In a highly significant event, delegates to the 15th National Congress of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have voted to remove the incumbent general secretary, Frans Baleni and replace him with a clear left wing candidate, David Sipunzi. The result, which came as shock to many, is a heavy blow to the class collaborationist right wing of COSATU, the main trade union federation. This shakeup will have wide ramifications not only in the trade union movement, but also in the Tripartite Alliance.

The recurrence of the barbaric violence against mainly African immigrants in some parts of South Africa over the past week has once again shone the spotlight on the worsening situation which is developing in the country. These reactionary attacks go against the whole grain of the history of the South African workers’ movement which was mainly born out of the need to combat this kind of racist and xenophobic violence and discrimination and to unite all oppressed layers of society under the umbrella of working class solidarity.

Over the last three weeks, students, lecturers and workers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have been demanding that management remove a statue of Cecil John Rhodes – a 19th century British colonialist whose destructive imperialist legacy is still remembered across much of Southern Africa to this day. However, the issues that have been brought up by the students in the wake of the campaign are much broader and more far-reaching than the mere removal of a statue. The "Rhodes Must Fall Campaign", which was started by a handful of students, has mushroomed into a furious country-wide debate over the need for radical change.

The number of civic protests in South Africa has skyrocketed to new record highs. New figures which were released by the Civic Protest Barometer of the University of the Western Cape on 19 February 2015 show that the number of protests by communities, so-called ‘’service delivery’’ protests, more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The researchers also show that 2014 was the year with the highest number of these protests on record.

The dust still has not to settled after the stormy start to this year’s parliamentary year. The extraordinary events of 12 February and in the days which followed it, have thrown South Africa into a maelstrom of political crisis, which is at bottom a reflection of the crisis of the capitalist system.

Over the weekend of 13-16 December 2014 the Economic Freedom Fighters held their first national congress. The event was attended by more than 2000 delegates, representing more than 500 000 members. This  was an excellent turnout  for a party which is just over one year old!

To properly understand and locate the underlying factors that have led to the fragmentation of Cosatu, one needs to go no further than the South Africa Communist Party.

On May 7th, South Africa will hold the 5th national and provincial elections to take place since the downfall of apartheid. This year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. However, the elections are not marked by a jubilant mood. The past few years have seen a very sharp increase in the class struggle. At the same time the political establishment is stumbling from one crisis to another. This is a reflection of the sick nature of capitalism.

On Friday 4 March, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of the metal union NUMSA’s and Zwelinzima Vavi’s application for the latter’s suspension as COSATU general secretary to be lifted. Vavi had been illegally suspended as the federation’s General Secretary on 14 August 2013.

Yesterday, 19 March 2014, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) held a one-day strike and national day of action to denounce the policies of the African National Congress (ANC) government which it accuse of “subsidizing capitalists” with tax payers’ money.

The South African metal workers union, NUMSA held its much awaited special national congress in Boksburg from 17-20 December to discuss its future and, by implication, the future of the entire South African labour movement after a long period of infighting in the labour federation COSATU and fierce class struggle in South African society. This was the first time ever that the union has had to hold a special congress and signifies the extent to which relations in COSATU and the Tripartite Alliance (ANC, COSATU, and SACP) have deteriorated.

Nelson Mandela is no more. At about 20:50 on Thursday, 5 December Nelson Rohishlahla Mandela passed away peacefully after a long illness. The news was announced by President Jacob Zuma to a worldwide audience. He was 95 years old.

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