South Africa

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by South Africa’s elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of the country’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business finance minister for seven years until being sacked in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 co-authored the country’s post-apartheid structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find.

Peasants across Africa are intensifying their struggles against land grabs and other harmful policies that promote industrial agriculture. At a recent international conference organised by the world’s largest peasant movement, Via Campesina, African peasants had opportunities to share their experiences of struggle and to learn.

“It is amazing to see how linked our struggles are,” said Nicolette Cupido from the Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (FSC) in South Africa.

South Africa is at crossroads, facing its biggest upheavals since independence in 1994. Globally, since the 2008 Great Recession there are growing explosive class and social conflicts due to the deepening crisis of capitalism.

South African President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle is nothing more and nothing less than the latest instalment of a long-running story of the capture of the African National Congress (ANC) and the post-1994 democratic state it has politically run. 

It is but a consequence of a political, economic and social crisis that has been forged and fed by the ANC – and its Alliance partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) – as a whole, in conjunction with capital. 

The African National Congress (ANC), which led the struggle against Apartheid, has become the key political vehicle, both in party and state form, of corporate capital.

This applies to all capital — domestic and international, black and white, local and national, and includes a range of different “fractions” of capital.

Over the past two decades, it has been the fight on and over this terrain — with some for, some against, some in the middle — that has defined the ANC’s journey since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

Australian soldiers during the Boer war.

Unnecessary Wars Henry Reynolds Newsouth, 2016 266 pages

Australia’s first war — the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902 — notes historian Henry Reynolds in Unnecessary Wars, was closely bound up with the uniting of the six Australian colonies into a single nation within the British empire.

This conjunction of militarism, nationalism and imperialism was ominous. Australia has never broken the habit of being at the military beck and call of its imperial managers.

Students at universities across South Africa have been demonstrating for the complete removal of university fees for poor students.

They are pushing for the realisation of the demands raised by the #FeesMustFall campaign last year. This was the largest wave of protests since the fall of Apartheid and drew tens of thousands of students into the streets.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia By Larry Writer Scribe Melbourne, 2016 336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick. However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

Economic Freedom Fighters' members. After the August 3 local government elections, it is not just the ruling ANC that is licking its wounds. The left also has very little to celebrate, outside of the consolidation of the anti-neoliberal Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as the third biggest party in the country.
Bill Gates was set to deliver the July 17 annual Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, justifying his philosophy of market-oriented, technology-centric philanthropy. Last year, French economist Thomas Piketty’s speech on inequality attracted healthy debate — with even business notables endorsing his concerns — given South Africa’s intense social conflict. To illustrate, South Africa’s Gini Coefficient measuring inequality is the world’s highest (at 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, in terms of income inequality from employment). Since 2000, social protests have numbered on average 11 per day.
A wedge is being quickly driven through Pretoria's political elite. Among the victims of this power struggle are vast numbers of poor people. The poor are starting to bear the brunt of the diverse shakeouts in the ongoing confrontation now underway between the country's two most powerful 21st century politicians: President Jacob Zuma and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. That battle began in 2005, when Mbeki sacked then-deputy president Zuma following a corruption conviction against a long-time Zuma associate.
Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and a leading campaigner against the Australian-owned Xolobeni mineral sands mine in South Africa was shot dead in his home on March 22.