On May 5, Nokuthula Mabaso, a militant land rights activist in South Africa was assassinated. Mabaso was a leader of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), South Africa’s militant shack dwellers’ movement that fights for land rights of the urban poor. She was the third activist of the movement to be killed in less than two months.
Most young people in South Africa do not have a job and are, under current circumstances, unlikely to ever have one. For years, deindustrialization and the collapse of mining laid waste to unionized jobs. Now state austerity is hacking away at the public sector. Many of the few new jobs that are being created are poorly paid, precarious and not well unionized. Some of this can be ascribed to powerful global forces that are difficult for any state to resist. And the deep structural features of our society were built by colonialism and are so entrenched that they cannot easily be changed. But there is no doubt that the ANC’s poor economic policy choices have also been a significant part of the failure to build a viable economy. This has been compounded by the appalling state of public education, the collapse of a significant part of the ANC into a violent kleptocracy, the decay of infrastructure and a series of damaging events such as the brutally enforced hard Covid lockdowns, the winter riots and the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal.
The lights went out around Johannesburg on a Monday morning in November 2021, not to flicker back on until early that Friday in some areas. It marked the last rolling blackout of a year troubled by more outages than any in recent memory. The fate of Eskom, the beleaguered power utility behind the crisis, is now at the center of South Africa’s struggle for a just energy transition — a break from fossil fuels without leaving behind frontline communities or energy workers. As a public company, Eskom has a constitutional mandate to guarantee electricity as a basic right. But the utility struggles to meet that mandate with its aging equipment, staggering debt, corruption and rules that require it to break even, which drive exorbitant rate hikes.
On Tuesday, after a year and a half of negotiations over an intellectual property waiver for Covid-related products, the United States, European Union, India and South Africa reportedly reached agreement on a temporary waiver of patent rules for Covid vaccines. “The difficult and protracted process has resulted in a compromise outcome that offers the most promising path toward achieving a concrete and meaningful outcome,” said U.S. Trade Representative spokesperson Adam Hodge in a statement. Global health activists, however, are slamming the tentative deal as not only insufficient, but a potential setback, because it excludes tests and treatments, includes a carveout for China, and introduces new barriers for the production of generic treatments that could have implications far beyond the Covid crisis.
Activists have made a last-minute bid to stop Royal Dutch Shell from exploring for oil and gas in whale breeding grounds off the coast of South Africa. The fossil-fuel giant had planned to search for oil and gas reserves by setting off underwater explosions along a stretch of South Africa known as the Wild Coast, according to MSN. The explorations were slated to begin December 1. However, four environmental and human rights organizations filed a legal challenge Monday night to stop the blasting, Greenpeace Africa said. “Shell’s activities threaten to destroy the Wild Coast and the lives of the people living there,” Greenpeace Africa senior climate campaigner Happy Khambule said in a statement about the challenge.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it became a juxtaposition of highly educated workers for the most advanced productive forces on the planet, but developed within the unresolved, deeply violent, four hundred year-long colonial and racist architecture of the US. It was externally influenced by the period of the explosion of national liberation socialism that began with the Chinese revolution and was punctuated by the defeat of the US empire by the Korean and Chinese revolutions and at great costs to their peoples. The 1950s were capped off by the historic 1959 victory in Cuba, whose significance reverberates to this day in all of our lives. Many of the most significant and radical intellectual and revolutionary formations of the US were born between the years 1959 to 1967.
The first day of the indefinite strike in South Africa’s engineering sector on Tuesday, October 5, saw workers in red T-shirts hit the streets in thousands demanding a wage hike. Marches and rallies were witnessed in Kaserne, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. In Johannesburg, thousands marched to the office of the Metals Engineering and Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), where the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) delivered a memorandum to all the employer associations in the sector. Representing 155,000 of the estimated total 300,000 workers in the sector, NUMSA is leading the strike, which is also supported by other unions.
The dockworkers continue to boycott work on the Israeli ship Zim Shanghai which arrived at Durban port on May 20. All ships carrying cargo to and from Israel will be boycotted by dockworkers, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) told Peoples Dispatch
Dockworkers in the South African port city of Durban have refused to offload cargo from an Israeli ship in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, and in protest at Tel Aviv’s military aggression against the besieged Gaza Strip.
Young children marvel at an obvious contradiction in capitalist societies: why do we have shops filled with food, and yet see hungry people on the streets? It is a question of enormous significance; but in time the question dissipates into the fog of moral ambivalence, as various explanations are used to obfuscate the clarity of the youthful mind. The most bewildering explanation is that hungry people cannot eat because they have no money, and somehow this absence of money – the most mystical of all human creations – is enough reason to let people starve.
The C19 People’s Coalition was born a month ago and includes 250 organisations from across civil society in all provinces, including community-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, research institutions, faith-based organisations and others. It is the broadest grouping of civil society that has come together to address the current crisis. We have developed a Programme of Action (POA). Our rationale is that government alone cannot combat a health crisis of this scale; community and wider societal participation is critical if the measures that medical science requires us to undertake are to implement in a just and equitable manner. The failure of government and the state to fully align itself with this approach has shone a light on acute societal problems that as a matter of urgency now need to be addressed.
Bill Cosby was always a rapist monster. That much, hindsight and evidence make clear. Still, moored in our “Me Too” moment, it’s easy to forget how profound and influential the man, and the network smash hit, The Cosby Show, once was. Much beloved—though he long had critics—“America’s Dad” had a global fanbase. Furthermore, with his sitcom’s socio-political undertones, Cosby then seemed something like a national conscience. The Cosby Show “conscience” had a distinct international component. Enter South Africa—an apartheid nation so repressive it had no television until 1976—where it was the era’s most popular sitcom. This was “ironic,” according to a local black high schooler: “that a show by somebody who was very explicitly an opponent of apartheid was shown in South Africa.”
Wittingly or unwittingly, the proposal for National Health Insurance (NHI) in South Africa has created two camps: pro-NHI and anti-NHI. But as I argue in a recent article in the International Journal of Health Services, there is much more to improving health and healthcare in South Africa than the NHI.