Tag Archives: south africa

Dying for a Raise: Mumia on the Marikana Massacre

March on 9/5/12 against the murder of 34 strikers – copyright Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

(Audio at Prison Radio).

The Massacre in Marikina, South Africa, of striking mine workers has caused dismay and disbelief the world over.

Thirty four miners were slaughtered, and 78 others wounded by a hail of police gunfire.

How could this be in today’s South Africa?

How could this happen in a post- apartheid South Africa?

How could this happen in a predominantly Black government, led by the African National Congress (ANC)?

 

The spectacle tells the tale: black police, clad in blue overall uniforms, were called by the Lonmin Mine Co. officials, to stand against Black miners holding a wildcat strike demanding better wages and improved working conditions.

 

Miners at Lonmin Platinum are paid on average R4, 000 (=$480 U.S.), and were demanding a raise to R12, 500 (=$1,500) per month.  These strikers, several thousand rock-drill operators, were trying to live and raise families on $120 –per week!

 

When they refused police orders to disperse from a nearby hill, the cops attacked them with automatic weapons fire.

Who do you think they worked for: their people – or the mine operators and owners?

Whom did they serve and protect?

 

In Marikana, in South Africa’s North West Province, lies a mine boasting one of the world’s richest veins of platinum.  Indeed, South Africa is home to some 80% of the world supply of platinum, one of the world’s most precious and strategic metals.

 

And striking miners are dying for a pittance, while owners and investors are making billions!

 

The cops of capitalism serve those who can afford their services.

 

Period.

 

Marikana, North West Province, South Africa joins Sharpville for police and state massacres of Africans.

 

Just as Sharpeville sparked resistance, let Marikana now do the same!

 

–© ’12 maj

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Apartheid and Class Struggle: Comrade Gerald’s Presentation Notes

Our comrade Gerald Smith will be presenting tomorrow, Friday September 7th, 7pm @ La Pena (event sponsored by 2nd Generation La Pena).  He’ll join Zach Levenson in presenting on the current situation in South Africa (see Zach’s piece which was posted a few days ago) and the history of resistance to apartheid and post-apartheid oppression & exploitation.  Here are Gerald’s presentation notes for your study/discussion.

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Apartheid—a system of legislated racial oppression which literally means apartness—grew out of the requirements of British mining interests at the end of the 19th century. After grabbing the land of the indigenous African population (thereby destroying the basis of their agrtcultural and pastoral, pre-capitalist economy) the colonialists consigned them to the role of migrant laborers hired only for short-term contracts and forbidden to settle in the vicinity of their jobs.

This poses a profound contradiction for the South African ruling class. Historically they (and their international investors) have paid only a fraction of the labor costs of their competitors. Their rate of return on invested capital has been proportionally higher—even after deducting the military and administrative costs of running a police state. This differential represents the ‘‘secret’’ of the vitality and dynamism of South African capitalism. The rulers of this bestial system, who have profited from it for generations, are determined to retain their competitive advantage and are adamantly opposed to granting real equality to the black population. But they are deeply divided over how to best protect their privileged position.

A key strategic question black workers in South Africa confront in their struggle for power is the ‘‘white question.’’ In North America ‘‘white supremacy’’ is primarily a form of false consciousness with which the master class deludes white workers into imagining that the racist oppression of blacks is somehow in their interests. In South Africa however, the white population as a whole has substantially benefitted from over a century of white supremacy in a direct material fashion. Whites are the object of considerable generalized hatred by the oppressed black masses. Nonetheless a revolutionary leadership of black workers would seek to ensure that the social polarization which must accompany the struggle for power occurs as much as possible along class lines—not racial or national ones. This is why communists have raised the slogan: Not black against white, but class against class.

The spirit of the 11-day 1984 San Francisco longshore boycott against South African cargo (in solidarity with the struggles of black workers and youth in Botha’s racist hell-hole) was continued on March 10, when twenty-five longshoremen refused to cross a militant picket line set up at Pier 80 in San Francisco. The Campaign Against Apartheid (CAA), a Berkeley-based student group, called for this blockade to prevent the unloading of the Nedlloyd Kembla’s South African cargo. The CAA timed the action at Pier 80 to coincide with a week of international labor protest against apartheid called by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

The development of powerful trade unions rooted in South Africa’s black proletariat is one of the brightest chapters in the recent history of the international working class. Nowhere on earth have workers struggled against more desperate conditions or faced a more powerful, intransigent opponent. In the face of a fiercely racist state, armed to the teeth and supported by the overwhelming bulk of the privileged white population, black workers in the apartheid hell-hole have organized themselves into one of the most powerful trade-union movements in history and wrested a series of concessions from the white rulers. Their struggle has inspired workers and the oppressed around the world.

The Content of Politics: Social Movements and their Interlocutors in Post-Apartheid South Africa

— Zachary Levenson

Originally appearing in Against the Current 160, Sept/Oct 2012

A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN continued stuffing an old tire with bits of straw, refusing to stop as two younger men pleaded with her not to ignite it. She didn’t seem to take them seriously, presumably because one of them was wearing a Democratic Alliance (DA) shirt, the reigning party in the Western Cape and largely despised by black voters. It was hard to hear the substance of the debate over the chanting of struggle songs and vigorous toyi-toyiing, not to mention the crowd shouting down officers in an SUV marked “Anti-Land Invasion Unit.”(1)

It was only after a well-known leader of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign told her that a fire would provoke arrests that she relinquished the kindling. With the burnt asphalt of Symphony Way easily visible from the previous few days’ protests, it seemed obvious where this was going, but this time no tires were torched; the critics of the tactic won out.

Instead, residents of Blikkiesdorp and Tsunami formed a line and continued dancing, blockading the thoroughfare through Delft South on the eastern periphery of Cape Town just east of the airport.

This was one of hundreds of so-called “service delivery protests” that have occurred over the past decade in South Africa. As the post-apartheid promise of housing for all — a guarantee enshrined in the country’s constitution — proved to be empty rhetoric, residents in shack settlements around the country have begun to demand change.

With grossly inadequate access to potable water and sanitary toilets in major metropolises including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, not to mention the unlikelihood of legal electricity connections, the number of such protests has grown remarkably over the past few years, combining demands for municipal service provision with disgust over the dysfunctionality of post-apartheid housing delivery.(2)

According to analyses now circulated around the internationalist left, South Africa has the highest per capita number of uprisings of any country, a rapidly intensifying “rebellion of the poor” marking it as the “protest capital of the world.”(3)

But even if a purely quantitative analysis of these gatherings suggests escalating unrest, does their content match the hype? While certainly one can find instances of cumulative organizing and the emergence of sustained challenges to a rapidly degenerating welfare state, can these protests reasonably be described as “rebellions”?

I asked the woman who was prevented from lighting the tire what she was hoping to achieve and why she thought this might be an effective tactic. She told me that all of this — the blockade, the tires, the confrontation with police — was an effort to attract the ward councilor for Delft South.

Trying to Get Attention

Hardly a rebellion in the standard sense then, this was actually an attempt to engage an elected official, as heterodox as it might appear. According to numerous residents with whom I spoke, the councilor had never set foot in Blikkiesdorp despite having been in office for the better part of a decade. All they wanted, I was told, was to get answers.

Lest this be dismissed as an isolated incident, I witnessed similar modes of engagement by peri-urban shack residents across the country. Last November, 700 members of the youth league of Abahlali baseMjondolo, reported to be the country’s largest shack dwellers’ organization, marched on Durban’s City Hall through the pouring rain, and I marched with them. Continue reading

Resistance in South Africa: Apartheid and After

Resistance in South Africa: Apartheid and After


In the wake of the Marikana massacre, left groups of all stripes are calling resistance inevitable. What does opposition to post-colonial capitalism look like in South Africa today? How has the anti-apartheid labor militancy of the 1980s translated into anti-capitalist struggle since the transition?

Come see former Black Panther Gerald Smith and Berkeley sociology Ph.D. student Zachary Levenson discuss these issues at an open forum at La Peña on Friday, September 7 @ 7 pm. Smith was instrumental in organi

zing Bay Area solidarity actions with the anti-apartheid struggle and will speak about black labor militancy in the 1980s. Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and will describe the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.

This event will also be a fundraiser for the more than 250 miners arrested (and by some accounts tortured) for striking over garbage wages. Initially the intent was to get them bail money, but most are being denied bail; in a worst case, this money will go to their families.

FREE: Donations for Arrested Miners’ Fund – 7pm In the LOUNGE

This event is sponsored by La Peña 2nd Generation and Advance the Struggle

EMERGENCY Rally and Protest: Solidarity with South African miners murdered during strike

Please Forward Widely:
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SOLIDARITY WITH SOUTH AFRICAN MINERS
Emergency Rally & Protest
Friday August 24th 2012 @ 5pm 
Oscar Grant Plaza (aka Frank Ogawa Plaza)
 
Protest the murder of 40 striking mine workers by the South African Government.  Stand in solidarity with the mine workers as they continue their battle with the Lonmin Platinum Mine and the murderous government police force.  Workers in all countries must come together to resist these atrocities carried out by the state in the interests of International Capitalism.  As working class organizations we strongly believe that:“an injury to one IS an injury to all.”
 
We’ll see you Friday at 5pm. Thank you.
 
Initiated by Advance the Struggle in conjunction with the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression. Please contact us if your organization would like to be included as an endorser: bay.strikes@gmail.com
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From Oakland to South Africa, 
one struggle, one fight!