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Nelson Mandela, Free Market Capitalism and the South African Crisis December 28, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, South Africa.
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Roger’s note:

“Ronnie Kasrils, former minister in ANC governments, a member of the ANC executive and a leader of Umkonto weSizwe recently wrote (The Guardian, June 23, 2013) that the decision against nationalization was a “Faustian bargain” with the white world that sold out the South African poor.

Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine suggests the bargain was that in return for the ANC turning against The Freedom Charter and nationalization, the West would make Mandela a living saint.”

If you want more than that feel-good notion of Nelson Mandela as a champion of non-violent (i.e non. revolutionary) change, then read the article below.  Although I believe the author mistakes nationalization  for socialism, the article does give a credible analysis of why the South African masses, post-Apartheid, still live in miserable poverty.  Nationalization may be a necessary step towards socialism, but it is not sufficient.  Genuine socialism is not where the government rather than private interests are the owners of production.  Such as that exists in Vietnam and China and is functionally speaking nothing more than state capitalism.  Single party vanguards such as existed in the former Soviet Union and in China and Vietnam today by nature devolve into state tyranny over labor in order to maximize profit.  Genuine democratic socialism demands direct worker control over production, but that is another and much longer story.

 


by Anthony Monteiro

The veil must be lifted from the deliberations and machinations that led Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress to discard the people’s Freedom Charter in favor of an accommodation with white capital, in the early Nineties. Why, at South Africa’s most critical juncture, did the ANC make a pact with the Devil? And why did they keep it?

 

“The decision against nationalization has left the people worse off than when Mandela was elected in 1994.”Why and when did Mandela change his mind about nationalization of the wealth of South Africa? And what have been the results? I find the mainstream media’s accounts, citing Mandela’s claim that he changed his mind at Davos, Switzerland, in 1992 implausible. More troubling is why when Mandela and the ANC led government saw things going so badly for the people they didn’t change course? These questions arise as we try to make sense of Mandela’s legacy. This is especially important in light of the catastrophic crisis of poverty, hunger, unemployment, education and health care besetting the South African people. The decision against nationalization has left the people worse off than when Mandela was elected in 1994. White economic privilege remains the same, and their wealth exponentially increased, a tiny, rich and mostly parasitic black bourgeoisie and a black middle class have been created. For 90 percent of the African population things have not improved.

The New York Times reported on December 10 that Nelson Mandela’s change of thinking occurred at Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum (the annual meeting of the major bankers, capitalist, entrepreneurs, celebrities, politicians and intellectuals tied to the neo liberal globalist model of the world economy) in January 1992. Tito Mboweni, a former governor of the South African Reserve Bank (that nation’s Central Bank), who accompanied Mandela to Davos, says when Mandela and the ANC delegation arrived Mandela had a speech written by the ANC that focused on nationalization. Mboweni says “we discussed this at some length and decided that its content was inappropriate for a Davos audience.” Mboweni drafts another speech that was friendly to the Davos crowd. The speech was vague and filled with clichés and platitudes and assured the audience that they had nothing to fear from Mandela or the ANC.

In a letter to the Sunday Independent last January Mboweni says it was meetings with representatives of the Communist parties of China and Vietnam that changed Madiba’s mind completely. According to Mboweni the Chinese and Vietnamese told Mandela “We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are Communists Party governments, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?” According to Anthony Sampson, the author of Mandela: The Authorized Biography, Mandela told him “They changed my views altogether. I came home to say: ‘Chaps we have to choose. We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.’”

”The path to Mandela’s radical change of mind involved more than conversations during a five-day meeting in Davos in 1992.”

It is obvious that the ANC, the South African national liberation struggle and the nation as a whole were at a critical juncture. They were faced with problems of consolidating political power and moving the nation towards economic emancipation. On the other side, the white regime and its backers in the West were concerned with making concessions to black South Africans that would not disturb western corporate control of this mineral rich and strategically located economy. However I find the accounts of Mr. Sampson and Mr. Mboweni implausible. In other words, the path to Mandela’s radical change of mind involved more than conversations during a five-day meeting in Davos in 1992.

The first question is about the representatives of China and Vietnam. Both nations in 1992 were at different levels of economic development. Vietnam was still in the social and economic reconstruction phase after 25 years of war against foreign aggression. China was a socialist economy that twelve years earlier had entered upon a path of reform within its socialist economy. China at that time had about 80 to 90% of the strategic parts of its economy under state control. Vietnam was similar with the state controlling economic reconstruction. Even today close to 70% of China’s economy is under state control. The most technologically dynamic and profitable sector of the Chinese economy is the state, or nationalized sector. The facts are that China and Vietnam are heavily state dominated economies and each says the objective of their economic planning is to build advanced socialism. Even if we accept that the Chinese and Vietnamese representatives at Davos said what Mboweni says, the next question is who were they and did they represent the official positions of their governments? If we accept the mainstream media’s accounts, they must have been saying, “do as we say, not as we do.” Of course this would have been an instance of unbelievable bad faith, even cynicism. But on this matter, rather than looking to the Chinese and Vietnamese delegates, I think we should question Mr. Mboweni ‘s and Mr. Sampson’s account.

The second point is that when Mandela emerges from prison two of his and the ANC’s most important allies were Cuba and Libya, two nations whose economies were heavily nationalized. Why did Mandela not consult Fidel Castro and Muammar Gadaffi among others to get a more complete view on how well nationalization was working or not working in their nations?

”The decisions made by Mandela and the ANC thwarted a robust transition and allowed the old system to remain pretty much intact.”

The third point, any nation emerging from a long period of civil war and national liberation, experiencing a radical transfer of power, necessarily goes through a period of transition. It is ludicrous to think that sober minds, especially those with the training of most of the ANC, could underestimate a transition where something like a New Deal for the people, including a jobs and infrastructure programs, an anti-poverty crusade, health care, housing and political education, would not be considered necessary. No clear thinking person could have imagined an overnight great leap forward from a ravaged apartheid economy to an advanced socialist one. There would be a transition period of at least a decade where the groundwork would be laid for a new democratic and socialist economy. The forms of this transition would have many layers, even ambiguities, but its direction would be firmly established and based on the Freedom Charter and its call for nationalization. The decisions made by Mandela and the ANC thwarted a robust transition and allowed the old system to remain pretty much intact and thereby recklessly undermined the future of South Africa.

The more plausible scenario, from my perspective, is that Mandela and a small circle around him, long before Davos, perhaps in the last year or so of Mandela’s imprisonment, cut a deal. As we know Mandela entered into secret talks with the white regime before being released. These talks were kept secret from the ANC leadership. There were others in and outside of the ANC who were involved in secret talks about the economy well before 1990. By the time Mandela is released an agreement had been reached with the regime against nationalization. The question for Mandela and those in the ANC who supported him, was to get an appropriate time and place for Mandela to announce his change of position. There had to also be a plausible explanation of why such a drastic change. The Davos story fulfills both requirements, an appropriate place and a plausible story.

The fact that Mr. Mboweni, a free market capitalist, accompanied Mandela to Davos and had such power that he was allowed to trash the ANC speech and substitute for it his own, should raise further troubling questions about the behind scenes operations among the ANC elite. Why weren’t other views present in the ANC delegation at Davos? Or were they dismissed as “too radical” even before Davos?

”By the time Mandela is released an agreement had been reached with the regime against nationalization.”

Not long after the Davos announcement the ANC (or the free market and neo liberal elements within the ANC) announced that the first black government would assume the entire debt of the white regime. A sum of close to $25 billion. The ANC took an IMF loan to pay the debt, which came with severe strings attached that protected white control of the post apartheid economy. (see my article in BAR Dec 11 2013 for a further discussion of this). Mandela’s claim that he was turned around at Davos is questionable and his turn against the Freedom Charter and the aspirations of the masses of South Africa (who cherished the Freedom Charter as their manifesto of freedom and reflective of their freedom aspirations) is problematic.

Winnie Mandela has said repeatedly that when Mandela emerged from prison he was not the same man. She says his revolutionary resolve was different. What she probably meant is his change of heart on economic policy and his willingness to, as she saw it, make unnecessary compromises with white South Africans and Western interests. Ronnie Kasrils, former minister in ANC governments, a member of the ANC executive and a leader of Umkonto weSizwe recently wrote (The Guardian, June 23, 2013) that the decision against nationalization was a “Faustian bargain” with the white world that sold out the South African poor. Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine suggests the bargain was that in return for the ANC turning against The Freedom Charter and nationalization, the West would make Mandela a living saint.

In my BAR article “Nelson Mandela, The Contradictions of his Life and Legacies” I argue there are four stages in Mandela’s life. The fourth is 1990 to 2013. This is the most contradictory in terms of his previous revolutionary activity. However, it is as significant to understanding his legacy and life as the previous ones are. The burning question is in power what did he and his ANC colleagues do to liberate the nation from economic apartheid and foreign corporate control. At this point the answer is in power the ANC failed. The problem is not important only to South Africans or Africans, but for how humanity, especially its impoverished and destitute majority, imagines the future world and how we fight for it.

Anthony Monteiro is a professor of African American Studies at Temple University. He can be contacted at tmon@comcast.net.

If Nelson Mandela Really Had Won, He Wouldn’t Be Seen as a Universal Hero December 10, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Revolution, Socialism, South Africa.
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Roger’s note: I have already posted a few articles of this nature, and this should be the last, but I think it says it the best.  I don’t know that Nelson Mandela died a bitter man, I think the author is speculating or using the notion metaphorically, but with cause.  Also, I am not too crazy about the way he used the Ayn Rand quote, but nevertheless I think overall he hit the nail on the head.

 

 

Mandela must have died a bitter man. To honor his legacy, we should focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to

 

 

‘It is all too simple to criticize Mandela for abandoning the socialist perspective after the end of apartheid: did he really have a choice? Was the move towards socialism a real option?’ (Photograph: Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

In the last two decades of his life, Nelson Mandela was celebrated as a model of how to liberate a country from the colonial yoke without succumbing to the temptation of dictatorial power and anti-capitalist posturing. In short, Mandela was not Robert Mugabe, and South Africa remained a multiparty democracy with a free press and a vibrant economy well-integrated into the global market and immune to hasty socialist experiments. Now, with his death, his stature as a saintly wise man seems confirmed for eternity: there are Hollywood movies about him – he was impersonated by Morgan Freeman, who also, by the way, played the role of God in another film; rock stars and religious leaders, sportsmen and politicians from Bill Clinton to Fidel Castro are all united in his beatification.

Is this, however, the whole story? Two key facts remain obliterated by this celebratory vision. In South Africa, the miserable life of the poor majority broadly remains the same as under apartheid, and the rise of political and civil rights is counterbalanced by the growing insecurity, violence and crime. The main change is that the old white ruling class is joined by the new black elite. Second, people remember the old African National Congress that promised not only the end of apartheid, but also more social justice, even a kind of socialism. This much more radical ANC past is gradually obliterated from our memory. No wonder that anger is growing among poor, black South Africans.

South Africa in this respect is just one version of the recurrent story of the contemporary left. A leader or party is elected with universal enthusiasm, promising a “new world” – but, then, sooner or later, they stumble upon the key dilemma: does one dare to touch the capitalist mechanisms, or does one decide to “play the game”? If one disturbs these mechanisms, one is very swiftly “punished” by market perturbations, economic chaos and the rest. This is why it is all too simple to criticize Mandela for abandoning the socialist perspective after the end of apartheid: did he really have a choice? Was the move towards socialism a real option?

It is easy to ridicule Ayn Rand, but there is a grain of truth in the famous “hymn to money” from her novel Atlas Shrugged: “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other.” Did Marx not say something similar in his well-known formula of how, in the universe of commodities, “relations between people assume the guise of relations among things”?

In the market economy, relations between people can appear as relations of mutually recognized freedom and equality: domination is no longer directly enacted and visible as such. What is problematic is Rand’s underlying premise: that the only choice is between direct and indirect relations of domination and exploitation, with any alternative dismissed as utopian. However, one should nonetheless bear in mind the moment of truth in Rand’s otherwise ridiculously ideological claim: the great lesson of state socialism was effectively that a direct abolition of private property and market-regulated exchange, lacking concrete forms of social regulation of the process of production, necessarily resuscitates direct relations of servitude and domination. If we merely abolish the market (inclusive of market exploitation) without replacing it with a proper form of the communist organization of production and exchange, domination returns with a vengeance, and with it direct exploitation.

The general rule is that when a revolt begins against an oppressive half-democratic regime, as was the case in the Middle East in 2011, it is easy to mobilize large crowds with slogans that one cannot but characterize as crowd pleasers – for democracy, against corruption, for instance. But then we gradually approach more difficult choices, when our revolt succeeds in its direct goal, we come to realize that what really bothered us (our un-freedom, humiliation, social corruption, lack of prospect of a decent life) goes on in a new guise. The ruling ideology mobilizes here its entire arsenal to prevent us from reaching this radical conclusion. They start to tell us that democratic freedom brings its own responsibility, that it comes at a price, that we are not yet mature if we expect too much from democracy. In this way, they blame us for our failure: in a free society, so we are told, we are all capitalist investing in our lives, deciding to put more into our education than into having fun if we want to succeed.

At a more directly political level, United States foreign policy elaborated a detailed strategy of how to exert damage control by way of rechanneling a popular uprising into acceptable parliamentary-capitalist constraints – as was done successfully in South Africa after the fall of apartheid regime, in Philippines after the fall of Marcos, in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto and elsewhere. At this precise conjuncture, radical emancipatory politics faces its greatest challenge: how to push things further after the first enthusiastic stage is over, how to make the next step without succumbing to the catastrophe of the “totalitarian” temptation – in short, how to move further from Mandela without becoming Mugabe.

If we want to remain faithful to Mandela’s legacy, we should thus forget about celebratory crocodile tears and focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to. We can safely surmise that, on account of his doubtless moral and political greatness, he was at the end of his life also a bitter old man, well aware how his very political triumph and his elevation into a universal hero was the mask of a bitter defeat. His universal glory is also a sign that he really didn’t disturb the global order of power.

Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities

It was the CIA that helped jail Nelson Mandela July 18, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Foreign Policy, History, South Africa.
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http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=o7Dvg35X0NaJyCXfn4U03w http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=VZEwPkDG1uEoha0paVsL2g http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=vDxzwDh_plDMjWykjaw-Vg
Crocodile tears to mask US imperialism’s role as the enemy of African liberation

By Brian Becker

Nelson Mandela

Originally posted on LiberationNews.org.

Today is Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, but forget the crocodile tears from the U.S. government about Mandela’s poor health. Imperialist diplomacy with all of its sugar-coated phrases is nothing more than a form of historical perjury.

Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962, which led to 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment on Robbins Island, was based on the work of the CIA. The CIA and the National Security Agency worked as partners with the racist, apartheid regime’s vicious military and intelligence services.

Mandela was a leader of the African National Congress (ANC) that organized civil resistance and an armed struggle against South Africa’s white racist apartheid regime. The United States and the other western capitalist governments supported the racist, fascist apartheid regime.

Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the United States. So was the entire ANC. Even as late as 2008 the U.S. State Department had to pass special waivers so that Mandela or any ANC leader could visit the United States because he and the ANC were still on the “terrorist watch list.”

The ANC’s struggle for Black majority rule and the liquidation of apartheid received critical support from Cuba, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. The ANC had an active alliance with South African Communist Party in the struggle for Black majority rule.

Even after the fall of the apartheid government ANC members applying for visas to the USA were flagged for questioning and forced to ask for waivers to enter the country. Former ANC chairman Tokyo Sexwale was denied a visa in 2002

In 2007, Barbara Masekela, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States until the year prior was denied a visa to visit a dying cousin living in the United States.

U.S. Imperialism was the enemy of African Liberation

The CIA and NSA spy services—with the full collaboration of such transnational corporations at IBM,  Kodak and many others—worked at all levels and for decades for apartheid and against the African National Congress activists who were routinely murdered, tortured and sentenced to life terms in the hell holes of South Africa.

The ANC was labeled and treated as a terrorist organization and pro-communist by the CIA and successive U.S. administrations, Democratic and Republican alike. Congress, too, was an enthusiastic cheerleader for this vile partnership with the planet’s most disgustingly racist regime.

The House of Representatives only voted to call for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1986 when it was clear that the fascist apartheid regime’s days were numbered, leading the United States and Britain to abruptly shift course and broker a negotiated end to the white supremacist system. A mass worldwide anti-apartheid movement had completely isolated South Africa. Dick Cheney voted against the House resolution in 1986, pointing out that the U.S. government was still retaining the ANC on the official  U.S. “terrorist list.”

The U.S. and Britain knew the end had finally come for the usefulness of the apartheid government when its seemingly invincible military was decisively defeated by the Angolan army and thousands of Cuban volunteers in the historic battle of Cuito Canavale.

As Mandela said, “When Africa called, Cuba answered.”

Shameless duplicity

In an act of shameless duplicity, once Mandela was released from prison, each successive U.S. administration has pretended that the United States was always opposed to Mandela’s imprisonment and stood with him against apartheid.

After getting out of prison, Mandela came to the United States to meet President George H.W. Bush on June 25, 1990. He was being touted as a hero and a champion in the fight against racism. The U.S. government, working through propagandists in the corporate-owned media, tried to instill a society-wide case of amnesia about the fact that they were the defenders of apartheid and directly responsible for Mandela’s imprisonment.

But one reporter had the gall to ask an unscripted question.

Bush’s press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, was asked in the days before the June 25 meeting with Bush whether the president would apologize to Mandela for the U.S. role in his arrest.

Fitzwater was angry and caught off guard. He said, “I just don’t like it when people question our motives on blacks or on Mandela because of an incident that happened 20 years ago in another administration.”

Today, on Mandela’s 95th birthday and when the U.S. government celebrates Mandela, will any of the corporate media expose the bloody role of the CIA, NSA and other U.S. intelligence services in their war against the African liberation movements?

Nelson Mandela is a beacon for the oppressed. He is a hero and he will be remembered as such. Not true for the CIA and NSA which worked as the spy service for the racist, apartheid regime as it hunted down and captured Mandela and captured or killed his comrades.

How the ANC’s Faustian Pact Sold Out South Africa’s Poorest June 28, 2013

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Roger’s note:  The world’s eyes are on South Africa today due to the confluence of the Obama visit and the vigil for the ailing Mandela.  This article demonstrates how there is a long way to go to achieve justice and equality in South Africa, that the defeat of apartheid was only a beginning, necessary but far from sufficient.

 

miners-charged-ap

 

Tue, 06/25/2013 – 15:52 Black Agenda Report
by Ronnie Kasrils

A veteran of the South African freedom struggle and its Black-led government says the African National Congress’ soul “was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we ‘sold our people down the river.’”

This article previously appeared in The Guardian UK.

“Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles.”

South Africa’s young people today are known as the Born Free generation. They enjoy the dignity of being born into a democratic society with the right to vote and choose who will govern. But modern South Africa is not a perfect society. Full equality – social and economic – does not exist, and control of the country’s wealth remains in the hands of a few, so new challenges and frustrations arise. Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle like myself are frequently asked whether, in the light of such disappointment, the sacrifice was worth it. While my answer is yes, I must confess to grave misgivings: I believe we should be doing far better.

There have been impressive achievements since the attainment of freedom in 1994: in building houses, crèches, schools, roads and infrastructure; the provision of water and electricity to millions; free education and healthcare; increases in pensions and social grants; financial and banking stability; and slow but steady economic growth (until the 2008 crisis at any rate). These gains, however, have been offset by a breakdown in service delivery, resulting in violent protests by poor and marginalized communities; gross inadequacies and inequities in the education and health sectors; a ferocious rise in unemployment; endemic police brutality and torture; unseemly power struggles within the ruling party that have grown far worse since the ousting of Mbeki in 2008; an alarming tendency to secrecy and authoritarianism in government; the meddling with the judiciary; and threats to the media and freedom of expression. Even Nelson Mandela’s privacy and dignity are violated for the sake of a cheap photo opportunity by the ANC’s top echelon.

“I found Marikana even more distressing: a democratic South Africa was meant to bring an end to such barbarity.”

Most shameful and shocking of all, the events of Bloody Thursday – 16 August 2012 – when police massacred 34 striking miners at Marikana mine, owned by the London-based Lonmin company. The Sharpeville massacre in 1960 prompted me to join the ANC. I found Marikana even more distressing: a democratic South Africa was meant to bring an end to such barbarity. And yet the president and his ministers, locked into a culture of cover-up. Incredibly, the South African Communist party, my party of over 50 years, did not condemn the police either.

South Africa’s liberation struggle reached a high point but not its zenith when we overcame apartheid rule. Back then, our hopes were high for our country given its modern industrial economy, strategic mineral resources (not only gold and diamonds), and a working class and organized trade union movement with a rich tradition of struggle. But that optimism overlooked the tenacity of the international capitalist system. From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we “sold our people down the river.”

What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an IMF loan on the eve of our first democratic election. That loan, with strings attached that precluded a radical economic agenda, was considered a necessary evil, as were concessions to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people. Doubt had come to reign supreme: we believed, wrongly, there was no other option; that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles. Whatever the threats to isolate a radicalizing South Africa, the world could not have done without our vast reserves of minerals. To lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable. The ANC leadership needed to remain determined, united and free of corruption – and, above all, to hold on to its revolutionary will. Instead, we chickened out. The ANC leadership needed to remain true to its commitment of serving the people. This would have given it the hegemony it required not only over the entrenched capitalist class but over emergent elitists, many of whom would seek wealth through black economic empowerment, corrupt practices and selling political influence.

To break apartheid rule through negotiation, rather than a bloody civil war, seemed then an option too good to be ignored. However, at that time, the balance of power was with the ANC, and conditions were favorable for more radical change at the negotiating table than we ultimately accepted. It is by no means certain that the old order, apart from isolated rightist extremists, had the will or capability to resort to the bloody repression envisaged by Mandela’s leadership. If we had held our nerve, we could have pressed forward without making the concessions we did.

“All means to eradicate poverty, which was Mandela’s and the ANC’s sworn promise to the “poorest of the poor,” were lost in the process.”

It was a dire error on my part to focus on my own responsibilities and leave the economic issues to the ANC’s experts. However, at the time, most of us never quite knew what was happening with the top-level economic discussions. As s Sampie Terreblanche has revealed in his critique, Lost in Transformation, by late 1993 big business strategies – hatched in 1991 at the mining mogul Harry Oppenheimer’s Johannesburg residence – were crystallizing in secret late-night discussions at the Development Bank of South Africa. Present were South Africa’s mineral and energy leaders, the bosses of US and British companies with a presence in South Africa – and young ANC economists schooled in western economics. They were reporting to Mandela, and were either outwitted or frightened into submission by hints of the dire consequences for South Africa should an ANC government prevail with what were considered ruinous economic policies.

All means to eradicate poverty, which was Mandela’s and the ANC’s sworn promise to the “poorest of the poor,” were lost in the process. Nationalisation of the mines and heights of the economy as envisaged by the Freedom charter was abandoned. The ANC accepted responsibility for a vast apartheid-era debt, which should have been cancelled. A wealth tax on the super-rich to fund developmental projects was set aside, and domestic and international corporations, enriched by apartheid, were excused from any financial reparations. Extremely tight budgetary obligations were instituted that would tie the hands of any future governments; obligations to implement a free-trade policy and abolish all forms of tariff protection in keeping with neo-liberal free trade fundamentals were accepted. Big corporations were allowed to shift their main listings abroad. In Terreblanche’s opinion, these ANC concessions constituted “treacherous decisions that [will] haunt South Africa for generations to come.”

“If we had held our nerve, we could have pressed forward without making the concessions we did.”

An ANC-Communist party leadership eager to assume political office (myself no less than others) readily accepted this devil’s pact, only to be damned in the process. It has bequeathed an economy so tied in to the neoliberal global formula and market fundamentalism that there is very little room to alleviate the plight of most of our people.

Little wonder that their patience is running out; that their anguished protests increase as they wrestle with deteriorating conditions of life; that those in power have no solutions. The scraps are left go to the emergent black elite; corruption has taken root as the greedy and ambitious fight like dogs over a bone.

In South Africa in 2008 the poorest 50% received only 7.8% of total income. While 83% of white South Africans were among the top 20% of income receivers in 2008, only 11% of our black population were. These statistics conceal unmitigated human suffering. Little wonder that the country has seen such an enormous rise in civil protest.

A descent into darkness must be curtailed. I do not believe the ANC alliance is beyond hope. There are countless good people in the ranks. But a revitalization and renewal from top to bottom is urgently required. The ANC’s soul needs to be restored; its traditional values and culture of service reinstated. The pact with the devil needs to be broken.

“The scraps are left go to the emergent black elite; corruption has taken root as the greedy and ambitious fight like dogs over a bone.”

At present the impoverished majority do not see any hope other than the ruling party, although the ANC’s ability to hold those allegiances is deteriorating. The effective parliamentary opposition reflects big business interests of various stripes, and while a strong parliamentary opposition is vital to keep the ANC on its toes, most voters want socialist policies, not measures inclined to serve big business interests, more privatization and neoliberal economics.

This does not mean it is only up to the ANC, SACP and Cosatu to rescue the country from crises. There are countless patriots and comrades in existing and emerging organized formations who are vital to the process. Then there are the legal avenues and institutions such as the public protector’s office and human rights commission that – including the ultimate appeal to the constitutional court – can test, expose and challenge injustice and the infringement of rights. The strategies and tactics of the grassroots – trade unions, civic and community organizations, women’s and youth groups – signpost the way ahead with their non-violent and dignified but militant action.

The space and freedom to express one’s views, won through decades of struggle, are available and need to be developed. We look to the Born Frees as the future torchbearers.

Ronnie Kasrils was a member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress from 1987 to 2007, and a member of the central committee of the South African Communist party from December 1986 to 2007. He was the country’s minister for intelligence services from 2004 to 2008. This is an edited extract from the new introduction to Kasrils’ autobiography, Armed and Dangerous.

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South Africa in shock after police ‘bloodbath’ of striking miners August 18, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Labor, Race, South Africa.
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Roger’s note: the end of “official” apartheid and the ascendency of the ANC was only a first step.  Genuine liberation will not occur in South Africa or anywhere else in the world until the absolute rule of Capital is challenged and destroyed.  Sadly, the ANC in government has continued the neo-Liberal economic policies of its predecessors.
 
Published on Friday August 17, 2012

Toronto Star 
 

South Africa miners

SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS Police shoot at protesting miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, 100 km northwest of Johannesburg, on Thursday.

 
Jon Herskovitz
Reuters
 
 MARIKANA, SOUTH AFRICA—The police killing of 34 striking platinum miners in the bloodiest security operation since the end of white rule cut to the quick of South Africa’s psyche on Friday, with searching questions asked of its post-apartheid soul.

Newspaper headlines screamed “Bloodbath,” “Killing Field” and “Mine Slaughter,” with graphic photographs of heavily armed white and black police officers walking casually past the bloodied corpses of black men lying crumpled in the dust.

The images, along with Reuters television footage of a phalanx of officers opening up with automatic weapons on a small group of men in blankets and T-shirts, rekindled uncomfortable memories of South Africa’s racist past.

Police chief Riah Phiyega confirmed 34 dead and 78 injured after officers moved in against 3,000 striking drill operators armed with machetes and sticks and massed on a rocky outcrop at the mine, 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg.

Phiyega, a former banking executive who was only appointed to lead the police force in June, said officers had acted in self-defence against charging, armed assailants at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum plant.

“The police members had to employ force to protect themselves from the charging group,” she told a news conference, noting that two policemen had been hacked to death by a mob at the mine on Tuesday.

However, the South African Institute of Race relations likened the incident to the 1960 Sharpeville township massacre near Johannesburg, when apartheid police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters, killing more than 50.

“Obviously the issues that have led to this are not the same as the past, but the response and the outcome is very similar,” research manager Lucy Holborn said.

In a front-page editorial, the Sowetan newspaper questioned what had changed since 1994, when Nelson Mandela overturned three centuries of white domination to become South Africa’s first black president.

“It has happened in this country before where the apartheid regime treated black people like objects,” said the paper, named after South Africa’s biggest black township. “It is continuing in a different guise now.”

South African President Jacob Zuma cut short a visit to a regional summit in neighbouring Mozambique to head to the mine. Zuma, who faces an internal leadership election in his ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December, said he was “shocked and dismayed” at the violence, but made no comment on the police behaviour.

“We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence,” he said in a statement.

Despite promises of a better life for all South Africa’s 50 million people, the ANC has struggled to provide basic services to millions in poor black townships.

Efforts to redress the economic inequalities of apartheid have had mixed results, and the mining sector comes in for particular criticism from radical ANC factions as a bastion of “white monopoly capital.”

As dawn broke, hundreds of police patrolled the dusty plains around the Marikana mine, which was forced to shut down this week because of a rumbling union turf war that has hit the platinum sector this year.

“There were no problems overnight. The problem is the hill over there where the shooting took place. I am not sure what will happen today,” said Patience, a woman who lives in a nearby shanty town. She declined to give her full name.

Crime scene investigators combed the site of the shooting, which was cordoned off with yellow tape, collecting spent cartridges and the slain miners’ bloodstained traditional weapons — machetes and spears.

Six firearms were recovered, including a service revolver from one of the police officers killed earlier in the week.

Prior to Thursday, 10 people had died in nearly a week of conflict between rival unions at what is Lonmin’s flagship plant. The London-headquartered company has been forced to shut down all its South African platinum operations, which account for 12 per cent of global output.

South Africa is home to 80 per cent of the world’s known reserves of platinum, a precious metal used in vehicle catalytic converters. Rising power and labour costs and a steep decline this year in the price have left many mines struggling to stay afloat.

Although the striking Marikana miners were demanding huge pay hikes, the roots of the trouble lie in a challenge by the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to the 25-year dominance of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a close ANC ally.

“There is clearly an element in this that a key supporter of the ANC — the NUM — has come under threat from these protesting workers,” said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.

AMCU leaders have been criticized for telling the striking miners — many of whom are barely literate — that they were “prepared to die” rather than move from their protest hill.

Pre-crackdown footage of dancing miners waving machetes and licking the blades of homemade spears raised questions about the habitual use of violence in industrial action 18 years after the end of apartheid.

“This culture of violence and protest, it must somehow be changed,” said John Robbie, a prominent Johannesburg radio host. “You can’t act like a Zulu impi in an industrial dispute in this day and age,” he said, using the Zulu word for armed units.

World platinum prices spiked nearly 3 per cent on Thursday as the full extent of the violence became clear, and rose again on Friday to a five-week high above $1,450 an ounce.

Lonmin shares in London and Johannesburg fell more than 5 per cent to four-year lows at Friday’s market open, although later trimmed their losses. Overall, they have shed nearly 15 per cent since the violence began a week ago.

A Conversation With South African Poet and Anti-Apartheid Activist Breyten Breytenbach on His Own Imprisonment, South Africa’s “Failed Revolution,” Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama November 27, 2008

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This is the second half of an interview with South African anti-Apartheid activist and writer, Breyten Breytenbach conducted by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!” Novermber 26, 2008.  The first half of the interview discusses the anti-Apartheid battles prior to Mandela’s release and Breytenbach’s own experience in the sturggle and his seven year imprisonment.  The second half of the interview speaks more to today’s South Africa, in particular the failures to stem violence and erase poverty.  For the first half of the interview, you can go to the Democracy Now! website at:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/26/a_conversation_with_south_african_poet

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour is Breyten Breytenbach , the South African poet, writer and anti-apartheid activist. Dividing his time here in New York at New York University where he teaches creative writing and at Goree Institute in Senegal. You mention in your article in Harpers, former South African President and anti-apartheid Nelson Mandela turning 90 this July. More than 50,000 people attended a star studded concert in late June to honor Nelson Mandela.

NELSON MANDELA: Even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete. Where there is poverty and sickness, including AIDS, where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done. Our work is for freedom, for all.

AMY GOODMAN: Nelson Mandela at the 90th anniversary birthday—90th birthday party. Breyten Breytenbach, he says our work is far from done. Your piece in Harpers magazine called “Mandela’s Smile: notes on South Africa’s failed revolution”, a letter to Nelson Mandela on his 90th year.

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: Well, its a harsh way of saying the same thing. The traditional wisdom has always been within the liberation movement that there’s probably a two-face process that needs to happen. One is national liberation, in other words, doing away with apartheid. And moving towards a dispensation where the majority of the people can participate in all of the processes that impact on their lives, political or social, cultural, economic. And the second one, the second phase that would perhaps one could describe as more hardcore, inner circle within the National Congress was that we would have to move towards a socialist revolution, perhaps, too provocative a word. People tend to get goose bumps using the word revolution. But what I mean by that is a profound restructuring of the power and of the economic system in a country. You know at the moment the gap between rich and poor is bigger, larger than it was under apartheid.

AMY GOODMAN: In South Africa?

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: In South Africa. Critical institutions have practically imploded under our national health system, to some extent our educational system, certainly our security system. It is claimed that even under apartheid more houses were built for the poor than has been built by the new government. Now, a lot of that ,a lot of that one can explain and one can take, one can contextualize because of the very difficult national conditions that came to power in, the international situation. But a lot of it is also, I think, must be brought to the door of responsibility of those in power within the ANC. There’s been a very rapid promotion and enrichment, quite obscenely so of a small number of senior cadres. Sometimes called a board room revolution. It’s a very intelligent and I suppose natural way for the for the very rich international enterprises in South Africa to obtain credibility by incorporates, by could he opting black faces or brown faces or Indian faces and paying them extraordinary amounts of money to do so. The fact that we’ve—we’ve opted for as I said earlier on—at the time of coming to power in 1992, from 1992 to 1994, and going to the free market system and subjecting ourselves to all of that, which is of course under external pressure, even now, the recent South African Ambassador Barbara Masekela to Washington would tell you that the American Treasury has a right to walk in whenever they want to South Africa and tell people what they should be doing in terms of economic policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Was that said critically?

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: It was critically, yes. It was critically. But my criticism would be directed at my own people, at our own people. I don’t think we should have expected any different. South Africa is a very rich country. It is also a country which has a very crude capitalist system. It’s been very profitable to many people, both nationally or minority nationally and to, of course, the international community as well. We knew this was going to be the case. We know what the policies— international policies in Africa are, more or less. It’s quite crude. It has to do with security and it has to do with access to natural resources. And by the way, unfortunately, I don’t think the new American administration is going to be any different. I don’t see any signs of that coming out at all.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: I mean that America in Africa is not about values. It’s about American interests as interpreted by—in a very narrow way by people in power here. It has to do with imagining that South Africa is being left to the un-tendered mercies of those in power, the dictators in power. You will have a resurgent or coming about of Islamist extremism. As somebody said, I read in a document, everything that is not defined or everything that’s opened is potentially dangerous. An empty space on the map, which is largely particularly is to the north, it’s potentially dangerous, it is thought by people in this country. I think that the security concern is going to be—is going to be a priority and, of course, access to oil, and access to diamonds, and access to precious wood and everything that comes out of the Congo. And South Africa fits within this pattern, so I don’t think we should have expected any different.

Where we can and we know historically, ethically, morally, politically, we could have expected different is the power, is the courage of our leaders with African National Congress and with the political parties as well to cover, to root for ourselves, within the context. We work powerfully enough to do so, we have the legitimacy, we have the history. After we talk enough the ANC which was founded more than100years ago, and gone through decades of intense and powerful struggle, where it was the vehicle for creating a new national identity with a new ethic underpinning and then when you come to the moment when we actually get to that power I can quite understand why we needed to have a transitory period of preventing civil war from happening, of neutralizing the South African armed forces, of having something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would service a kind of—as a kind of a mechanism to—to pacify the people and to avoid extremes from taking place, extreme action. But we should have strategically fallen into lockstep with the North, or with the Western world when it comes to economic policies. And to some extent when it comes to political policies as well I find it utterly unacceptable.
I’m not holding Mandela responsible for that. I don’t think that—I don’t think at the time when he came to power he had the leeway or perhaps even internally the power to make it different. I think that strangely enough Mandela, perhaps because he’s such an adulated figure and because he’s become such become such an emblematic symbol, the real political power, in terms of his own party, and probably of the country was leached from him—and I’m somewhat concerned that maybe something similar may be happening to Obama. That, of course, we’re talking of vastly different moments in history. It seems to be very interesting and very intriguing parallels between these two men.

AMY GOODMAN: That there’s tremendous opportunity actually for change but they’re not going to …?

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: These two people first of all in their personal histories who obviously had to work very deeply upon themselves. Mandela said his major political work was done upon himself when he was in prison all those years. How to move from, say a nationalist leader to a national leader, how to move from historical revenge to reconciliation, to nation building- this is one of the easy things. I think in some ways it has to do with constructing one’s own identity, it has to do with constructing one’s own ethical guidelines. I think that’s what Mandela did and what Obama done also. But they come to power carried on a huge wave of popular expectation. You know, what I find painful at the moment it seems to me of course one doesn’t know because it’s at a very early stage – its that it seems to be kind of a discarding of what this national mandate actually means that brought Obama to power.

When, one to see the way the new administration is being constructed, it seems like Washington is continuing the way it always has. And that he would be locked in or be spun in a particular web of people who probably may even been very, very concerned, may even be very honest and serious, but do have vastly different interests from the people who put him in power, who voted for him. And I think this happened to some extent to Mandela as well. It’s nearly as if having achieved that kind of historical emblematic capacity of being able to bring such vastly different components of society together then somehow seems to incapacitate you, to be able to carry further that which historically really needs to be done.

AMY GOODMAN: You describe very graphically the violence in South Africa today. We live in a very insulated world in the United States, even as the most powerful country on Earth. Can you tell us what you see on the streets, what is the situation?

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: Well, the situation is that we have an average of 55 murders a day. We probably have some something like 150 women being raped. We have in vast parts of the country in urban areas what is in effect being considered as war zones. With organized hijacking, with police repression. You know, we’ve done away with capital punishment, which is something I think that everybody in South Africa is extremely proud of. Although, if it were to be put to the national vote I’m sure the majority of the people would want it to come back, as probably all of us would. I do think it took political courage. Also happened in France in 1981, by the way when Mitterrand came to power. And I’m very glad we did so. It’s being replaced by people being executed on the street. The failed revolution, the bitter frustration of thwarted expectations of the vast majority of the people of the country, when they are as poor as they were before or even poorer. Adding to that a huge influx of people from other parts of the continent, so-called [unintelligible] which is a horrible word, it means those who speak like birds, languages we don’t understand, and you probably have seen over the last year the ethnic—the internal ethnic violence within the African communities. Foreign Africans being chased and being beaten up and their properties being burned, etc. We have a state of lawlessness, we have an implosion of the security services. We don’t have political leadership coming from the minister of security or African National Congress. Not really so.

AMY GOODMAN: Breyten Breytenbach , we have to wrap up here. But I want to ask if we could have you back next week before you leave to finish this conversation. I think it’s a very important one. Breyten Breytenbach , South African poet, writer, painter, outspoken anti-apartheid activist.