Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/267/24580

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 September 2002

Mass Protest Gave Workers A Voice

ON SATURDAY 31 AUGUST anti-globalisation activists were joined by thousands of workers, the unemployed and landless, who marched from the poor township of Alexandra outside Johannesburg to the Earth Summit being held in the exclusive, rich suburb of Sandton.

WEIZMANN HAMILTON of the Democratic Socialist Movement in South Africa (DSM - the Socialist Party's counterpart) describes the march and the events surrounding it.

"THE INITIAL reaction of the African National Congress (ANC) government was to deny permission to demonstrate to the united social movement (USM) which represented the anti-privatisation forum (which the DSM is affiliated to), the landless people's movement as well as Via Campesina which is an international movement - 'the peasant way' - and a host of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The government was clearly concerned that they would be embarrassed by a massive turnout and so they decided on two tactics. On the one hand, to organise their own march together with the COSATU (trade union confederation) leadership on the same day, starting from the same township, Alexandra. And on the other hand, initially, to deny permission to the USM demo.

However, a week beforehand - when a number of anti-globalisation activists marched from Witts University to the main police station in Johannesburg, now known as Thabo Mbeki square - stun grenades were hurled at the demonstrators which included people like Naomi Klein (the US writer of No Logo ).

It caused the government a great deal of embarrassment and led to divisions inside the ANC because the authorities were seen to be behaving just like the old apartheid regime. As a result in the middle of the week the government relented the ban on the demo.

There was about 10,000-12,000 people on the march, which given the government's harassment and attempts to sabotage it, represents a huge success.

Part of the government strategy to provide such a long route (between 12-15 kilometres) in the hope that sheer exhaustion, hunger and thirst would result in people dropping off. There were unprecedented levels of security with both the army and police deployed all along the route with stun grenades, machine guns trained on the demonstrators, armoured vehicles and riot police.

There was also clear harassment from the state with the use of police helicopters that constantly circled the march. At the rally outside the Sandton convention centre they deliberately hovered above the stage drowning out the speeches.

The government decided to send from the office of the President, Essop Pahad (he was one of the three central committee members of the South African Communist Party recently booted off by the SACP congress) to receive the memorandum from the demonstration. But through the intervention of our comrades, including the leader of the Socialist Students movement at Witts University, Pahad was not allowed to speak (The TV showed our comrade telling him to get off the stage! - The Sunday Paper front page showed a picture of Pahad with the headline "VOETSEK" which means "get away" - usually spoken when shooing away a dog!)

In contrast, the initial radio reports of the government organised demo, at which Mbeki spoke, described the turnout of 3,000 people as 'a flop'. Opportunistically and hypocritically, Mbeki (whose ANC government is promoting capitalist policies of privatisations and cutbacks which are increasing poverty) denounced the 'global apartheid' between rich and poor."

What struck me was all along the march was the intense hatred which exists for Mbeki in particular.



Summit For Nothing

THE CAPITALIST governments and big business interests which met in Johannesburg achieved nothing. In many ways this was even a retreat from summits such as Rio in 1992 or Kyoto in 1997.

On energy they failed to set any targets for increased use of renewable energy and less use of greenhouse gas-producing fuels, after pressure from oil companies and the US government.

On poverty, they agreed to set up a solidarity fund to wipe out poverty - but contributions are voluntary. Meanwhile inequality both within and between nations is growing rapidly.

On health, they agreed that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on patents should not stop sick people in poor countries getting treatment - particularly relevant for countries hit by Aids.

But another section on trade says that WTO rules must over-ride global environmental treaties! So there is still potential for disagreement and vetoes by big pharmaceutical companies.

The only action which the summit approved were schemes for "partnerships" where big business can make yet more profit out of the misery that capitalism has brought. The Socialist Party will carry on fighting for socialist answers.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 6 September 2002:

Fight for socialism

Support The Firefighters

War against Iraq: Unions Must Organise Opposition

Mass Protest Gave Workers A Voice

Brimming With Optimism For Socialism

A Year After 11 September: Will Bush launch a war on Iraq?

Socialism 2002

TUC conference: Critical Time For Trade Unionists


 

Home   |   The Socialist 6 September 2002   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

South Africa:

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: South Africa - 5 years after the Marikana massacre

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: What is happening in South Africa?

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: South Africa

triangleCaerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa

triangleSouth Africa: burning anger

Police:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

ANC:

triangleSouth Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

triangleWirral Socialist Party: South Africa - socialist struggle and the ANC in meltdown

triangleSouth Africa: The battle for free education

Democratic Socialist Movement:

triangleThe Marikana report - a whitewash

International

International

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

27/9/17

Catalonia

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

27/9/17

Germany

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

27/9/17

France

French Labour reform protests

25/9/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Student strike called

20/9/17

Myanmar

Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

20/9/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state

15/9/17

Germany

Berlin hospital strike

13/9/17

Korea

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

13/9/17

Students

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2