South Africa

Over the recent period, beneath the appearance of relative calm in the South African Communist Party (SACP), serious divisions have begun to open up. These divisions are manifesting themselves along fault lines which have existed for long periods of the party's existence. Now, under the impact of the raging organic crisis of capitalism, the turbulence which accompanies it, the resultant instability in the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance and the emergence of formations to the left of the ANC, the cracks in the party have begun to open wider and wider. The SACP now finds itself struggling to fight for its relevance. Sooner or later all the divisions must burst into the open, further

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Recent comments by South Africa’s most powerful business tycoon, Johann Rupert, gives interesting and penetrating insights into the current state of mind of the bourgeoisie. Rupert is clearly very disturbed by the current state of affairs, even admitting that they are keeping him awake at night.

In a highly significant event, delegates to the 15th National Congress of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have voted to remove the incumbent general secretary, Frans Baleni and replace him with a clear left wing candidate, David Sipunzi. The result, which came as shock to many, is a heavy blow to the class collaborationist right wing of COSATU, the main trade union federation. This shakeup will have wide ramifications not only in the trade union movement, but also in the Tripartite Alliance.

The recurrence of the barbaric violence against mainly African immigrants in some parts of South Africa over the past week has once again shone the spotlight on the worsening situation which is developing in the country. These reactionary attacks go against the whole grain of the history of the South African workers’ movement which was mainly born out of the need to combat this kind of racist and xenophobic violence and discrimination and to unite all oppressed layers of society under the umbrella of working class solidarity.

Over the last three weeks, students, lecturers and workers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have been demanding that management remove a statue of Cecil John Rhodes – a 19th century British colonialist whose destructive imperialist legacy is still remembered across much of Southern Africa to this day. However, the issues that have been brought up by the students in the wake of the campaign are much broader and more far-reaching than the mere removal of a statue. The "Rhodes Must Fall Campaign", which was started by a handful of students, has mushroomed into a furious country-wide debate over the need for radical change.

The dust still has not to settled after the stormy start to this year’s parliamentary year. The extraordinary events of 12 February and in the days which followed it, have thrown South Africa into a maelstrom of political crisis, which is at bottom a reflection of the crisis of the capitalist system.

The number of civic protests in South Africa has skyrocketed to new record highs. New figures which were released by the Civic Protest Barometer of the University of the Western Cape on 19 February 2015 show that the number of protests by communities, so-called ‘’service delivery’’ protests, more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The researchers also show that 2014 was the year with the highest number of these protests on record.

Over the weekend of 13-16 December 2014 the Economic Freedom Fighters held their first national congress. The event was attended by more than 2000 delegates, representing more than 500 000 members. This  was an excellent turnout  for a party which is just over one year old!  

A revolutionary situation is currently spreading across West Africa. Over the last few days and weeks, big movements of the masses have shaken the regimes of Togo and Gabon to their foundations. It is clear that these are not isolated events. Rather, it is part of a revolutionary wave which has the potential to engulf the entire region.

To properly understand and locate the underlying factors that have led to the fragmentation of Cosatu, one needs to go no further than the South Africa Communist Party.

The expulsion of NUMSA from the COSATU trade union confederation, is one of the most significant events in the African class struggle in the whole of the past period. It clearly exposes the reactionary character of the present COSATU leadership who are willing to tear the union apart rather than allow a militant union to remain within its ranks, even if this means paralysing the workers’ movement in order to preserve their own privileged positions.

As a party that purports to stand for the unity of workers, one expected that the South African Communist Party (SACP) would do its utmost to avert the implosion that is tearing the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) asunder.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 8 November, the Central Executive Committee of South Africa's largest labour federation, COSATU, voted by a margin of 33 to 24 to expel its biggest affiliate, NUMSA from the federation. This decision will have far-reaching consequences not only for COSATU, but for the liberation movement and the direction of the class struggle.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) announced on Monday that it is severing ties with the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU, the trade union federation. It also announced that it is setting up its socialist "United Front" on 13-16 December this year.

The 5th parliamentary term has been unlike any of the  others in the last 20 years of bourgeois democratic rule. In the four months since the elections in May,  parliament has suddenly become a real focal point of attention.

On Tuesday, 1 July, hundreds of thousands of metalworkers went out on strike in the engineering and metals sectors, bringing the industry to a complete standstill. The strike involves small, medium and large companies, with more than 220,000 workers at about 10,500 workplaces. Some of the big companies that are affected includes Bell Equipment, Dorbyl, Murray and Roberts, Scaw Metals and Reunert.

The longest strike in South Africa’s history has ended. For nearly five long months, platinum miners affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) held out against the arrogance and intransigence of the platinum mine bosses. On Thursday the business press  broke  the news that an “in principle agreement” had been reached between the platinum mines and the union. The markets and the national  currency made strong gains in response. On the same day the workers indicated at mass rallies in Rustenburg that they would accept the latest offer of the mining houses. The companies and the union are expected to sign the agreement soon.

An explosive situation is once again building up in the platinum belt around Rustenburg, as a four month old strike over wages by 70,000 miners has seen the dramatic escalation of tensions in the last few days. Just in the last few hours the state has dispatched the army to assist the already large police contingent in a desperate attempt to break the strike.

The the South African national elections of 7 May resulted in a clear victory to the African National Congress. However beneath the surface the mood is one of anger and disillusionment with the corrupt right-wing leadership of the party through which the masses overthrew the Apartheid regime.

On May 7th, South Africa will hold the 5th national and provincial elections to take place since the downfall of apartheid. This year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. However, the elections are not marked by a jubilant mood. The past few years have seen a very sharp increase in the class struggle. At the same time the political establishment is stumbling from one crisis to another. This is a reflection of the sick nature of capitalism.

A group of ANC veterans led by anti-apartheid stalwart Ronnie Kasrils are urging disgruntled ANC voters, rather than staying home, to either spoil their ballots at the May 7 elections or tactically vote for some of the small opposition parties. They are unhappy with their political home, but don’t have an alternative. The veterans are urging voters to spoil their paper rather than abstain because, in their view, this will send a clear message to the politicians.

On Friday 4 March, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of the metal union NUMSA’s and Zwelinzima Vavi’s application for the latter’s suspension as COSATU general secretary to be lifted. Vavi had been illegally suspended as the federation’s General Secretary on 14 August 2013.

Yesterday, 19 March 2014, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) held a one-day strike and national day of action to denounce the policies of the African National Congress (ANC) government which it accuse of “subsidizing capitalists” with tax payers’ money.

The South African metal workers union, NUMSA held its much awaited special national congress in Boksburg from 17-20 December to discuss its future and, by implication, the future of the entire South African labour movement after a long period of infighting in the labour federation COSATU and fierce class struggle in South African society. This was the first time ever that the union has had to hold a special congress and signifies the extent to which relations in COSATU and the Tripartite Alliance (ANC, COSATU, and SACP) have deteriorated.

The Nelson Mandela national memorial day turned out horribly wrong for the bourgeoisie, the ANC, and President Jacob Zuma as the masses completely upset the applecart and took center-stage. Around 90 heads of state, presidents, prime ministers, kings, business tycoons and foreign dignitaries from all over the world came to attend the memorial service of former president Nelson Mandela. But these "respectable people" came face to face with a defiant, emotional and raucous proletarian crowd of over 60,000 at the FNB stadium in Soweto. The result was a massive embarrassment for these "respectable people" and especially for President Zuma who was booed amidst an outpouring of raw emotion by

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Nelson Mandela is no more. At about 20:50 on Thursday, 5 December Nelson Rohishlahla Mandela passed away peacefully after a long illness. The news was announced by President Jacob Zuma to a worldwide audience. He was 95 years old.

Thousands of workers, poor people and trade unionists marched from 12-14 November in cities and towns across South Africa against the implementation of anti-worker laws and counter-reforms that have created outrage across the country. The national days of action were called by the trade union federation Cosatu against the implementation of the e-toll system, labour-brokering and the youth wage system.

The National  Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is in the process of gathering the views of its members in preparation for the union’s extraordinary national congress to be held in December. The congress of NUMSA will be held in Ekhurhuleni and will give the union a mandate on how to deal with the ruptures inside the trade union federation COSATU, as well as giving the leadership directions on the way forward. The NUMSA congress will be held ahead of the COSATU extraordinary congress to be held at a later date. Earlier the president of COSATU, S’dumo Dlamini, reluctantly wrote to the affiliates confirming that the congress will be held.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will hold a special national congress to deal with divisions that have ravaged South Africa's largest labour federation for the last period. The announcement came on August 19th after the three day meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting that was held in Johannesburg. This was after nine affiliated unions wrote to the CEC, requesting such a congress. This represents a step in the right direction for the federation. COSATU's constitution states that for a special congress to be held, at least one third of affiliates (seven) must make such a request. The president of the federation then has 14 days to deal with the

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On Wednesday 14 August South Africa's biggest labour federation, Cosatu is scheduled to hold a special meeting of its Central Executive Committee to discuss the future of its General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. This is only the latest instalment of a series of divisive events that have engulfed Cosatu. At bottom, this reflects a struggle between the right wing and the left wing of the movement.

Two weeks have passed since thousands of vineyard farm workers from the area of De Doorns in the Western Cape went on strike. They are demanding that their daily slave wage be doubled to a minimum of 150 rand ($17) per day; currently they are earning R69.39 per day. But there is more behind this genuine issue of low wages. In our “democratic era” since the fall of Apartheid, this is and will probably be the longest period on strike for these farm workers in this region.

Floyd Shivambu was a leading member of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) as well as a leading member of the Young Communist League (from which he was suspended in 2010). As a leading member of the ANC YL he played a key part in developing this organisation’s stance on the need to nationalise the mines which has now become a central issue of the political debate in the revolutionary movement in South Africa.

It is over a month since Lonmin platinum miners in Marikana, South Africa, walked out in a wildcat strike. They have been attacked and vilified; watching as 34 of their number were killed by police on August 16, a majority of them in cold blood, and 270 arrested, charged and often tortured while in custody. The leaders of the NUM, the bosses and the state have signed a “peace accord” behind the backs of the miners and they have been repeatedly given ultimatums by the company. Yet still the strike is ongoing and the miners are continuing to demand a wage increase to R12,500. They are an example of worker militancy and resilience and one which is spreading to other sections of South

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It has been almost four weeks since miners at Marikana went on strike, marching alone without any leadership, demanding a genuine wage increase from R4000 to R12500. Since then there has been all sorts of pressure, from all leaders, to end the strike in the midst of the current global recession. But the workers are intent on not going back to work till their demands are met, they are resolute in their demands and are not prepared to back down.

On Monday, September 3, most of the miners arrested during the Marikana massacre were released after an outcry of protest forced the state prosecutor to withdraw charges of murder against them. The strike at Lonmin continues as well as strikes and protests at other mines. The incident has clearly revealed the real content of the struggle between left and right in the run up to the ANC Manguang Conference.

Eighteen years since the end of Apartheid – and the dawn of ‘freedom and democracy’ -  the  brutal killings of 34 miners by the police in the Lonmin owned platinum mines at Marikana last Thursday has exposed the stark reality of the suffering and agony of the South African proletariat. This shooting is reminiscent of the harrowing Sharpeville massacre of sixty black protesters in 1960 by the then racist Apartheid regime.

The fatal shooting of 34 striking miners at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg has met with outrage. A crowd of defiant strikers were gunned down in cold blood in a hail of police gunfire that brought back memories of the Apartheid era, of Sharpeville, Soweto and the struggles of the 1980s. A further ten people have been killed prior to this massacre and 234 have been arrested.

There has been much hype around the discussion on the policy document of the African National Congress, titled The Second Transition?: Building a National Democratic Society and the balance of forces in 2012.There has been much discussion around the title of the document rather than its content.

“Decent work is a right, labour broking is just like slavery and is causing major problems for the working class... we want the National Executive Committee of the African Nation Congress to sit down and review this.” Irvin Jim, General Secretary of the National Union of Metal workers of South Africa (NUMSA). As hundreds of thousands of worker and the general public were marching under the blistering sun in 32 cities across South Africa, their mood was captured by these words from their leader.

The recent militant strike by the miners at the Impala Platinum Mine has highlighted how far the present NUM leadership is lagging behind the mood of the workers. The contradictions that had been brewing beneath the surface at Impala Platinum Mine, in Rustenburg, came to the public’s attention on the 12th January 2012 when rock drill operators (RDOs) refused to work. On the 24th January the mining company dismissed 5000 workers who went on strike without giving the employer a “formal notice”, and as the strike intensified the number of workers on strike significantly increased.

As the scorching sun kissed our dehydrated skins, one could not help but feel goose bumps at the thought of being part of history as the oldest liberation movement reached the 100th year mark on Sunday, 8th January. The ANC leadership decided to mark this occasion by spending R100 million ($12. 3 million) on a commemoration that included a huge feast for invited heads of states and several guests, also indulging in celebrity music shows and a golf tournament.

On October 27 and 28, thousands of South African youth participated in the March for Economic Freedom called by the ANC Youth League. Meanwhile the Young Communist League had organised a Jobs for Youth Summit together with the youth organisations of the main parties which was addressed by representatives of Capital. Vusumuzi Martin Bhengu, a revolutionary Marxist who is a member of both the YCL and the ANCYL participated in the March and sent us this report.

On September 10th during the celebration of the ANC Youth League's 67th anniversary in Alexandra, ANCYL president Julius Malema declared “economic war” against the rich minority and made a call for a “March for Economic Freedom” to be held on Thursday and Friday, October 26-27th. "The day has come” he said “and on O.R. Tambo's birthday, we are going to march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and take the battle to the monopoly capital."

The strike by metalworkers that began on the 4th of July, ended over the weekend when workers accepted a 3-year contract from the Steel and Engineering Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA). Metalworkers will receive a first year pay rise of 10% effective from July 1 2011. The second year and third year, the workers will receive not less than 8% in each year.

South Africa is witnessing a growing strike wave, with the metalworkers in the lead, but with more and more sections taking strike action or threatening to do so. A new wave of militant class struggle is on the agenda as the contradictions between bosses and workers become more exacerbated by the day. Here we publish an outline of what is happening

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) went on strike action on Monday, following a breakdown in negotiations at the end of June. NUMSA would not budge on its demand for a 13% increase across the board, better working conditions and a total ban of labour brokers.

In the recent local elections in South Africa we witnessed a concerted campaign by the Democratic Alliance, backed by the media, to exploit discontent with the ANC to their own advantage. They failed to do so, as the masses instinctively see the DA as a threat to the conquests of the anti-apartheid movement. However, what is true is that the ANC leadership, pursuing policies that are limited to what can be achieved within the confines of capitalism, have failed in the recent period to solve the fundamental economic and social problems faced by working people.