South Africa

In the aftermath of the terrible Marikana massacre on August 16, many statements have been released by South Africa's left, condemning and explaining the murder of more than 34 miners that day and several others in the weeks previously. Many of these statements can be read at Green Left Weekly's sister publication Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Below is the August 23 statement by the Democratic Left Front, a South African anti-capitalist group formed in January last year. * * *

In Marikana, South Africa, at least 35 striking miners were shot dead by police and another 78 wounded on August 16. The incident, which was caught on tape, took place as police were trying to clear striking miners from a hilltop outside of the Lonmin mine. In response to authorities firing stun grenades and tear gas, a number of miners began to charge. Without warning, dozens of officers opened fire with automatic weapons.

The aricle below is an August 18 editorial in progressive South African magazine Amandla. * * * No event since the end of Apartheid sums up the shallowness of the transformation in this country like the Marikana massacre. What occurred will be debated for years. It is already clear the mineworkers will be blamed for being violent. The mineworkers will be painted as savages.
Furious emerging farmers in the Kareeberg municipality in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province have decided to stop paying rent for the municipal-owned land they are farming. These farmers have been robbed, prevented access to and ownership of land by colonial conquest, segregation and apartheid. Now, South Africa’s protection of capitalist property and its neoliberal state policies are keeping them landless.
On June 27, 1985, four anti apartheid activists were brutally murdered on behalf of the South African government. Twenty five years later, their killers still walk free. The murders of these four men illustrate one of the darkest passages of South Africa’s history. South African filmmaker David Forbes has directed, edited and produced the film The Cradock Four to tell the story of these four extraordinary men.
The statement below was published by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Working Group (South Africa) on March 23. It’s abridged from www.pacbi.org . * * * Today, setting a worldwide precedent in the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has effectively severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). This was after UJ’s Senate rejected a last ditch motion by pro-Israeli lobbyists to have two separate bilateral agreements — one with a Palestinian University and another with an Israeli University.
NUMSA supports the decision taken by Mine Line workers to take-over and run the company since it was long placed under curatorship. The Mine Line company is based in Doornkop, and produces valves for mining machines. Out of fear of paying workers decent wages, its owner Waynerd Mulder declared the company bankrupt in August after reaping the profits generated through the sweat and blood of workers. As a result of this melodrama by Mulder, workers were hardest hit by the company’s non-operation and lost their earnings in the midst of the escalating cost of living in our country.
The abridged statement below was released by the South African Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) on September 29. * * * After a huge mobilisation by South African academics, the senate of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) voted today “not to continue a long-standing relationship with Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel in its present form and has set conditions for the relationship to continue”.
The two major civil service unions on strike against the South African government have vowed to intensify pressure in a struggle pitting more than a million workers against a confident government leadership fresh from hosting the World Cup. Along with many smaller public sector unions, educators from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and nurses from the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) have picketed schools, clinics and hospitals, leading to widespread shutdowns from August 18.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi announced on August 24 that its affiliated unions will launch a solidarity “secondary strike” on September 2 in support of the country's 1.3 million public servants and teachers on strike for better wages and allowances. Vavi warned: “No member of COSATU will be at work next week.”
Acting against our alleged “ambush marketing” and “incitement”, the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us in Durban on July 3. We were exercising freedom of expression at our favorite local venue — the South Beach Fan Fest. Wearing hidden microphones to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa began its final round of 16 on June 26. it came amid the unrelenting drone of vuvuzela horns, the knockout of big teams such as Italy and France, and street protests by local residents angry at the 40 billion rand the government has spent on the corporatised event. Meanwhile, South Africa’s poor suffer substandard housing and access to basic services. Football, or “soccer” in Australia, is the “world game”, played by millions of people around the world and watched by hundreds of millions more. But is it truly the “people’s game”?
Many Australian football fans left Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium early on June 13 following Australia’s particularly dismal four-nil loss against Germany. Had they remained they would have witnessed scenes more dramatic than any that had unfolded on the field, when police violently attacked 500 stewards striking over a pay dispute.
On June 11, South Africans will start partying like no time since liberation in April 1994. It is a huge honour for our young democracy to host the most important sporting spectacle short of the Olympics. The ordinary people who have worked hard in preparation deserve gratitude and support — especially the construction workers, cleaners, municipal staff, health-care givers and volunteers who will not receive due recognition. But balancing psychological benefits against vast socioeconomic and political costs is vital.
As Tiger Woods returns to golf, not all his affairs are salacious headlines. In Dubai, the Tiger Woods Golf Course is costing $100 million to build. Dubai relies on cheap Third World labour, as do certain consumer brands that have helped make Woods a billionaire. Nike workers in Thailand wrote to Woods, expressing their “utmost respect for your skill and perseverance as an athlete” but pointing out that they would need to work 72,000 years “to receive what you will earn from [your Nike] contract”.
The political rupture in South Africa is being presented in the outside world as the personal tragedy and humiliation of one man, Thabo Mbeki. It is reminiscent of the beatification of Nelson Mandela at the death of apartheid.

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