Author: Sifuna Zonke

A South African ruling class brawl

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by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

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In the midst of gorging themselves through exploitation and corruption, competing factions of the flabby ruling class in South Africa (the ruling class being capitalists, politicians and top state officials) have once again stepped into the ring to take pieces out of one another.

In the one corner of the fight is the Zuma faction – comprised of sections of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) capitalists, top state officials, and politicians aligned to Zuma – while in the other corner is the Ramaphosa/Gordhan faction – comprised of sections of the ANC leadership such as Ramaphosa and Gordhan, white capital and the South African Communist Party (SACP). These factions have recently been standing toe to toe exchanging blows and in the process, metaphorical blood has been spilled: those of a few Cabinet Ministers, including Pravin Gordhan.

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Why Workers’ Education? Why trade unions and what’s next?

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educateby Lucien van der Walt (ZACF)

Published in “South African Labour Bulletin“, 40 (5): 46-48

In these grim times, both globally and locally, it is important to reaffirm the centrality of workers’ education, and the need for a strong working-class movement. Ordinary people have immense potential to change the world, and steer it in a more progressive direction than that promised by capitalists, populists and the political establishment, writes Lucien van der Walt.

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2017 South African Budget Speech: No Pravin, it was not progressive nor redistributive

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by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

First published at Pambazuka.org

Credit: Daily Maverick
Credit: Daily Maverick

On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance of South Africa stood up in the circus that passes itself off as a National Parliament and without any sense of irony what-so- ever declared that the South African state’s budget for 2017 was redistributive and progressive. If the Minister was to be believed, therefore, the budget was aimed at making a dent in the substantial class and racial inequalities that exist in the country. To back this up, supporters pointed out that the tax rate on top earners was raised marginally in the budget and people receiving dividends from shares would have to pay 5% more on these in tax. Despite this, one word could sum up the idea that the budget presented was redistributive and progressive: bullshit.

Rather the budget presented by Minister Pravin Gordhan was yet again another attack on the working class. What the budget did was to favour corporations at the expense of the poor. In doing so, it remained based on the neoliberal dogma that has defined South Africa’s post-apartheid politics. In other words, the budget was a vivid demonstration of how the state is an instrument and weapon of the ruling class that functions to benefit that class. This can be seen throughout the budget, including how the state plans to raise money and how it plans to spend it.

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Crisis within Crisis, Zimbabwe: As we manufacture our own oppression

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by Leroy Maisiri (ZACF)

d01f82389ada4e8fa0d0e0e1c4db3229I have been home for exactly 13 days. For the sake of finding a fitting analogy I have always understood Zimbabwe to be like the story of the children of Israel stuck in Egypt under a Pharaoh whose heart had been hardened while we wait to one day wake up in our promised land. This analogy is important for me as it creates specific boundaries, limits my excited imagination and almost grounds the present to a particular past.

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Brazil: High school students show way forward for working class resistance

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by Jonathan Payn (ZACF)

Published in “Workers World News”, issue 102, December 2016

"Autonomy and struggle: students and workers decide!"
“Autonomy and struggle: students and workers decide!”

In September 2016 the Brazilian government published a Provisional Measure (MP 746) outlining a reform in secondary education that would have devastating consequences for the education system, disproportionately affecting majority-black working class students.

Students responded with direct action and occupied schools in the state of Paraná, with occupations soon spreading to at least six other states. One month later 600 high schools in Paraná alone had been occupied to protest the government’s attack on public education – which comes in the context of a broader attack on the working class through a Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC 241) that threatens to freeze public spending on health, education and social welfare until 2037.

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One Year after the 2015 Grahamstown Riots against Foreign Traders: Attacks Hurt Working Class and Poor, Only Capitalists and Politicians Benefit

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by Lucien van der Walt (ZACF)

*Text commissioned by Unemployed People’s Movement, Grahamstown, October 2015.
*Edited version: November 2016.

grahamstown-riotsA year ago, starting 20 October 2015, around 75 small shops were looted, some burned down, in the eastern townships and downtown area of the small Eastern Cape university town of Grahamstown/ iRhini, South Africa. The attacks targeted Asian and African immigrants, many of them Muslim, and displaced 500 people. These riots were largely ignored by the media.

The text below is a slightly revised revision of a briefing I was asked to write at the time for the local Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM). The UPM played a heroic role in opposing the attacks and assisting the displaced. The text’s general points remain relevant to the working class’s fight against prejudice and racism. And the riots of 2015 should not be forgotten.

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In the ANC’s battle of factions there are no superheroes

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by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_anclogoonwallThe battle between Pravin Gordhan and Jacob Zuma has been presented along the lines of a superhero comic. Gordhan, the hero, is portrayed as the last defence against the rampaging villain, vile Zuma. And like all superhero tales Gordhan the good appears to be gaining the upper hand over Zuma the bad – especially since corruption charges have been dropped and the damning Public Protector’s report on state capture has been released.

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