Hattingh, “Sugar Coating Exploitation” (2012)

From ZCommunications here

Sugar Coating Explotation

Hattingh, ” South Africa’s rulers have blood on their hands, again” (2013)

From ZCommunications here

South Africa’s rulers have blood on their hands, again

 

WSF (1998): “SADC : No friend of the working class”

WSF (1998): “SADC : No friend of the working class”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

ecently, SADC (the Southern African Development Community) has been in the news a lot. In particular, SADC has intervened militarily in both Congo and Lesotho. SADC is a regional coalition of governments, and its members are the governments of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SADC pretends to stand for “democracy” and “development”. But the truth is different. Many of the SADC governments, such as Swaziland and Zimbabwe, have a long history of political oppression. And all of the SADC governments are anti-worker. In October 1997, SADC issued a statement called the Windhoek Declaration. This statement said that “the private sector [is] the locomotive of economic development,” and that “business requires … a climate in which it can develop safely, freely and profitably“.

What this means is that the bosses will play the main role in the economy, and that government must keep the bosses happy.

In practical terms, the statement means policies such as GEAR: privatisation, cuts in health and education spending, cuts in public sector jobs, more VAT and PAYE, less company tax, and low wages and few labour laws to protect workers (“flexible” labour). All of these policies mean less jobs and less money for the working class.

Zimbabwe’s form of GEAR (called ESAP) has seen mass cuts in education spending (down to the level of 1980), health care (down 39% in 1994-5), and jobs (22,000 jobs lost in the public sector; 33,000 in private industry).

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

WSF (1998): “Bad boy’s club: The ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and mass murder in the Third World”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

The SABC adverts proclaimed it “the biggest peace movement in the world”. With police motorcycle sirens wailing, 467 brand new stretch limousines followed by secret service agents in 4x4s drove at breakneck speed through Durban towards luxury hotel suites. The cops had hustled the street kids off the pavements out of sight of the foreign TV cameras. Snipers adorned rooftops and recces prowled the sewers below. The bad boys of the Non-Aligned Movement were in town for their R75-million debating society party.

Peace movement! Ha! If you believe that, you need your head read.

NAM founder India and arch-rival Pakistan were there, having recently flexed their muscles in a display of idiotic, genocidal behaviour by conducting !@#$%^&*-for-tat atomic bomb tests that threatened to plunge Asia into nuclear war.

The United States- the only government insane enough to have actually committed atomic genocide – was there as an “observer” of 1998’s most dangerous neighbourhood argument.

So too were Ethiopia and Eritrea whose guns were only just cooling after having belted the hell out of each other’s civilian populations. And let’s not forget the “Democratic” Republic of Congo where dictator and tribalist Laurent Kabila was backstabbing his former allies.

Talk of “democracy” and human rights” was hot air for the media. Take Burma, where the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council crushes all minority ethnic groups and any attempt at democracy. South Africa has helped prop up this anti-worker reign of terror by selling the junta R1-million in arms between April 1994 and February 1998. Or Indonesia, where a brutal regime which climbed to power on the corpses of perhaps a million murdered leftists, still gluts itself at the public trough, jails trade unionists, and commits genocide in East Timor. Our bosses sold them R1,9-million in arms over the same period.

Or former NAM chair country Colombia, where the regime, with United States backing, wages a bitter murder

campaign against working and poor people under the guise of a fake “war on drugs”. South Africa sold them R184-million in arms.

What about Sudan, where a Muslim fundamentalist regime has outlawed any social group that is not a state organ? Well, we sold them R7,4-million in arms. And Algeria, where civil war between the terrorist junta and the terrorist opposition has seen entire villages wiped out and has cost well over 60,000 lives? R11-million in arms.

And this is not even to begin addressing the violent anti-worker neo-liberal “New World Order” which most of the NAM elite are welcoming with open arms: privatisation, casualisation, flexible labour, cuts in education and health spending.

So who heads up this nest of vipers? Well, South Africa of course, which has tried to use the buzz word of “African Renaissance” to cover the stench of its role as an exporter of death and oppression (identical to its role during apartheid, except that thanks to the end of the arms embargo, we are now able to sell killing equipment to more countries than ever before). President Nelson Mandela made it quite clear on his last visit to Asia – when oppressed people were desperately expecting him to take a hard line in defence of human rights – that South Africa will trade with anyone- even dictatorships.

The NAM summit saw South Africa trying to play a leading role in sub-Saharan Africa as a regional power-broker, a sort of overseer cracking the whip on countries seen as not toeing the neo-liberal line, a strategy which should endear it to the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Both the 1995 Rwandan genocide (which saw SA assault rifles used against civilians) and the 1998 SANDF-lead invasion of Lesotho show that working class and poor people in the region and elsewhere in the world face the very real threat of finding themselves staring down the barrel of a South African-made gun.

(*arms sale figures: Sunday Times, June 28, 1998)

WSF (1998): “Focus: Unemployment crisis”

WSF (1998): “Focus: Unemployment crisis”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

1 million lose jobs in two years

The job crisis: What is the solution?

South Africa is in the midst of an unemployment crisis unprecedented in its history. There at least 5 million jobless. The official unemployment rate is 30%, but the actual unemployment rate varies between different areas. In some locations, unemployment is near 80%.

The unemployment is being increased by a massive process of job shedding in all major sectors of the economy.

* Overall, jobs have fallen by 1,230,000 since 1995

* Farming: jobs have fallen from 1,5 million to 750,000 over the last four years.

* Mining: at least 200,000 jobs have been shed over the last two years. This has taken place despite a two-year productivity agreement between the National Union of Mineworkers and the mine bosses.

* Overall, the number of jobs is at the level it was at in 1984. In other words, although the population has grown over the last fourteen years, job creation has simply not kept pace. Only 1 in every ten school leavers finds work.

THE REAL CAUSES OF UNEMPLOYMENT

*Fire the Bosses- Workers Must Manage the Factories, Mines and Farms through their Trade Unions

We live in a capitalist society. This society is controlled by big companies, and by the government. Both of these structures concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few- the ruling class of bosses and politicians.

BOSSES

Capitalism creates unemployment. Even a healthy capitalist economy has a lot of unemployment. The bosses always make sure that there are some workers without jobs. This is so that they can use the unemployed as scabs during strikes, and as a way of controlling workers who want to fight back: “You can go and complain with the jobless at the roadside!”

The bosses create more unemployment by using machines to take jobs.

CRISIS

Capitalism is a very unstable system. It goes through periods of growth and periods of crisis. The whole world’s economy went into a crisis in the early 1970s. This includes South Africa. The crisis is still going on today.

During this period of crisis, unemployment has become even worse. This is because many companies have collapsed or shrunk their operations.

The companies that are still going are trying to cut their costs so that they can keep making profits. One way of cutting costs is to cut back on the number of workers employed through “workplace restructuring” – either by using fewer workers to do more, or by replacing workers with machines.

Government policies around the world during the current crisis are making unemployment worse. These policies, which take the form of GEAR in South Africa [see GEAR article on p. 20 for more details], involve privatisation, cut backs in the public sector, and allowing in cheap exports which undermine local industries.

WORKERS CONTROL

Unemployment is built into capitalism and will only end when capitalism is replaced by real socialism. We do not mean the thing that existed in Russia. We mean libertarian socialism under workers control brought about through revolutionary trade union action to take over the factories, offices, mines and farms (anarcho-syndicalism).

WSF (1998): “Lesotho: Was it revolution?”

WSF (1998): “Lesotho: Was it revolution?”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 4, number 2, fourth quarter 1998. Complete PDF is here

From our correspondent on the spot

The tiny mountain state has been in the news over the past weeks following the September 22 military invasion by South African and Botswanan troops and the subsequent looting spree, which saw the centre of Maseru, reduced to a smoking ruin. The invasion took place after mass protests against a rigged election spilled over into the virtual collapse of the government and a split in the army.

WHOSE PEACE?

The invasion was widely named a “peace mission” by the bosses’ media. But SA Defence Minister Joe Modise virtually admitted at the funeral of one of the eight working class South African soldiers killed in the fighting that the operation was meant to be the first field test of the new integrated SANDF “as a fighting force”.

The claim by the Southern African Development Community (coalition of bosses governments) that the intention was to “restore democracy” (a vague term that can be used to justify almost anything) is shown up as a lie by the fact that the SA military was preparing for the invasion a full six months before the electoral crisis even began in May.

Newspapers owned by the capitalist elite – and even the SA Communist Party (SACP) – have backed the lie, claiming that “anarchy” had broken out in Lesotho. Had law and order collapsed? Had government been replaced by direct democracy and worker control?

THE PEOPLE ARMED?

Was the mutiny by rebel soldiers in the Lesotho Defence Force in the week before the invasion actually a class war in defence of democracy?

Well, the mutiny definitely had a class character. Privates and non-commissioned officers ousted the fat-cat generals, including Lt-Genl Mokhule Mosakeng, at gunpoint, first jailing them, then forcing them to flee into exile in South Africa. This was a brilliant example of direct action by the exploited. The soldiers were upset that democracy in Lesotho had been undermined by the top brass who had been bought off by the politicians, with bribes like the “gift” of farms in the Free State. In other words, poorly paid working class soldiers (27 of whom were killed by SANDF troops in the invasion) revolted against their corrupt, undemocratic bosses. The argument that the mutineers intended to seize power for a military government (thus justifying the invasion) is not true. The intention of the mutineers seems to have been to force a serious review of democratic process in Lesotho, not to stage a coup.

The unexpectedly strong resistance to the invasion showed how passionately they believed their cause was right. Unfortunately, this class war was severely crippled by the opposition parties who used the mutiny (which carries the death penalty) to prop up their own dubious claims to take power in Lesotho i.e. to be the “legitimate” exploiters of the Basotho people.

CHAOS?

Was there chaos or violence when there was no government? In other words, was the collapse of the government a bad thing?

No. Even the petit-bourgeois store owners who lost their businesses in the looting were convinced that while the government in Lesotho had in fact been paralysed since the disputed May election, the Basotho people ran the territory themselves, without any need for a parasitic elite telling them what to do. This was not libertarian socialist economics at work, however, because capitalism remained unchallenged, but the anti-political, self-organising social aspect of socialism from below was in full swing.

The fact is that for six months, there was no effective governance in Lesotho – yet there was very little chaos or disruption. The violent backlash in the last days of September was in direct response to the foreign military operation to suppress Basotho civil initiative and protect South African economic interests in Lesotho.

CLASS WAR?

Was there a class war or grassroots political reason for the rioting and looting?

Well, the rioting seems to have begun because the SANDF invaded the palace grounds, a place viewed as a sanctuary by many Basotho. The rioting was heavily influenced by this cultural mistake by the SANDF, and by political opportunists who fanned the flames. But there was a lot of genuine street opposition to foreign military powers intervening in the workings of Lesotho society, no matter how troubled. The looting was largely “opportunistic”, not class- conscious: help yourself to a new TV while you can. But in a country where even the aid organisations admit the poor benefit hardly at all from the millions pouring into state coffers, it is hardly surprising that the poor will seize what capitalism denies them.

The world’s workers build the entire global economy and all its products. They must seize these products, but more importantly, also take over the means of production which make the goods (the factories etc). Only this will allow a systematic and permanent social change, as opposed to a bit of “affirmative shopping”. This is what the Basotho resisters failed to do, concentrating on selfish short term gains.

The class aspect was notably lacking in that many of the looters were themselves middle class. Also, the political, rather than economic (or class) nature of the redistribution of wealth was evidenced in the way petit-bourgeois shops were targeted (for their goods), and government offices were torched (for the symbolism of trashing the ruling party), but the really big exploiters like the banks, the United Nations, European Union and the US embassy all remained untouched.

ARMED CRIMINALS?

What about the LDF rebels arming “criminals”? Was it a criminal revolt?

Well those who seek true democracy under the global fascist oligarchy known as capitalism know they will be criminalised and demonised by that exploiting elite. So what? If true people’s power is constrained by chains of law, then the people become illegalists as a matter of course. It is our right to fight, no matter what the bosses say! Faced with armoured troop carriers, the mutinous soldiers handed out assault rifles to youths that helped attack the invaders. This showed the working class defending its right to settle local issues locally, a basic libertarian socialist principle. It also broke down the traditional state barriers in which soldiers in a standing army defend privilege against the uprisings of the poor. In Lesotho, the mutineers adopted the direct-action tactic of arming the poor against invading states. In the end it fell short of the libertarian socialist concept of autonomous working class militia, i.e.: the people armed. But it has armed a broad spectrum of Lesotho’s workers and poor. They will be a lot harder to defeat in future than a few thousand soldiers in their barracks were this time around.

REFORM OR REVOLUTION?

What about the real revolutionary project: the construction of a directly democratic society managed by councils of workers and the poor?

Here the water is very muddy. Unlike the Albanian revolt of 1997, when the Western powers invaded to prevent the people achieving grassroots democracy through this sort of initiative, there is not much evidence in Lesotho of the libertarian socialist principle of building the new in the burnt-out shell of the old.

It is notable that virtually the only printed and broadcast views from outside the government came from the opportunist opposition parties, not from the rebel soldiers, the armed populace, or the “criminal” redistributors. This is the in-built bias of capitalist media, which speaks in the garbled lies of the elite and tries to prevent working people from discovering the true nature of such events.

But one area in which democratic construction was evident was among the mutineers, whose delegates angered Modise by telling him (after he called them treasonous and threatened them with force shortly before the invasion) that they could not make decisions themselves, but would have to consult the entire mutineer force first.

This is the principle of participatory democracy. And Modise hated it! Modise also betrayed his class position through his anger at having to deal with corporals who told him in no uncertain terms what they thought of his version of “restoring democracy”.

So, was there the replacement of government by workers power in Lesotho? The answer is that yes, in several quarters, especially among the mutineers, such principles were tactically (if not consciously) upheld. But it does not

matter what terms are used. What matters is whether real tactics and strategies destroy exploitation, empower the oppressed and give every worker and poor person direct political, social and economic control over their lives. When all is said and done, the state was peacefully immobilised for half a year and there was a great deal of direct action, participatory democracy and class-consciousness.

But there was also a crucial failure to address capitalism as a source of oppression, and a tendency to allow opportunistic party politics to shape the civil struggle

The revolt may have been crushed. But its spirit hasn’t – and the political landscape in Lesotho has changed irrevocably. Ties have been forged between workers, soldiers and rural people that did not exist before. Many of these people are now heavily armed.