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Former NUM leader Cyril Ramaphosa is the key case in point.  Ramaphosa built NUM

into a major fighting force against apartheid, but once apartheid ended Ramaphosa left

politics and became one of South Africa’s leading investment movers. He heads the

Shanduka investments group, sits on the board of Coca-Cola and gives a whole

new dimension to the disparaging term “entrepreneurial trade unionism” . . .



Behind the South Africa Mineworkers Massacre

By Jean Damu


The recent South African mineworkers massacre in which scores were shot and killed had its origins in long disgraced trade union organizing tactics but that in no way absolves the police and mine owners from being held in accountable.

There is blood and blame enough to cover both sides of the barricades, enough in fact that the regional leadership of the immensely influential South African Communist Party has called for the arrest of the leaders of the breakaway mine workers union which they assert foment violence wherever they appear.

Before addressing the issues confronting the unions it should be made clear that the police are going to have a very difficult time convincing anyone they shot in self-defense. There are numerous videos showing police forces standing in front of their vehicles, not behind them for protection, as they fired into crowds of protesting miners. That simple fact alone belies police protests of innocence.

Furthermore a leading South African political personality informs us that that a dangerous trend within South Africa has been the militarizing of private security firms, many of them hired by the mining establishments.  These security guards, he says, are brought within the framework of the national police, given armor and automatic weapons but very little training. This creates a situation in which there is great distance between the local police and the authorities to whom they should be responsible. If this is the case one can safely assume despite claims by regional and national police authorities their troops were acting in self-defense, likely authorities don’t really know what happened and won’t know until an investigation is completed.

Further, SACP [South Africa Communist Party] provincial secretary Mododa Sambatha, was quick to point an accusatory finger toward the breakaway mine workers union, the Association of Mine Workers and Construction Unions (AMCU).

Sambatha called for the establishment of a presidential commission to investigate the “violent nature and anarchy associated with AMCU wherever it establishes itself.”

These charges relate to several other incidents in earlier organizing campaigns where workers and police had been killed. In fact just days before the August 16 massacre two policemen were hacked to death by machete-wielding AMCU members.

“Workers must desist any temptation to mobilize them against NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) or to mobilize them to attack each other,” Sambatha said.

What are the origins of such horrible organizing conditions where workers are attacking each and in turn attacking police?

Currently there are two unions organizing and representing mineworkers in South Africa—the long established NUM that played a leading role in the movement for national liberation and the more recently formed   AMCU, that many uninformed consider to be the more radical, but in fact are anything but radical.

Significantly (and this is significant) when leaders of AMCU made application for official government recognition and were asked “What is the main difference between yourselves and NUM?”  AMCU leaders declared themselves to be “apolitical and anti-communist.”

This is an amazing admission because it is a physical impossibility to be apolitical and anti-communist. It’s like saying you love to walk but don’t believe in motion. It’s a nonsensical physical and emotional contradiction, but is a first step on the short road to disaster.

With the creation of AMCU the long, long discredited tactic of “dual unionism” appeared.

Essentially dual unionism is parallel organizing tactics of one union against another within the same industry and workplace.

With the possible exception of the breakup of the AFL-CIO in recent years dual unionism was last seen in the US more than 70 years ago and today is outlawed in many countries. It creates division within the ranks of labor, is the scourge of workers everywhere but is the sweet music of milk and honey to the bosses.

At the Marikana mines in Rustenburg, approximately 60 miles north of Johannesburg, NUM had recently concluded contract negotiations but AMCU members  were dissatisfied, they wanted more; in fact AMCU leaders encouraged them to demand a nearly 110% increase in their wages.

Did the workers deserve such an outrageous increase? Of course they did, but that’s never the issue, especially under capitalism. Within a trade union situation the question always is, what can we reasonably expect to gain without actually going to war? A strike is the closest thing that exists to warfare without actually being warfare and even then loss of life is not unusual.

In the case of the mine workers massacre the great crime on the part of AMCU leaders was calling a wildcat strike, an unauthorized strike, in which they represented less than a quarter of the 28,000 Marikana workers.

Furthermore many AMCU members were armed with spears and machetes, not to attack the police necessarily but rather NUM members according to president Frans Baleni. “Our members have been attacked, and that can- not be said to be rivalry or clashes, it is pure criminality,” he said.

In his now infamous declaration AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa demagogically declared to the assembled masses, ”We will die here if necessary.”

Really? People should die over a disputed pay increase? He didn’t die.  American workers who haven’t had a real pay increase in nearly 40 years would find that a curious concept.

Exasperatingly and dangerously, following the shootings, expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema travelled to the scene of the bloodbath and called on mine workers to continue to volunteer to be killed—all in the name of the justifiable pay increase.  

Here it is necessary to focus some light on the AMCU leaders and the political baggage of NUM.

Joseph Mathunjwa and AMCU leader Steve Kholekilethe are former NUM members who were expelled from NUM for “anarchism” and who then moved on the form AMCU.

AMCU leaders can rightly be considered the ideological brothers of the anarchists within the US Occupy movement who wear masks over their faces, throw trash cans through store windows and set buildings on fire. The only difference between those who set buildings on fire and those who encourage workers to arm themselves and make unreasonable wage demands is the scale of collateral damage.

But here is the real danger for the workers movement. If the mine owners were to actually grant the wage increases it would further encourage violent tactics on the part of AMCU members and set conditions for an even greater crackdown in the future.

There is no way out for a labor movement that resorts to violence unless revolutionary conditions are at hand.    

But this is not say rank and file members do not have grievances with NUM. Many are frustrated and disillusioned when rank and file union members are not allowed to run for office, for example, or when NUM officials are seen to abandon workers struggles and join South Africa’s emerging black bourgeoisie.

Former NUM leader Cyril Ramaphosa is the key case in point.  Ramaphosa built NUM into a major fighting force against apartheid, but once apartheid ended Ramaphosa left politics and became one of South Africa’s leading investment movers. He heads the Shanduka investments group, sits on the board of Coca-Cola and gives a whole new dimension to the disparaging term “entrepreneurial trade unionism,” or the practice of creating trade unions in order to make money, commonly observed in Nigeria years ago. Today Ramaphosa is one of South Africa’s wealthiest citizens but still claims to be a socialist.

More recently NUM president Baleni has been under fire for increasing his monthly pay package northward of R100,000 per month. That’s more than $8,000 per month, a seemingly outrageous amount of money for the leader of a union whose members were killed demanding  an increase of pay from $649/ month to $1250.

But none of the NUM’s political baggage can justify the creation of a dual union.

Consider a case closer to home.

In the 1980’s the hotel workers union in the US was one of the nation’s most corrupt labor organizations and Secretary-Treasurer John F. Gibson was sent to prison.. At the very next international convention delegates voted to pay “poor old Gibby” $100,000 for the rest of his life.

Radicals and progressives within the union never dreamed of organizing a new union. They went about the strenuous work of organizing from within. Today the new hotel workers union is among the most militant defenders of workers’ rights and wages within private sector industry.   

That is the correct road for union organizing and reform.

We will have to wait to see what all the commission findings report and who will held accountable for the massacre.  But one thing is for sure. As long as dual unionism is allowed to exist within the mining industry, or anywhere else in South Africa for that matter, more violence is sure to follow.

Jean Damu organized the Bay Area Trade Union Conference in Solidarity with South African Trade Unions. It was the only instance in the US when trade unions met to discuss South Africa.

The conference was keynoted by John Gaetsewe, secretary general of SACTU (South African Conference of Trade Unions) the forerunner to the current umbrella labor group COSATU (Conference of South African Trade Unions.)

19 August 2012

photo above left: Joseph Mathunjwa

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South African police massacre striking miners—Bill Van Auken—17 August 2012—South African police opened fire with automatic weapons on striking platinum miners in the country’s North West province on Thursday, killing at least 30. Other reports cite a death toll as high as 40. . . . The mass killing came on the sixth day of a strike by miners at Marikana operations of the British-owned Lonmin Plc, the world’s third-largest platinum mining company.

Thousands of rock drillers walked out of the mines last Friday to press their demand for a doubling of salaries. The platinum mines are among the lowest paying in South Africa, and miners charge that little has changed in their conditions since the end of apartheid nearly two decades ago.

Lonmin had ratcheted up tensions in the dispute by issuing an ultimatum that any miners failing to report to work today would be fired. The South African police, meanwhile, vowed before the massacre that they would put an end to the workers’ struggle. South African Police Service Provincial Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo told the media Thursday morning, “our intention is to make sure that people leave that illegal gathering area where they are and that is what we will do today … today we are ending this matter.”wsws

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SACP calls for arrest of Amcu leaders—17 August 2012—Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba called for “strong, but measured and proportionate” response to the shooting from the government, unions and police, his office said.  “Further, the whole country must register our utter frustration at the unacceptable handling of the dispute. . . . Yet, we cannot just pray for wounds to be bandaged and pain healed, and demand that conflict ends, without addressing the wider context and the underlying issues on which conflict feeds.”

Earlier, North West premier Thandi Modise condemned the loss of life at the Marikana mine. “Survival of the fittest, anarchy and lawlessness shouldn't characterise wage negotiations in the mining sector,” she said in a statement. “This is the most tragic labour dispute with untold misery that South Africa has ever experienced, which could have been avoided had parties involved respected the law.”

Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said in a statement that the platinum producer was “treating the developments around police operations (on Thursday) with the utmost seriousness. . . .The SA Police Service (SAPS) have been in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend. . .”  Phillimore denied that the shooting was to do with Lonmin's labour relations. “It goes without saying that we deeply regret the further loss of life . . .”

The presidency announced that President Jacob Zuma would leave Mozambique, where he is attending a Southern African Development Community summit, to visit the scene of the shooting later in the day. “The president is concerned about the violent nature of the protest, especially given that the Constitution and labour laws allow enough avenues to deal with issues, and is sympathetic to calls for a commission of inquiry,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.—

 *   *   *   *   *

The rise and rise of Amcu—Jan de Lange—2 August 2012—This is exactly what happened in September 1999 at Douglas Colliery, one of the oldest mines of Ingwe Coal, which later became part of BHP Billiton Energy Coal (Becsa). The 3,000-strong workforce protested against the dismissal of one Joseph Mathunjwa, chair of local branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The strike was unprotected and lasted for two weeks, during which the mine’s underground section was occupied for 10 days.

The dispute was only terminated once Mathunjwa got reinstated, but he then faced a second hurdle—a disciplinary hearing by the NUM for bringing the union into disrepute. These events were the birth pains of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which is currently mopping up members from the platinum mines around Rustenburg and Brits.

Archie Palane, at the time Deputy General Secretary of the NUM, was sent to investigate the charge against Mathunjwa, but found the local chair had done nothing wrong. Another official from Johannesburg was sent for the same reason, but he also found no reason to discipline Mathunjwa. However, Gwede Mantashe, then the union’s General Secretary, insisted that Mathunjwa appear before a disciplinary hearing chaired by Mantashe himself.

Mathunjwa refused as he had previously clashed with Mantashe over the handling of money paid by employers to a job creation trust. Mathunjwa insisted that an independent person should chair the hearing, not Mantashe.  “My membership of the NUM was subsequently terminated,” says Mathunjwa. “I informed the union that I am not a member anymore, although I retained by job as laboratory assistant at the mine.”

Mathunjwa was, however, very popular among the workforce. Among other notable successes he forced the management of Douglas to implement a bonus system for underground workers. When a worker had died under mysterious circumstances, Mathunjwa forced management to not only deliver the body to the family in Mozambique, but also to accompany the body and explain in person the circumstances surrounding the death

Says Mathunjwa: “When the NUM terminated my membership I told them I’m out, but that they should continue on their own and elect a new branch chairperson. They immediately called as mass meeting. They were aware of my battles with NUM’s head office. At the meeting the workers decided no ways—an injury to one is an injury to all. And the whole workforce of about 3,000 resigned from the NUM.”

The workers investigated the possibility of joining other unions, but the culture and philosophy didn’t appeal to them. Eventually, the workforce told Mathunjwa to create a new union. He got help from Jeffrey Mphahlele, a local teacher, to register a new union with the Department of Labour. They called it the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). It was officially registered in 2001.

Palane tried to convince Amcu to rejoin the NUM, but Mathunjwa refused. “I told Archie that if he becomes the General Secretary of the NUM, we will come back,” he said—something that failed to materialise when Frans Baleni won the contest to succeed Mantashe.

Amcu gained recognition at Douglas, but in subsequent years it faced an endless struggle to the gain recognition in the face of tactics by seemingly suspicious employers who were colluding with established unions. BHP Billiton, for instance, created bargaining forum at company level with a threshold of 30% membership across the group before it recognised a union.

Still, Amcu is currently the representative of workers at various mines in Mpumalanga, including coal, chrome and platinum mines, as well as coal mines in KwaZulu-Natal. It also has members at chrome and platinum mines in Limpopo – Two Rivers and Modikwa. The union is especially well represented amongst mining contractor companies, as these employers are usually not bounded by recognition agreements. For the same reason the workers in these establishments are often also more vulnerable.—miningmx

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Amcu blames NUM, politics for Lonmin massacre—Faranaaz Parker—17 Aug 2012—The Association of Mineworkers and Constructution Union (Amcu) has distanced itself from the conflict at Lonmin mine and said the massacre could have been avoided had management made good on their commitments to workers.

Speaking at a press briefing in Sandton on Friday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, said management had reneged on commitments it had made to miners earlier in the week. On Thursday a violent confrontation between striking Amcu members and SAPS forces at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West left 35 dead and 78 injured.

President Jacob Zuma has returned from a SADC summit in Mozambique to visit Rustenberg. The presidency said in a statement that Zuma was concerned about the violent nature of the protest. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa also visited the area.

There has been ongoing violence in the area, with clashes between two rival unions at the mine—the older National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the decade-old Amcu. Earlier this week Amcu and NUM blamed each other for the violence. Mthunjwa presented two documents as evidence that the mine had made commitments to the miners that their grievances would be dealt with.

"Management could have stuck with their commitment … The commitment was once you're there peacefully at work, management will address your grievances through union structures," he said. According to Mathunjwa, it was this about-turn that led workers to refuse to lay down their arms and leave the mountain. Mathunjwa also slammed the media for characterising the conflict at Lonmin as a clash between the two unions.

"This is an infight of the members of NUM with their offices. It's got nothing to do with Amcu," he said. According to Mathunjwa the workers on the koppie where the massacre took place were largely disgruntled NUM members who had lost faith in their union representatives. "It's possible that Amcu members were there but it’s not Amcu that coordinated the protest on the mountain," he said.

He said Amcu's leaders had been called to the site on Monday to intervene in the standoff between workers and the mine, even though it did not represent those involved in the dispute. "I pleaded with them. I said leave this place, they're going to kill you," said Mathunjwa, who later broke down in tears. He denied that it had promised the workers that it could negotiate a wage of R12 500, as has been reported. The two unions have been fighting for control of mines in the area. In February they clashed over membership at Impala Platinum mines in Rustenberg.—

*   *   *   *   *

South Africa’s Unfinished Revolution and the Massacre at Marikana—Glen Ford—22 August 2012—National Union of Mineworkers [NUM], whose representation the strikers rejected, and the Communist Party [South Africa Communist Party] head in the region claim the strikers are at fault, that they have committed the sin of choosing an alternative union to argue their case for higher wages and, therefore, deserve severe punishment. They are “anarchists,” say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting “dual unionism”—which is now, apparently, a capital crime. With a straight face, the Communist Party had the gall to call on all South African workers to “remain united in the fight against exploitation under capitalism.”

That is precisely what the Marikana miners were doing—the struggle they gave their lives for. However, since the peaceful transition to state power to the ANC [African National Congress] and its very junior partners, the COSATU unions [Congress of South African Trade Unions] and the Communist Party [South Africa Communist Party], in 1994, the South African state has had different priorities. The “revolution” was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders. It is only logical that, if the priority of the state is to nurture Black capitalists, then it must maintain and defend capitalism. This is the central contradiction of the South African arrangement, and the massacre at Marikana is its inevitable result.

“The central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.”

The 1994 agreement between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and the white South African regime was a pact with the devil, which could only be tolerated by the masses of the country’s poor because it was seen as averting a bloodbath, and because it was assumed to be temporary. But, 18 years later, the arrangement has calcified into a bizarre protectorate for foreign white capital and the small class of Blacks that have attached themselves to the global rich. Apologists for the African National Congress regime will prattle on about the “complexity” of the issue, but the central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.

The fundamental contradictions of the rule of the many by the few, remain in place—only now, another layer of repression has been added: a Black aristocracy that has soaked itself in the blood of the miners of Marikana.—blackagendareport


Marikana Massacre Marks the End of South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Settlement?—Richard Dowden—22 August 2012—The killing of 34 striking miners by police at the Marikana mine in South Africa last Friday is a tragedy that touches more than just the families and communities of the dead. It also highlights the failure of post-apartheid South Africa to improve the lives of a majority of its citizens.

The incident has opened up wounds and exposed the bitter ironies and contradictions of the country almost 20 years after the end of apartheid. Graphic TV coverage filmed just behind the police line went round the world and recalled memories of massacres from the Apartheid era—Sharpeville, Shell House, Boipatong and Bisho.

Trouble at the mine had been brewing for some time. A report by the church-backed Bench Marks Foundation last year revealed that local communities at the Marikana Mine were “frustrated and angry with the mining company . . . levels of fatal incidents were unacceptable . . . residential conditions under which Lonmin employees live are appalling”. The report said that last year the company sacked 9,000 workers. . . .

The deal struck in the early 1990s between the last apartheid government, the ANC and the mining houses was that the free market policies be allowed to continue (under apartheid this was, of course, an un-free market) but with three changes. Firstly all negative discrimination had to end. Economic opportunity as well as the franchise would be extended to all South Africans as would services such as health, education and pensions. Secondly, Black people should be given an ownership stake in South African business and a greater role in managing it. This positive discrimination became known at Black Economic Empowerment; a huge panoply of rules and regulations, tax break and contracts to incentivise or force companies to give stakes and employment to non White people. Thirdly, the mining houses, which are the major source of South Africa’s wealth, were allowed to de-list in South Africa and ship their capital off to other countries and tax havens.

Has the deal worked? A short book published this week by the veteran South African economist, Professor Sampie Terreblanche, spells out why is hasn’t. He points out that for most of the last century 20 percent of the South African population owned 70 percent of the country’s wealth, while 70 percent of the population owned only 20 percent of the wealth. Put another way: in 1993, the year before Nelson Mandela was elected President, the richest 10 percent of South Africans (mostly White) owned 53.9 percent of the country’s wealth. In 2008 the richest 10 percent owned 58.1 percent. During the same period, the income of the poorest 50 percent declined from 8.4 to 7.8 percent. This growing imbalance makes South Africa one of the most—if not the most—unequal society in the world, says Terreblanche.

“Since the early 1970s the poorest 50 percent of the population has been exposed to a vicious circle—or a downward spiral—of growing poverty, growing unemployment and growing inequality” he says.

Terreblanche blames this growing poverty on the historic political, economic and social compromise agreement between the last apartheid government, the ANC and the South African Communist Party. He writes: “When it was decided that taxation and expenditure would remain a fixed proportion of GDP, it was not possible for the ANC government to implement a comprehensive redistribution policy. The elite compromise created the space for a Black elite formation, but not for a policy that would alleviate the poverty of the poorest 50 percent” which is predominantly Black. In fact, he says, it has made it worse.

Was the explosion at Marikana the first sign that people realise the pact has not worked?africanglobe

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South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool on Obama, Miners and Confronting Islamophobia in the U.S.—7 September 2012—Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool: I think, at the end of the day, we are looking to the police investigations, the judicial commission of inquiry and the cabinet committee that have been asked to look into it to tell us exactly what has happened. But whatever the technicalities, whoever shot first, why people were armed, why the police did what they want to, did they do things properly—whatever the outcome of that, there is an undeniable tragedy that I think must be acknowledged, that 44 people can’t die in a course of a strike, without South Africa pausing to reflect what this means.

I believe, at the end of the day, the kind of compromises we made in 1994 are coming back to haunt us. In 1994, we took the political kingdom. We delayed the economic kingdom. I believe that the patience of blacks have not been rewarded with a requisite generosity from whites and from the owners of our economy, that if workers don’t even have basic amenities, then who can argue with their right to be angry? And I think it is the most important wake-up call that South Africa can have, tragic as it is, to address the need for the second transition in South Africa, so that we can begin to share out that economy, make people’s lives better, and ensure that we don’t have an equilibrium in society, but certainly that we move now to a greater harmony in our society.

Amy Goodman: Just a point of clarification: when you said it’s not clear who shot first, there was no contention that the miners had guns, was there?

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool: No, I—what I’m saying is that those are issues that, in the course, will be worked out. I don’t—I think that the bigger debate will be whether we are building a foundation of justice and a foundation of equality and a foundation of sharing the wealth of our country more equitably.

Amy Goodman: And what would that look like?

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool: I think that we have been diverted from the principle of a shared prosperity to the mechanisms. Should it be nationalization? Should it be business as usual? Should it be more black economic empowerment? I believe that being distracted by all of those mechanisms have actually taken our eye off the very powder keg that I think South African society is sitting on.

Amy Goodman: Are you talking about land reform?

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool: I think that the second transition has to be about land reform. It has to be about reforming the ownership structures of our mines. It has to be about greater income equality in our country. It has to be about all the things—the service delivery backlogs, the housing backlogs—that still persist. It basically says, let us manage the second transition before we don’t have patience left from those that are making enormous sacrifices.

Amy Goodman: Do you think the killing of the miners at the Marikana platinum mine can be compared to what happened in 1960 in apartheid South Africa in Sharpeville when 69 people were killed by the apartheid police?

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool: I don’t think so. I think that the origins are completely different. I think that—that there wasn’t—there isn’t the racial element to it. There isn’t the suppression element of a totalitarian state behind it. And so, I think that people often need metaphors to make sense of events that happen. [inaudible] should be done on its merits, should be judged on its merits. It’s not that it’s less of a tragedy. It’s, in fact, more of a tragedy that it happened in a post-apartheid South Africa. But it is not comparable to a great tragedy under apartheid. The intentions were different by the apartheid police. The mindset was different by the apartheid police. And the means of the apartheid police were different. And so, I don’t think that there is comparisons, but there is certainly comparable tragedy in both events.democracynow

African Studies Quarterly Review / Poverty and  Inequality in South Africa 2004-2014

 Poverty, inequality and human development in a post-apartheid South Africa / The Politics of Poverty

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The trouble with South Africa—13 September 2012—BrettBut then came carefully researched reports (here and here) by South African journalist Greg Marinovich, positing that even though some miners had died in the confrontation with police, police had subsequently hunted down and killed at least 14 men in cold blood. Marinovich’s own investigation and observation was backed up by research conducted by University of Johannesburg sociologists Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope and Peter Alexander. There were other reports that some of the miners had been shot in the back — while fleeing. If this was not enough, police arrested 259 of the miners and charged them, not with the death of the two policemen, but with the murder of their own protesting colleagues. An outrage and an absurdity as pointed out by University of Cape Town constitutional law professor and prolific blogger Pierre de Vos. (The charges were subsequently withdrawn.)

Subsequent interviews by other media outlets seem to corroborate Marinovich’s allegations. And yet despite all this, despite many articles pointing out the terrible conditions under which the miners work, and the gaping inequalities and disparities behind their protest, there seems to be inertia—huge reluctance among the public to fault the police and express any kind of outrage— or even sympathy for the miners. First came denial: an article in The Star that appeared shortly after Marinovich’s first article appeared was headlined “Journalist’s Account of Shooting Questioned”. The entire article was based on the comments of a single security analyst who rejected Marinovich’s allegations simply because he couldn’t bring himself to believe the police would behave in such a manner. Another article by Philip de Wet (who previously blogged at The Daily Maverick where Marinovich’s articles were published) asserted that it is simply impossible to ever know what really happened. Which is, as Marinovich has pointed out (in a must read interview), just ‘bullshit’.

So what’s going on? Partly, it’s to do with people’s tendency to believe and react to images over text. The majority of readers commenting on these stories insist on trusting television news footage of the moment over painstaking forensic investigation. But it also has to do with the way most media have covered and continue to cover the strike. This was pointed out by academic Julie Reid, also in the Daily Maverick. Her piece also argues that the day-to-day event-based coverage has also helped obscure a very worrying much larger trend of police violence against citizens. Beyond a lack of investigation and intelligent mining of the data, I have not come across any article that has attempted to get into the lives of the miners, show them to us as individuals, and help us genuinely understand their daily struggles. Much (if not everything) of what has been written lately glosses over miners’ past, dreams, desires, frustrations, etc.

Short: their lives. The failure to give attention to those details made it impossible to imagine what it would mean to live a miner’s life, which has allowed the debate to be sucked into a very ordinary South African debate—a spiral of numbers, acronyms, figures, maps and politicking that works as a cover to say: we haven’t got a clue. This opinion piece in City Press (a major Sunday newspaper) by novelist and former university administrator Njabulo Ndebele is one of the few texts out there that at least hints at some sort of identification/empathy with the miners. . . .

But it’s about more than just the media. The ANC leadership and its allies in the trade union movement and the Communist Party seem at a loss how to respond, either characterizing the miners as dupes of party rivals of President Jacob Zuma (Julius Malema slots into that role) or as irrational (an interpretation the media dutifully reports). The Democratic Alliance, the second largest political party in parliament, is hardly on the side of the black poor; in the first statement by a DA politician right after the massacre, the party’s parliamentary leader, Lindy Mazibuko (the most senior black leader in the otherwise white DA) said that the massacre presented an opportunity for the ANC to finally deal with the unions. (This is the kind of sentiment which also underpins coverage and editorial comment in the country’s “leading” broadsheet, Business Day).africasacountry

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Jacob Zuma Deploys Army Against Striking Miners—17 September 17 2012—In an unprecedented move in post-Apartheid South Africa, hundreds of soldiers have been deployed in Marikana to assist police in cracking down on striking miners.

The South African Defence Force, SANDF, said they deployed at least a thousand soldiers. SANDF spokesman, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said: “The soldiers were deployed at the request of the police to support them in their operation”.

Mabanga said the soldiers sent to Marikana included members from the air force, the army, and the military health services. In a week that saw wildcat strikes crippling the sectors of the mines, Jacob Zuma’s government said on Friday it would no longer tolerate illegal gatherings and the carrying of traditional weapons.This weekend saw running battles between police and workers. According to eyewitness reports, police fired rubber bullets to dispersing striking mineworkers who had gathered in Marikana.

 Twelve people were also arrested during a raid at Lonmin mine’s Karee hostel, and weapons such as machetes, knobkerries and other dangerous weapons were seized. But opposition politicians have criticised the deployment of the army.

Former Defence Minister and now leader of the Congress of the People, Cope, Mosioua Lekota said Zuma had to “urgently answer questions” about the deployment of soldiers to Marikana. “We, the opposition parties demand an urgent and unequivocal reply from the president of this country. “It is not a simple thing to deploy armed forces among civilians and it had the potential to threaten the country’s stability,” Lekota said. Lekota said the deployment of health personnel appeared sinister, as it implied that casualties were anticipated.

He also believed that Zuma, as the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF also needed to say what preparatory steps the government had taken prior to the deployment. Sunday marked a month since police opened fire on a group of protesters on a hill near Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, killing 34 mineworkers and wounding 78.

Another 10 people, among them two policemen and two security guards, died the preceding week. A 45th person, a union shop steward, was found dead weeks after the shooting.africanglobe

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#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002

By Sample Terreblanche

This title analyses the work of numerous historians on inequality and exploitation in South Africa around a single theme - the systematic and progressive economic exploitation of indigenous people by settler groups. The author argues that, despite South Africa's successful transition to democracy, its society is as unequal today - if not more so - than ever before. He claims that in the early 1990s, parallel to the constitutional negotiations, a series of informal negotiations and interchanges took place behind the scenes during which the local corporate sector, backed by the powerful international financial institutions, made a concerted effort to sell unfettered capitalism to ANC leaders. This attempt succeeded, resulting in the ANC replacing the RDP with GEAR. The situation of the vast majority of blacks has in fact worsened since the transition to democracy. For this reason, he considers that South Africa's transformation is incomplete.

He sharply criticizes the corporate sector for its ruthless pursuit and protection of its own interests, to the detriment of broader South African society. He also criticizes the new black elite for its crass materialism and apparent indifference to the plight of the poor. In a final chapter, he argues that the current system of neo-liberal democratic capitalism is inappropriate to a developing country such as South Africa. He calls for a policy shift towards social democracy in which the state should play a more active role in alleviating poverty, redistributing wealth, and attending to social welfare.

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Working in the Shadows

A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Do

By Gabriel Thompson

Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona, and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. . . . Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement—while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants, and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour. Gabriel Thompson has contributed to New York, The Nation, New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times and others. He is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award, the Studs Terkel Media Award, and a collective Sidney Hillman Award. His writings are collected at Where The Silence Is

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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From the Ashes of the Old

American Labor and America's Future (2000)

By Stanley Aronowitz

Aronowitz presents a compelling case for the idea that "unions, if they are to thrive, must overcome the complacency of the last fifty years and expand labor's influence throughout politics and culture. But first labor must overcome its image as the representative of a narrow segment of the working population...." In intellectually strong but clear-spoken language, Aronowitz urges labor once again to define itself in sharp opposition to the ideology of corporate capitalism. He might attract some controversy with his suggestion that doing so requires a distancing of the unions from the Democratic Party (which, he reminds the reader, has drifted increasingly to the right under Bill Clinton, whose "reform" of welfare not only took money from the unemployed but may also keep wages down for the working poor). Might, that is, if labor had a strong enough voice for its dissent to be heard. Aronowitz delivers some rather intriguing proposals; it remains for history to determine whether an audience exists that will absorb and act upon them.—

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Aké: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perceptiona lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spiritswho alternately terrify and inspire himall carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward." In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

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Karma’s Footsteps

By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. 'Karma's Footsteps' brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. "Ekere Tallie's new work 'Karma's Footsteps' is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who "refuses to tiptoe" she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.—Nikky Finney /  Ekere Tallie Table

Her Voice   / Mother Nature: Thoughts on Nourishing Your Body, Mind, and Spirit During Pregnancy and Beyond  

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Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

By Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ''Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.'' Indeed, Ms. Salaam's stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ''Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf's Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini's body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.''

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 22 August 2012




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