Saturday April 19th, 2014, 8:40 pm (EDT)

Africa

Africa

Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the Power Politics of Bourgeois Democracy

Since February 2000, when president Robert Mugabe suffered his first-ever national electoral defeat—over a proposed new constitution—Zimbabwe has witnessed confusing debilitating political turmoil. A decade of economic decline, characteristic of the imposition of structural adjustment across Africa, preceded the rise of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Standards of living had crashed during the 1990s, the state withdrew—or priced at prohibitive levels—many social services, and the economy deindustrialized. State and private sector corruption were rife… | more |

Will We Awaken and Find That No One Is Left

I spoke with a South African friend of mine a few months ago while she was in Namibia. She commented on the beauty of the land and the people. She mentioned to me that she made a similar comment to a Namibian friend of hers and noted how slim so many of the people are. Her Namibian friend responded with great sadness that so much of the “slim figure” she had seen was the result of people infected with HIV/AIDS … | more |

A Tale of Two Conferences

Two weeks ago I attended a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was an unusual meeting. Several leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU, one of the fast growing unions in the USA) went to South Africa to meet with their counterparts in the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), and several other affiliates of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to discuss 21st century trade unionism. This gathering was remarkable because it differed, in its fundamentals, from so many international union gatherings.… | more |

Sub-Saharan Africa in Global Capitalism

If we define sub-Saharan Africa as excluding not only north Africa but also bracket off, for the moment, the continent’s southern cone, dominated by South Africa, the key fact about the rest—the greater part of the continent—is thrown sharply into relief: after 80 years of colonial rule and almost four decades of independence, in most of it there is some capital but not a lot of capitalism. The predominant social relations are still not capitalist, nor is the prevailing logic of production. Africa south of the Sahara exists in a capitalist world, which marks and constrains the lives of its inhabitants at every turn, but is not of it … | more |

Mandela’s Democracy

In his speech from the dock, at his 1962 trial for inciting African workers
to strike and leaving the country without a passport, Nelson Mandela described
the initial formation of his political ideas: … | more |

Between Nuremberg and Amnesia: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa

The conscious crafting of an honest history by a state commission is a rare enough event to justify our calling your attention to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But this writing of history is incomplete, in the same degree as the process of change in South Africa. Certain brute facts are ignored and avoided, and this avoidance was the condition of the bargain accepted by the ANC. As per South Africa’s Freedom Charter, now it can in some meaningful sense be said that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.” But what belongs to whom is the question left unaddressed as the very condition of the transition negotiations, transferring its tension into all aspects of that transition, not least any permitted debate over present remedies for a history of injustice.… | more |