|A ‘Next Liberation Struggle’ in South Africa? The Prospects.|
A “next liberation struggle” in South Africa? To evoke such a prospect and such a goal is to imply that the liberation struggle that culminated in 1994 and saw the emergence of a formally democratic South Africa and a population apparently liberated from oppression and, prospectively, from penury, has not been, in its essentials, so very liberatory after all.
|"just where is the energy for action to modify, or even to radically change, what can only be seen as an anti-climactic outcome – by means of some kind of renewed liberation struggle in South Africa "|
The result? It was only very slowly that the illusion of meaningful victory showed just how thin and threadbare it was. Of course, a struggle-weary populace can perhaps be forgiven for seeing a considerable victory to lie in the overthrow of so humiliating and degrading a socio-political system as apartheid. Nonetheless, it was not long before this populace began to register the sharp contrast that had come to exist between the smug comfort of capital and its African/ANC front-men in positions of formal power on the one hand, and the broader populace’s own continuing poverty and subordination on the other.
Perhaps most dramatic in this regard have been two graphic expressions of such distemper. One was the Marikana Massacre of 2012, at which state forces blatantly shot and killed 35-40 striking miners at Lonmin’s platinum mine. This was said by some to be as stark a wake-up call to the true meaning of the ANC’s post-apartheid rule as had been the Sharpeville Massacre (in 1960) and the Soweto Uprising (in 1976) - these twin events having themselves been so revelatory of the true meaning of apartheid itself in their time.
|"the rebellion of the poor, referring to the dramatic protests by the dwellers, both rural and urban, in those very slums whose continuing existence has come to underscore the vast and deepening disparities."|
Another potential source of dramatic protest to be emphasized is explored in the third essay of this collection, that by Shireen Hassim on the possible (and necessary) rebirth of the women’s movement. Of course, as chronicled most effectively by Hassim herself the women’s movement constituted an extremely important force in radicalizing the whole process of removing the apartheid system and also in constructing a new state apparently much more sensitive to gender concerns (Hassim, 2006).
Looking beneath the gloss of the “good story” conventionally told in this regard Hassim considers the nature and extent of persisting gender inequalities in economic position, in political efficacy and in social status. Even more crucially, she asks how important women’s initiatives, women’s organizations and women’s issues may yet be to any future building of a new political movement for a new South Africa.
Indeed, in the post-apartheid context of the ANC’s apparently unqualified acceptance of the primacy of capital’s power and programme, and in the wake of such a startling event as the Marikana Massacre, Webster focuses quite specifically on the existing challenges that South Africa’s largest trade union, NUMSA, feels it necessary to confront. Drawing on surveys he has undertaken since 1991 Webster carefully analyzes NUMSA’s shifting position on politics: from a qualified support for the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party to growing disillusionment with this Alliance.
|"...under present South African conditions, the transformative vision of a just transition to a sustainable low carbon economy can provide the embryo of a new (and necessary) eco-socialist order."|
Consider this, Satgar says. The resistance to neoliberalisation has already engendered numerous promising left-responses in South Africa: an impressive trade union-led street politics, the sustained building of social movements and multiple community-based protests. There has also been much lobbying by local NGOs and popular organizations as well as a new and militant expression of independent trade unionism – with anti-neoliberal resistance outside of the ANC-led Alliance coming to the fore in the first decade of the new millennium of the 2000s, deepened by the Marikana Massacre, the “NUMSA moment” and the further unravelling of the ANC’s national liberation project itself.
|"South Africa, for all its size and economic weight, may actually have gained a somewhat exaggerated reputation in the eyes of the rest of its continent and of the world."|
John S. Saul has been a liberation support/anti apartheid activist since the 1960s, most prominently with the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Portugal’s African Colonies/Southern Africa (TCLPAC/TCLSAC). He has also taught at York University, the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), the University of Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) and the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa). He is the author/editor of more than twenty books on southern Africa and development issues.