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South Africa

Coronavirus: A Call for Solidarity in a Time of Crisis

Abahlali baseMjondol meeting, Durban, February 2020

Statement on the coronavirus crisis from Abahlali baseMjondolo.

Revolutionary Ubuntu: The Shackdwellers' Movement of South Africa

Abahlali baseMjondol meeting, Durban, February 2020

A collection of statements and other materials from and relating to Abahlali baseMjondolo, edited by Abdul Alkalimat.

March for 'the total decommodification of land' in Durban, South Africa

Abahlali baseMjondolo outside the Durban City Hall - 24 February 2019

Today, Abahlali baseMjondolo, from a base on more than seventy ongoing land occupations, and with a membership in good standing approaching 80 000, organised a major march in Durban against control over the allocation and management of land by the state and capital. The march follows promises of a new top down land reform programme by the ruling African National Congress, which is split between neoliberal and kleptocratic factions.

A Brief History of South Africa’s Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (1919-1931)

ICU membership card

The Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) – a trade union, rural peasant movement, and urban squatters’ movement – formed on the docks in Cape Town in 1919. Within a decade, the ICU had expanded across Southern Africa without regard for national borders and counted people from various African countries and the Caribbean in its leadership, as well as people who were Indian and mixed race. The largely forgotten history of the ICU is well worth recovering in a time of escalating chauvinism and xenophobia. Our Dossier #20 offers an introduction to this extraordinary popular movement.

“We feel that our strength is on the factory floor”: Dualism, shop-floor power, and labor law reform in late apartheid South Africa

Jay Naidoo speaking at the launch of Cosatu in Durban in 1985

This article explores the transformation of South African labor relations during the 1980s. An understandable desire to wield influence at the level of the national political economy eroded the tradition of workers’ control, shop floor democracy, and struggle unionism that black unions had forged during the 1970s and 1980s.

Rick Turner, Participatory Democracy and Workers’ Control

This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the workplace as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.

Rick Tuner and South Africa's Sixties

Rick Turner

This article examines the life and thought of South African radical philosopher Richard “Rick” Turner (1941–1978), a crucial figure in the 1973 anti-apartheid political conjuncture known as the “Durban Moment.” Though steeped in existentialist philosophy, Turner’s real contribution to New Left thought in South Africa came elsewhere. Turner’s receptivity to “Black Consciousness,” his vision of radical pedagogy, and his commitment to participatory democracy and “workers’ control” all made a deep imprint on Black working class mobilization and the birth of a democratic trade union movement in South Africa.

ANC: The Chosen Party for South African Capitalism

The victory of the ANC in the South African election has yet again shown it is the capitalists’ chosen party for running South African capitalism. Its primary role is organising and enforcing the exploitation of the working class even when this means downing strikes in bloodshed as we saw at Marikana in 2012 (see leftcom.org).

Fosatu Worker News

Fosatu poster

Fosatu Worker News was first published in 1979 with the formation of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (Fosatu) in the wake of the Durban strikes in 1973. It was distributed to all union members. It continued until the formation of the less workerist and more ANC aligned Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in 1985.

Isizwe (journal of the United Democratic Front)

Isizwe

Isizwe (The Nation) was the journal published by the United Democratic Front to stimulate discussion and debate on topics including workerism, capitalism, nationalization, trade unionism and the democratic processes involved in the organisation of people's power.