The Youth Wage Subsidy: Mixing Farce with Force

da_jpg.eyewitnessThe spectacle of the blows between a Democratic Alliance-led crowd and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) would have been the stuff of farce if it weren’t so tragically unedifying. The DA has every right to march and be “provocative”. COSATU’s response betrays its own hard-won struggles in the past for the right to march, assemble and protest.

This was no kristalnacht or fascist street gang about to storm the workers’ movement. This was a DA rent-a-crowd happy to don any T-shirt. The simplest response would have been to take their memorandum and invite them to the next COSATU meeting. After all, there are so many COSATU resolutions about organising the unemployed and the unorganised.

Read more: The Youth Wage Subsidy: Mixing Farce with Force

Basil D'Oliviera Had a Much Larger Significance

220180dolly_buzzboxcom“What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?” the famous injunction by Trinidadian socialist writer, C.L.R James, in his book Beyond a Boundary, widely regarded as the best work of social analysis of sport ever, may well be apt in the case of media coverage here in South Africa on the death of Basil D’Oliviera.

Tributes were confined to the sports pages where everyone picked up on the significance of the D’Oliviera affair, which led to the cancellation of the 1968 England tour of South Africa. Thereafter the dominant narrative was one of how dignified he was in the midst of the political turmoil and how much this opened the eyes of the outside world to the viciousness of apartheid and eventually led to its collapse.

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Mazibuko and Malema: New Profiles, Reshuffling Social Forces

Two events have been the subject of recent media comment: the ANC Youth League’s (ANCYLs) march for “economic freedom” and the rise of Lindiwe Mazibuko as Democratic Alliance (DA) leader of the opposition. These rather over-shadowed a third, Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s, Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

Gordhan’s message of pre-emptive austerity - doing “more with less” - of course couldn’t compete with Mazibuko’s rise and, as many would hope, Malema’s fall.

A common feature of media analyses is that the broad-church ANC is bleeding -- losing key sections of its congregation, the black “born-frees,” to the transformed DA and the poor unemployed youth to Malema’s ANCYL. Gordhan’s MTEF then passed by largely unnoticed because it is apparently so much common sense in these tough times that comment was superfluous.

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Fear and Loathing in South Africa: The Malema Phenomenon

malemabbAh Julius Malema…everywhere else, the world is responding to the biggest crisis of capitalism since 1929 and the threat posed to democracy by the markets. NATO is overthrowing Gaddafi in the latest of the ebbs and flows of the Arab Spring; the indignant of Spain and Greece are rising up against austerity programmes; and global dominance is seeping away from a debt-ridden US.

The world is changing. So far there have been two responses that dominate public opinion: disengagement and reaction.

For many people the chief response is a kind of shutting down of curiosity and a turning inward, seeking solace in everything from religion, to “home entertainment,” to celebrity watching.

The second response is to find an easy scapegoat.

Both these responses have their South African equivalents, with all our local nuances.

Read more: Fear and Loathing in South Africa: The Malema Phenomenon

The Youth are the Global Anti-Capitalist Movement

soweto-editedSince the mid-1990s, millions and millions of young people across the world have become involved in fighting global capitalism and state authoritarianism. To do so, these young people have organised themselves into numerous movements, which have linked up to one another through various international networks. This has seen these movements and networks growing into a global anti-capitalist movement that has become the largest anti-capitalist initiative in history. Over the last few years the activists involved have shut down meetings of the WTO, IMF, World Economic Forum and the World Bank. In Latin America they have even overthrown a number of neo-liberal governments - from Peru in 2000; to Argentina in 2001; to Ecuador in 2005; to Bolivia in 2003 and 2005. Although the majority of people in these movements were and are in their teens or twenties, they have not organised or indentified themselves as youth groups. In fact, they have rejected the hierarchical way that traditional youth groups, trade unions and political parties have been organised and structured. Rather, the young people involved in the global anti-capitalist movement have chosen to organise themselves in a new way that is defined by its non-hierarchal nature, its promotion of diversity, and its drive for internal direct participatory democracy.

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Beyond Malema: Neoliberalism and Corruption

The ongoing saga around Julius Malema and his millions achieved through state tenders has rightfully generated public disgust. Bobby Godsell, ex-Anglo American and now Business Unity South Africa, has gone on to refer to these “tenderpreneurs” as “economic terrorists.” Zwelinzima Vavi has called for a “lifestyle audit” of public officials -- clearly a device to “name and shame” the new wabenzi and through this, embarrass them into being more public-spirited and less greedy.

But, as always, the general disgust merges very different perspectives concerning the sources of this possible corruption and can have very different implications for public policy. At the one end of the spectrum are views, which too easily embrace comparisons with failed African states. These ideas are rooted in racism. And at the other end, are views that want to withdraw from any expectations of the state, either because, “there is nothing anyone can do about it,” or because the solution lies in just getting “the right person for the job,” regardless of their politics.

Read more: Beyond Malema: Neoliberalism and Corruption


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