In this Edition – KC JOURNAL NO 29 DECEMBER 2011


This edition, no 28, is the last edition of the Khanya Journal for the year 2011, and is a special edition in a number of ways. The first part focuses on COP 17, the Conference of the Parties that was held in Durban in December 2011; and the second part includes the papers that were presented at the Khanya Journal Conference on Radical Political Economy: Environment, COP 17 and Social Justice, which took place at the end of July in 2011. The reason we focus on COP 17 first relates to considerations of timing and reporting to activists about the outcomes of COP17 while this is still topical. In the first part the articles include information and responses to the outcomes of COP17; also included are articles that reflect hope and ongoing struggles. The Conference papers are presented in the second part of this edition,. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness about issued related to the environment and social justice, and prepare activists for their participation at COP17. The articles in the second part are therefore important references, relevant to the first part and that activist will continue to use in their study groups.

The first article is syndicated from a website, and refers to the outcomes as ‘climate apartheid’, a crime against humanity. This articles provides an overview of the outcomes on different aspects. This is followed by Saliem Fakir’s article on the failings of the climate negotiations, in particular, he focuses on the UN and its methods of work. The next article, by the international human rights ngo, IBON, argues that the agreements reached at COP17 are not only an empty shell but will result in ‘less equity’. Next, Payal Parekh, an independent analyst argues that the agreement lacks ambition, equity and justice and that it is essential for civil society to strategise and regroup to curb global warming. This is followed by a short statement by Friends of the Earth International, an ngo, that ordinary people have again been let down by governments. Similarly, Oxfam, another international ngo, argues that the worlds’s poor will bear the brunt of the failure of COP17, including high food prices rise. In his article on COP17, Mike Dorsey, an academic, reports on the different NGO and individual responses, all of them disappointed at the outcomes.

The next three articles discuss interesting perspectives and programmes related to youth, COP17 and Africa. In the first one, Alex Lenferna, gives an account of the some of the youth initiatives at COP 17 and the need to link climate change to social justice. In the next article on youth Esther Agbarakwe raises provocative questions about African youth and the African voice, against the backdrop of the Durban Conference of Youth. This is followed by Sonia Koopman’s report on the response of Kliptown youth, in Johannesburg, to an awareness raising programme on climate change that included photography and storytelling.

The next group of articles focus on events and struggles that occurred before and during the COP17. In the first mof these, the South African ngo, groundWork, discusses their Dirty Energy Week Strategy Conference and the potential to deepen community struggles.

Mariclair Smit’s article reflects on the media seminar held during COP17 that focused on the relationship between COP17, the media and different angles the stories; and the barriers and support for climate justice within the media. The next article, syndicated from a website, explains carbon market trading and argues that like any market it will lead to fluctuations and crashes; and is therefore not a sustainable solution for climate justice.

One of the current community struggles in Durban hinge around pollution. Pralini Naidoo in her article gives an account of the Durban communities struggle against Engen’s crude oil and its effects on the community.

Khanya College made a huge effort to support the civil society struggle and raise awareness amongst staff. All staff attended COP17 and participated in local events and struggles. The next three articles are written by Khanya staff, reflecting on their experiences there. In the first one, Cynthia Musiye, discusses her own realisation that climate change affects her, and is her business. This is followed by Portia Mosia’s report on the waste pickers and their struggles to organise and Daphine Mlambo’s insights based on her interview with a non-social justice person who joined the train to Durban for a holiday.

The next article in this part is a film review by Anele Mdzikwa about an inspiring real life story, of women organising themselves to achieve environmental justice in the Niger Delta. The women use their nakedness and play on related cultural taboos. Lastly, we include Jonathan Payn’s critique of the Democratic Left and COP17. Given civil society’s struggles for democracy at COP17, this article raises important issues for democracy within civil society organisations and social movements. We have requested the Democratic Left Front for a rejoinder to Payn but this was not available at the time of going to print. We will include a rejoinder in the next edition of the Khanya Journal. As promised, the second part focuses on the July 2011 Khanya Journal Conference papers. The programme of the Conference is the first item in this part. Unfortunately not all the conference participants managed to send us papers of their presentations. We therefore present here all the papers that we received. In some instances the titles are different to that in the programme but this often occurs, however, the speakers remained the same.

The first paper is presented by Ferrial Adam on the South African government’s role in climate change. Adam argues for the need for a mass movement to consistently safeguard our future environmental interests. This is followed by Jacklyn Cock’s discussion on the impact of climate change on food security, especially in Africa and Southern Africa. Continuing the theme of food security, Mariam Mayet critically assesses the South African government’s role in the promotion of genetically modified agriculture. Mayet argues that this will undermine farming in South Africa and Africa and contribute to food insecurity. Maria van Driel then discusses environment and gender and argues for an integrated approach within the social justice movement that is grounded concretely. This will enable specific issues that form the basis for social inequity such as women’s inequity, social class, language and so forth to emerge and be struggled against.

Angela Conway’s article continues the debate raised about what we mean by environmental protection and for whom? Using three case studies, Conway argues that environmental protection can be manipulated to exclude and reduce the rights of the poor thus maintaining the status quo and social injustice. In many respects John Treat follows on some of issues that Conway raises in his article on the history of the environmental movement. Treat discusses the different trends and its sources within the environmental movement and argues that capitalism’s degradation of the environment and the poor was already expressed by Karl Marx in the 19th century. In the final article in this part Bobby Peek provides a discussion of the environmental justice movement in Africa, and grounds this in the continent’s colonial and postcolonial histories.

Who would have thought that, 2011, a year of such odd numbers would have us spell bound as we watched and supported the masses of people in their struggle for democracy in the Arab-speaking world. Dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’, we saw the reawakening of the Arab peoples in their struggles against dictatorship. At a time of rising unemployment, uneven, episodic and fragmentary social struggles, and political struggles to regroup and develop our perspectives, ordinary men and women, the youth and aged made us proud when they took the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli, Sanaa, and Damascus. Internationally, despite struggles taking place, the international social justice movement has gone through difficult times, worse still as we witnessed the various expressions of capitalism’s weaknesses, including the debt and financial crisis. Initiated by the self-immolation of a fruit and vegetable vendor, Mohammed Bouzizi, the masses in the Arab Spring lifted and rekindled our spirits, and confirmed once again our faith in the mass of working people to struggle for social change. In particular, we were glued to our television sets, to ALJAZEERA, as we sat daily with the masses in Tahir Square, during every free moment, to support their struggle. While the struggles are by no means over in the Arab-speaking world, there is no going back as working people have found their voice, or as one commentator has said, ‘At last, I feel at home’. The struggles in the Arab world merit closer study for all movements internationally and in the Open Mic section we include two articles. The first article by Dhruti Shah includes the voices of ordinary people who participated in the Arab Spring and how it has changed their lives. The other article by Shashank Joshi focuses on the role of armies in revolutions. The third article in this section confirms the importance of basic struggles for democracy including freedom of expression, and we include an article syndicated from BBC News on the jailing of writer- activist, Chen Wei, for ‘subversive’ writing. Chen Wei was accused of being part of the so-called Jasmine Revolution – the attempt to replicate the Arab Spring in China.

In the Documents Section we include the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba, an integrated vision to live as one, and as part of nature. This is followed by a Press Release by groundWork and Earthlife Africa on the pro-Zuma supporters’ physical attack on civil society in Durban. The People’s Dialogue statement on Climate Change, COP17 and Rio+20 follows. As 2011 draws to an end we are mindful as the Khanya Journal that there is much work to do in our and through our struggles, to develop and refine political perspectives, to find appropriate ways to organise, to raise the educational awareness of emerging cadres and to develop and deepen democratic movements. As we approach the New Year, 2012, let us draw on the inspiration and the social energy of the Arab Spring and the struggles of working people all over the world, who have nothing to lose but their chains. Khanya College expresses its thanks to the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation for supporting the publication of this edition of the Khanya Journal.

Aluta Continua!

In solidarity

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