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Archive for the tag “Zimbabwe”

Malema has matured

Please forgive me if the title of this post sounds like the condescending musings of an old fart grumbling about “the youth of today”. I suppose that’s what I am, even if I don’t want it to sound that way. And perhaps I’m writing for other old farts who think that Julius Malema is a bumptious young whippersnapper who still has a lot to learn. But I’m not as old as Robert Mugabe, and Julius Malema has rumbled him. And he’s seen through Jake the Fake. Julius Malema has shown that he can, and does, learn from experience, which crusty old farts like Jake the Fake and Mad Bob Mugabe evidently don’t.

Compare, for example, these two articles — Zimbabwe Government Mocks ‘Falsely Radical’ Malema Over Talks:

The Zimbabwe government has lambasted EFF leader, Julius Malema for being a coward.

The Mugabe led-government simply described Malema as a “young and impressionable” leader; who has turned himself into a weapon that fights against liberation movements “on behalf of imperialism”.

How’s that for a bunch of old farts telling a young whippersnapper to grow up?

But compare and contrast that with what happened when Julius Malema visited Zimbabwe only six years ago. There’s a big difference.

And when you’ve read those two, try this — Zimbabwe, Malema & the Court Jesters | The Con:

Former ANC Youth League president and current Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Juluis Malema who is often problematised and perhaps even celebrated by the mainstream media as a South African court jester is perhaps one of the most volatile voices in the public sphere.

Politicians have always employed performative techniques, to rally and garner support from their constituencies. Clive Gaser suggests that there has always been a sense of militancy in the conduct of leaders of the Youth League — performativity is not only specific to Malema. It was apparent in Malema’s predecessors.

I still think that the EFF is better at identifying problems than coming up with solutions but give it time. At least the EFF is identifying bogus causes for problems. The ANC has been blaming apartheid for poor service delivery, but Malema: ANC should stop blaming apartheid for not delivering | IOL:

The African National Congress should stop using the apartheid legacy for not delivering services to the people, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said on Sunday.

Speaking at an EFF August 3 municipal elections rally at the Zamdela Stadium in Sasolburg in the Free State, Malema lambasted the ANC leadership, saying the party was still using the apartheid legacy to cover incompetency and did not “care about black people”.

Apartheid is to blame for many things, but poor service delivery in municipalities that the ANC has controlled for the last 15 years is not one of them.

Mugabe, Malema and the future of South AfricaFor example, in the City of Tshwane, where I live, rubbish collection has been outsourced and privatised in the approved Thatcherist fashion. That was done by the ANC.

Why is this a bad idea?

Some time ago the municipality introduced wheelie bins and specialised rubbish collection lorries to pick them up in an automated process. The lorries were designed to compact the rubbish so that they would have to make fewer wasteful trips to the dump.

Since the rubbish collection was privatised, it has gradually reverted to a much more primitive process. Some rubbish lorries are simply a cage made of diamond-mesh fencing, into which the bins are manually emptied. Even some of the purpose-built ones look old and badly maintained.

The reason is not far to seek. If you tender for a rubbish-collection contract for three years, and it is uncertain whether it will be renewed after that period, but it might be given to someone else, there is little point in investing in specialised equipment. If you don’t get the contract, who will you sell it to? If the contract isn’t renewed, that cuts your losses.

Julius Malema Launches EFFOf course if the contract isn’t renewed, the workers might also lose their jobs. By their very nature, contractors for such services are inclined to employ casual labour, so the workers are unlikely to have such benefits as pensions or medical aid or job security. This was done by the ANC; it was not done in the apartheid period. The Tshwane Municipality has done some good things too, and I think it is one of the better-run municipalities in the country, but failures in service delivery in 2016 are not the fault of apartheid.

So it seems to me that though in the past Julius Malema took a shotgun approach to identifying problems, just blasting away in the hope that something would hit the target, he is now adopting a more pinpoint approach, trying to identify the real cause. I don’t know if the EFF will control any municipalities after the local government elections on 3 August, but even if they don’t control any, they could be useful watchdogs, keeping the other councillors on their toes.

 

 

The white shadow: an African Bildungsroman

The White ShadowThe White Shadow by Andrea Eames

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suppose the best way to describe the genre of this novel is a Bildungsroman, set in the time of Zimbabwe’s Second Chimurenga, forty years ago. Was it as long ago as that? And the author wasn’t even born then.

Tinashe is a young Shona boy who grows up in a rural village, ocasionally visited by his rich uncle from the city and his cousin. He dreams of going to school and university, like his uncle, but his cousin doesn’t seem to value these things. Tinashe’s younger sister, Hazvinei, is strange, and communes with spirits. Her brother, and other people, sometimes find her rather frightening, but he feels obliged to care for her, even when it threatens to disrupt his education.

In some ways it is like an African version of David Copperfield or The catcher in the rye, but it is also bound up with the surreal and unpredictabe world of Shona mythology, where the spirits can make people feel invincible at one moment and dash all their hopes the next.

View all my reviews

Zimbabwe: Harare Descends Into Chaos As Ruling Party Militia Loot Shops

What’s the difference between Zimbabwe and Egypt?

In Egypt they’re protesting for democracy; in Zimbabwe they’re rioting against it.

allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: Harare Descends Into Chaos As Ruling Party Militia Loot Shops:

Harare came to a standstill on Monday when a ZANU PF mob engulfed the city in chaos, destroying property worth thousands of dollars, mainly belonging to foreign owned companies.

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us that dozens of shops were looted when the ZANU PF militia went on a rampage, as police details stood by watching ordinary people and shop owners being abused and brutalised. Shops belonging to Zimbabweans were also caught up in the crossfire.

AU appoints Mugabe mediator in Ivory Coast crisis

The African Union has appointed Robert Mugabe as a mediator in the Ivory Coast crisis. The mind boggles. Perhaps he’ll use it as an opportunity prepare to flee there when the Zimbabwe people rise up like those of Egypt and Tunisia to toss him out.

AU appoints Mugabe mediator in Ivory Coast crisis – The Zimbabwe Mail:

TYRANT Robert Mugabe is among African leaders chosen to mediate in the Ivory Coast crisis, it has emerged.

The African Union decided to appoint Mugabe and a panel of leaders to join Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the Ivory Coast crisis.

The panel includes Presidents Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Jonathan Goodluck (Nigeria), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and the President of Mauritania among others and Ping said the mediation already undertaken by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was part of the building stones towards achieving a realizable goal of peace in Ivory Coast.

Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog: South African Public Sector Strike: The Beginning of the End?

I didn’t notice the public servants’ stike much, perhaps because I don’t get out a lot, especially since my car wouldn’t start for a few weeks and I had to save up for a new battery. So it’s just the snippets I’ve caught on the news that have made me aware of it. But blogs now provide an alternative to the mainstream media, and I think some of my blogging friends hav said things worth sharing.

I think Tinyiko Maluleke, a missiologist at the University of South Africa, has it right when he says: Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog: South African Public Sector Strike: The Beginning of the End?:

These developments are revealing. The unions are on the back-foot. They have been outmaneuvered, firmly rebuffed and roundly rebuked. Sensing that it will be hard for the unions to sustain this strike for two more weeks without losing public support and the morale of their members, government has mischieviously made an offer that is no great improvement on the previous offer. Of course government does not have the money. We all know about the budget deficit. Of course 7.5 percent is above the current inflation rate. But 7.5 percent of what? The widespread perceptions of a wasteful government which is tolerant of corruption will not win much sympathy for the government position.

But there are some things that make one lose sympathy for the strikers’ cause too. As Jenny Hillebrand, a Methodist seminary student in Pietermaritzburg puts it: Carpenter’s Shoes: Caution:

The seminarians spent the afternoon at the hospital again today. When I arrived I was waved away from the gate by the seminary president who was on his cell phone to union leaders. The striking workers had warned him that if we went in to the hospital they would call a crowd who would make it difficult for us to get out again. He negotiated, and as far as I understand, it was agreed that we could go in for two hours, we were to clean the wards, but not care for patients and one of the union members would come with us. There were a handful of policemen and a handful of strikers.

In the end we went in and out quite uneventfully. I know that the strikers want more money, but I can’t see the justice in allowing helpless people to suffer as a tool to get their own way.

I have an ambivalent feeling about this. I feel sorry for neglected patients in hospitals, and feel that it is irresponsible to neglect them. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be a scab.

Cori quotes from another source: Cori’s Blog: South Africa: Hopeful:

Yes, the strikes are about money, but there’s something deeper going on – something at the relational level. The mere occurence of a strike, it could be argued, bears evidence of relational breakdown. Then there are relational implications in the huge earnings differentials between top and bottom public service officials – it says something about how people are valued. Intimidation and violence only occur where relational capacity is already damaged, and they certainly effect little that is relationally redemptive. It might not be enough to address the money issues without addressing the relational issues. Justice is a complex matter, but at its heart, justice has to be relational.

and goes on to say:

I thought this an important slant on the situation and it leads me to wonder what I can do to restore relationship with my fellow South Africans. On a really small scale, it felt important to me that when a few hundred teachers sang and danced their way through The Junction (a relatively upmarket shopping center in Pretoria North) I stood by and listened to what they were saying and read their signs. It felt important to listen and hear and take in. It felt important that I could exchange a few words with some of these teachers and show them that I cared about what they had to say. It sounds really insignificant but it feels important to me that we think about our relationship with others who feel unjustly treated. By being open to hear them, we may be taking a small step towards redemptive relationship.

And lurking behind all this is what is going on to the north of us, in Zimbabwe. Tinyiko Maluleke mentions the strains in the tripartite alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and the Communist Party. In Zimbabwe the relationship between the government and the trade unions lies shattered, and all Thabo’s horses and all Thabo’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Is the same thing happening here? When it happened in Zim, millions of refugees came here. If it happens here, where will they, and we, go?

Why Washington hates Hugo Chavez

Mike Whitney: Kill Hugo?:

Chavez’s policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation’s history. That scares Washington. US elites don’t want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That’s why Chavez has to go. He’s given people hope for a better life.

Hat-tip to Neil Clark: Why Washington hates Hugo Chavez.

I take this praise of Chavez with a fairly large pinche of salt, just as I do the Washington spin on him. Yes, Washington and the US media have tried to portray him as the bad guy, without much evidence. But I’m a bit sceptical about these attempts to portray him as an altogether good guy. I suspect that, like most politicians, he is a mixture of good and bad, though in his case the good may outweigh the bad.

The main reason for my scepticism about Chavez’s goodness is that he has been reported as thinking that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is one of the good guys. Anyone who thinks that has severely impaired political judgement, and if that is his view, then there is surely some truth in the bad vibes about him emanating from Washington.

If this is true of Chavez

Chavez’s policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation’s history. That scares Washington. US elites don’t want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That’s why Chavez has to go. He’s given people hope for a better life.

… then the opposite is true of Mugabe.

Mugabe’s policies have increased ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Zimbabweans are more victimised in the political process than at any time in the nation’s history, even under Smith. That’s why Mugabe has to go. He’s given people no hope for a better life.

It used to be said that one good thing that could be said of Mussolini was that he made the trains run on time. I doubt that Mugabe has accomplished even that. If Chavez supports a dictator like Mugabe there must be something seriously wrong with Chavez.

What’s the similarity between politicians and a bunch of bananas? They’re all yellow, they hang together, and there’s not a straight one among them.

Zimbabwe is top in literacy rate in all Africa

In spite of the last decade of misrule, it seems that Zimbabwe’s literacy rate is still rising. Africa Review – Zimbabwe is top in literacy rate in all Africa:

Zimbabwe has overtaken Tunisia as the country with the highest literacy rate in Africa despite the numerous problems that continue to dog its once enviable education sector

According to the UNDP’s latest statistical digest, the southern African country has a 92 per cent literacy rate, up from 85 per cent.

Tunisia remains at 87 per cent.

Post-independence Zimbabwe’s education was heavily subsidised by government, resulting in vast improvements from the colonial system.

Zimbabwean graduates remain marketable the world over.

In 2005 I was involved with some others in planting a new Orthodox Church in Tembisa, in Ekurhuleni. We met in a preprimary school, where most of the teachers were graduates — refugees from Zimbabwe. And it soon became apparent that the Zimbabweans were way better educated than most South Africans. We looked for leaders, who could read the services, and it was the Zimbabweans who were competent and picked it up quickly.

The Zimbabweans had a head start on South Africans. They never had Bantu Education. They never had Christian National Edcuation, which was neither Christian, not national, nor education.

But there are some lessons in this for South Africa.

What did we do to try to counter Bantu Education?

We introduced Outcomes-Based Education.

In theory, that was not a bad idea. The principle of outcomes-based education is a good one — you judge how well it is working by what pupils actually learn, and you remove the excuse of bad teachers: “We taught them that, but they didn’t learn it”.

It aims to replace rote learning with teaching pupils to think.

The problem is, however, that as a complete system it requires teachers who are equipped to run it, and teachers who had been trained in rote-learning under the Bantu Education system simply couldn’t cope.

The best way to reverse the effects of Bantu Education would have been to engage in a massive retraining of teachers, a re-education programme, in fact. Instead, experienced teachers (pre-Bantu Education) were enouraged to take early retirement, and the number of teacher training institutions was reduced.

And who would do the teaching while the teachers were being re-trained?

Zimbabwean and other refugees, of course!

There are hundreds of them, probably working in menial jobs, their skills going to waste, and instead we deport them as illegal immigrants. That is what happened to some of the teachers at the pre-primary school in Tembisa.

Another observation I have made is that at our Catechetical School in Yeoville, johannesburg, we have had a number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They got their education in French, and yet managed to cope with teaching in English far better than most South Africans. It’s another country that has seen turmoil for the last 50 years or more, and yet still seems to manage to produce well-educated people.

OK, it’s possible that the refugees are the smart ones, and the illiterate ones stayed at home. Dictatorial governments usually like to crack down on the intelligentsia, so they are often among the first to leave. But whatever the reason, the fact is that we have their skills in South Africa and we are not using them. If we did, we might soon surpass Zimbabwe in literacy.

Politics is getting interesting again, thanks to two fascist clowns

Easter week of 2010 will be remembered as the week when politics in South Africa became interesting again, thanks to two political clowns and the media.

On the left, Eugene Terre’blanche (known as ET), former leader of the AWB (Afrikanner Resistance Movement), and on the right, Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League.

ET made headlines by the manner of his death, and the rumours that circulated around it, and his political buffoonery lay in the past, though his funeral was a circus, if media accounts are to be believed, and some of his supporters appear to believe that Julius Malema’s racist rhetoric at least contributed to his death, if it was not directly responsible for it.

But, as the front page of City Press shows, they were actually birds of a feather, both dedicated to overblown fascist and racist rhetoric. But a nation divided? I doubt it. Both these demagogues appealed to small but vocal minorities, and they have been boosted by much media attention.

For ten years or more, politics has been excessively boring. Endless stories of graft and corruption, and fat cats jockeying for position. In the apartheid days we were largely protected from such stories because the press was kept on a tight leash by the National Party regime. The best one could say about the corruption stories was that they showed we now have a free press.

But the antics of ET and Malema and their supporters provide entertainment, and the media are determined to give it to us. Not all of the jounalism is responsible, though. One can expect sensationalism from tabloids like The Sun, but even “responsible” papers like the Sunday Independent could not resist a sensation-mongerring headline like

Was ET gay and bonking darkies?

based on the rumour that a used condom had been found in the room where ET was murdered. The police had categorically denied that a condom had been found, but the Sunday Independent was not about to let the facts get in the way of a good story. They did include the police denial — in small print, right at the bottom. So the antics of the media are almost as entertaining as those of the protagonists.

But it also reaches the point where it goes beyond a joke.

The last straw was when Julius Malema kicked a BBC journalist, Jason Fisher, out of a press conference, claiming he had been insulted.

Malema apparently castigated the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwean opposition group, for speaking from their air-conditioned offices in Sandton. And Fisher pointed out that Malema himself lived in Sandton, and Malema blew his top.

Any politician in a democratic society with a sense of proportion would probably have grinned, said “Touché!” or something similar, and moved on.

The fact that Malema perceived that as an insult and lost his cool over it and kicked the journalist out speaks volumes. It doesn’t matter what Malema said. The words he used are not important. It his actions that show that he is a fascist, with no sense of democracy, and no sense of proportion.

As another journalist in City Press, Xolela Mangcu, put it, “Il Duce step aside: a fascist fire rages in Malema.”

If Malema had any political nous at all he would see that as an insult, and an insult far worse than saying that he lived in Sandton.

As Mangcu says of this incident

Perhaps a little world history could be helpful in opening our eyes to what Malema’s reaction could mean for our young democracy and people.

The historical figure I have in mind is Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. On the eve of Mussolini’s reign as prime minister a critic asked him about his party’s political programme. Mussolini mocked the critic thus: “The democrats of Il Mondo want to know our programme? It is to break the bones of the democrats of Il Mondo, and the sooner the better.”

Mussolini concluded his tirade thus: “The fist is the synthesis of our theory.”

And that statement is a pretty good summary of the political programme and philosophy of ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, which Malema has just visited, and spoken admiringly of ZANU-PF.

This, is of course, an embarrassment to the leadership of the ANC, which is trying to portray itself as a neutral honest broker between ZANU-PF and the MDC, an image which Malema’s blatant partisanship has shattered. His outburst to the BBC journalist has shown his true colours. It bodes ill for our democracy if his political career goes any further. Xolela Mangcu is hopeful that it won’t

Could Malema be the face of the replacement of politics with violence? I doubt it. Malema will ultimately trip on his own words. Besides, South Africa is too complex and differentiated to fall under the rule of one Il Duce.

I hope he’s right.

But if anyone is getting cold feet about coming to South Africa for the World Cup for fear of a bloodbath, don’t worry about it. Julius Malema is unlikely to become president this year, or next year, or any time for the next nine years. And a lot can happen in nine years. South Africa has plenty of precedents of politicians who appeared to have a meteoric rise, and had a sputtering fall. Tielman Roos, for example. Anyone remember him? With any luck, Julius Malema will go the same way.

Zimbabwe’s Bishop Abel Muzorewa dies

BBC News – Zimbabwe’s Bishop Abel Muzorewa dies:

One of the most prominent political figures in the turbulent years before the independence of Zimbabwe, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, has died, aged 85.

He was seen by many as a moderate black leader at a time of extreme political change. But black militants saw him as a puppet of white politicians.

Bishop Muzorewa entered politics in the 1970s when nationalist politicians were either imprisoned or in exile.

After Zimbabwe’s independence, Bishop Abel Muzorewa was virtually forgotten by the outside world, yet in the 1970s he played a similar role in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia to that of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Allan Boesak in South Africa in the 1980s.

In the 1970s most opposition leaders in Rhodesia were in jail or in exile, and Muzorewa’s African National Council revived the internal opposition to the Smith regime in much the same way as the United Democratic Front (UDF) did in South Africa.

The difference was that towards the end of the 1970s Muzorewa allowed himself to be co-opted by the Smith regime, entering a coalition government. But today history is repeating itself as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change, has similarly allowed himself to be coopted by the Mugabe regime.

Mugabe, Malema and the future of South Africa

The death of Eugene Terre’blanche stole the news over the weekend and drew public attention away from something far more ominous for the future of South Africa — Julius Malema’s visit to Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, Malema on Terreblanche:

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema have discussed the murder of South African white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche during talks in Harare.

Mugabe met Malema — who was concluding a four-day visit to the country as a guest of Zanu PF — at State House for over two hours on Monday.

With reporters present, Mugabe spoke to Malema at length about Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and what he said was Britain’s failure to honour its obligations to white farmers whose properties were seized for resettlement.

Mugabe also praised South Africa as an unstinting ally against what he said was a global crusade by “imperialists” to remove his government through economic sabotage and propaganda.

Former President Thabo Mbeki was frequently criticised for taking a low profile on Zimbabwe, and refraining from public criticism of the fascist Mugabe regime.

Julius Malema has shown no such restraint, and has shown his true colours by praising the Mugabe regime. And this is a clear indication of one scenario for South Africa’s future: Julius Malema becomes president (possibly succeeding Jacob Zuma), and then it’s goodbye to our hard-won democracy. Perhaps in another 15 years time there will be South African refugees sleeping in the Methodist Church in Harare.

Look at what has happened.

Malema is welcomed in Zimbabwe, and praises the leadership of the Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe. In South Africa he has attacked the trade unions and Cosatu, and just a few years ago, far from meeting Mugabe, a Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

The white, Western and capitalist press has concentrated its criticism of the Mugabe regime on its “land reform” policies, which has entailed the seizure of land from white farmers, and its redistribution among relatives and supporters of high-ups in Zanu-PF.

But long before that, Mugabe attacked the trade unions, which was of less interest to the white, Western and capitalist press.

To understand this one must go back to the 1990s, when Mugabe sent Zimbabwean troops to intervene in civil wars in the Congo. In these foreign military adventures he resembles Tony Blair and George Bush, whom he professes to dislike. In reality, they are birds of a feather.

Foreign military adventures are expensive, and depleted Zimbabwe’s foreign currency reserves. This in turn led to fuel shortages, which in turn led to an economic recession, particularly in the towns. Businesses were closed, workers were laid off, and the Zimbabwean trade unions were up in arms. Opposition to Mugabe’s policies grew, and in a referendum some constitutional amendments that would, among other things, have made Mugabe president for life, were rejected by the electorate.

This was a wake-up call for Mugabe. If he could lose a referendum, he could also lose an election.

But instead of reversing the unpopular economic policies that had caused the problem, he exacerbated it by instituting his land redistribution scheme as an electoral ploy to buy the rural vote. If Mugabe were sincere about land reform, he had had 20 years to do something about it, and had done nothing. It was only the threat of losing an election that made him bring it in hastily, for the purpose of buying votes. And in the way it was implemented exacerbated the economic problems as Zimbabwe’s agricultural productivity plummeted. The foreign exchange problems worsened as tobacco, the main export crop, virtually disappeared. In a couple of years Zimbabwe went from being the bread basket of central Africa to basket case, as hyperinflation took hold.

The opposition grew stronger and reorganised, and coalesced around the trade unions, to form the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). And they have a natural affinity for Cosatu in South Africa, which is why the Cosatu delegation was turned away at the Zimbabwe border.

But who is Malema talking to?

News – Politics: Malema upsets MDC:

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has upset the Zimbabwean political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, by meeting only Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF on a visit to Harare.

‘Is Mr Malema saying that the ANC does not respect democracy and is willing to ignore the millions of Zimbabweans who sent Zanu-PF packing in the corridors of power?’ asked Austin Moyo, chairman of the MDC in South Africa, at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

‘Does Malema understand that there are millions of liberation heroes in the MDC?’

Moyo said Malema made it clear that he would be visiting the Zanu-PF because it was ‘a revolutionary party’.

At the moment Cosatu is still allied to the ANC in the tripartite alliance, but if Malema should ever become president Cosatu will have the choice — become a lapdog, or follow the Zimbabwe trade unions into the political wilderness, and form an equivalent of the MDC.

allAfrica.com: South Africa: Vavi to Tackle ANC Over Malema’s ‘Disdain’:

CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday said the bilateral meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) next week would be an opportunity to deal with how the ANC’s actions had threatened Cosatu’s functionality within the tripartite alliance.

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema’s public mudslinging against Cosatu, the ANC’s unilateral decision banning municipal workers from taking up leadership positions in political parties, and a ‘general lack of commitment by the ANC to make the federation one of its political centres’, had left the alliance in a crisis, Vavi said at the National Union of Metalworkers’ National Bargaining Conference yesterday.

‘The oppression and super- exploitation of workers remains widespread – despite government and union efforts.

What South Africa lacks, and probably needs, is a strong and coherent left opposition, preferably before a fascist takeover. Is Zwelinzima Vavi up to it? The tragedy of the assassination of Chris Hani continues to haunt us.

And perhaps Thabo Mbeki kept quiet because he saw how easily what was happening in Zimbabwe could happen in South Africa, and lead to the break-up of the tripartite alliance. He preferred the Ronald Reagan approach of “constructive engagement”.

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