South Africa turned out to be an intense political experience as i had anticipated. I arrived at my host’s place at midnight on Monday 17 March and my host Mhlobo an active member of South Africa’s social movement wasted no time in giving me a heads up on the state of the social movements and the general political situation in SA. The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) – An umbrella body for civic organisations mobilising and organising against neo-liberalism in SA had just convened its elective Annual General Meeting the weekend before, which was marked by robust political debates on the future of the social movements in SA. The movements expressed disappointment in the ANC’s embrace of harmful neo-liberal policies and when the discussion of Jacob Zuma came up with certain affiliates of the APF suggesting that the social movements must back Jacob Zuma as a way of relating to and winning the support of the working class and the masses of SA behind him, a comrade tells me that this motion was shot down with activists saying choosing between Mbeki and Zuma is like ‘choosing to befriend one crocodile over the other’ – since both promote neo-liberalism

Tuesday – March 18

Started the day meeting with comrades at Khanya college. Khanya college has for decades been in the forefront of proving education for the working class and social movements – ‘Education for liberation’ as they call it. Now Khanya college has a six story in central Johannesburg that is shaping out to be the ‘house of movements’. The building already houses the APF, Jubilee South, Women Reproductive Health Centre and other progressive organisations with groups like Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) expected to move in soon. My contact work was made much easier as i was running from one floor to the other meeting with colleagues and exchanging notes on Africa Action and work and work going on on the continent. Watch out for my images coming soon! I was quite delighted to find Africa Action material from back in the day (Africa’s Right to Health Caampaign’ at the APF offices. In discussing with comrades , it was interesting to make the connection between water privatisation and its attendant restriction to water access and the impact on people living with HIV.

Unfortunately i was not able able to meet half as many organisations as i had intended partly because Joburg is a city in crisis right now. There are daily electricity outages in the city center and residential areas and this adversely affects how people work. For me, i had to haul my luggage 5 floor because the elevators were out. On the street traffic lights were out and the congestion was bad making it impossible to reach people. Whilst Internet access is available at many places – most of the time it was excruciatingly slow. I had to abandon plans to work in the beautifully set up Khanya college’s Social Movements Resource centre because the Internet was terribly slow and comrades tell me that its because they do not have enough bandwidth.

All the SA movements i met were greatly concerned about Zimbabwe and many already participating in solidarity efforts. It was great meeting with an old time comrade of mine, comrade Mao Nyikadzino a Program Officer with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, South Africa office and exchange notes on solidarity work in the run up to the elections and possible post election scenarios.

Time and a malfunctioning city were my biggest let down! In the middle of very interesting engagements with comrades i had to make the painful decision to turn back and run to the airport. In fact i had to walk down the dark COSATU House, which houses, COSATU, SACP, YCL, Zimbabwe Liaison Office and others, and run to the airport without meeting all the people i wanted.

I am now bound for Zimbabwe – Stay tuned for the most anticipated landing!

Dare to Invent the Future!





  1. Affiliates » Blog Archive » A BRIEF STOP OVER IN SOUTH AFRICA! Says:

    […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  2. Nicholas Carl Says:

    Briggs — It’s sad to hear what you were saying about Joburg being a “malfunctioning city”, especially looking out the window here at Africa Action and seeing the building next door grow and grow. The way you write your blogs really cool – personal as well as clear and informative – and it makes me feel connected to read them. Good luck to you and I look forward to reading about your continuing experience and adventures in Zim. — Nick

  3. TG Says:

    Well I was at the APF agm and there was no suggestion at all to support Zuma from any affiliate or individual. The debate was about whether and how to relate to activists in the mainstream movements who do look to Zuma for change.

  4. justzimbabwe Says:

    I am told from 3 different sources that Keep Left argued for supporting Zuma as a way of relating to and building from the Labour that backs Zuma. Can you actually talk to someone who attended the whole meeting…

  5. TG Says:

    I personally attended the whole meeting. Well, you know how it goes, some people are so busy hearing what they expect to hear that they don’t hear what is actually said ….

    But never mind hearsay, below is the full text of the resolution tabled by Keep Left. It’s very obvious that it does not argue to support Zuma (for example “If we are going to expose Zuma…”) but argues about methods of building a struggle when some of the people who are ready to fight are looking to a problematic leader. The other resolution on the table presented Zuma’s victory as a clear defeat for the working class. This resolution aimed to remind people that things are not so clear cut and simple – there are contrary tensions emerging from the Polokwane conference which can at the same time encourage and suppress grass-roots action.

    “South Africa after Polokwane. Proposed by Keep Left

    We note that:
    • It was above all the strikes and delivery protests, which grew since 2005, that created the crisis inside the ANC and the alliance over the effects of neoliberalism on the poor and the working class in general
    • Jacob Zuma’s election as the new ANC president is a double-edged sword for the working class. On one hand, it represented a decisive defeat for Thabo Mbeki, the president of neo-liberalism. This raises the confidence of all those who were opposed to Mbeki. On the other hand, people will now be invited to fold their arms and leave change up to powerful people in government who are believed to be on the side of the working class.
    • Mbeki remains president and is continuing with neo-liberal policies such as the tax breaks to big business in the recent budget.
    • So we should expect a mixed picture in the coming months – on the one hand struggles like Samwu in PE occupying the 2010 stadium, on the other hand many tensions being deferred until after the 2009 elections.
    • Those who look to Zuma do so not only with illusion but also with expectation for jobs, houses and comfort. If we are going to expose Zuma we must do it by holding him to the reforms that he promised and that people expect from him out the defeat of Mbeki.

    We therefore resolve:
    • To repeat again and again: ‘Fight for it now- we can’t wait til 2009 for free education’ etc.
    • We must look for ways to engage in joint campaigns with Cosatu members, civics, SACP members, for example over Eskom and the threatened job losses, or to involve ourselves in such campaigns when initiated by Cosatu etc.
    • We can’t make support for Zuma the main dividing line within the working class movement but rather aim to be with people when Zuma’s true colours start to show to everyone
    • We should be putting forward socialism as the real alternative to Mbeki’s neo-liberalism
    • We should continue to argue that the working class needs its own independent organization.

  6. cwxwwwxdfvwwxwx Says:

    well, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

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