It is arguably the most important political development of South Africa’s post-1994 era. In the early hours of November 8, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), was expelled from South Africa’s largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The political significance of NUMSA’s expulsion derives from three key, interrelated areas of impact. ANC-led alliance
About 30 international guests and 120 shop stewards from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met over August 7 to 10 in Johannesburg to discuss building a new, left alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). This challenge to the ANC by the country’s largest trade union, with more than 440,000 members, has caused shockwaves throughout the country. An August 6 Times Live article said the process was “likely to lead to the birth of a workers' party that will eventually challenge [the ANC] for power”.
Hundreds of thousands of South African demonstrators marched through Cape Town on August 9 to protest against Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in Gaza, Morning Star Online said the next day. Organisers said it was one of the biggest rallies in the city since the end of apartheid. Demonstrators carried posters stating “Israel is an apartheid state” and “Stop Israeli murder.”
The stadium in Phokeng outside Rustenburg in South Africa's North West Province exploded in jubilation when the end of the longest strike in South Africa's history was announced on June 23. Men and women waved their arms victoriously in the air and resounding ululations and cheering reverberated as a great burden of domestic hardship lifted. Workers had changed history.
No sooner had the final results of South Africa's May 7 national elections been announced than President Jacob Zuma gave a predictably self-congratulatory speech lauding the result as “the will of all the people”. The reality however is that the incumbent African National Congress’ (ANC) victory came from a distinct minority of “the people”. The real “winner”, as has been the case since the 2004 poll, was the stay-away “vote”.
On my wall in London is my favourite photograph from South Africa. Always thrilling to behold, it is Paul Weinberg's image of a lone woman standing between two armoured vehicles, the infamous “hippos”, as they rolled into Soweto. Her arms are raised, fists clenched, her thin body both beckoning and defiant of the enemy.
The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been badly analysed. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019, or whether suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back. But the greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, is being missed.
While the governments of the United States, Britain and Israel provided support to South Africa's arpatheid regime, the Cuban Revolution helped the anti-apartheid forces, sending thousands of volunteers in the 1970s and '80s to help Angolan forces defeat the apartheid regime's war on their country. On his release from prison, Cuba was one of the first places Mandela visited to thank the Cuban people for their assistence. The article below is abridged from a piece originally published in Green Left Weekly #23 in 1991. * * *
'Mandela led fight against apartheid, but not against extreme inequality.' Patrick Bond spoke to Real News Network on December 5. Read the full transcript.
The death of Nelson Mandela on December 5 has focused attention once more on the global struggle against South Africa's aparthied regime. The heroic struggle of the Black population inside South Afica and the solidarity shown by ordinary people around the world was essential to winning Mandela's freedom and dismantling apartheid.
Nearly 50 years ago, in 1964, Nelson Mandela ― along with many other comrades in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa from racist white domination under apartheid ― was sentenced to life in prison. His statement to the court, made when he was facing the real threat of execution, remains a historic demonstration of defiance and resistance.
When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer Johannes Vorster occupied the prime minister's residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela's autobiography. “It's very eenspirational,” he said.
The article below is abridged from the statement released by South Africa's National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani. When Hani was gunned down by a wihte supremacist on April 10, 1993, he was a leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC).Aged 50 when he was killed, Hani was a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle. He joined the ANC Youth League aged 15 and became a leader of the ANC's armed wing.
A professional athlete; a home with an arsenal of firearms; a dead young woman involved in a long-term relationship with her killer. In November, her name was Kasanda Perkins and the man who shot her was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Now her name is Reeva Steenkamp, killed by Olympic sprinter and double amputee Oscar “the Blade Runner” Pistorius.
The article below was presented by Karl Cloete, deputy general-secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) on October 10 at a conference at Cornell University in New York. NUMSA is South Africa's second-largest union, with almost 290,000 members in the smelting, manufacturing, auto and electricity generation industries. It is abridged from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal * * *
The murder of 34 miners by the South African police, most of them shot in the back, puts paid to the illusion of post-apartheid democracy and illuminates the new worldwide apartheid of which South Africa is both a historic and contemporary model. 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.