players in the incident and to putting the Marikana issue at rest. However we believe that Lonmin management must take a greater responsibility of those who lost their parents and family members in the Marikana tragedy, having noted that most of them emerge from the Eastern Cape. Our view is that the Lonmin must commit to building homes for these families and taking care of their children`s education.

Both the federation and the party condemn the opportunistic elements that are prepared to literally walk over dead bodies to score political points. This is the desperation lumpen bourgeoisie whom are prepared to bring about the lumpenisation of the under-class for their new accumulation path.(…)

The brutal bourgeoisie mode of production continues to face an unending structural crisis. This mode of production has over a period of time failed to respond to the needs of the people throughout the globe. This crisis has forced the bourgeoisie to plant mercenaries in other countries that are anti-imperialist as an attempt to rescue this structural crisis of this atrocious system.

The bilateral meeting condemns the invasion and the killings of people of Syria, particularly by United States of America. The people of Syria must not be compromised in an attempt to rescue a crumbling capitalist system, this has proven to fail in Libya no matter how many people were killed but capitalism was never rescued.

We draw strength from the international communists who continue to work towards total destruction of the brutal capitalist system. The international left forces must unite and consolidate a program that will bring about an end to the inhumane capitalist mode of production.

The working class throughout the globe has been forced to carry the scars and injuries of this dwindling ruthless system of production. In South Africa the unemployment, poverty and inequality remain structural and deep rooted; in the 18 years of democracy the property relations remain unchanged except the co-option of few black people.(…)

Our ANC alliance led government must strengthen the BRICS as an alternative economic bloc to the brutal so called western super power

We have noted that even though we have seen changes in the leadership and policy directions of our movement post 2007 and also have come out with progressive policies propositions in the ANC NGC but we seem to be trapped in undeclared age of hope as the working class, when it comes to implementation of such policies. We have all agreed that there should be radical policy directions for the benefit of the working class but we have seen less in implementation. We have been celebrating few momenta joys and not the long term solutions for the working class. This has made it easy for the new tendency and the emerging lumpen bourgeoisie to rent the under-class for their self-accumulation as the poor becomes more vulnerable.

The meeting much-admired COSATU for having successful and most united provincial congress, with the challenges facing the alliance components the unity shown by both the national congress of the SACP and the provincial congress of COSATU cannot be taken for granted. The meeting further wished both COSATU and the ANC successful and united national congresses, which should be seen as platforms to deepen and defend our shared program; the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

The alliance is facing a strategic threat from the neo-liberal some from the former members and leaders of the movement, some from the neo-liberal social movements and the DA led opposition. Our alliance continues to be undermined through courts and now the new string of the so-called artist whom in the name of art have deemed it fit to cartoon our leadership. Our alliance is also undermined and attacked by the neo-liberals as portraying our leadership as the most corrupt and most immoral, when the reality is that this neo-liberal offense is meant to weaken the alliance and consolidate political power for the DA consortium led opposition and the new emerging lumped bourgeoisie.

The unity of the ANC, SACP and COSATU alliance is of all paramount importance if we are to change the plight of the poor of our province. It is important for the alliance to be viewed as the political center and therefore programmatic relations must be enforced, if we are to attain the objectives of the NDR.

There is strong need of the alliance components to develop a program in relation to resolving challenges facing the movement throughout the province. Our alliance must never cease to be the beacon of hope to the striving masses of this land; it must be a beacon of hope because of its programs that responds to the need and aspirations of the workers and the poor.

The unity of SACP & COSATU in the province and the country at large is of paramount importance. The ANC cannot be able to assert itself without the alliance; it will not be able to lead this NDR without this alliance. It is therefore important to take greater responsibility of the NDR as our shared program and most importantly for the SACP and COSATU the struggle of building a socialist South Africa for and with the workers and the poor.

On the Provincial Government:

The bilateral raised its concern on the poor administration displayed by the some departments in the province, in particular the Department of Health: wherein we have witnessed the lack of security of the nurses, non-payment of workers, loss of medicines, etc. We strongly believe that drastic actions must be taken within the department to remedy the situation and those found responsible must face the full might of the law. This has to be resolved as a matter of urgency as this has a potential of compromising the lives of the poor and can also compromise a solid ground for the National Health Insurance (NHI).

The bilateral applauded the significant progress made in the Department of Education following the misunderstanding when it comes to an issue of section 100b between the Provincial Government and the National Government. We of the firm view that more involvement of all in the society to assist in the department is imperative as education is the societal matter.

We are calling upon our Provincial Government to rollout a massive infrastructure projects as promised in the State of The Province Address by our Premier Ms. Noxolo Kiviet and a comprehensive industrial strategy to curb unemployment. There is a dire need of inclusive Rural and agrarian reform strategy as the means for massive food production and combating unemployment.

The meeting also noted with great apprehension the deteriorating situation of most of the municipalities in the province. In Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality there has been no Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for more than three years and there has also been consistent infighting within the municipality. In the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality there has been no City Manager and vacant Executive Directors` posts for more than three years. In Mnquma Local Municipality there has been no progress owing to the divisions and infighting within the municipality.

If the issues that are raised above are not resolved as a matter of urgency with high velocity service delivery and emancipation of people will be highly compromised as they severely impact on the service delivery.

We reasserted to wage a relentless war against corruption in and out of government; corruption continues to deny people of our province and the country at large their right to services. The government tenders have for over a period of time proven to be most role-players in the scourge of corruption. It is our belief that those who are working or deployed politically in the state must not do business with the state, to declare that you do business with the state is not enough, people must choose between being business people and genuine public servants.

COSATU and the SACP recommit these two working class formations to working together, shoulder to shoulder in rooting out corruption. We will have campaigns to this end, in making sure that we root out corruption in favour of free basic services for all.

 

Ageing satellite dishes, once the backbone of Africa’s telecommunications system, are being given a new lease of life as radio telescopes.

The thrifty project aims to boost the skills of the continent’s scientists as Africa prepares to host the US$2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), set to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope when it is completed in the mid-2020s. In May, the SKA project leaders decided that Africa, with South Africa at the helm, would split the array with Australia and New Zealand . The SKA will detect radiation from the early Universe, giving clues to how the first stars and galaxies formed.

This antenna in Kuntunse, Ghana, is in line for an upgrade.
MICHAEL GAYLARD

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West is embarking on protest action against Sun City, Sun International’s most prestigious resort in South Africa.

The protest action is prompted by the inhumane manner in which Sun City continues to treat its workers and guests who are black, in particular Indians and Africans.

Sun City has been collecting workers’ gratuities for the past fifteen years and has failed to transfer the money to the workers; it continues to accumulate interest in an account controlled by Sun City and workers do not have a say in that money.

The visit of Tony Blair as a guest speaker to a conference sponsored by Discovery Health in in a weeks’ time 30 August 2012, provides an opportunity to comment on what has been Tony Blair’s ‘achievements’ that entitle him to charge extravagant amounts of money, for the pleasure of hearing his pearls of wisdom? Here are some of his more notorious ‘achievements’:

First, Blair the Anti-Social Reformer : Blair managed to ensure that the British Labour Party abandoned any pretence of being a socialist party and instead became a poor shadow of the anti-poor Conservative Party of Mrs Thatcher, so much so that Mrs Thatcher herself complemented Blair on his ability to cut much needed public services and undermine trade unions. A situation which so demoralised the British working class that the Conservatives were able to regain a foothold and now govern on an agenda that is amongst the most reactionary ever experienced in the UK, thanks to Blair.

Second, Blair the War Maker: Blair made sure that the alliance with the American Government under Bush was absolute, so much so that when the criminal decision was made to invade Iraq based on the blatant lies about weapons of mass destruction, and against the overwhelming wishes of the British people, he was prepared to abandon the sovereignty of his own country to become Bush’s lap dog and chief apologist. This decision cost the lives of thousands of innocent people, and has left Iraq and the region as a whole in turmoil. The invasion prepared the way for the pillaging of Iraq’s resources by US and UK based multinational corporations, thanks to Blair.

Third, Blair the Regional Peace Wrecker: Blair’s short lived role as a mediator to bring about peace in the Middle East exposed him as an unrivalled supporter of the Israeli Zionist project, and a loyal US Ambassador. As the person appointed by imperialist interests to try and bring about peace in the Middle East, he signally failed to take into account the appalling situation facing the Palestinian people, scattered as they are across the region, and blatantly ignored the worst excesses of the Israeli Apartheid State. The Palestinian people have been subject to accelerating levels of repression, with thanks to Blair.

We hope those who gather to hear Blair as a guest speaker this coming week bear these points in mind, and begin to understand why Blair is met with derision and disdain by very large numbers of people wherever he travels. Many believe that he should be indicted as a war criminal, and given the deaths he has been responsible for, not without justification. Others believe him to be a total fraud, who used his close association with ruthless media moguls like the discredited liar Rupert Murdock to gain power and influence, and who turned politics not into a positive force for social change, but as the preserve of spin doctors, unaccountable and corrupt manipulators of the truth, who care little for the common good.

We hope that those who intend to picket the Discovery event and expose Blair as the War Criminal he is, also remind those who have organised this so-called prestigious event, that by enlisting the support of someone like Blair, they have exposed their own limited and narrow interests, based as they are on profiting on the poor and sick, with special thanks to Blair.

Read this  (In Portuguese) and this (In English)

é impossível perceber a tragédia de Marikana sem avaliar como as corporações mineiras, sentadas sobre mais de 80% dos recursos mundiais de platina, criaram «uma comunidade de pobreza desesperada e tensões divisionistas». E sem compreender como a ganância das corporações, cujo único objectivo é o lucro, «tentou enfraquecer um sindicato estabelecido e a negociação colectiva em conivência com forças demagógicas».

Há, pois, muitas lições a tirar da tragédia de Marikana.

O ANC e seus aliados – portadores de um património de luta inigualável e inspirados pelos exemplos de heróis como Nelson Mandela e de outros patriotas – terão de estar à altura de responder aos desafios colocados e prosseguir a construção de uma África do Sul pacífica, democrática e progressista.

Indeed the above also requires that we undertake a serious analysis of some of the threats facing the working class in general and the progressive trade union movement in particular. This incident, as well as others before it in the recent period, should send a very clear message that there is a sustained attack and offensive against COSATU in particular. The SACP has also correctly warned that where our detractors and enemies sense some divisions amongst our ranks, then they always tend to go on the offensive. It might as well be important that these and other related matters needs to be discussed at the COSATU Congress next month, including frank analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of COSATU affiliates as well as some of the threats facing the federation as a whole. This discussion must not take the form of a lamentation or rhetoric, but must aim at concretely coming up with a programme to defend and strengthen COSATU, within the context of deepening the unity of our Alliance. Such a discussion at COSATU Congress must also concretely explore the possible relationship between, Marikana, the current global capitalist crisis, the further decline in the profitability of capitalism, and a renewed offensive to weaken the working class to defend declining levels of profits. For example to what extent are the tensions in the platinum mine-belt connected to the decreasing demand of platinum in an economic zone like the EU which is a major consumer of platinum for catalytic converters?