India: Revolutionary Students Challenge the Heroism of Nelson Mandela

Democratic Student Union, Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityDecember 14, 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Hero for the oppressors, A BETRAYER FOR THE OPPRESSED!

The mournings & praises from the imperialists and their agents, are Mandela’s “legacy” of brokering one of the biggest sell outs of the 20th century!

Ever since the death of Nelson Mandela on the 6th of December, the most flowery tributes have been showered on him by a wide spectrum of the ruling classes all over the world. While the face of US imperialism Barak Obama “led the world” in paying tribute to “his personal hero”, the speeches his lieutenants in Britian, much of Europe, and across the world reverberated the same. The mass murderer president of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakshe who oversaw the genocide of the people of Tamil Ealam also had tears to shed for Mandela. The Indian state also gargled the same and declared a four day long state mourning. The same waves also reached our campus. From ABVP to the parliamentary pseudo-left AISA or SFI and their likes, several organizations vied with each other in presenting their laurels to their “hero”. This spectrum is certainly striking, and may even confuse a few as to the real “legacy” of Mandela. However in reality, it is precisely this unanimity of imperialists and their agents that is most revealing. Mandela’s so called legacy is built upon on an illusion, the seeds of which were laid by Mandela himself. It is extremely important that we break this collective iconization and the illusion of Mandela’s legacy. Continue reading

South Africa: Grassroots activists mourn UnFreedom Day, to mark the hard-fought freedoms still unwon

Friday 26 April , 2013
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA — Press Statement

UnFreedom Day in Durban

UnFreedom Day, 2012, Durban, Azania (South Africa)

UnFreedom Day, 2012, Durban, Azania (South Africa)

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA, a democratic and membership based organization, has held its UnFreedom Day event in Durban every year since 2006. This year UnFreedom Day will be held in Durban and in Cape Town.

UnFreedom Day will be mourned at the eThekwini College, Springfield (adjacent to the Kennedy Road shack settlement) in Durban on 28 April 2013 and at the Sweet Home Farm Community Hall in Philippi in Cape Town on 27 April 2013. The event will begin at 09:00 in the morning in both cities.

We wish to acknowledge all the sacrifices made by many South Africans in the name of freedom and all of the gains that have been won. We also wish to salute all the international communities who fought hard with us to defeat apartheid. But we are sure that this is not the real freedom that so many people struggled and had suffered for. We do not want in any way to undermine the struggles of the past or the real gains that have been won. But who can say that they are really free when they must live without land, without homes, without jobs and without dignity? Who can say that they are really free when they do not have the right to organise freely and safely? Who can say that they are really free when women are not safe? Who can say that they are really free when they are being forced out of the city and taken to human dumping grounds in the middle of nowhere? Continue reading

South Africa: “It is Time for Real Action Against Rape “

8 February 2013  BBC News
There have been further protests in South Africa, over the high incidence of rape in the country. The demonstrations were triggered by the gang rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, 
with police figures showing that 64,000 cases were reported last year.
Nomsa Maseko reports.

Unemployed People’s Movement Press Statement, Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Thandiswa Qubuda was gang raped in the early hours of the 20th January 2013 at the corner of New Town and E Street in Grahamstown. She is 30 years old and the only one surviving in the family. Both her both parents have died and she was living with her aunt.

She was savagely beaten during the rape and is now permanently brain damaged and lying in hospital. Today at 12 noon the Revered Mzi Dyantyi, family members and the Unemployed People’s Movement held a prayer and anointment in her ward.

The men that were arrested after this rape were granted free bail. The rape case was then dismissed and struck off the role because of the extreme negligence and incompetence of the police. The only charge that is remaining is attempted murder. Witnesses have been subject to serious intimidation by one of the accused. One has been taken to a place of safety after been threatened with death by one of the accused. Another has had to flee to Johannesburg. And yet the accused were given free bail! Continue reading

Dear Mandela — a film on the new generation of struggle and hope in South Africa

Theatrical Trailer — When their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction, three ‘young lions’ of South Africa’s new generation rise from the shacks and take their government to the highest court in the land, putting the promises of democracy to the test.
DEAR MANDELA was awarded the ‘Best South African Documentary’ prize after its World Premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.  See http://www.dearmandela.com for more information

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Thu, 2012-09-27

Dear Mandela

A film review by Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist

It would be impossible to overstate the importance of “Dear Mandela”, a documentary now showing at the IndieScreen Theater in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn through tomorrow evening. After a decade or more of Hollywood movies like “Invictus” or “In My Country” that can best be described as public relations for the ANC, a fierce documentary directed by Dara Kell, a South African now living in the U.S., and Christopher Nizza, finally catches up with reality–a system of economic apartheid has replaced one based on race.

Just as the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 helped galvanize a movement against racial apartheid, the slaughter of 36 miners in Marikana creates the political context for a new freedom struggle based on class. To understand how South Africa has entered a new terrain of struggle, there is no better introduction than “Dear Mandela”, a film that focuses on the struggle against slum clearance in the name of “development” that took place in the outskirts of Durban. We meet three young activists of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Residents of the Shacks) who are committed to the rights of the poor to live in informal settlements. Despite the promise of President Nelson Mandela that every South African would have the right to a decent home, the new ANC pushed through legislation that would give the government the right to demolish the shacks that the poor were forced to live in. Each day “Red Ants”–work crews in red coveralls–come to the slums and raze their shacks to the ground and each day community members rebuild them. They had learned that ANC promises to build new homes were empty. Continue reading

South Africa strikes spill into transport sector

The unrest has forced three leading platinum producers to halt mining operations on the richest deposits in the world

By Sibongile Khumalo, Agence France-Presse
JOHANNESBURG, 25/09/2012
South Africa is struggling to quell a wave of strikes that have crippled the key mining sector and now threaten to spark fuel and food shortages, as transport workers became the latest to go on strike Tuesday.

Unions representing an estimated 28,000 truckers said poor pay and conditions had prompted them to launch the latest in a rash of sometimes deadly strikes that threaten to spook investors and curb growth in the emerging nation.

Drivers are seeking a 12-percent wage increase for 2013 and 2014, more than the rate of inflation, which stands at 5.0 percent.

Last week President Jacob Zuma said stoppages in the mining sector in the past nine months had cost the economy close to 4.5 billion rand ($534 million, 415 million euros).

Firms in the transport and mining sectors on Tuesday tried to end the standoffs at the negotiating table, although progress appeared to be slow.

Road Freight Association spokesperson Magretia Brown said no deal had yet been reached with transport workers, but talks were ongoing.

Meanwhile Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers, who have been on a wildcat strike which is now on its second week, held their first day of talks.

The strike has shut down operations at the world’s top platinum producer.

“We expect Anglo American to come with something on the table and if they are unable to do that, the strike will continue and it will be the start of the (formal) strike,” said Gaddhafi Mdoda, a workers representative. Continue reading

South African Police Halt Peaceful Strikers’ March

September 16, 2012

Mineworkers in South Africa are demanding better pay and working conditions. On September 12, 2012 unrest spread further throughout the platinum and gold sectors. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos

Mineworkers in South Africa are demanding better pay and working conditions. On September 12, 2012 unrest spread further throughout the platinum and gold sectors. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos

SA police halt peaceful strikers’ march

By DENIS FARRELL, Associated Press

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — South African police halted a peaceful march by striking miners without violence Sunday, a day after firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse illegal protesters.

Officers barricaded a main road into Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, and persuaded some 500 miners that their march was illegal and that they should go home.

Sunday’s protesters from Anglo American Platinum mines wanted to march to Rustenburg police station to demand an end to the violence against strikers. Some carried sticks but there were none of the machetes, spears and clubs that have marked previous protests for higher wages.

On Saturday police raided hostels at Lonmin platinum mine and collected homemade weapons. They fired rubber bullets and tear gas to force people into their homes. It was the first police action since officers killed 34 miners on Aug. 16 in state violence that shocked the nation.

The strikes have shut down one gold and six platinum mines, destabilizing the country’s critical mining sector.

Saturday’s show of force follows a government vow to halt illegal protests and disarm strikers. Continue reading

South African Miners charged with murder – of colleagues shot dead by police

Lawyers say 270 workers will not get fair trial over strike massacre and demand their release

Alex Duval Smith, The Independent (UK)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

State prosecutors have charged 270 strikers arrested at Marikana platinum mine with the murder of 34 colleagues. The arrests went ahead despite confirmation that the victims were shot dead by police, in the latest setback to prospects of peace in the South African mining industry.

The strike at Marikana that called for 3,000 rock drillers to have their monthly pay increased to 12,500 rand (£940) has led to a total of 44 deaths, including those of two policemen and two security guards. In shocking scenes on 16 August, police opened fire on a group of miners, killing 34 and injuring 78.

Lawyers acting for the detained men yesterday appeared for a third day at Ga-Rankuwa magistrate’s court to argue for them to be released on bail, after it emerged that state prosecutor Nigel Carpenter had increased the charges against the men from attempted murder and public violence to murder. Meanwhile, government mediators yesterday met representatives from the mine owner, Lonmin, and four trade unions in an attempt to sign a peace accord as a precursor to wage talks. The Marikana mine was at a standstill with only 7.7 per cent of employees reporting for work – the lowest figure since the strike began on 10 August. Continue reading

Local community and class struggles in South Africa pose challenges to revolutionaries

Protest and Repression in South Africa

from Counterpunch by PATRICK BOND, July 17, 2012

Durban, South Africa.

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 political strategy, won’t their demonstrations simply pop up and quickly fall back down again – deserving the curse-words ‘popcorn protests’ – as they 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: 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 prepayment (i.e. self-disconnection) meters, not to mention a 130% increase in electricity prices since 2008.

Nearby, in Boksburg’s Holomisa shack settlement, 50 activists were arrested after blocking roads with burning tyres. Likewise, in the port city of East London’s Egoli township, house allocation controversies led to a brief uprising, and down the coast, high-profile Port Elizabeth road barricade protests again broke out over failing services in Walmer township.

Near the Botswana border close to Northwest Province’s Morokweng village, a dozen residents angry about inadequate state services were arrested for arson, public violence and malicious damage to school property, following months of frustrated non-violent protest; while in the provincial capital of Mahikeng, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate began an investigation into a death on July 4: “The deceased was allegedly shot and run over by a police vehicle during a service delivery protest in the area.” Continue reading

“A Place in the City” — Documentary on South Africa’s Shack Dwellers Movement

on Jun 14, 2010

More than a decade after apartheid ended millions of South Africans still live in basic home-made shacks. We hear from the inhabitants as they eloquently argue their case for real citizenship rights.

The shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, began in 2005. Their slogan is ‘Talk to us, not about us.’ ‘It’s not that people like to live in shacks. No one will ever want to live in these conditions but they need to be close to their work’ explains S’bu Zikode, Abahlali’s elected leader. However, the group has not been welcomed by the ANC. They’ve been met with aggression rather than with negotiations. Police shot Mariet Kikine with six rubber bullets at a peaceful demonstration. ‘I’m not stopping to fight the government for my rights. Now they’ve made me brave.’ In the build-up to the 2010 soccer World Cup, Durban shack dwellers fear they will be bulldozed out of the city, or arrested. ‘This new legislation makes it a crime to build shacks or resist demolition and eviction.’ But the shack dwellers are determined not to give up.

Dennis Brutus, Presente!

[On December 26, 2009, Dennis Brutus died, leaving an endless legacy of determined and visionary struggle, drawn from the battles against apartheid, from the ongoing fight against neo-colonialism in post-apartheid South Africa, and from the movements against Global Apartheid which so presaged the revolts of 2011.  We remember him in all these ways, and with his poetry, such as “There will come a time.” — Frontlines ed.]

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There will come a time

There will come a time we believe
When the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
Will be less important;
We will be caught in a glow of friendship
a red star of hope
will illuminate our lives
A star of hope
A star of joy
A star of freedom.

South Africa: “Fighting for Our Right to Work – Organising the Unemployed”

Jeanne Hefez, Pambazuka

20 October 2011

Organising the unemployed is a full time job – one the Unemployed People’s Movement in South Africa is making it’s own. Jeanne Hefez talks to UPM organisers about the challenges they face.

‘There is no third force, political party or communist academic behind our struggle. It is oppression at the hands of the African National Congress that has driven us into the rebellion of the poor. We are in rebellion because we are being forced to live without dignity, safety or hope.’ (Unemployed People’s Movement)

How do you keep members interested in a movement with no resources or immediate solutions at hand? What can you offer discouraged members when you are unemployed yourself, and when local politicians have consistently turned down your demands, including the most basic ones?

Unemployment is structural and rampant, and organising the unemployed is a fulltime job. As Ayanda Kota, chairperson of the UPM in Grahamstown, says, ‘We are living in a radically unjust society. We live below the poverty line. We live in shacks with no electricity and running water. If RDP houses were built they are now crumbling down due to poor workmanship and corruption. Our democracy means the progress of the few while the majority of people are left behind to starve for death. We talk about our situation in our dusty and at times muddy street corners, in our shacks.’

To organise the unemployed means going to informal settlements every day to inform people about their conditions and rights while trying to address the bigger struggles at hand. It means giving back hope, a sense of dignity and purpose to the dismayed. According to the UPM, the poor need help from a third force to organise. Bheki Buthlazi, a coordinator in Durban, explains how he strives to interest people in joining a network of individuals afflicted with the same problems. ‘People need to be reminded that they have a right to decent work and a right for a guaranteed income even if unemployed, that it’s a fight we need to coordinate in order to be more powerful. As people, we have a right to work, and it’s all too known that jobs are only given to people who are connected through corruption and nepotism.’ Continue reading