Friday, August 31, 2012

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV News Analysis: 'NAM Can Play Global Role Under Iran's Leadership'

NAM can play global role under Iran's leadership: Analyst

To watch the interview with Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan African News Wire, just click on the website below:

Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:57PM

The 16th Summit of the Non Aligned Movement, which attracted support from 120 nations, saw Iran accept the presidency for the next three years.

Press TV has interviewed Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan African News Wire from Detroit, about the Summit’s significance for unity and global equations.

The news analysis also hears views from Omar Nashabe, a political commentator in Beirut. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Let’s talk about this new world order in which, in one sense it gets channeled through this organization called the United Nations. Much criticism has been leveled against the current structure of the UN in particular the Security Council when it comes to the veto power.

How democratic and representative is the veto power? Why not, as a solution, a simple majority or for example a consensus mechanism instead of this veto power?

Azikiwe: That would be much more democratic if there was a simple majority within the United Nations General Assembly. The Security Council has been dominant. The permanent members on the Security Council represent mainly the countries of Europe and the United States.

But the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) all along has posed a challenge to this undemocratic character of international relations going all the way back to the Bandung Conference of 1955 being the initial meeting of the emerging states of Africa and Asia, leading up to the preliminary meetings of the Non Aligned Movement in 1960 and 1961 where the leaders of independent movements during that time in Ghana, Indonesia, India, Egypt and Yugoslavia posed a challenge, even at that time, to the bi-polar character of international politics.

It was founded during the height of the Cold War of the early 1960s. The nuclear arms race was well under way at that time because France had tested nuclear weapons in the Sahara during the early1960s, and since the early 1960s, the Non Aligned Movement has grown substantially, to now over 120 nations.

As Fidel Castro said some 30-plus years ago when he was president of the Non Aligned Movement - quote, “We represent the immense majority of humanity”. I think that’s a very important observation, a very poignant statement on the part of the former leader of revolutionary Cuba.

So I think with this Summit held in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it’s a major accomplishment not only for Iran, but also for those countries who have opposed war and who have opposed militarism and imperialism in the modern era.

And I believe that it has gone a long way in curtailing the influence of the United States and the Western European countries, NATO, who have attempted for many, many years now have attempted to isolate Iran and also to exclude Iran from very important international issues. For example the situation in Syria right now, they are attempting to exclude Iran from any meaningful role in regard to developing some type of peace plan for Syria and bringing about stability within that country.

I believe this is very significant that this meeting is being held. The fact that the newly-elected Egyptian President Dr. Mohamed Morsi travelled to Iran, being the first Egyptian leader to travel there in over 30 years. I think it represents a historical turning point in regard to international relations.

Press TV: Let’s touch on what Omar Nashabe said about the presence of the UN Security General Ban Ki Moon. Was he sincere?

And when I ask that question, I’m talking about the statements that he made when he criticized Iran for criticizing Israel, but he didn’t give a balanced approach to the criticism.

Because he didn’t say when he criticized Iran why he is not criticizing Israel. At the same time why didn’t he talk about for example the illegal settlements or for example the nuclear issue - why did he not say, well, Israel is not a signatory to the NPT (Non Proliferation of nuclear weapons Treaty)?

So it brings me back to my initial point on the question - was Ban Ki Moon sincere in his presence at this NAM Summit?

Azikiwe: I believe that he still has to answer to Washington and London. That is why he cannot take a sincere position vis-a-vis the role of the State of Israel within the Middle East.

The fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is calling for a nuclear free Middle East is very significant. At the same time there has been much speculation that the State of Israel has nuclear weapons capability. The technology used to develop that nuclear weapons capability was shared with the State of Israel by many of these Western imperialist powers.

I believe that until the situation in Palestine is resolved, meaning that the Palestinian people would have adequate independent and sovereign representation within the United Nations and all international bodies, there will be no stable and lasting peace within the Middle East.

I believe that the United Nations Security Council and even the Secretary General to a large degree is beholden to the powers within the United States, within London, the Western European countries and those that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

I believe also that the Non Aligned Movement can take initiatives to bring about settlements to many of these international questions: the Palestinian question; the current crisis that is going on right now in Syria; as well as other developments.

For example the Afghan war, which is going on and appears to have no end in sight. A war that is intensifying as we speak with more and more ISAF or US-led forces being killed on a daily basis. Where you have even Afghan troops that have been trained by the United States and by NATO, turning their guns against the people who have been training them in military tactics.

I believe that the Non Aligned Movement should take its own initiatives in resolving some of these international questions and I believe, with the Iranian government taking the chairpersonship of the Non Aligned Movement at this point, that there can be progress made in these particular arenas.

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on RT SatelliteTelevision: 'Post-Gaddafi Libya, A Travesty of Justice'

Post-Gaddafi Libya: A Travesty of Justice

Published on Aug 29, 2012 by RussiaToday

To watch this RT World News interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

The Libyan interim interior minister resigned on Monday amid fears of renewed sectarian clashes in the country. This after Suffi religious sites were destroyed by armed Salafits, triggering mass unrest in the area.

Libya remains unstable ever since the popular uprising resulted in the ouster and death of its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan-African News, claims the country's current rulers supervised the destruction of the mosques and are unable to control the country.


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RT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 500 million YouTube views benchmark.

PANW Interviews Editor Abayomi Azikiwe: 'Africa Must Unite to Develop Politically and Economically'

Africa Must Unite to Develop Politically and Economically

Pan-African News Wire Interviews Its Editor Abayomi Azikiwe

Question: Due to ignorance, Africa may be seen for some as a continent, with high similarities among countries, rather than a group of countries with highly diversified languages, cultures, ethics, climate, geographic landscape. How do you see Africa?

Azikiwe: Africa geographically is a continent. There are 54 recognized states on that continent with different governments. There are many different languages and cultures even races in Africa. However, politically there has been a historical tradition of viewing Africa as a unified entity for the purpose of development.

This notion of a unified Africa goes back to the Marcus Garvey movement of the 1920s and extends through leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, the president of the First Republic of Ghana, and a leader in the independence movement, through to the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who was a sponsor of the African Union formed in 2002, the continental organization.

The African Union grew out of the Organization of African Unity formed in 1963. Since the days of Nkrumah, the ideas related to Africa becoming one unified federation of states still have resonance among the masses and this impacts the leadership of these various independent states today.

The notion of Pan-Africanism also encompasses the African Diaspora composed of expatriate Africans and people of African descent born in the various parts of the world including the western hemisphere and Europe.

Question: In the past, Africa is often associated with civil war, drought, widespread famine, humanitarian aid in the international media. African countries, especially South Africa, are more often presented as emerging markets in recent years. What are the driving forces behind this change?

Azikiwe: The independence movements of the post-World War II period have had their impact. In recent years lessons from the 1960s and 1970s involving military coups and regional divisions are being seriously taken into account.

Today there is a greater awareness of the need for unity and political civility.

Nonetheless, there are many external factors that are also shaping the problems associated with the military intervention in politics and the ongoing factional disputes that we see in Libya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and other states.

In addition, the need for greater cooperation with Asian states is gaining greater acceptance. The People’s Republic of China is the leader in this field of improved relations with Africa. However, there are other states as well including India, Japan, Malaysia and Iran that are enhancing dialogue and economic partnerships with Africa.

Question: Regional and international trade for African countries are booming, what are the best and worst performing countries? Why?

Azikiwe: Those that have oil, natural gas and strategic minerals are gaining the most attention. There have been huge discoveries of oil and natural gas in East Africa just this year. Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Somalia are now known to be endowed with oil and natural gas.

Angola is booming economically due in part because of its rising exports in oil to the United States and other industrial and developing countries.

Question: The natural resources in Africa are often seen as the major attractions for foreign investment to be there. Besides natural resources related industries, what are the industries with huge potential for fast development?

Azikiwe: I think tourism has great potential. So does the areas of telecommunications. There has been a great upsurge in mobile phone usage. There is a strong need for local communications technology for people to establish local radio and television stations, broadband access and the ownership of personal and lap top computers.

Education is also a major area of need along with healthcare services including pharmaceuticals.

Question: The general assumption in economics around the world is that there needs to be an expanding middle class with higher spending power in order to create a huge consumer market potential. How do you define middle class in Africa? What are the major spending trends by middle class?

Azikiwe: Well it has since independence been characterized differently than in the U.S. or other industrialized states. When people talked about middle class in Africa it was more associated with social rank within various societies. The possession and acquisition of substantial sums of money was not always a factor.

Today however, there are Africans emerging who are quite wealthy and who have firm ties economically with western corporations and institutions. Also partnerships with Africans in other neighboring countries are proving to be lucrative for the mid-level business sector.

Question: What are the economic and political reforms needed for African countries to achieve high economic growth?

Azikiwe: There needs to be a strong emphasis on social spending. People need healthcare facilities with trained personnel. They need educational institutions which are subsidized by the state or businesses so that there will be universal access to education.

Also there has to be access to modern communication technology. The world has grown smaller for those who have radios, televisions, mobile phones, high-speed internet access and local transportation.

Question: There is an assumption that long term international aid made some African countries become dependent rather than develop the necessary efforts to revive the local economy. What should be done to integrate international aid and local economic activities for the sole purpose of reviving local economic activities?

Azikiwe: The primary interests of Africans must be paramount. Some aid agencies are not working to put themselves out of business. They have become a business unto themselves. They tend to work in conjunction with those who are not interested in the long term welfare of the continent.

People in developing and emerging states must become self-reliant. This can be done. Just look at the example of China. In just six decades the country has emerged from extreme underdevelopment to a world power.

Question: The vast Chinese investment in infrastructure to tap the natural resources has raises some concerns of a new form of colonialism. For some, it provides another solution for Africa besides the humanitarian aid between developed and underdeveloped countries. What is your opinion?

Azikiwe: Those who say that China’s approach to Africa is colonial are the neo-colonialists themselves. These are the same countries that were involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade for centuries and colonialism for another century. Today these states who are hostile to China want to maintain the status-quo where Africans do not really benefit as a whole from economic investment.

The western-based transnational corporations are getting a lot of competition today from Asia. This is a good development for the African continent, for the Asian markets and ironically for the West. The western states can no longer rest on their laurels. They must recognize and deal with the new realities of international relations.

Question: The trade barriers among African countries are high, what should be done to integrate the pan-African market?

Azikiwe: There should be immediate action taken by the African Union now in the aftermath of their summit that was held in Ethiopia. These barriers must be broken down and there should be investments into facilitating trade and communications links between the various nation-states.

Question: For African countries, should political reforms or economic reforms come first? Or should African countries look to the Singapore or China model—high economic growth, but the democracy level may not be as impressive.

Azikiwe: I think that the question of democracy in Africa cannot be divorced from the economic development of a state. For real democracy to flourish there needs to be political and economic institutions that can sustain change and the need for change.

As long as we have people who do not have access to education, healthcare, communication technology, jobs and capital for small and medium-size business development, it will put a monumental strain on political and economic reforms.

Question: What is your opinion on the economic outlook of Africa?

Azikiwe: It depends on numerous factors. The need for greater political and economic unity is important. There must be a new culture of relations between the former colonial states of the West and the African countries. Africa must demand fair trade and investment. Governments must insist on the non-interference in the internal affairs by the West in the various states.

If there is social stability and the rise in education and technology access, there are no barriers to what Africa can accomplish.

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on "Heart of Africa" Radio Program: 'The History of Ethiopia and the Death of Meles Zenawi'

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, Featured on Heart of Africa Radio Program Hosted by Kudakwashe Cayenne

Just in case you missed this week's edition of Heart Of Africa, the podcast is now available, you can access it using the link below.

Our guest is African Historian, Political Analyst & Editor of Pan-African News Wire, Abayomi Azikiwe. indeed a discussion listening to. It will broaden your understanding on the historical and contemporary matters affecting the horn of Africa.

PM Zenawi was an active participant. There is much speculation about the new face and dynamics of the Ethiopian politics and economy that largely affects the region, consequentially, the globe.

PANW Interview With Editor Abayomi Azikiwe: 'Egyptian Revolution Still Unfolding'


The following interview was conducted by the Pan-African News Wire with its editor Abayomi Azikiwe.

Q. What is the importance of an Islamist victory in Egypt?

I believe that it is extremely important. The Muslim Brotherhood has been in existence since 1928 and functioned much of that time underground as both a religious organization and a political movement. It has combined social service work within the most oppressed communities with political education and involvement in the electoral arena as well as mass struggle.

Since the fall of both the pro-western regimes in Tunisia under President Ben Ali and Egypt under President Mubarak in early 2011, the political result in both of these North African states have brought about the dominance of Islamist forces inside parliament and within the administrations. The governments in both Tunisia and Egypt seem to be taking on a more moderate political line. Whether this remains the case depends largely on various factors that will probably surface in the coming months.

Q. Why do you think that among other Islamists groups, the Muslim Brotherhood won the election?

It appears to be the decades of experience that the Muslim Brotherhood has among the people in Egypt. Also they did enter the electoral arena in 2005 as independents since their party was officially banned. Even though they were credited with having approximately 20 percent of the parliamentary representation resulting from the 2005 elections, in all likelihood they won more than this amount. There were irregularities in the results from 2005.

Therefore, even in 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood was considered the unofficial opposition inside parliament. As a result of this political situation they were poised to enter the electoral arena after the fall of the National Democratic Party (NDP) regime of Mubarak.

Q. What stance will the Muslim Brotherhood take under President Morsi toward relations with Israel and the United States?

This remains to be seen. There has been different responses reported emanating from various leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood—and its political wing—the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). President Morsi seems to be saying that Egypt will honor all previously signed international agreements.

This would mean that the Camp David Accords and the separate peace treaty with the State of Israel will be adhered to by the new government. At the same time there have been other voices who have reportedly said that the separate peace treaty with Israel will be repealed. This will be a major source of debate among the supporters and leaders of the FJP. The majority of people in Egypt are opposed to the peace treaty with Israel.

If the government is going to maintain support among the Egyptian people and solidarity from Hamas and other forces in Palestine, they will have to seriously address the question of relations with Israel.

It is not just the treaty in a formal political sense but what all comes with it. The blockade of Gaza, the joint security and military alliance with the Zionist state that works against the Palestine struggle for national liberation, the supply of natural gas to the State of Israel, all of these issues are not going to be forgotten by the people of Egypt or Palestine.

These issues are intertwined with the political economy of Egypt and Palestine. The peace treaty with Israel largely benefited the State of Israel and the United States. Only the elites within the military in Egypt have benefited from this arrangement through security technology transfers, business contracts and diplomatic support from Washington.

The masses of workers, youth and even intellectuals and professionals remain underdeveloped and impoverished due to the subservience of Egypt to the Zionist state. In order for the country to stabilize, the standard of living must be addressed for the majority of the people. The people need good jobs, adequate food, resources for their small and medium size businesses, improved infrastructure, access to technology, opportunities for education and the eradication of political repression.

Also all political prisoners must be released from jails and prisons. There needs to be an opening of communication mediums to broader segments of the population to provide the majority of people with a voice in the affairs of Egypt, the region and the world.

With specific reference to Egypt’s relations with the U.S., this will also be a determining factor in the effectiveness of the FJP government under President Morsi. Most people also have a negative view of the U.S. due to the forced Camp David Accords agreement under the previous government of Jimmy Carter during 1978-79.

This agreement isolated Egypt from the rest of the Arab, Islamic, African and progressive world. It is blamed for the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat in 1981. It took years for Egypt to regain some of the respect it had earned under the government of Gamal Abdel Nassar who ruled between 1952-1970. Yet Egypt is still defined by the signing of this agreement that has done almost nothing for the general population accept plunge them into deeper poverty and acquiescence to western imperialism.

The U.S. has invested tens of billions of dollars in Egypt over the last 35 years. Particularly after the shift by Sadat away from the former Soviet Union towards Washington, Egypt has become a major outpost, along with Israel, for the foreign and military policies of U.S. imperialism.

The subsidies to the Egyptian military from the U.S. have placed the army in a strategic position in relationship to the national economy. There has been close collaboration between U.S. military intelligence and Central Intelligence with the state apparatus in Egypt. This has had a tremendous impact on the Palestinian movement.

The U.S. is hostile towards the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. The majority of Palestinians and Egyptians know this for a fact and has witnessed the social impact of these policies.

Therefore, I believe that there has to be a radical shift in U.S.-Egyptian relations. Egypt will be forced by its own people and the pressures of the Palestinian struggle right next door to break with its unequal alliance with Washington. This is what the Egyptian people are anticipating and it will win mass support from the people of Egypt as well as the Palestinians.

Q. What do you expect for Egypt in the post-election period? In other words, what type of future do you foresee for the country and its people?

This depends upon the approach taken by the Morsi government and his supporters on the ground. There is tremendous potential for Egypt with its population of 80 million people who have demonstrated a high level of political consciousness and maturity. The various political forces must be brought into a national dialogue on the future of the country.

The Islamists, the Christian population—which makes up about ten percent of the people—the more secular revolutionaries and professional groups should all have a place at the center of the transformation process toward a stable and peaceful future. In the long run it will be the Egyptian people themselves who will solve the problems of the country, not the West and its allies in the region.

The alliance with the U.S. and Israel must be terminated and Egypt must look toward the rest of Africa, the Middle East and progressive humanity to provide the country with the support that it needs to address the monumental challenges facing the state even under the FJP government. The alliance with Israel and the successive governments in Washington have proved to be disastrous for the people.

The country has natural gas, some oil resources, the Suez Canal—it has the goodwill of most people throughout Africa, the Middle East, the Arab states and Muslims around the world.

Egypt is strategically located and this can be a tremendous asset for the government and the people of this country.

Q. What is the role of Egypt in the region related to its past, present and future?

Well Egypt is considered by most historians as the cradle of human civilization. The first advanced societies arose there dating back at least to 4500 B.C. There was a nearly three thousand year line of dynastic rule.

In the areas of architecture, science, religion, philosophy, the organization of cities and city-states, the area has a long and proud history.

It is also an important country for the early origins of all three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All of this places Egypt in an important position of not only gaining the cooperation of people internationally but the country has a lot to teach the world.

In the modern period, Egypt has played a major role in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism. In 1919 it was the scene of a national uprising that set a standard for the rest of the region. In 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 it fought wars against Israel, Britain and France and by proxy the U.S.

In 1956 it led the way for Africa and the Middle East when Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal and fought a war against Britain, France and Israel to maintain its sovereignty. In 1973, it fought and regained some its land from the Israel after the defeats of 1967.

In the most recent period it has alerted the oppressed throughout the world that people can rise up against dictatorship and tyranny and overthrow such a system.

Q. What is your analysis of the significance of the Egyptian Revolution?

I believe that the Egyptian Revolution is still unfolding. There are always various phases to any revolutionary movement. The overthrow of Mubarak was just the first phase. The struggle to maintain the principles articulated during the uprising of 2011 is ongoing in this process.

The election of President Morsi represents another phase. The challenge right now is to build upon the gains of the last 17 months. The economy must be rebuilt. Domestic policy must be brought in line with the aspirations of the workers and the youth. A new foreign policy that is independent of imperialism and Zionism must be developed rapidly.

If these challenges are met, Egypt will continue to make its historic contribution to its people and the world community.

NAM Summit: President Mugabe Calls for Challenge to Western Military Aggression

Challenge Western military aggression, Nam urged

Friday, 31 August 2012 03:52
Hebert Zharare in TEHRAN, Iran
Zimbabwe Herald

NON-Aligned Movement member-states should remain united and chal­lenge Western aggression when atta-cked militarily, President Mugabe has said.

Addressing journalists on arrival at Mehrabad Airport on Wednesday, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zim­babwe Defence Forces said it was high time Nam countries repelled military attacks militarily.

“Nam members must remain united, stand together and support each other at UN. They must resolve to help each other as much as they can, in a revolu­tionary way.

“Where imperialists are attacking militarily, NAM members must not stand and say . . . aah we are founded on the basis of peace.

“When we are attacked, we must not remain humble and modest and inac­tive. No. If we are attacked we must be able to resist the aggression and be able to put up the fight in defence of our sovereignty,” he said.

The President said all countries’ sov­ereignty was paramount as stipulated by the UN Charter.

He said all countries in the world were supposed to respect that position.

All nations, the President said, were supposed to be accorded the right to empower their people economically and no one was supposed to stop such moves.

Commenting on the ongoing sum­mit, President Mugabe said Nam was not supposed to deviate from its founding principles of creating inter­national peace, preventing wars and aggression.

He said the summit was critical to Africa as it was coming against the backdrop of Western aggression on some African countries.

Recent cases include the attack on Libya and the subsequent brutal mur­der of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Western-sponsored unrests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“We have heard aggressive and imperialist countries wanting to undermine our political systems.

“Zimbabwe was also under threat for acquiring land from the former British colonial masters,” he said.

President Mugabe said countries were supposed to respect the United Nations Charter, adding that Britain and her allies were supposed to be stopped from interfering in the affairs of other countries.

“We have recently seen aggression in some North African countries and that’s not promotion of peace.

“It is actually attempts by the imperi­alists to reverse not only the sover­eignty of States to go about their busi­ness of carrying out economic trans­formation within their countries, but also to undermine the sovereignty of those countries so that the West exploits resources of these poor and weak nations like what happened in Iraq,” he said.

World leaders said Nam should be strengthened to plays its role in inter­national relations as the United State and its allies have turned the UN into a tool to suppress smaller countries.

They accused the Western powers of converting the UN Security Council and other General Assembly structures into economic and political oppression avenues.

Speaking during the official opening of the Nam Summit yesterday, the majority of the leaders were unanimous that the UN institutions were now irrelevant.

Opening the summit yesterday, Iranian leader Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it was high time NAM had a secretariat that helps in identifying critical areas that need co-operation among members.

"We can start a secretariat that economically empowers people, have bilateral co-operation, build peace and help reform the UN struc­tures. Iran has a lot of experience in facing challenges imposed by different world powers," he sad.

Dr Ahmadinejad said organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had been used to kill economies of smaller nations through pressures such as inflation and debt.

He said the UN Security Council for the past 65 years has been used illegitimately to prop up countries such as Israel that support US for­eign policy.

He said it has also been used to thwart some countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Syria among others for resenting American policies.

In Africa, Zimbabwe has been slapped with economic sanctions, while in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia some insurgents were sponsored to topple sitting governments.

"Now there is nowhere to turn to… the Security Council has usurped the role of the General Assembly. Former colonisers and slave driv­ers of the past are dominating in world economics.

‘‘They are now a super race. They create disputes and wars in our regions on religious and ethnicity grounds to create the opportunity to sell weapons and to plunder our resources," he said.

President Ahmadinejad, who assumed the NAM presidency yesterday, said he wanted to ensure resolution of conflicts peacefully, call for sustainable development, diversification of NAM and call for the recognition of all countries’ sovereignty.

He said NAM members constituted two thirds of UN members and there was a need for them to call for the creation of a New World Order.

“They use wars to create wealth for themselves. Our people are nothing other than slaves to a small group of people - capitalists who always think about themselves.

“We as NAM can create major changes, turn tables and create a new world that is fair, where people will always have mutual understand­ing. Slavery and plundering is a result of too much love for money,” he said.

He said there was need for leaders to guard against corruption, protect culture and empower women and the youths.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei concurred with President Ahmadinejad that it was time the world stopped the West’s monopoly of determining other countries’ future.

He described the UN as an undemocratic institution in need of immediate reforms.

“People are being tortured without being given right to an attorney. The US now labels everyone as rogue.

“The US is the one that has the highest number of nuclear stock piles while they want others to destroy nuclear projects that benefit many people… This should be rejected.”

UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki Moon called on NAM members to work together.

Mr Ban, who insisted on coming to attend the NAM Summit against the wishes of Western countries, said the movement provided about four fifth of the world’s peacekeeping forces.

He called on Africa to speedily solve the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, Mr Ban differed with the Iranian leadership on the way forward in their nuclear projects.

“On the nuclear proliferation, like what I have said before, Iran should take measures that make it comply with the UN Security Council resolution that does not conflict with others,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe met Dr Ahmadinejad and congratulated him for being the new NAM President.

The presidency rotates among member states.
Iran takes over from Egypt.

The summit continues today.

Zimbabwe Vice President Mujuru Consoles Ethiopians

Acting President Mujuru consoles Ethiopians

Friday, 31 August 2012 03:52
Vice President Joice Mujuru
Herald Reporter

Acting President Joice Mujuru yesterday sent a message of condolence to the Ethiopian people following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on August 21.

She signed a book of condolences at the Ethiopian embassy in Harare.

Speaking to journalists after signing the book, Acting President Mujuru said PM Zenawi’s death was a loss to Africa.

She described PM Zenawi as an outspoken leader who was committed to the prosperity of Africa.

“As acting President of the Republic of Zim­babwe, I have come here to write to the acting Prime Minister of the Federal Repub­lic of Ethiopia that it is not only the Ethiopian people who have lost a leader but the whole African continent,” she said.

“PM Zenawi was one of the outspoken lead­ers who was very committed to the develop­ment of Africa. I know my leader here Presi­dent Mugabe will miss him because they have worked together for the betterment of Africa.

“I know it is going to be difficult for the peo­ple of Ethiopia because PM Zenawi’s death is not only a loss to the family but the entire nation.”

PM Zenawi died at the age of 57 and will be buried on Sunday.

The Acting President later met Cuban ambassador to Zimbabwe Cde Enrique Pri­eto Lopez who paid her a courtesy call at her Munhumutapa Offices.

Speaking to journalists after a closed door meeting Ambassador Lopez said he shared with the Acting President the two countries’ historical background.

The two countries, he said, should work together towards strengthening their long-standing relationship.

“I re-affirmed to the Acting President the lasting friendship between our countries that is historical and our commitment to strengthen our relationship,” he said.

Ambassador Lopez said he also delivered a special message from President Raul Castro of Cuba reiterating the need to deepen rela­tions between the two countries. He said they also discussed the issue of ille­gal sanctions imposed on both countries by the United States.

“We also reiterated our commitment to fight together against Western sanctions,” he said.

“We talked about the US blockade which has been in place for 50 years and sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe which are all illegal.”

Ambassador Lopez said he briefed Acting President Mujuru on the need for the two countries to work together against foreign aggression.

Chinese envoy speaks

Friday, 31 August 2012 08:56
Herald Reporter

INCOMING Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin has pledged to strengthen ties with Zimbabwe during his tenure. Ambassador Lin said this during a welcoming reception held for him and his family at the Chinese embassy in Harare yesterday.

“China and Zimbabwe share a deeply profound relationship,” said Ambassador Lin.

He said his government assisted Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle in the 1960s and 1970s.

The ambassador added that diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on the very day Zimbabwe attained its independence.

“Since then our relationship has grown stronger and stronger. China is ready to further work with Zimbabwe to enhance the relationship that will bring benefits to its peoples. I promise that I will do my utmost to fulfil my duties here,” he said.

Ambassador Lin has been in the country since last month and presented his credentials to President Mugabe last week.

He said he was honoured to be Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe.

“I am deeply honoured to have been appointed ambassador and plenipotentiary of China to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Zimbabwe is the fourth African country I have been posted. Before my posting I used to come to Zimbabwe and I fell in love with this beautiful land and the friendly people that is why I felt lucky to be posted here,” he said.

Clean Slate: Deputy President Motlanthe Draws Election Line in South Africa

Clean slate: Kgalema Motlanthe draws election line

31 Aug 2012 00:00 - Charles Molele, Matuma Letsoalo
South African Mail & Guardian

Insiders say that Kgalema Motlanthe is prepared to run for the ANC's presidency, but not on behalf of any faction that hopes to trade on his success.

Deputy President Kga­lema Motlanthe has told an ANC faction lobbying for him to challenge Jacob Zuma as ANC president that he would only accept a nomination if it was not aligned to slates, the Mail & Guardian has learnt.

ANC sources close to the anti-Zuma campaign said this week Motlanthe made it clear at a meeting, dubbed the "Malibongwe gathering", that he was not prepared to be associated with slates – lists of candidates for election drawn up by sparring factions – because they were the main cause of division in the party.

The infamous practice was evidenced in the run-up to the watershed ANC conference in Polokwane where Zuma defeated former ANC president Thabo Mbeki. Many believe that the slates, which sideline factional opponents, is what led to the maginalisation of some of the party's best brains simply because they supported the losing faction. This has weakened the party, particularly in terms of policy and the implementation of key ANC programmes to deal with unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Motlanthe, who has not declared his availability, is said to be determined to undo the legacy of Polok­wane and put a stop to slates in the ANC. He believes that candidates' election should be based on their capabilities.

Those associated with the Mali­bongwe meeting include Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sex­wale, ANC treasurer Matthews Phosa, Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.

No confidence in Zuma

"The guys [ANC leaders] went to Kgalema to say they no longer have confidence in President Zuma's leadership and that they wanted him to take over. He [Motlanthe] agreed, but made it clear that he does not want to be in a slate. It was agreed in the meeting that slates will not work. The only thing we should focus on is the position of president.

"We are not married to other positions. We all agreed that this man [Zuma] was not fit to be president. The forces will align under Kgalema. If we did not agree [with Motlanthe's position], it would look like we were just another bunch of powermongers," said an ANC leader, who asked not to be named.

Motlanthe has repeatedly condemned the use of slates at ANC elective conferences at all levels in the party.

"The emergence of slates within our organisational culture and the processes represent the worst form of corruption of the spirit, character and vision of the organisation," Motlanthe told delegates at the Limpopo conference in Polokwane last December.

"The time has come for all of us in the ANC to condemn the slate culture to the dustbin of history. Stealing away the voice of members through slates, buying of votes and treating the ordinary membership as voting fodder … serves no other purpose than to corrupt the organisation."

The M&G understands that, following the Malibongwe meeting, a number of ANC leaders said they were prepared to allow an inclusive selection of leaders in the ANC during nomination. Mbalula is said to be prepared even to accept the position of deputy secretary general to allow policy guru and ANC national executive committee member Joel Netshitenzhe to take over as secretary general, which Gauteng is punting.

Some branches in Ethekwini and on the Lower South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal's two key regions, want transport MEC Senzo Mchunu to be elected as the second deputy secretary general.

Unity and continuity

The issue of having two deputy secretary generals was discussed at the recent ANC policy conference, but it has yet to be adopted as policy. The Eastern Cape is expected to punt ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to be deputy president, a position for which Phosa and Sexwale have also been proposed.

On the other hand, the pro-Zuma faction believes all the current national officials should be retained in their respective positions for the sake of unity and continuity.

"Why should Kgalema contest? He can remain as deputy president. The leadership collective must continue as it is. There is nothing wrong for Kgalema to stand in 2017. This will be good for the centenary. There will be stability in the organisation.

"JZ accommodated the faction that did not support him, including Sexwale and Mashatile, who were included in his Cabinet. JZ is not using patronage. If that was the case, Mbalula and Sexwale would have been long gone," said an ANC leader in Gauteng.

Zuma enjoys solid support in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Free State and Mpumalanga. Motlanthe has the backing of the Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

A senior ANC leader in Gauteng said: "The deputy president is right to condemn slates. The ANC is at a crossroads at the moment because of slates. The majority of the 85 national executive committee members elected in Polokwane were elected based on slates.

"We're now having quantity instead of quality leadership. The slates go hand in hand with money. It is an alien culture in the ANC. The wrong forces have stolen the soul of the ANC. We need organisational renewal in order to restore the core values of the ANC, such as selflessness, discipline, accountability, openness and revolutionary morality. The ANC must be seen to be walking the talk. Renewal must be wholesale. It must not be piecemeal."

But Motlanthe's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, denied that the deputy president had attended the Mali­bongwe meeting to discuss nomin­ations. "The deputy president has not spoken to anybody. He understands the processes of the ANC. He has not been nominated. He does not know if he is being nominated. He can't engage with anyone. He understands that nomination starts at a particular time."

270 Miners Charged With Murder In South Africa

Lonmin miners charged with murder

30 Aug 2012 19:03 - Staff Reporter
Mail & Guardian

The 270 arrested Lonmin miners face murder charges related to the deaths of 34 of their colleagues in line with "outdated" apartheid law.

Lonmin miners that were arrested at Marikana mine earlier this month have been charged with the murder of 34 of their colleague who were shot by police during violent protests earlier this month.

The politically controversial move falls under the "common purpose" doctrine because the 270 miners were in the crowd that allegedly incited police on August 16.

The "common purpose" doctrine was used by former apartheid forces against black activists fighting against National Party rule.

The BBC reported on Thursday that at the time, the ANC campaigned against the doctrine that is now being used.

There is speculation that critics will accuse the ruling party of behaving like the apartheid regime.

Police opened fire on the protesting crowd, killing 34 and wounding 78 others. A commission of inquiry, set up by President Jacob Zuma, has yet to give its final report.

'Infamous doctrine'

The miners appeared in the Ga-Rankuwe Magistrate's Court on Thursday where their bail application was postponed to next week.

"This is a very outdated and infamous doctrine," lawyer Jay Surju told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

"It was discredited during the time of apartheid."

The best known case was that of the "Upington 14", who were sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of a policeman in 1985.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Frank Lesenyego told the BBC the workers would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

"This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities," he said.

'Bizarre and shocking'

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said on Thursday, that the decision to charge the miners with murders was a "bizarre and shocking and represent[ing] a flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system in an effort to protect the police and/or politicians like Jacob Zuma and [Police Minister] Nathi Mthethwa".

De Vos cited Section 18 of the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1956 which states "any other person to aid in the commissioning of a crime or incites or instigates any other person to commit, a crime, is guilty of a crime – as if he or she committed the actual crime him or herself".

De Vos said "The NPA seems wrongly to conflate [either deliberately or out of shocking ignorance] allegations that the miners provoked the police, on the one hand, with allegations that the miners themselves incited the police to shoot at them because they had the intention to commit suicide by getting the Police to kill them.

Even if it was true that the miners provoked the police, this could never, ever, make them liable for the killing of their comrades. At most, provocation could be a factor taken into account in judging whether the police officers involved in the massacre should be found guilty of murder or not."


After their appearance, expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema told a crowd of protesters that charging the miners with murder was madness.

"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness," he said.

"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people. We are going to be seized with this matter. We have asked the lawyers [representing the 270 men] to consider making an urgent application at the high court."

Malema said arrangements had been made for the group to be held at the Pretoria Central Prison and the Mogwase Prison, in North West.

"At the prisons, the comrades will not be mixed with other people already serving sentences there. Their families will be allowed to visit them," Malema, speaking in Sotho, told the crowd.

"Visiting days at the prisons are Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are going to get the lists [of which members of the group are detained at which prison] and will give them to your leaders. We must be strong."

Malema urged the protesters to remain steadfast and to return to court next week for the group's next appearance.

"We will come back next week, hopefully in larger numbers. We must not be demoralised by this postponement," he said.

"We have organised lawyers for these comrades. We have organised buses for you to go to the funerals this weekend." –

Additional reporting by Sapa

Marikana: Blood Trails Lead Media Nowhere

Marikana: Blood trails lead media nowhere

31 Aug 2012 00:00 - Phillip De Wet
South African Mail & Guardian

Without key forensic data, one's interpretation of events at Marikna depends on what one wants to believe.

The ultimate tragedy of Marikana may be that we will never know exactly what happened on the day so many died at the hands of the police, or that South Africa will never agree about the events.

To date, there are three different versions of the events that killed 34 strikers at Marikana on August 16.

The official story from the police, as told by national commissioner Riah Phiyega, is of a concerted attack by a mob and the inevitable deaths as officers defended themselves. This version lays the blame squarely on armed and belligerent strikers.

Interviews with police on the scene and video news footage provides a slightly different picture: panicking police firing wildly on people who may be rushing to attack them or may be trying to get away, or a mixture of both. In this version, you have to look at events leading up to the shooting to assign blame and it is hard to declare either side entirely blameless.

Then there is the narrative of cold-blooded slaughter, first put forward by academic Peter Alexander and his research team, based on interviews with strikers and an examination of the scene after the police forensics team had left. In this version, the police engaged in a "well-organised, premeditated slaughter".

Extraordinary evidence

That is the version now strongly supported by a report from Greg Marinovich, which has the weight of his international reputation as a photojournalist behind it. And although it is an extraordinary claim yet to be supported by extraordinary evidence, it is not impossible. The brutal murder of two fellow policemen earlier in the week provided motive and the confusion amid the chaotic attempt to disarm the strikers provided opportunity. As for method, Marinovich's interpretation of the scene is compelling.

But there are many potential loopholes in that interpretation that - depending on which way you are predisposed to lean - could be used to debunk the theories, or be seen as a way for those in the policy guilty of premeditated murder to avoid justice.

Both the Alexander group and Marinovich considered blood left behind at the scene of the killing, but unlike the police forensics team they could not determine whether that blood was human at a scene in which animals were slaughtered the preceding week. Both the investigations rely heavily on eyewitness accounts from miners, accounts that have been contradicted by other strikers or have apparently suffered some embroidering along the way. Both assume that the absence of any wounded police show that police were not under immediate threat.

Could a striker armed with a handgun and holed up among the rocks of the koppie, hostile either in fear or panic or because he believed in protective muti, been shot at and killed before he could fire in return? Could men have tumbled down rocks after being shot, leaving no blood trail as they fell? And are these scenarios any less likely than police walking among those rocks, randomly executing cowering men?

Unprovoked police action

There are similar problems with the accounts of how police officers Hendrick Tsietsi Mohene and Sello Ronnie Lepaaku were killed earlier that week. Some say they were alone when they were dragged from their vehicle and killed. Now, some time after the fact, a conflicting account tells of a battle between police and strikers initiated by unprovoked police action.

Crush injuries would be less ambiguous even than people shot in the back. The veld in the area around the Marikana koppie is rarely thick enough to obscure a man lying down, which would make claims that armoured vehicles drove over prostrate strikers unwittingly more than a little dubious. But such injuries have yet to be independently verified.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, information that could us help to reach firm conclusions remains scarce. It seems fairly certain that most of the deaths on August 16 were out of view of much-analysed television footage, unobserved by journalists. As early as that night, forensic specialists confirmed that they were at work on two sites. People in the area remain guarded and suspicious of outsiders and some of those who are willing to talk tend to tell wild tales that cast themselves in key roles. The police, meanwhile, are saying nothing, but it seems unlikely that officers are not comparing stories and getting them straight ahead of the judicial inquiry.

The most crucial information is also still closed to journalists and the public. A source close to the investigation into the aftermath said on Thursday the intention remained to process and consider all evidence before releasing any findings, or responding to any allegations. That may change, but only on political orders.

Again, there are at least two interpretations possible. It could be that investigators and their managers are determined to not jeopardise the prosecution for murder of either strikers or police. Or it could be that silence and time will give them the opportunity to massage the evidence and hide the truth.

Ultimately, and sadly, it depends on what you wish to believe.

'Yawning Gap' Between Lonmin and Poor Communities in South Africa

'Yawning gap' between Lonmin and poor communities

30 Aug 2012 14:43 - Faranaaz Parker
South African Mail & Guardian

There is a disjuncture between what platinum mine Lonmin says it is doing in communities and what is experienced by people in Marikana, experts say.

The mine has defended its investments in the communities, even as residents complain about contaminated water and poor sanitation.

A leaked report dating back to 2006 showed that Lonmin was aware of the poverty and poor living conditions and poverty in the communities around its mines in the Bojanala area of the North West for years.

The report showed that in some villages over 60% of families live on less than R400 per household member per month, or R13 a day, and that there was a dire need for food, water, sanitation and healthcare.

It said that one indication of the high levels of poverty was the number of households that asked for food parcels, as well as the need for health improvement.

On Thursday, Lonmin spokesperson Abey Kgotle said the study had been commissioned to ensure the company was investing in the right areas. A recent follow-up was conducted to assess the impact of the company's interventions, Kgotle said, but this had yet to be finalised.

"There has been an impact but you need to be mindful of the fact that this is an ever-moving target. It changes as more people move into the greater Lonmin communities looking for [work] opportunities," said Kgotle.

According to Kgotle, Lonmin has invested R194-million in the area over the last five to seven years; this includes building and expanding clinics and schools; equipping science labs; and setting up sanitation and water reticulations systems.

School feeding schemes

He said Lonmin had responded to the communities' request for food aid by implementing school feeding schemes in the 29 schools it supports.

But John Capel, executive director of the faith-based Bench Marks Foundation, said there was a "yawning gap" between what Lonmin was saying and what the community experienced.

"We have to see this on the ground but if you go in there, you don't see it," said Capel, who has worked with community members in the area.

Bench Marks recently released its own study, Policy Gap 6, a report on the living conditions of six communities in the platinum belt.

He criticised mining companies for failing to work with communities to understand their needs.

Capel pointed out that one of Lonmin's interventions – a multi-million rand hydroponics project – had collapsed, and Lonmin's annual reports show that a brick-making project was terminated after it was found to be unfeasible.

"They don't engage, they don't communicate properly with the community," he said, adding that because of the poor communication, communities were often not aware of the interventions that were being made.

'Mushrooming' protests

Poor service delivery in the province has also had consequences for families living in the area. The North West has been plagued by service delivery protests this year and in June the SAPS released a statement warning that protests were "mushrooming" and that public violence was intensifying.

"We see perennial escalation [of protests] in the North west … which suggests political tensions fuel protests," said Karen Heese of Municipal IQ, a think tank that monitors municipalities.

Heese said that recent protests in Madibeng also showed the high levels of frustration in communities on the receiving end of slow and unsympathetic service delivery.

In July, auditor general Terrence Nombembe criticised the lack of accountability and leadership in the province when, for the second consecutive year, none of the 24 municipalities and four municipal entities in the province received a clean audit.

The audit found that there had been R166-million in unauthorised expenditure, R165-million in irregular expenditure, and R26-million in wasteful expenditure in the North West in the last financial year.

COSATU General Secretary Vavi 'Expected' Marikana

Vavi: Cosatu 'expected' Marikana

31 Aug 2012 00:00 - Charles Molele, Matuma Letsoalo

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi speaks to the Mail & Guardian about a wide range of issues, including the likelihood of more union splits.

He also spoke about the Marikana tragedy and the succession battle in the ANC and Cosatu.

Cosatu has come under criticism for failing to show leadership on the Marikana massacre. Why did it take you so long to respond?

It is not an easy matter; you can't jump into a situation like that without careful consideration of political and organisational circumstances. Lots of people do not know that we have been interacting with platinum workers in Marikana since February.

The National Union of Mine-workers (NUM) has been knocking on every door in terms of authority to say there has to be action from the police in order to stop the intimidation and the systematic killing of people who do not want to join the strike. When the whole thing unfolded we saw 10 people being killed, which included six members of the NUM who happened to be shop stewards and two policemen.

We issued a statement expressing our shock and disgust. We called for a full investigation and refused to apportion blame. We are happy that the president has established a judicial commission of inquiry.

People say you have taken the position that you took because you do not want to anger the NUM. Does your lukewarm response have anything to do with the Cosatu national congress or the ANC elective conference?

No. I have never, ever responded to any national issues on the basis of saving my skin. I always believe in speaking the truth and being honest and frank about the political situation in our country. I have seen that allegation in the media and people have written about it in newspapers and letters, but there is no truth to that.

Have you become a lame duck?

No. I would have become a lame duck if Cosatu members were beginning to show signs of disrespect and were terribly divided, or not showing any form of support to me as general secretary. No. We are far from that. The day you win the support of each and every member of society is the day you know that you are no longer acting on the basis of any principle and you have become a jellyfish, or an amoeba who changes shape all the time in order to accommodate contradictory situations.

I do not want to be like that. I represent something and I have a particular character. Cosatu has its own character. I want to preserve my character. I don't want to find [myself] in a situation where I am desperately attempting to reach out to everybody, including those who are diametrically opposed to the very basic principles that I believe in.

Do you think the NUM has failed to provide leadership on the Marikana debacle?

Look, the principal issue that the Marikana situation exposes to the NUM, Cosatu and society is the terrible and unacceptable conditions of work in the mines, which are linked to pathetic pay levels that are an insult to thousands and thousands of mineworkers who risk their lives going three or four kilometres deep down to mine gold but share nothing in terms of the social value that they generate every day.

Were we caught off guard? No. We have been warning about a ticking time bomb for years, saying that if we don't address the current levels of unemployment, poverty and inequalities at some point, the poor and those who are feeling the pinch will march to our own boardrooms to demand that we do something about their circumstances.

When that happens, the union that has been agitating and bringing to the attention of the world these conditions should provide leadership. The union has been trying to provide leadership, even though some members mistakenly believe that the NUM has not played a positive role.

There have been weaknesses and there have been organisational weaknesses, including the failure of shop stewards to be in charge of the situation to the point where some members now believe they can lead their own struggles and make their own representation with management. For example, one of the shocking things coming out of a worker survey of 3 300 members across the nine provinces is the fact that only 40% of our members are happy with wage settlements. This means 60% are not happy; these are the people in Marikana who are unhappy.

Cosatu and the ANC Youth League have been vocal on the need for radical policy change, including the nationalisation of mines and other key sectors. Do you believe Marikana has harmed your relationship with the league?

No. We were very pleased with the statement that the youth league issued this week, distancing itself from the Friends of the Youth League and in particular from utterances that [expelled league president] Julius Malema and his friends made, which were seen to be divisive. The real friends of workers can't be the ones who champion divisions among workers, no matter the weaknesses in the NUM or in any Cosatu union.

You can't, as a real friend of workers, say, in order to address your organisational weaknesses, form new unions. That's no different from what the Democratic Alliance would do. A real friend of the workers would say "here are the weaknesses, let us address them". It won't say move away from the unions. That's no different from what the Congress of the People did in 2009, or what United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa did several years ago.

When you see drops coming from your roof you ... don't leave your children behind [or] ask for a place next door. The reasonable thing to do would [be to say]: "Let's close the leaks and continue to stay in our house."

Economists have warned that nationalisation would be a very expensive exercise and drive away investors. What is your reaction to this?

It's a scarecrow to force people off the discussion that is necessary in South Africa and unavoidable. The members of the ANC and alliance should not allow those using the issue to intimidate them.

We are calling for the establishment of nationalisation and of strategic mineral resources and direct state involvement, and we will not back off from that position. That discussion will be concluded at our congress.

Are you worried about the ­perceived gap between union leaders and the workers?

We have identified that as one of the issues that we must look at and make sure we close the gap, even if it is just a perception. There are also perceptions that the leadership is not on the ground and are not agitating members enough and are not fighting with the poor shoulder to shoulder, and this often results in the most marginalised members of our society battling it alone without the active support of the leadership.

The trade unions are often conservative and like to keep the salaries of staff and leadership closely related to the reality of the workers on the ground, so for many years we have been trying to never open the gap between ordinary workers and officials and we suffered. We lost almost every senior economist to non-governmental organisations or the government. Every union is trying to improve the base of its officials because we will lose them.

The Cosatu president has made it clear he wants Jacob Zuma to be re-elected as ANC president. Do you share his views?

He never said that. I have not said he must be re-elected. We are saying the 2007 Polokwane conference of the ANC was a major breakthrough for workers and we must defend those policy platforms. We must not [only] defend them, but we must advance them.

We are critical of a class of tenderpreneurs and our responsibility is that we must defend that collective leadership, including the resolutions on a policy level. In doing so we remain critical. We believe that Cosatu must not name its preference to the ANC conference outside the ANC processes and that it can only do so if things are rolling back to pre-2007, or there is a danger that tenderpreneurs will hijack the ANC and drive it against the workers' interests.

Some people say you have overstayed your welcome in Cosatu. Why do you see the need to stand?

Ironically, it was me who said I can't proceed beyond 2012. I made it clear to all Cosatu members. I felt that the time had come for me to move on. In 2009 I said "let another person come in", but hardly a year after August 2010, at the Cosatu central executive committee, we said the alliance was at a crossroads and people said "how dare you leave under these circumstances". I was hammered left, right and centre. That was a mistake, because it opened the succession debate prematurely. But I am going to stand even if I am contested.

Will you consider a position in the ANC if nominated?

No. If I am re-elected that rules me out.

Are we likely to see more union splits within Cosatu?

It depends entirely on Cosatu's response. If Cosatu goes to the national congress and says there is nothing wrong with us and we are a perfect organisation and we have grown by this percentage and we are the biggest union in the continent and we have no problems, I have no doubt we will see more union splinter groups going forward.

Malema Fires Up Aurora Workers in South Africa

Malema fires up Aurora workers

30 Aug 2012 21:00 - Nickolaus Bauer

Julius Malema's attempts to politically capitalise on the Marikana mine shooting continued on Thursday at Grootvlei gold mine on the East Rand.

Malema spoke to workers, who haven't been paid in nearly two years, since the mine was taken over by Aurora empowerment systems – a company partly owned by President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela.

"Our leaders have lost their way and have been co-opted by mine owners and fed profits. They don't care about you," Malema said to an approving applause.

His chants of "Phansi, Zuma, Phansi [down with Zuma]" were met with enthusiastic replies from the workers, who relayed to him their anger with government and the ruling ANC.

"He is our future! He's our leader! He will be our president! The ANC are cowards," one miner said of Malema.

Liquidators of Pamodzi appointed Aurora Empowerment Systems to manage the mines in October 2009, when the mines were fully operational.

Since then, the directors of Aurora – Zuma, Mandela, Jacob Zuma's legal advisor Michael Hulley and Thulani Ngubane – have all come under intense scrutiny over the mine's demise, and in November last year were grilled by Parliament over claims they had fraudulently stripped the mine of its assets.

The mine is in a complete state of disrepair, with only Shaft One, the last functioning division at the mine, currently being used to generate revenue for liquidators to pay creditors.

The visit to Aurora follows on Malema last week transforming a memorial service, held for the 34 slain miners who died at the hands police at Lonmin platinum mine, into a political rally decrying government's role in the incident.

'Gotten worse'
Malema told the Grootvlei miners they need to stand up for their rights and demand what they deserve.

"We thought it would be nice to be a black person after 1994, but it's gotten worse than apartheid. Our own people are killing us," Malema said.

Malema also said miners countrywide should make all mines "ungovernable" until the "whites listen".

"They must pay a decent wage – R12 500 a month as a basic wage for all. This is your time. This country is what it is today because of miners like you. You must claim your rightful place in South Africa," he said.

Malema said the fact the Aurora crisis had lasted four years showed there was no leadership in the country.

"Four years shows that there is not leadership. When they [politicians] arrive to represent you, they give them money and they forget you."

Illegal strike

Accordingly, Malema called on workers to continue their industrial action and also prevent any work from being carried out on Shaft One.

"The liquidators' needs to ensure workers must be paid first. We must stand united, comrades. We must fight together because if we don't the whites will throw the contract workers away like toilet paper," he said.

Among those who attended Malema's meeting were workers fired from the nearby Gold One International, the prospective buyer of Aurora's mines. Gold One International confirmed it had fired 1 044 workers for embarking on an illegal strike.

"The workers were in an illegal strike and we asked them to come back and they refused ... so we dismissed 1 044 workers," spokesperson Grant Stuart said.

The workers wanted a minimum wage of R6 500.

Stuart said the company won an urgent court interdict which declared the strike illegal. Workers were fired and when the matter was appealed, the court upheld the previous decision, Stuart said.

In April, Gold One and Goliath Gold put up a R70-million bid to buy Aurora's assets, with a view to build at least four new mines in the area. – Additional reporting by Sapa.

Marikana Is the Latest Chapter In a Long Saga

Marikana is the latest chapter in a long saga

24 Aug 2012 07:50 - Micah Reddy
Reprinted from the South African Mail & Guardian

Statistically speaking, a Marikana massacre occurs many times every year beneath the surface of South Africa's mining badlands.

Jacob Moilwa (not his real name) is no stranger to the kind of bloodshed that took place at Marikana, something all too common on the platinum fields of South Africa.

As a young man in the 1980s, he took up employment at Impala Platinum in what was then the Bophuthatswana bantustan. Fed up with appalling conditions and pitiful pay, workers at the mine embarked on wildcat strikes. The ensuing violence cost scores of lives and, as at Marikana, was fuelled by union rivalry.

A then-militant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), banned under Boputhatswanan labour law, took advantage of workers' growing disillusionment with local sweetheart union Bonume and rapidly built a strong base at Impala. With a handful of others, Moilwa was instrumental in setting up a branch of the NUM. For his efforts, he was imprisoned and tortured by Boputhatswanan police. After months of bitter struggle, the Impala workers ousted the discredited Bonume and won recognition for the NUM. They forced the company to concede a number of major demands, including a decision to "democratise" the prisonlike hostels.

Now, two decades later, Moilwa and his comrades must be reeling from the grim historical rerun playing out at Marikana, just a short distance from Impala, where violence erupted again earlier this year. Just as in the early 1990s, union rivalry has fuelled the fires of discontent at Marikana, with the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Constructution Union vying for influence.

But, although it feeds into an already volatile situation, union rivalry itself is neither the primary cause of the ongoing violence at Lonmin's mines now, nor, of course, can it explain the unrest at Impala then. Despite the successes of workers fighting for better conditions and pay in confronting one of the most brutal labour regimes in modern history, much remains unchanged. Beyond the cited wage figures, there are the squalid living conditions and endemic violence of the mine world and workers' daily lives.

Statistically speaking, a Marikana massacre occurs many times every year beneath the surface of South Africa's mining badlands. In 2010, 128 legal mineworkers lost their lives. This is a marked improvement on the figure of 309 for 1999, but it is still roughly three times the number of workers who lost their lives in the recent Marikana tragedy.

Permanently incapacitated

That is to say nothing of the hundreds of others who are maimed or permanently incapacitated, or who suffer slow, agonising deaths from silicosis and other industrial diseases.

It is to say nothing of their families languishing in rural ­poverty in the depleted hinterlands of Southern Africa, families whose breadwinners become economic burdens when they are laid off and dumped in their homes to await early death.

To take a step back and put the statistics and stories into historical perspective is to witness a permanent tragedy, one that has unfolded silently over the more than a century of industrial mining in South Africa. It is the country's never-ending underground war with the forces of nature that, like any war, leaves widows in its wake. But rarely do the daily struggles of its victims make headlines. If they did so half as often as fluctuations in the price of precious metals, perhaps real change in the industry would not seem so desperately fanciful.

In the wake of the killings, two community activists showed me around the townships and squatter camps that lie in the shadows of Lonmin's platinum mining operations. Replace the bleak brick-and-mortar buildings of purpose-built 19th-century European mining towns with a cramped mix of sooty corrugated-iron shacks and cracked reconstruction and development programme shoeboxes and you have a scene from an Émile Zola novel set in 21st-century South Africa.

Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum producer, is able to give its chief executive an annual pay package equivalent to what the average rock-drill operator would take home after 400 years on the job. Yet it is unwilling to make good on its modest promises to mining communities: it is unable to fix the burst pipes that leak raw sewage into the rivers running through these sites, spreading waterborne diseases such as ­bilharzia; it is incapable of living up to the easily achievable task of providing effective waste removal and maintaining basic infrastructure.

The local soccer field lies in disrepair, overrun with weeds as children play in the potholed, dust-blown streets. Whitewashed company statements probably will not have much to say about its failed corporate social responsibility initiative: a hydroponic project that has fallen to ruin. They will not tell you how far the Dickensian wage paid to the least-skilled workers will stretch to provide for a family of four.

Dehumanising conditions

For years before the Marikana massacre, the Bench Marks Foundation, a mining watchdog non-governmental organisation, had been drawing attention to the dehumanising conditions of communities in the platinum-mining heartland. It warned that the mines were waiting to explode. But it cut a Cassandra-like figure. Its words of caution and appeals for change went unheeded. All too often, the media discourse is dominated by one-dimensional economic arguments abstract from any sense of social and political reality.

The mining executives and their shills, polemicists and apologists constantly bemoan what they see as excessive labour regulation and union influence and the supposed high costs of South African labour, despite the fact that wages and salaries as a proportion of national wealth have fallen, relative to profit, in recent decades. In the past 15 years, the richest 20% were the only people to experience growth in real wages, whereas the lowest decile endured the greatest decrease, further entrenching inequality in the most unequal country in the world.

Lonmin's actions before, during and after the massacre betray a callous disregard for the lives of its workers. In keeping with tradition, the company has handled the recent unrest with wearisome predictability: query and criticism have elicited only stonewalling. And then Lonmin broke its silence with a threat to striking workers, still mourning the loss of their gunned-down peers, to return to work or face dismissal. Although it later backtracked on this heartless act, it carried through a similar threat last year. The mass dismissal was a tool dear to apartheid-era employers and none more so than Impala, which made widespread use of it in the early 1990s when it sacked a record number of workers.

Amid all this, President Jacob Zuma could no longer maintain his usual hands-off approach, although he might just as well have. In his limp attempt to defuse the situation, we were told that this is a time for mourning, not pointing fingers. How convenient.

Meanwhile, our top cop, Riah Phiyega, unquestioningly absolved the police from any wrongdoing. She said, while the barrels were still hot and the blood still wet, they "shouldn't be sorry".

In the aftermath of the bloodiest confrontation since the end of apartheid, the heads of officials and bosses should be rolling. In an accountable democracy that is exactly what would be happening. Instead we scapegoat the victims, blaming the poorest and most disenfranchised for their own needless deaths. Sadly, it took a populist such as Julius Malema to say what Zuma is too compromised to say, to articulate the workers' anger, call for social justice and point fingers at those who are to blame.

Life on the mines
No articles or opinion pieces, no commissions of inquiry or mournful politicians' speeches could hope to capture the obnoxious, violent and degrading nature of life on the mines as lucidly and honestly as Zola did in Germinal. That was nearly 130 years ago, around the time gold mining started on the Rand. The similarities with the lives of workers then and now and the overlaps between events at Impala in the 1980s and events at Marikana today underscore the dire lack of meaningful transformation in the mining industry.

It would be madness to think that the tension will simply blow over with a commission of inquiry. The platinum mines may well get back to business as usual, but business as usual has always entailed deplorable levels of violence and misery.

If we are to avoid another Marikana, then this must surely be a turning point in the industry. Perhaps recent events make the best case thus far for rigorous debate on the future of the mining industry, even nationalisation. With this in mind, there is a pressing need to undo the historical amnesia that allowed these deaths to happen. All of this was foreshadowed and, in hindsight, should have been glaringly obvious.

Micah Reddy is a freelance researcher and master's student at Oxford University, who has been researching labour relations on platinum mines