Wednesday, December 17, 2008

From our companion blog , Socialism Or Your Money Back

South Africa has a new political party called Congress of the People. But given that " is expected to adopt many of the policies pursued by the ANC government under Mbeki", COPE, as it is otherwise known, is perhaps best not described as 'new' but rather an ANC re-tread.

Whether therefore voters in the next election choose one congress or the other is moot. One can hope that the garlic & vinegar days of HIV/AIDS treatment are over and the new government will not be tempted to follow Zuma's example of HIV prevention (taking a shower after unprotected sex with an infected woman) as an excuse for abandoning effective but costly treatment with antiretrovirals. A recent study by Harvard researchers estimated that the ANC are responsible for the premature deaths of 365,000 people earlier this decade.

But is there any reason to think that that there will be no more billion $ arms deals ('dodgy' or otherwise), a reduction in the hundreds of thousands of homeless people, less xenophobia, better sanitation, etc? No. The horrors of apartheid have passed, but economically South Africa is still one of the most unequal countries in the world. Almost all the land, mines and industry remain in the same (mostly white) hands. Almost half the population lives below subsistence level. Unemployment is widespread; children scavenge on dumps and landfill sites from sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Life expectancy is falling (a drop of 13 years since 1990) as AIDS, drug-resistant TB and other diseases spread.

Little wonder then anti-aparthied activist Rassool Snyman felt compelled to state:

"They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles."

Zuma said recently that the ANC would be in power until Christ's second coming. In reality, this is probably a desire for a electoral system such as that in Turkmenistan where the turnout reached 93.87% in the election for 288 candidates, all of whom support the policies of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Whatever, if Mosiuoa Lekota of COPE is to be believed "Public servants now talk in whispers when they discuss COPE. They report that they risk their jobs if they are seen to befriend us. Tales of spying on each other, as under apartheid, on who attends COPE meetings, abound" and "Songs threatening or encouraging the hatred of and the killing of COPE leaders have been composed and are sung at meetings,".

True liberation for the workers of South Africa and across the world will not take place before they act consciously and democratically (i.e. without leaders) to shed the chains of wage slavery.

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