South Africa 30 years later

A note from the editor

Conrad Landin

AMANDLA!

Since our first issue in 1973, South Africa has never been far from the pages of this magazine.

In our March 1995 edition, which had the same theme as this one, editor David Ransom used this very column to describe a chance encounter with a watch repairer in Johannesburg. Des ‘reckoned it would be another 10 years, perhaps 20, before things started to improve’. He was ‘prepared to wait, though he’d rather not – he and his family had already been waiting 15 years for a house’. It’s now 30 years since the end of apartheid, and many South Africans are still waiting.

Interviewed in that issue, National Union of Mineworkers leader and future South African president Kgalema Motlanthe concluded: ‘Big business will shower those comrades who are now in government with all sorts of gifts. That’s the first line of attack. The trick is whether they will have the ability to deal with it.’ A prescient warning, not only of the corporate capture of government under Jacob Zuma, but also that of Motlanthe’s own union, brought to the fore by the Marikana massacre of 2012.

This Big Story, produced in collaboration with the Alameda Institute, features voices seeking to build a future for South Africa which meets not only the principles of the Freedom Charter but the challenges of the present day. South Africa’s seismic prosecution of Israel at the Hague offers a glimpse of how oppression need not always beget oppression.

Elsewhere in this issue, we examine how Italy’s far-right PM Giorgia Meloni gets a free pass from international leaders, and our Agony Uncle ponders how to advise the next generation of activists.

Conrad Landin for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Seth Mazibuko, left, served time in Robben Island for his role in leading the 1976 Soweto uprising. He says South Africa’s current president Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and much of the ANC leadership has been ‘found wanting’. Photo: Jacob Mawela

Seth Mazibuko, left, served time in Robben Island for his role in leading the 1976 Soweto uprising. He says South Africa’s current president Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and much of the ANC leadership has been ‘found wanting’.

Photo: Jacob Mawela

Africa’s pandora’s box

Can South Africa ever fully shake off the shackles of apartheid? Conrad Landin asks whether the country’s historic genocide case against Israel could lead to a reckoning at home.

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The Big Story

South Africa - The Facts

South Africa - The Facts

Culture; inequality; corruption; health; migration.

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Firefighters on the scene after a fire engulfed an illegally occupied government-owned building in Johannesburg on 31 August 2023. More than 70 people were killed and scores of others were injured. Fear of crime has led to the abandonment of the city centre by business and prosperous residents, leaving it in a state of near-lawlessness.Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed

Morbid symptoms

South Africa is losing its status as an upper-middle income developing country. Benjamin Fogel examines the challenges this poses for a young democracy.

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Community members and activists meet with an environmental law firm in Somkhele, KwaZulu Natal, 2019, amid a dispute over a coal mine in the area. South Africa’s laws and post-apartheid constitution have been effectively leveraged by civil society organizations over the past few decades, but direct action has dwindled.Photo: Zuma Press/Alamy

All rise

South Africa’s constitution has allowed social movements to clock up a number of legal victories. But, Claire-Anne Lester asks, can the law really deliver social and economic justice?

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Fortress nation

Fortress nation

South Africa is experiencing a wave of vigilante violence against poor Black migrants, mostly from the African continent. Musawenkosi Cabe reports.

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Fuel pump attendants strike in Cape Town on 9 September 2013. The following year their union, NUMSA, broke from COSATU, the union confederation which forms part of the ruling alliance. Its subsequent political project met a soggy ending when it failed to pass the low threshold required to enter parliament at the 2019 elections.Photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

The metal that bent

When South Africa’s largest trade union broke with the ruling alliance, left-wingers saw cause for hope – but things soon turned sour. Niall Reddy and William Shoki explore the consequences of what happened next.

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A man attempts to start a generator outside a ‘spaza’ tuck shop in Thembisa, on the East Rand, Gauteng, in August 2023. Collapsing power infrastructure and corruption mean regular scheduled power cuts – or loadshedding – are now a fact of life. But the rich are shielded from their impact through private generation systems – demonstrating that corruption is a class issue.Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

When the lights go out

The ‘state capture’ of South Africa’s public services has seen billions sequestered by a new boss class as public services collapse. Ra’eesa Pather reports.

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Illustration: Megan Park

At the crossroads

This year’s election could mark a major shift in South Africa’s parliamentary politics. But re-building a Left capable of winning popular support presents a far bigger challenge, argue William Shoki and Niall Reddy.

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Giorgia Meloni pictured in Trento, Italy, just weeks before being elected Prime Minister on 25 September 2022.Photo: Pierre Teyssot/Shutterstock

Meloni’s canny game

Italy’s extremist prime minister is courting politicians abroad even as she enacts an authoritarian agenda of hate at home. But Giorgia Meloni’s embrace by the mainstream needs to end, argues Elena Siniscalco.

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‘Strong beyond the world’s imagination’

‘Strong beyond the world’s imagination’

In spite of the overwhelming odds against them, a spirit of feminist resistance exists among Afghanistan’s girls and women. Jen Ross reports.

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Halilu Abdullahi lives at the Amanawa leprosy colony on the outskirts of Sokoto state, Nigeria.Photo: Promise Eze

‘I will live with the scars for life’

Leprosy had been almost eliminated in Nigeria, but the disease has made a resurgence. Promise Eze reports on how patients continue to be abandoned by the government and stigmatized by society.

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An official stands at the door of an Israeli airliner after it landed in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 31 August 2020. A few months later the first commercial passenger flight to Israel by a carrier from the UAE landed near Tel Aviv, cementing the normalization deal between the two regimes.Photo: Nir Elias/Associated Press/Alamy

The betrayal

From arms deals to surveillance tech exchanges, Yara Hawari explains how alliances have been – and continue to be – fostered between Israel and various Arab governments.

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Opinion

View from India

View from India

Politicians using women, by Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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View from Africa

View from Africa

Time to divest from the business of evangelicalism? By Rosebell Kagumire.

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View from Brazil

View from Brazil

Gaza is another reason for division in polarized Brazil. By Leonardo Sakamoto.

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Currents

An activist and Holocaust survivor joins daily demonstrations against the war in Gaza at the White House in November, 2023.Photo: Phil Pasquini/Shutterstock

Warring words

Report on the Israel/Palestine conflict by Oren Ziv.

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Troops out

Troops out

Citizens of Cyprus are calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, writes Richard Matoušek.

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Tibetans betrayed

Tibetans betrayed

Nepal transformed from a safe-haven into an open-air prison, writes Steve Shaw.

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Briefly

Briefly

Papua New Guinea; Bangladesh; Jamaica; Peru; Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Invisible

Invisible

Citizenship rule changes in Malaysia by Graeme Green.

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Digital rights now

Digital rights now

Adele Walton reports on the digital human and labour rights of sex workers in Europe.

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Men aboard vibrant Senegalese pirogues pull into shore at the coastal village of Kayar, where fish stocks are rapidly dwindling due to overfishing.Photo: Sergey Bezgodov/Shutterstock

Fished out

Senegal’s fishing industry has now collapsed, reports Tristen Taylor.

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President Bukele’s brutal crackdown on gangs and dissidents has seen one per cent of El Salvador’s population of six million put behind bars.Photo: Camilo Freedman/Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

Gold rush?

Rahila Gupta reports on arrests in El Salvador.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Introducing... Guilherme Boulos

Brazil’s most prominent housing activist, by Richard Swift.

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A man sits in the apple orchards in Pulwama District, South Kashmir.Photo: Kamran Yousuf

Fallen apples

Kashmir’s apple farming struggling with the effects of climate change.

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Deadly errors

Deadly errors

120 Tudun Biri village civilians killed in northwest Nigeria by a drone, reports Promise Eze.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reasons to be Cheerful

Homeward bound; Trans Health win; Chocolatiers of the rainforest.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

In the balance

Sophie Neiman reports from a stifling court in Kampala, where activists are waging a bitter legal battle to overturn Uganda’s harsh anti-gay law.

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Illustration: Rodrigo de Matos

Open Window

‘Inequality of life’ by Rodrigo de Matos (Portugal).

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Seriously?

Cancelled: Jewish journalist Masha Gessen.

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An Argentine woman holds a placard stating: ‘There are no healthy bodies in sick lands’, at the nationwide general strike to protest the extractivist policies of President Milei in January 2024.Photo: Daniella Fernandez Realin/ZUMA Press Wire

Sign of the Times

Argentina: "No hay cuerpos sanos en territorios enfermos".

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Country Profile: Georgia

Country Profile: Georgia

The photos, facts, and politics of Georgia.

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Illustration: ILYA

Cartoon History: Bay of Pigs

ILYA looks back on the botched US invasion of Cuba after Fidel Castro’s revolution.

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Photo: Rachel Seidu

Southern Exposure: Rachel Seidu

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser

The Interview: Amitav Ghosh

Indian author Amitav Ghosh talks to Graeme Green about colonialism and the current opioid crisis.

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Illustration: P J Polyp

Big Bad World

Average global temperature, by P J Polyp.

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Illustration: Marc Roberts

Only Planet

International law, by Marc Roberts.

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Climate activists Patience Nabukalu (front centre) and Greta Thunberg (front left) join a protest against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline in Bonn, Germany on 12 June 2023.Photo: Henning Kaiser/Associated Press/Alamy

Temperature Check

Four sources of climate hope. Words by Danny Chivers.

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Illustration: Kate Evans

Thoughts from a Broad

Press the trigger. Illustration by Kate Evans.

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Agony Uncle

Agony Uncle

Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. This month: Climate camp.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed Media: Books

Mixed Media: Books

Business Power and the State in the Central Andes; Lovebug; Alphabetical Diaries; Ghost Pains.

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Mixed Media: Film

Mixed Media: Film

The Zone of Interest; The Settlers (Los Colonos).

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Mixed Media: Music

Mixed Media: Music

Delight; If I Must Die and other works.

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Books Essay: Modern delusions

Books Essay: Modern delusions

A new study of civilizational thinking leaves no doubt as to its 19th century origins, writes Ed McNally.

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