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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

A novel that rips a wormhole in the rainbow nation: Permanent Removal by Alan Cowell

Alan Cowell’s high-speed thriller rips a wormhole in the rainbow nation and throws us back to a time when right and wrong were fixed in blood and love came off second best.

- Charlotte Bauer

Permanent RemovalPermanent Removal is a beautifully written political thriller focusing on the nature of justice, truth, betrayal, socio-political and ethical quandaries, complicity and moral agency.

The novel introduces readers to a cast of players whose destinies intertwine in a particularly gruesome murder.

The novel is set in apartheid South Africa and the start of the Rainbow Nation. South African security forces set up a roadblock to intercept a car near the city of Port Elizabeth. Two of the four anti-apartheid activists in the car were secretly targeted for assassination. The police abducted the four and murdered them in cold blood. Their burnt bodies were found later near the Port Elizabeth suburb of Bluewater Bay. These murders are one of apartheid’s murkiest episodes.

On the day of the funeral, President PW Botha declared a State of Emergency. It was the beginning of the end.

They will use the flashing patrol light to force the sky-blue Honda to pull over – an old trick, but it often worked. They will manacle their captives and switch license plates. They will drive the four men back toward the dunes. In the first instance, there will be knives and bludgeons. Then gasoline to incinerate the bodies and the Honda. Dirty work, but someone had to do it.

Works such as Jacob Dlamini’s penetrating and discursive Askari and the recent publication on Eugene de Kock as state sanctioned perpetrator of various evils will be complemented in no small measure by this intriguing fictionalised exploration of political executions and culpability/loss during the apartheid heyday.

About the author

Alan S Cowell is an award-winning New York Times journalist. He was assigned to Johannesburg in the mid-1980s and was awarded the prestigious George Polk Award for courageous reporting. The government of the day ordered him to leave in early 1987 and he was not allowed to return until the early 1990s. Since then he has been a regular visitor, most recently covering the Oscar Pistorius trial and anchoring coverage of the death of President Mandela.

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Local anger is rising against South Africa’s ‘resource curse’

BRICS: An Anti-Capitalist CritiquePatrick Bond, University of the Witwatersrand

South African society’s conflict with a mainstay of the country’s corporate economy – resource extraction – is permanently on display in the platinum, gold and coalfields in the north and north-east of the country. Now communities on the country’s East Coast are confronting mining houses. This is the area that supplied Zulu and Xhosa workers to the mines. And now the mines are coming home.

The latest incident, which claimed the life of a leading anti-mining activist, comes as poorer South Africans feel the effects of soaring food, transport and electricity prices. The misery and anger is compounded by the fact that the government has been shrinking state welfare grants – not in nominal terms, but after adjustment for the cost of living.

Growing impatience with economic conditions has resulted in protests across the country reaching new levels of intensity. Violence against activists also appears to be intensifying.

Resistance is rising

On March 22 Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, a grassroots critic of a proposed Australian dune-mining project on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, was shot at his home by assailants posing as police officers. The attack has shaken communities and environmentalists. A few weeks before his death, the Amadiba Crisis Committee, a local activist group, rejected an environmental impact assessment by titanium-hungry Mineral Commodities Limited, a Perth-based mining firm. The company has previously run into conflict with communities in Sierra Leone and Namaqualand.

The death of Rhadebe follows other acts of intimidation and violence. The week before, a few hours’ drive up the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, a lorry belonging to Bongani Pearce was set alight at midnight. Pearce lives near Somkhele, a vast coal mine run by Johannesburg-based Petmin. The attack came hours after Pearce led a militant community march to the local council.

Like the organisation led by Rhadebe, Pearce’s Mpukunyoni Community Property Association represents dozens of local villages whose residents are angered by high levels of corruption and maladministration. They believe this is largely due to collusion between local political elites and mining companies, and that it is robbing their community of its livelihood.

Resistance is rising as quickly as the price of commodities crashes: coal from a $170/tonne peak in 2008 to $50; and titanium from $8.80/kg in 2011 to $3.80. Mining profitability now requires replacing the 2002-11 era’s rising prices with much higher throughput – greater quantity at much lower prices. With this, the metabolism of the conflict is quickening.

Mining is blasting new holes in the social fabric.

Protests are increasingly common in areas mainly populated by rural women, including the former KwaZulu homeland strips to the east and west of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game park, an area populated by a number of coal mining houses. Last week the Zululand Anthracite Colliery, until recently owned by RioTinto, suffered arson attacks by residents demanding jobs.

Reduced government spending

Setting aside ubiquitous corruption, government’s two major economic policy weaknesses are excessive fiscal stinginess for the poor, combined with intensified state investment in mining-supportive infrastructure.

After last month’s slow-motion-austerity budget was announced, 16.5 million poor people face cuts in the real value of grants by several percentage points. According to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, the cost of a poor household’s minimalist monthly R1,650 food basket rose 9% from November 2015 to January 2016. Annualised, that is more than 25% or, as the organiser’s lead researcher Julie Smith notes,

eight times higher than the average monthly increases over the preceding year.

The 3.5% grant increase Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gave foster-care children and 6.1% provided to other dependent children has already evaporated. In February consumer price inflation rose to 7%. This is before state-owned electricity utility Eskom applies its 9.4% price hike.

Steeper increases in electricity and transport, coupled with higher food prices, mean that women are increasingly limited in the diversity of food they put in their shopping trolleys.

Food, transport and electricity account for about 90% of expenditure for most low-income Pietermaritzburg households, says Smith. This makes a mockery of the consumer price index weighting of less than 50% of the total household basket for these items. Subsidies for other basic-needs items have also been cut, including for municipal services and housing.

Infrastructure spend on the rise

In contrast, Gordhan budgeted R292 billion from 2016-18 for new transport and logistics infrastructure. This includes the two leading presidential strategic projects:

  • state-owned transport company Transnet’s new coal rail line to Richards Bay, aiming to export 18 billion tonnes; and

  • its South Durban port-petrochemical expansion, aiming to increase container traffic from 2.5 million to 20 million annually by 2040.

Gordhan gained the praise of ratings agency Moody’s senior vice president Kristin Lindow, who supports budget cutting, except when it comes to

preserving growth-supporting capital spending.

Even setting aside their contribution to growth-sapping climate change, including KwaZulu-Natal’s current drought, do such mega-projects really qualify?

Durban residents have seen billions in taxpayer funds breed a stampeding white elephant herd. These include a World Cup soccer stadium, convention centre and the uShaka Point development – all requiring ongoing subsidisation. Add to this the new King Shaka airport and Dube Tradeport, which suffer massive overcapacity.

At a Sharpeville Day commemoration this week, South Durban activists vowed to block the port-petrochemical expansion. This follows recent protests against container trucks in the area.

If the state continues to squeeze poor people’s daily budget and pour subsidies into mega-projects serving mining and shipping capital, revolts like these in President Jacob Zuma’s main patronage province will well up with growing vigour.

Like Rhadebe’s Amadiba Crisis Committee and so many other infuriated east coast residents, Pearce and the Somkhele activists intimately understand why South Africa is “resource cursed”. And like others opposed to state capture by dubious corporations and families, these communities vow to keep fighting no matter the rising danger.

The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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When the promise of democracy never materialises: Writing the Decline, the new book by Richard Pithouse

Writing the DeclinePresenting the much-anticipated new book from Richard Pithouse, Writing the Decline: On the Struggle for South Africa’s Democracy.

Pithouse, an activist intellectual who has been an important contributor to the South African public sphere for 20 years, offers a penetrating and beautifully written exploration of the escalating crisis in South Africa in the Zuma era.

Writing the Decline, often written with a view from the underside of society but also always acutely aware of global developments, brings activist and academic knowledge together to provide a searing account of our condition. It takes on xenophobia, racism, homophobia, inequality and political repression.

In a moment when old certainties are breaking down, and new ideas and social forces are taking the stage, this book offers a compelling invitation to take democracy seriously.

Praise for the book:

Richard Pithouse is one of the most elegant writers I know – and also lucid, rational and egalitarian in the best possible way.

- Niren Tolsi

This is writing that dresses the oppressed in human clothing.

- S’bu Zikode, founding president of Abahlali baseMjondolo

This collection by Richard Pithouse shows a deep commitment to connecting the struggles of vulnerable people across the globe, doing so with an enviable appreciation of history and structural analysis, and refusing to fall into the South African temptation of parochial analysis.

- Eusebius McKaiser, political analyst, broadcaster, lecturer and writer

The elegance of Richard’s writing is unparalleled, and the power of his arguments striking. This book reveals, in the starkest terms, what is at stake in the discourse and practice of emancipation in contemporary SA.

- Achille Mbembe, author of On the Postcolony

Richard Pithouse is one of our finest essayists. He is the proverbial canary in the coalmine.

- Sisonke Msimang, writer and activist

Richard Pithouse’s chronicle of the past seven years of struggles from South Africa’s underside … is written with such clarity, succinctness, and unusual beauty that it stands as a powerful testament of what it means to love a country, its people and their aspirations.

- Lewis Gordon, author of What Fanon Said

About the author

Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University, where he lectures on contemporary political theory and urban studies. He writes regularly for journals and newspapers, both print and online, and his commentary is widely read.

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Don’t miss Sweet Medicine author Panashe Chigumadzi at the next iSwareyi in Joburg

Sweet MedicineDon’t miss Panashe Chigumadzi at an iSwareyi event in Johannesburg.

Chigumadzi will be reading excerpts from her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, and sharing her writing journey.

Tickets are free, but donations to the iSwareyi cause are welcome.

More about the event:

iSwareyi is a Joburg-based movement for the appreciation of our African identity manifested through artistic expression. The iSwareyi experience attempts to break down boundaries and create a community of urban people who celebrate the arts.

iSwareyi takes place on the #LastThursday of every month and features guests artists from varying genres | writers, musicians, fimmakers, poets, fine artsits. We provide a platform for artists and the space for debate and discussion.

This month we come Panashe Chigumadzi, author of Sweet Medicine to our stage.

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Don’t miss the launch of Roger Southall’s The New Black Middle Class in South Africa with Hlonipha Mokoena at WiSER

The New Black Middle Class in South AfricaWiSER and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung invite you to the launch of Roger Southall’s new book, The New Black Middle Class in South Africa.

The speakers for the event are Hlonipha Mokoena and Mosa Phadi, with Eddie Webster as chair.

The launch takes place this evening, Tuesday, 15 March, at Wits University at 6 PM. Drinks will be served.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 15 March 2016
  • Time: 6 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
    East Campus
    Wits University | Map
  • Chair: Eddie Webster
  • Speakers: Hlonipha Mokoena and Mosa Phadi
  • Refreshments: Complimentary wine and juices
  • RSVP: Najibha Deshmukh,

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Attention African writers and photographers: Submissions for The Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology now open

From the Jacana Literary Foundation:

Submissions are now open for The Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality for a range of writing genres and photography.

The Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF), in partnership with The Other Foundation, invite writers, journalists, academics, bloggers, poets and photographers to submit for consideration exceptional works – published or unpublished – which explore, interrogate and celebrate the topics of gender, sexuality and human rights.

Rather than general discussions of these subjects, the judging panel seeks pieces which engage with gender and sexuality in ways that promote new insights into human rights matters on our continent.

Only the very best work submitted will be shortlisted and published in an anthology, with the winners to be announced at a 2017 award ceremony, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of R25,000.

Our aim is to ensure that the anthology and information about the award will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the African continent. To this end, Africa World Press (Ethiopia), Amalion (Senegal), FEMRITE (Uganda), Kwani (Kenya), Weaver Press (Zimbabwe) and Word Weaver (Namibia) will be associated with this project. Other publishing houses based in Africa with an interest in participating are also encouraged to contact us.


The subject matter of the work must relate to gender, human rights and/or sexuality in Africa.

Works which fall within one of the following categories are accepted:

  • fiction
  • non-fiction
  • poetry
  • photography / photographic essays
  • journalism / magazine reporting
  • scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
  • social media / blog writings and contributions

Entries must have been created by a citizen of an African country, who lives and works on the continent.

Written submissions must be in English.

  • Up to three entries are permitted per author, across categories. Each entry must be submitted on a separate electronic entry form.
  • Materials must not exceed 15,000 words or 10 images.
  • We are looking for work which tells a story or illustrates an idea. If one photograph achieves this, then we welcome the submission of that single image. It is, however, more likely to be accomplished through a collection of photographs or a photographic essay.
  • No handwritten or hard copy entries can be considered. Submissions must be made via the web link specified below.
  • Entries must include a short biography (100 words maximum) and contact details. These should not be included on the work being submitted, as the award is judged blind and the author remains anonymous until the shortlist has been selected.
  • Submissions are considered to implicitly indicate the entrant’s permission for their work to be published in the anthology, if shortlisted, for no payment or royalty.


Closing date: 31 July 2016
Shortlist announced: 15 December 2016

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Presenting the penultimate volume of the definitive documentary history of the South African Struggle



From Protest to Challenge Volume 2In 2008, Jacana Media proposed republishing a revised and updated second edition of the entire From Protest to Challenge series, which is a multivolume account of the struggle to achieve democracy and end racial discrimination in South Africa.

Professor Gail Gerhart agreed to oversee the revisions and, within the limits of space and time available, to update the original series to take into account more recent academic work by other authors. We are now adding the revised and updated second edition of Volume 2: Hope and Challenge 1935-1952 to the books already published: Volume 1: Protest and Hope 1882-1934; Volume 3: Challenge and Violence 1953-1964; Volume 5: Nadir and Resurgence 1964-1979; and Volume 6: Challenge and Victory 1980-1990.

The second edition of From Protest to Challenge is different in several ways from the first. The three oldest documentary volumes have been reorganised into conventional chapters to make them more user-friendly. All the documentary volumes now contain maps and photographs, as well as more comprehensive indexes than those in the original series.

During two extended periods of pioneering field research by Gwendolen Carter, Thomas Karis and Sheridan Johns in South Africa in 1963 and 1964 – a period of growing political tension – dozens of South Africans gave them documents or loaned them material to photocopy, often in the hope of preventing irreplaceable records from falling into the hands of the police. In addition, lawyers for the defendants in the 1956-61 treason trial contributed a complete set of the trial transcript and the preliminary examination, as well as a set of virtually all the documents assembled by the defence in preparation for the trial. Added to the materials that the team was able to photocopy from archival collections at several South African universities and at the South African Institute of Race Relations, these months of fieldwork provided the initial foundation for what was to become the first four volumes of From Protest to Challenge.

About the authors

Gail M Gerhart is the author of Black Power in South Africa: the Evolution of an Ideology, the co-author of volumes 3, 4, 5 and 6 of From Protest to Challenge, and the editor of the second edition of the series.

Sheridan Johns is the author of the first edition of Volume 1 of From Protest to Challenge (1972), and Raising the Red Flag: The International Socialist League and the Communist Party of South Africa, 1914–1932, and the co-editor of the two-volume series South Africa and the Communist International: A Documentary History, and Mining for Development in the Third World.

Thomas G Karis is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the City College, City University of New York.

From Protest to Challenge Volume 1From Protest to Challenge Volume 3From Protest to Challenge Volume 5From Protest to Challenge Volume 6

Book details

  • From Protest to Challenge Volume 1: Protest and Hope 1882-1934 by Sheridan Johns and Gail Gerhart
    Volume 1 reproduces ninety-nine primary source documents, accompanied by a test that sets the documents in historical context. Authors of the documents include John Dube, Josiah Gumede, John Tengo Jabavu, Clements Kadalie, Charlotte Maxeke, Sol Plaatje and Pixlet Seme. New documents by Abdullah Abdurahman, Margery Perham, Mohandas Gandhi and the Communist Party of South Africa have been added.
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    EAN: 978770098800
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  • From Protest to Challenge Volume 3: Challenge and Violence 1953-1964 by Thomas G Karis and Gail M Gerhart
    Volume 3 deals with the crucial period of the 1950s and the early 1960s. These were years of mass passive resistance to apartheid; years when the ANC was able to rally hundreds of thousands of supporters for its strategy of non-violent protest. This was the period when the increasingly brutal repressive measures of the state, culminating in the Sharpeville massacre and the banning of the ANC and PAC, finally turned the movement away from its proud tradition of non-violence into the difficult and protracted path of armed struggle.
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    EAN: 9781770098824
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  • From Protest to Challenge Volume 5: Nadir and Resurgence 1964-1979 by Thomas G Karis and Gail M Gerhart
    Volume 5 of this magnificent historical record continues the indispensable study of the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa. In addition to extensive background essays, it includes formal documents, underground and ephemeral materials, and statements written in exile or in Robben Island prison that have not previously been published.
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    EAN: 9781770098848
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  • From Protest to Challenge Volume 6: Challenge and Victory 1980-1990 by Clive L Glaser and Gail M Gerhart
    Volume 6 takes up the story in 1980 and examines the crucial decade that preceded the collapse of the apartheid system. As with earlier volumes in the series, it combines narrative with a wealth of primary source materials that record the words of the men and women who shaped South Africa’s complex history.
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9781770098855
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Don’t miss the launch of Rape: A South African Nightmare by Pumla Dineo Gqola at WiSER

Rape: A South African NightmareWiSER invites you to the launch of Pumla Dineo Gqola’s new book Rape: A South African Nightmare.

The seminar will take place at Wits University on Wednesday, 2 March, at 6 PM.

The discussion will be chaired by Danai Mupotsa, with Sarah Godsell and Malebo Gololo as respondents.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 2 March 2016
  • Time: 6 to 7:30 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor Richard Ward Building
    East Campus
    Wits University
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Chair: Danai Mupotsa
  • Respondents: Sarah Godsell and Malebo Gololo
  • RSVP:

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Join Senator David Coltart at UCT for a masterful account of Zimbabwe’s unfinished struggle for freedom

The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe

The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in ZimbabweJacana Media and the University of Cape Town invite you to the launch of The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart.

The event will take place on Wednesday, 2 March, at 12.45 PM at the UCT Faculty of Law.

Coltart will be in conversation with Advocate Brendan Manca SC.

Don’t miss it!
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Don’t miss the launch of The Dot Spot: Adventures in Love and Sex by Dorothy Black at Issi on Bree

Invitation to the launch of The Dot Spot

The Dot Spot: Adventures in Love and SexMF Books invites you to the launch of The Dot Spot: Adventures in Love and Sex by Dorothy Black.

The event will take place at Issi on Bree in Cape Town on Wednesday, 2 March.

Melinda Ferguson will be in conversation with South Africa’s most on-the-ball sex columnist about love, lust, sex and kink.

Don’t miss it!

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