This is the first edition of the Khanya Journal for 2012. The focus of this edition is on ‘The state we are in’ , and attempts to focus broadly on the state of the social justice movement in South Africa and beyond. There are many aspects to developing an understanding of‘the state we are in’. Amongst others, there is the nature of the social and class structure of SA society, standards of living, understanding the ruling class and its methods of rule, forms of resistance and organisational issues facing the movements and movement building.
This has been a difficult period for the social justice and working class movements internationally and in South Africa. The movements are living through a particularly predatory form of capitalist accumulation with its recessionary tendencies and its devastating impact on working people. The recession, taking place within an integrated world economy has left no place and no-one untouched, and this is worsened by the particular fragmentation of progressive social forces and their organisations. This is particularly significant as this pattern of capitalist accumulation marginalizes and makes redundant large sections of the population, especially women and children. Not only are working people affected, but also large sections of the middle classes. The drastic drop in real wages, unemployment and retrenchments together with state budget cuts is a familiar experience from the US to China and the countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. No one has been unaffected by a seemingly at the same a most visible and ‘quiet’ crisis.
While the organisations of working people and the coordination of their struggles may have weakened and suffered various difficulties, yet popular resistance continues across the globe, in defence of jobs, homes, pensions and livelihoods. The resistance has taken different forms such as the Arab Spring and struggles for democratisation in North Africa and the Middle East; the ‘occupy movement’ in the US, regular protests in Greece and Spain, Chinese workers have threatened suicide as part of their struggle for better working conditions at Apple, and the students struggles in Chile and Canada.
South Africa reflects many of these similarities and more. Not only have we not achieved the liberation the masses fought against apartheid, but the quality of life has worsened since the implementation of the GEAR in 1996. The face of poverty in this country remains black women and children. Besides rising unemployment and the struggle for basic services, we are beset with corruption and impunity is pervasive at every level of society. The ‘textbook saga’ where students in Limpopo have been without books for more than six months is symptomatic is this national shame while a black elite devours and dismembers the state’s coffers.
The social justice movement internationally and in South Africa, however, has been considerably weakened at the level of organisation and ideological perspectives. Since 1994, organisations of the working class have been demobilised. This has left working people disarmed and vulnerable to SA’s own predatory capitalism. However, the masses in this country have not given up their hope and their belief in the struggle for a better life for all; and they continue to resist in rural and urban towns and cities. This poses a challenge for progressive forces in South Africa, for social movements and for movement-building. This edition tries to paint a picture of ‘the state we are in’ and we are mindful that we are also reflective of the very weaknesses that the movements are grappling with.
In the first article Oupa Lehulere discusses class and class conflict in the ANC in the lead up to Mangaung . He argues that it is not personality clashes and the lack of vision of the Zuma leadership that define this struggle, but that it is class conflict that lie at the heart of this struggle . Lehulere argues that the petty bourgeoisie has no capacity for leadership and are engaged in dismembering the state, especially at the local level. This article is followed by the Khanya Journal’s focus group discussion with activists from the Anti-privatisation Forum, on the state of the movement drawing on their own experiences. In her article, Jackie Dugard, ‘unpacks’ the service delivery protests and the rising social tensions that threaten the transformative project. In an interview with Maria van Driel , Desmond da Sa discusses the social movements and his perspectives on social change.
The next group of articles focus on labour, labour brokers, strikes and organising. Eli Kodisang interviews the Reckitt Benckiser workers about their recent strike and struggle to organise themselves. This is followed by Daphine Mlambo ’s interviews with labour broker workers at the SA Post Office. In an interview with Ighsaan Schroeder, Fazila Farouk discusses the proposed ban on labour brokers and what this means for the Congress of SA Trade Unions. In a labour related issue, Angela Conway discusses the Fair Labour Campaign and organising farmworkers in the Eastern and Southern Cape. The recent Constitutional Court judgement makes organisations liable for damages during protests, and the implications of this for trade unions and social movements is engaged by Anna Majavu in her article on Penalising Protest Action.
The focus then shifts to William Gumede ‘s discussion on the Rising tribalism in South Africa and the need for solidarity across social divisions. Given the increasing importance of social media in street protests, we include two extracts from the recent Freedom House report, Freedom on the Net 2011. While not necessarily focused on the impact of press freedom and freedom of expression on movement building, these are important issues for the movements in the context of rising state repression against social movements worldwide. The first extract provides an overview of the Growing Threats to Internet Freedom Globally from governments, including democratic countries; and the second extract focuses on Internet and Press Freedom in South Africa. Michael Abrams ’ article then shifts the discussion to the legacy of apartheid and its continuing intergenerational impact on individuals and the collective, that remain obstacles to personal and social development. In a follow-up article Abrams discusses concretely in Breaking the Cycle, community healing experiences in the Western Cape.
The Open Mi c section includes an article from Aljazeera on recent developments in Egypt with regards to the army and the Brotherhood. Avert, discusses the Impact of HIV and Aids in Africa, on a range of issues including healthcare and households and their ability to cope. Still keeping with the focus on Africa, Toby Leon Moorson discusses the increasing militarisation of poverty in Africa. Shifting to the US, Dan la Botz discusses the potential for a new American workers movement rising, and the public workers strikes. In two articles from China Labor Watch , we discuss Keeping pressure on Apple, one of the worlds most popular brands, to improve workers’ condition. The second article looks at Apple’s independent audits. Regular Features include the Barometer of Resistance, prepared by Bongani Bunyonyo , and the Documents section includes the submission to the ANC Policy Conference on the Decriminalisation of Sex Work .
Maria van Driel