This week we include articles that cover key issues confronting us in South Africa and internationally and that WE NEED TO RESPOND TO.
Must read articles include the Traditional Leadership Bill, the reality of the mining industry’s destructive impact on the environment and communities and an appeal from Trevor Ngwane of the United Front in Gauteng to stand up and resist re-merging xenophobia.
The international section has a special selection of articles under, The US in the Era of Trump – What’s all the fuss about?
The mainstream liberal media and celebrities have drummed up lots of fear and loathing of the newly elected US president Donald Trump. This unexpected right-wing president has a reputation of being a racist, homophobe and misogynist, correctly criticised by all and sundry. The fear and concern with the Trump presidency is warranted since it is likely to impact severely on working class Americans and smaller nations, especially those who make up the right-wing’s “Axis of Evil”. But there is much continuity between the new US government and Trump’s predecessors. Trump is merely a more outspoken and vulgar head of state of the great imperial power. The reign of the democrat and first black president, Obama, has seen more deportations of “illegal” immigrants than his conservative Republican predecessors and more countries attacked by US invasions and incursions than during the Bush era. Under Obama, the US was behind instigating and supporting the right-wing coup in the Ukraine and has surrounded Russia and China with military bases and missile launchers. Together with Britain, Obama’s government has provided arms for the Saudi regime to attack Yemen, deliberately killing thousands of civilians and essential infrastructure – hospitals, water and electricity supply, education facilities. This has led to the poorest country in the region now facing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis with over 18 million people out of a population of 27 million facing starvation and of these, 3.3million already affected by severe malnutrition and death that is seeing one child under 5 years of age dying every 10 minutes as you are reading.
It is Obama who presented that colonial power in the Middle East, Israel, with its biggest military aid package of over US$30bn – more than that received by all US allies combined. Donald Trump’s government represents continuity of rightward anti-working class political shifts all over the world over the past few decades and aggravated by the deepening of the global capital crisis since 2008. As the systemic crisis intensifies, the system will throw up more repressive and populist right-wing leadership figures, such as Trump and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines along with many others in Europe and elsewhere. Their role is to win over and dazzle the desperate masses with promises and lies while demonstrating Rambo like tendencies as “men of action”.
This tendency has been the case here in South Africa with the ANC Zuma regime too, which is increasingly losing popular support and resorting to repressive measures to protect its hold on power. Strong mass organisation and resistance based on a clear working class programme is the only antidote to this situation, that the previous week saw 94 deaths of psychiatric patients as a consequence of the government’s anti-working, class cost cutting measures while at the same time, terrible anti-foreigner violent xenophobic attacks have re-emerged in some of our townships that saw three Somali spaza shop-owners assassinated separately on the same night in Site C, Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
WE MUST ACT
Amadiba Crisis Committee: “Only fraud can pass the criminal traditional leadership bill through parliament”
The public speaks: One says “You want to take the land from the people”. Next one says “This bill will lead to war”. Next one says “You want the chiefs to make secret deals with capitalists”. It goes on like this. Mr Mgakane then finally wraps it up. He is pleased that everybody supports TLKB. He put that on record. He is in complete contempt of the will of the people. He is conducting a fraud. He likes it… aidc.org.za/
Bill reinforces apartheid tribal system
The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill is dangerous. The Inyanda National Land Movement is campaigning to stop it before it is passed into law. If Parliament does pass this Bill, the struggle for rural democracy will continue in the courts, in Parliament and in thousands of rural villages across our country. The Bill, which is undergoing public hearings, is against the democratic spirit, letter and intent of our Constitution. It will benefit elites, such as those hovering over the Wild Coast seeking yet more mining profits at the expense of our people and ecology… mg.co.za/article/
UNITED FRONT: Watch Out! The Xenophobia Monster is coming back
Invitation from United Front (Joburg region) to organise against xenophobia We are writing to you because we are concerned that xenophobia is rearing its ugly head again in South Africa. In our recent meetings we have been getting reports from various community organisations and civics which suggest this. There does not seem to be any threat of violence yet, but we all know how quickly these things can escalate. We are worried that public figures such as the Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba have made some xenophobic statements…. wwmp.org.za/
Alt-Mining Indaba: Extraction’s dark side on display
“Mining means turning living things into dead objects to sell for profit.” That’s one of the many lines you won’t be hearing at Mining Indaba this year. At the Alternative Mining Indaba, however, it’s a run-of-the-mill sentiment – in this case expressed by the BenchMarks Foundation’s David van Wyk. Indeed, it’s one of the milder opinions about extractive industries expressed… dailymaverick.co.za/
Set-top box dispute goes to arbitration
Two black-owned set-top box manufacturers are headed to formal arbitration proceedings – and possibly to court – after the government agency responsible for procuring decoders for South Africa’s digital television migration project halted orders… techcentral.co.za/
Terry Bell: The state of the unions and union capture [VIDEO]
A TWO-year battle, complete with ministerial interference, to keep a Cosatu affiliate from being placed under judicial administration should soon finally come to an end, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap.
And he maintains that in this week of the State of the Nation address the labour movement should think as much about the state of the unions and union capture as they do about the nation and state capture.
SOUTH AFRICA NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
SA’s National Minimum Wage Will Now Be R20 Per Hour
The National Minimum Wage will be R20 per hour from May 2018, after parties at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) came to an agreement this week… huffingtonpost.co.za/
NUMSA statement on the National Minimum Wage
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has reiterated its disgust at the proposed amount of R3 500 per month as a National Minimum Wage. This proposal reinforces South Africa as a haven for cheap labour, just as it was under Apartheid… numsa.org.za/
National minimum wage: not enough protection for part-time workers
The proposals by the Deputy President’s national minimum wage Advisory Panel last year are a step in the right direction. The suggested two-year ‘transition period’ – during which no increases will be made to the proposed hourly wage of R20, and the national minimum wage will not be enforced – risks undermining gains for workers… groundup.org.za/
APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY! 8 Tanzanians Arrested in Malawi as “spies”, while on a fact-finding mission at Paladin’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine
In December a fact-finding mission by a civil society delegation from Tanzania, visited the Kayelekera uranium mining complex in northern Malawi. They were arrested on 22nd as “Tanzanian spies”, and have been jailed ever since… wwmp.org.za/
Global crisis, Neoliberalism, and left alternatives
The certainties that turned neoliberalism into the “common sense” of our age are melting into the air. Tried and tested policies such as privatisation, marketisation, financialisation and trade liberalisation have lost traction, and established political systems haemorrhage legitimacy. Mass protests spring in unexpected places and take new forms. Even the steadiest political hands have lost their grip on the levers of power, which, themselves, increasingly lack effectiveness. The economic turmoil in global neoliberalism is morphing into a wholesale political crisis… column.global-labour-university.org/
Chinese factory replaces 90% of human workers with robots. Production rises by 250%, defects drop by 80%
While some of the world’s leaders are obsessed with keeping people out of their country, an unspoken entity is slowly but certainly taking our jobs: robots… zmescience.com/
Gig economy threatens government finances, says May adviser
Theresa May’s adviser on the future of work says the boom in the gig economy could have a significant impact on government finances, with self-employed workers and contractors paying more than £2,000 less a year on average in tax than employees doing equivalent jobs… theguardian.com/
Facebook Server Farm Powered by “Clean Energy” Will Increase Denmark’s Greenhouse Emissions
Last month, the social-media giant Facebook announced plans to build a new data center near Odense, Denmark. The expansion of server capacity was needed, the company said, to support “richer content” such as live-streaming and virtual reality… counterpunch.org/
Russia, China sign deal to bypass US dollar
In a symbolic blow to U.S. global financial hegemony, Russia and China took a small step toward undercutting the domination of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency on Tuesday when Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in domestic currencies… america.aljazeera.com/
THE US IN THE ERA OF TRUMP Trump rode the crest of white reaction that started with his feet in the puddles of the Tea Party. From champion of white, working class Americans to incumbent president, Trump set about refuting his anti-establishment credentials immediately and peopled his cabinet with millionaires. The temptation to paint him as a buffoon has busied the media in derision. Purported leaks from his inner most staff that Trump is a loon have been circulated. It is as if the fool that can denigrate women without compunction – in an election campaign! – was not just playing to the public gallery but tweeting as the emperor in a nightgown in private too.
The unfortunate fact of an American presidency is that as the leader of the world’s one super power, we have to all be afraid. While the bewildered Left in America is orientating itself to methods of resistance to Trump’s rule, international relations have been buffeted. Mexico has had to parry Trump’s bluster about a wall between the two countries and the threat of a war against China has been openly mooted by his chief of staff. The consequences for Africa of a Trump presidency aren’t clear beyond his ignorance of the continent’s existence. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act that gave some African exports preferential treatment stands to be rescinded if Trump’s tirade against US trade deals is anything to go by. In South Africa, the expectation is that the new US ambassador will be a right-wing, racist Zionist. An ambassador can’t do much more than represent his empire to its outer reaches, but his affinity with the hate-monger in charge doesn’t bode well.
The ‘Inevitable’ War Against Iran & The Decline Of US Hegemony
In the United States, war is business and business is war. As the U.S. dominates global weapons exports, accounting for 33% of the entire market, the profits of war for both the private and public sector have guided U.S. foreign policy and military action for much of the past century. Though modern history is rife with examples of the United States using its military to further business interests and vice versa, nowhere has this been more clear than in Iran… mintpressnews.com/
Press Secretary Sean Spicer Falsely Accuses Iran of Attacking U.S. Navy Vessel, an Act of War
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted at Thursday’s press briefing that Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel, as part of his argument defending the administration’s bellicose announcement that Iran is “on notice.” The White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war… theintercept.com/
Trump’s FCC Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules
In his first days as President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama presidency… mobile.nytimes.com/
The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor
Regulators are telling nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers — weeks after those companies had been given the green light… washingtonpost.com/
Uber CEO, Trump Face Defeat by New York City’s Mainly Immigrant Taxi Workers’ Union
Uber CEO retreats from White House group after organized immigrant drivers protested the “Muslim ban” and #DeleteUber went viral…telesurtv.net/
Following the massive Women’s March and the surprising partial success of protests against Trump’s immigration ban, many feel that the logical step is to escalate. Seize the momentum, put more pressure on the administration, disrupt and paralyze as much as possible. I feel it myself… thecurrentmoment.wordpress.com/
Tech Opposition to Trump Propelled by Employees, Not Executives
After President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order restricting immigration, high-tech has gone full-tilt political. Companies are being pushed by their employees, by their customers and sometimes by their ideals. They are trying to go far enough without going too far… nytimes.com/
Not Everyone in Tech Cheers Visa Program for Foreign Workers
More than any other industry, tech companies depend on the 85,000 foreign workers allowed into the United States annually under the H-1B visa program. The H-1B is a temporary visa intended to bring in foreign professionals with college degrees and specialized skills to fill jobs when qualified Americans cannot be found. Technology giants like Microsoft and Google have pressed for increases in the annual quotas, saying there are not enough Americans with the skills they need… nytimes.com/
A South African link to Trump’s inner circle
Trump appointed Steve Bannon as his campaign manager last year and Bannon is now his chief political advisor and strategist. Bannon is a multi-talented (journalist, naval officer, investment banker and Hollywood producer) white nationalist Islamophobe who ran, and presumably still controls the tone of, an online news service called Breitbart News. Joel Pollak works for Breitbart. If you are connected at all with the Democratic Alliance and remember the glory days of Tony Leon, some bells may be starting to ring in your head. Pollak was a speechwriter for Leon from 2002 to 2006… m.thoughtleader.co.za/
In Trump He Trusts: Meet the man who could be the next US ambassador to South Africa
Joel Pollak is a South African-born lawyer, former speechwriter to Tony Leon and the son-in-law of a local anti-apartheid activist. He also happens to be the editor-at-large of Breitbart, the alt-right website credited with helping galvanise white nationalists in America. Now he is being touted as a potential US ambassador to South Africa… dailymaverick.co.za/