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

The campaign to boycott apartheid’s sports teams — then (South African) and now (Israeli)

Israel Dropped the Ball on Human Rights, but We Won’t!

by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

October 18th, 2012

Israel Dropped the Ball on Human RightsLast week, more than 100 organizations worldwide — including dozens of US Campaign coalition members — signed onto a letter of support for the first Israeli sports team boycott campaign in the United States, organized by member group Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC). The Israeli basketball team Maccabi-Haifa has been in the United States playing U.S. teams including the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Stop Playin’ with Apartheid”

When the Timberwolves refused to cancel their game with the Maccabi, almost two dozen activists protested inside the stadium calling on the team to “Stop Playing with Apartheid!” The protestors were ejected from the game for “disruptive and inappropriate messages” (meanwhile, counter-protestors waving Israeli flags were allowed to stay). According to a press release on the MN BBC website, a legal observer and civil rights attorney was assaulted and temporarily arrested by local security and police.

A boycott of Apartheid South Africa’s sports teams proved to be a particularly effective tool in the struggle to end oppression there. At the time, South African teams that had not taken a public stance against apartheid would not be invited by any self-respecting tournament or venue. It should be no different with Apartheid Israel today.

In the same way that South African teams were, almost all Israeli sports teams are cynically used as ambassadors of an apartheid state. Additionally, Maccabi is sponsored by Ya’akov Shahar, chairman of Mayer’s Cars and Trucks Ltd., the official importer to Israel of Volvo. Both companies are heavily involved in the Israeli occupation, as documented by Who Profits?, an Israeli research project. Israeli sports teams like Maccabi are also notorious for racism and racial discrimination against Palestinians.

As the activists in Minnesota stated: “Love Basketball; Hate Apartheid.”

The Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) first made its way into U.S. basketball discourse when the US Campaign learned that legendary player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar canceled participation in an Israeli film festival following Israel’s killing of twelve unarmed Palestinian refugees attempting to exercise their internationally-recognized right of return.

It’s time to slam dunk Israeli Apartheid!

For more information on this and related campaigns, see:  http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3293

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For background on the international boycott of South African apartheid’s sports, see this video documentary clip, and the articles which follow: Continue reading

How the Marikana Movement Stunned Neoliberal South Africa

The day after the Marikana massacre, wives and mothers of the victims gathered in rage

[By all accounts and assessments, the Marikana mine massacre has marked a major turning point in the ANC-led “post-apartheid” South Africa.  But what sort of turn is being made?  A radical commentator and analyst, Patrick Bond, delves into this in some depth, and comments:  “this is potentially the breakthrough event that independent progressives have sought, so as to unveil the intrinsic anti-social tendencies associated with the ANC-Alliance’s elite transition from revolutionaries to willing partners of some of the world’s most wicked corporations……..What is definitive, though, is the waning of any remaining illusions that the forces of ‘liberation’ led by the ANC will take South Africa to genuine freedom and a new society.”  The following article, though long, is well worth exploring. — Frontlines ed.]

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by PATRICK BOND, in Counterpunch

How long can the amazing upsurge of class struggle in South Africa go on? Living here 22 years, I’ve never witnessed such a period of vibrant, explosive, but uncoordinated worker militancy. The latest news from the labour front is that 12 000 workers were fired on October 12 by Angloplats for a wildcat strike (it is likely most will be rehired in coming days if an above-inflation wage settlement is reached), and thousands of others are threatened by the mining houses. Jacob Zuma’s government is panicking about lost elite legitimacy, calling on October 17 for a pay freeze for top private sector, parastatal and state management to make a token gesture at addressing unemployment.

As the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and SA Communist Party (SACP) continuously fail to put a lid on the boiling labour pot, no one can offer sure predictions. To try, nevertheless, to assess the durability of this surge of working class revulsion, now two months after the August 16 Marikana Massacre of 34 wildcat-striking platinum mineworkers (plus 78 wounded), requires sifting through the various ideological biases that have surfaced in the commentariat, as well as first considering precedents. How much can the balance of forces be shifted if the ruling elite overplay their hand – and what organizational forms are needed to prevent divide-and-conquer of the forces gathering from below?

Metaphors for Marikana from the bad old days

We must be wary of drawing a comparison to the South African state’s last mineworker massacre, in 1922 when Johannesburg’s white goldminers rebelled against the increasing use of competing black labour (to the sound of the Communist Party of South Africa’s notorious slogan, ‘Workers of the World Unite for a White South Africa!’). They were resoundingly defeated and then coopted, a fate that Marikana workers and 100 000 others who went wildcat in recent weeks have so far avoided. Those workers are now moving by the tens of thousands from Cosatu affiliates to upstart – albeit economistic, wages-oriented and openly apolitical – unions like the Association of Mining and Construction Union (AMCU), predictably labeled by tired ANC Alliance hacks as the new ‘counter-revolutionaries’.

The aftermaths of more recent political massacres may have more to teach us. After March 21, 1960 at Sharpeville, where 69 were shot dead for burning the apartheid regime’s racist passbooks an hour’s drive south of Johannesburg, there was an immediate downswing in mass-resistance politics, followed by a hapless turn to armed struggle and the shift of resources and personnel to ineffectual exile-based liberation movements. It was not until 1973 that mass-based organizing resumed, starting in the Durban dockyards with resurgent trade unionism.

The next big apartheid massacre was in June 1976 when in Soweto as many as 1000 school children were murdered by the police and army for resisting the teaching of Afrikaans and taking to the streets. In the 1980s and early 1990s, there were periodic massacres by men who apparently fused ethnic interests of migrant workers (mainly from KwaZulu) to the Inkatha Freedom Party and the regime’s ‘Third Force’ provocateurs. But that era’s most comparable event to Marikana was the Bisho Massacre in which 28 were shot dead by a Bantustan army at the conclusion of a march in the Eastern Cape’s Ciskei homeland.

In 1960, the effect of the killings was first desperation and then more than a decade of quiescence. In 1976, the Soweto uprising put South Africa on the world solidarity map and along with liberation movement victories in Mozambique, Angola and then Zimbabwe, kickstarted other communities, workers, women and youth into the action-packed 1980s. In 1992, the revulsion from what happened at Bisho followed by Chris Hani’s assassination in April 1993 were the catalysts to finally set the April 1994 date for the first one-person one-vote election. Is there a historical analogy to pursue

In other words, if today’s struggle is against what might be termed class apartheid, then is the disparate resistance signified by Marikana similar to the early 1960s and hence will there be much more repression before a coherent opposition emerges? Or will the contagion of protest from this and thousands of other micro-protests across the country start to coagulate, as in the 1976-94 period, into a network similar to the United Democratic Front (implying an inevitable split in the ANC-Cosatu-SACP Alliance, led by genuine communists and progressive post-nationalist workers), and then the formation of Worker’s Party to challenge ANC electoral dominance?

Or, might something happen quite suddenly to rearrange power relations, as in 1992, and as we saw in Egypt in the wake of independent labour organizing against state-corporate-trade union arrangements in the years prior to the massive Tahrir Square mobilizations in early 2011? ‘Tunisia Day’ for South Africa could come in 2020, according to high-profile commentator Moeletsi Mbeki (younger brother of the former president). But if the strike wave continues to build and if capital insists the state put its foot down on the workers, aided by sweetheart unions, as the Cosatu-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is now known, things may come to a head sooner. On October 17, Zuma’s remarks about the need to ‘get back to work’ had an ominous sound, and the next day the Marikana workers went on another wildcat strike because the police moved in to the platinum mine once again, arresting a few central leaders. Continue reading

Mining Company Fires 12,000 Striking Workers in South Africa

Oct 5, 2012 by GExclusiveNews

The world’s biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, has fired 12,000 striking South African miners following a protracted dispute over wages.

Amplats said three weeks of illegal strikes by 28,000 workers in Rustenburg had cost it 39,000 ounces in output – or 700m rand ($82.3m; £51m) in revenue.

South African mining has been hit by a wave of wildcat strikes, in which miners and officials have been killed.

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

ANCHOR CHRISTIAN BRYANT

A new chapter in the saga of South Africa’s striking mine workers as the mining companies took a drastic step.

“Anglo-American, the world’s largest producer of platinum, fired 12,000 striking workers today. Mine strikes in the so-called platinum belt have been going on for two months.”

The company says the 12,000 didn’t show up to disciplinary hearings, and so forfeited their jobs. The workers are part of an illegal strike, which includes up to 15 percent of the industry’s workforce. Financial Times reports:

“Although the total number of miners participating in strikes is not clear, more than 100,000 workers throughout the industry are now caught up in the industrial action, as South Africa’s image as an investment destination is being hammered.”
A writer for the BBC says the effects of the mass firing will likely reach beyond the mining industry. 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