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 Africa: Class Struggle, State Repression, and the tarnished myth of “the people’s” ANC

The Marikana Massacre and The South African State’s Low Intensity War Against The People
by Vishwas Satgar, Defending Popular Democracy

On Thursday, August 16, police officers fired into the crowd with automatic weapons. When it was over, 34 miners lay dead. Here, police check the bodies of dead mineworkers.

The massacre of the Marikana/Lonmin workers has inserted itself within South Africa’s national consciousness, not so much through the analysis, commentary and reporting in its wake.  Instead, it has been the power of the visual images of police armed with awesome fire power gunning down these workers, together with images of bodies lying defeated and lifeless, that has aroused a national outcry and wave of condemnation. These images  have also engendered international protest actions outside South African embassies. In themselves these images communicate a politics about ‘official state power’. It is bereft of moral concern, de-humanised, brutal and at odds with international human rights standards; in these ways it is no different from  apartheid era  state sponsored violence and technologies of oppressive rule.  Moreover, the images of police officers walking through the Marikana/Lonmin killing field, with a sense of professional accomplishment in its aftermath, starkly portrays a scary reality: the triumph of  South Africa’s state in its brutal conquest of its enemies, its citizens.

At the same time, the pain and suffering of the gunned down workers has became the pain of a nation and the world; this has happened even without the ANC government declaring we must not apportion blame but mourn the dead. In a world steeped in possessive individualism and greed, the brutal Marikana/Lonmin massacre reminds us of a universal connection; our common humanity.  However, while this modern human connection and sense of empathy is important, it is also superficial.  This is brought home by a simple truth: the pain of the Marikana/Lonmin workers is only our pain in their martyrdom. They had to perish for all of us to realise how deep social injustice has become inscribed in the everyday lives of post-apartheid South Africa’s workers and the poor. The low wage, super exploitation model of South African mining, socially engineered during apartheid, is alive and well, and thriving. It is condoned by the post-apartheid state. This is the tragic irony of what we have become as the much vaunted ‘Rainbow nation’. Continue reading

South Africa: “We are Living in a Democratic Prison”

Marikana shows that we are Living in a Democratic Prison
by Bandile Mdlalose
South Africa has the most beautiful Constitution amongst all countries. Its
beauty is well documented and respected. But we are living in a Democratic
Prison.We must acknowledge the fight of Doctor Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and the
community struggles of the 1980s, the youth of 1976 and the workers of 1973.
The struggles of the past defeated the White Boers and brought us democracy
with all these beautiful rights on paper. We have so many documented rights,
like the right to housing and to protest. But every day our rights are
violated by the Black Boers. They vowed to protect our rights but the vow was
a fake vow.Instead of supporting the people’s struggles so that we can make democracy
real and make our rights real they are sending out their securities and police
to evict the poor, to lock us out of the cities and to smash our struggles.
Instead of working with the people to transform the society they are
repressing the people to protect the unequal society that they took charge of
1994. Continue reading

Brazilian activists in solidarity with Lonmin mine workers in South Africa

Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos (CEBRASPO) (The Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples) repudiates massacre of miners in South Africa

The Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples vehemently repudiates the cowardly murder of the mine workers of platinum company Lonmin PLC, in Marikana in northwest South Africa, on strike for better wages and rights. The brutal massacre occurred on Thursday, August 16, at the time the workers were protesting. The police mounted a siege against workers with rifles, shooting and killing dozens of people. To date, 36 deaths have been confirmed. According to the South African Ministry of Police, there could be an increase in the number of fatalities, since “a lot of people got hurt.”

Hundreds of miners participated in the protest. Some media has described what happened as “confrontational.” Actually, what happened was not a confrontation but a massacre, because police forces with heavy weapons fired on striking workers as they rallied for fair treatment, armed only with sticks and rocks. The fascist character of the oppressive, violent and murderous state has been exposed. The vicious apparatus of apartheid continues to work in South Africa, with this continuation of the history of class hatred against hardworking black people.

What happened in South Africa is shocking in its barbarism and cowardice, in denying workers the right to express themselves and to fight for dignity and respect for their rights.  It is  a form of fascism. Such cowardly massacres have occurred in various parts of the world and people are responding to this by increasing their resistance against the capitalist system, now in its deepest crisis.

Against the country’s policy of apartheid!
Down with fascism!
Defeat the repression against workers in struggle around the world!

CEBRASPO
Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples
http://www.cebraspo.org.br

August 17, 2012.

New Zealand: Solidarity with South African Mine Workers

: Picketing South Africa 20 years on…

17 August 2012

For the first time in 20 years New Zealanders will picket a South African
government institution in Auckland tomorrow in protest at yesterday’s killing
of striking mine-workers by South African police.

The appalling scenes where up to 18 workers were shot dead are reminiscent of
the darkest days of apartheid – the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the
murder of black school children in Soweto in June 1976 come immediately to
mind.

The precise details of the killings are unclear but irrespective of this the
blame lies squarely with the ANC government which has been in power for 18
years while conditions have become worse for most South Africans.

The mineworkers strike and the struggle for decent housing, health, incomes
and education are the same struggles the ANC once supported but have turned
their backs on since gaining power.

They have betrayed the core principles of the historic “Freedom Charter” and
instead followed free-market economic policies which has meant little change
in the lives of the poorest South Africans while a wealthy elite, which
includes a few black faces now, has become obscenely rich.

Race-based apartheid has been replaced with economic apartheid.

New Zealanders didn’t protest on the streets to pave the way for a small
number of black millionaires to be created at the expense of the majority.

Last year in a withering attack on the ANC Bishop Desmond Tutu said the ANC
government was in some ways worse than the old apartheid regime and told South
African President Jacob Zuma that the day would come when people would pray
for the defeat of the ANC.

For many that day can’t come soon enough.

The picket will be held outside the new South African consulate in Auckland at
1 Kimberley Road, Epsom, Auckland from 2pm tomorrow, Saturday 18th August.

Included on the picket line will be some veterans of the anti-apartheid
struggle.

John Minto
GPJA Spokesperson
Ph (09) 8463173 (H)
Mob 0220850161
johnminto@orcon.net.nz

Anger Over Mine Massacre in South Africa

South African Mine Strike Turns Into MassacreThe police chief says that cops were forced to shoot the 34 striking miners after a series of violent protests at one of the world’s largest platinum-producing mines.

South African Mine Strike turns into a massacre
A series of violent protests, at one of the world’s largest platinum-producing mines, led to several deaths and injuries after a shoot-out involving the police and striking mine workers.The strike by Lonmin’s Marikana mine, in the North Western province of South Africa, gained support of the young and old.
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South African Miners Fired on by Police

Al Jazeera English |  16 August 2012
At least 12 people have been killed when police opened fire on miners staging a protest at a platinum mine in South Africa, according to the Reuters news agency.
South African police opened fire and dispersed a crowd of striking miners at the Lonmin mine in the North West province on Thursday after issuing an order to the protesters to lay down their machetes and sticks.

South African police slaughter striking miners after stand-off

18 dead at British-owned platinum mine as authorities lose patience with rival factions in industrial dispute

Cape Town, Friday 17 August 2012

A South African platinum mine turned into something akin to a war zone yesterday when an attempt by riot police to break up a week-old dispute by workers resulted in the deaths of up to 18 people.

Fighting between miners from rival unions had already claimed 10 lives over the past week near the Marikana mine near Rustenburg, about 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg. Two of those killed were police officers who were hacked to death on Monday.

The leaders of two trade unions at Marikana – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which has been dominant at the mine for 30 years, and the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) – blamed the London-listed mine owner Lonmin for the trouble.

Lesiba Seshoka, an NUM spokesman, said that the company had attempted to break the NUM’s dominance by granting a pay rise to a small group of rock drillers. “The company undermined the bargaining process by unilaterally offering an allowance to rock-drill operators outside the bargaining process,” he said. Continue reading

Nine killed in S.Africa mine union violence

By Ed Stoddard and Sherilee Lakmidas, Reuters, Monday,  August 13, 2012

JOHANNESBURG – Nine people including two policemen have been killed in clashes between labour unions at a South African mine operated by world no. 3 platinum producer Lonmin , by far the deadliest spate of violence in a turf war rocking the sector.

Lonmin said the situation was “volatile” at its Western Platinum mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg. The plant was operating at reduced capacity and was under heavy police guard.

Police told Reuters two policemen died after a machete attack by a mob near the mine. Another officer was badly injured and police in turn shot dead three protestors.

“We came under attack. The suspects took our weapons. A shootout ensued and during that incident three suspects were fatally injured,” spokesman Lindela Mashigo told Reuters.

The mine is part of Lonmin’s Marikana operations, which produced 1.3 million ounces of platinum group metals in 2011. Company officials could not say how much production had been lost but they are expected to update the market later this week.

In London, Lonmin shares were down more than 1.5 percent. 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

South Africa: Apartheid Petty and Grand, Old and New Is Evil

Fahamu (Oxford)

By Ayanda Kota, 26 April 2012

The Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) was formed in August 2009 to respond to the crisis of unemployment and the commoditization of essential services in a society dominated by corruption and greed. As Steve Biko said, we blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that we should be playing. We want to do things for ourselves and all by ourselves. This is a realisation that we are the protagonists of our lives and nobody will free us but ourselves; we – the unemployed – will have to be our own liberators.

Despite celebrations of freedom on 27 April every year, severe and widespread poverty persists. Our education system is in tatters, the future of many black kids has been declared futureless. Unemployment is sky rocketing, wasting the talents of many young people who are condemned to a life of permanent poverty. Many black people continue to lack access to electricity, clean water and proper sanitation. Many are terminally under nourished. All these things are happening when the elite and the government officials are living affluent lives. The president has just built a mansion in Enkandla to the tune of more than R400m. Malema has also built a house to the tune of R16m. Every weekend the elite host parties and weddings that cost no less than a million while the people they claim to represent go to bed on an empty stomach and live in absolute poverty. They do not find this morally troubling. They have no conscience, otherwise they would not have killed Andries Tatane and many other activists; they would not shoot us with rubber bullets when we protest because they have neglected us. The prophetic Biko was spot on again when he once said ‘Tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lovely fruits of wealth, security and prestige it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lie and accept that it alone is entitled to privilege.” It is this prestige and wealth that forms a hard shell around their consciousness so that they do not see that it is fellow human beings suffering in the poverty around them. Karl Marx put it in a different tone: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Apartheid was a tragedy, but our economic apartheid is a farce. Indeed history repeating itself. We are repeating the disaster of the post-colonial regimes that Fanon attacked fifty years ago.

We live in a society where the unemployment rate is said to be 23% while the truth is different. Our government is committed to propaganda. The real unemployment rate is closer to 40%. 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.

Apartheid is a Crime, Not an Analogy

[It may be that most war criminals do not talk much about war crimes and international law, for obvious reasons.   But this is not true for imperialists, who, along with their dictatorial friends and Zionist allies, carry out the largest crimes against humanity, yet arrogantly claim the mantle of “humanitarian” wars and occupations “to spread democracy and justice.”  The US and Israel do not submit to the authority of international law, or of the International Criminal Court, which they nevertheless invoke against defiant warlords, bullies, and petty criminals who refuse to serve imperial designs.  In fact, the Iraqi regime, however much their roots were as puppets of the US occupation, were unwilling to further extend the immunity of US soldiers from prosecution for war crimes, under Iraqi law.  And this was the reason for the withdrawal of US troops–and why the “democratic” claims of the US ring hollow, around the world.  So, too, are the claims of Israel to be “the only democracy in the middle east”–far too many know the history of the removal of Palestinians from historic Palestine–ethnic cleansing–and of Israeli’s apartheid “double standard” toward Palestinians, to even consider that phony, arrogant, and racist claim.  This article by Joe Catron in Ma’an breaks this down. — Frontlines ed.]

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Palestinians being searched by Israeli troops at one of the countless "check-points" that block the movement of Palestinians across historic Palestine

By Joe Catron, Ma’an | March 4, 2012

As Israeli Apartheid Week unfolds around the world, apologists for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people scramble to defend their chosen regime’s system of racism, ethnic cleansing, and occupation, against the charge of apartheid.

“The apartheid analogy is fatally flawed,” the Jerusalem Connection’s Shelley Neese writes. The David Project’s David Bernstein says, “The apartheid analogy is specious and absurd.” The Anti-Defamation League has even circulated an old report: “The Apartheid Analogy: Wrong for Israel.”

These commentators are right, but not for the reasons they claim. An apartheid ‘analogy’ is fatally flawed, specious, absurd, and wrong for Israel because apartheid is not an analogy, but a crime as well-defined in law as embezzlement or kidnapping.

The most relevant statute, the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, perhaps muddies the waters by stating that “the term ‘the crime of apartheid’ … shall include similar practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa.”

But it goes on to define exactly what those and other “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them” are.

Most will sound familiar to anyone who follows news from Palestine. The ban on “arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups” should bring to mind Hana Shalabi, Khader Adnan, and 307 other administrative detainees held indefinitely without charges, evidence, or trials. This is further to the 4,078 Palestinian political prisoners sentenced by military courts or facing the imminent prospect, all under occupation laws no Jew will ever face.

The prohibition of “measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country” could have been meant to describe discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Continue reading

ANC accused of airbrushing allies and rivals out of anti-apartheid struggle

South Africa’s ruling party said to be rewriting the past to give itself the starring role as it celebrates its centenary

in Johannesburg

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 31 December 2011

History may be written by the victors, but who gets top billing? South Africa‘s ruling African National Congress, one of the most famous political movements in history, has been accused of “airbrushing people out” of the liberation past as it prepares to celebrate its centenary.

The ANC, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, turns 100 years old next Sunday, the cue for year-long commemorations costing 100m rand (£7.8m).

While no one questions the central role of Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders in winning freedom from racial apartheid in 1994, rival political organisations and various commentators say the anniversary will be manipulated to sideline the contributions of others.

“The ANC are rewriting history,” said Allister Sparks, a veteran journalist and analyst and the co-author of Tutu: The Authorised Portrait. “They’re airbrushing people out. I don’t know of a street named after Desmond Tutu, and he was effectively the leader [of the anti-apartheid movement] for 15 years. I’m not trying to belittle the ANC, but they didn’t do it all.” Continue reading

On the legacy of colonialism and the struggles against oppression today

[Nearly 50 years after the death of Frantz Fanon, the author of “The Wretched of the Earth,” this essay traces his legacy and relevance in the oppressive realities and struggles today.  Nigel Gibson, the author of this essay, presents a profound review of the reality of the imperialist stamp on the countries and peoples who have won national independence–but not social or human liberation.  The thinking and orientation of Frantz Fanon contributes much to people who are inexorably driven to challenge their ongoing oppression in the so-called “post-colonial” world.  The essay is long, but deserves attention from all whose lives and possibilities are framed by these questions. — Frontlines ed.]

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50 years later: Fanon’s legacy

by Nigel C Gibson

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/78860, Issue 564, 2011-12-21

When I was asked by Dr. Keithley Woolward to address the question of Fanon’s contemporary relevance, I was reminded of a blurb on the back of my recent book Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo which reads, ‘This is not another meditation on Fanon’s continued relevance. Instead, it is an inquiry into how Fanon, the revolutionary, might think and act in the face of contemporary social crisis.’ My comments today should be considered in that spirit.

Frantz Fanon

‘Relevance’ ­ from a Latin word ‘relevare’, to lift, from ‘lavare’, to raise, levitate ­ to levitate a living Fanon who died in the USA nearly 50 years ago this coming Tuesday in cognizance of his own injunction articulated in the opening sentence from his essay ‘On national culture’: ‘Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it’ (1968 206). The challenge was laid down at the opening of this year of Fanon’s 50th (as well as the 50th anniversary of his ‘The Wretched of the Earth’) which began with revolution ­ or at least a series of revolts and resistance across the region, known as the Arab Spring.

Fanon begins ‘The Wretched’, as you know, writing of decolonisation as a program of complete disorder, an overturning of order ­ often against the odds ­ willed collectively from the bottom up. Without time or space for a transition, there is an absolute replacement of one ‘species’ by another (1968: 35). In a period of radical change such absolutes appear quite normal, when, in spite of everything thrown against it, ideas jump across frontiers and people begin again ‘to make history’ (1968: 69-71). In short, once the mind of the oppressed experiences freedom in and through collective actions, its reason becomes a force of revolution. As the Egyptians said of 25 January: ‘When we stopped being afraid we knew we would win. We will not again allow ourselves to be scared of a government. This is the revolution in our country, the revolution in our minds.’ What started with Tunisia and then Tahrir Square has become a new global revolt, spreading to Spain and the Indignados (indignants) movement, to Athens and the massive and continuous demonstrations against vicious structural adjustment, to the urban revolt in England, to the massive student mobilisation to end education for profit in Chile, to the ‘occupy’ movement of the 99 percent.

And yet, as the revolts inevitably face new repression, elite compromises and political manoeuvrings, Fanonian questions ­ echoed across the postcolonial world ­ become more and more timely. (How can the revolution hold onto its epistemological moment, the rationality of revolt?) Surely the question is not whether Fanon is relevant, but why is Fanon relevant now? Continue reading

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