Seminar: Screening of Documentary The Uprising of Hangberg Date: Tuesday 14 December 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, Level 6, The Tower, MTB, Howard College, UKZN
The Uprising of Hangberg documents the human rights violations that took place in Hangberg, Cape Town, when police attacked a Hout Bay community after residents ignored the City’s request to house no new arrivals in temporary dwellings on and above the fire-break on the mountain. The documentary was produced by Aryan Kaganof and Dylan Valley.
On September 21, the community of Hangberg on the slopes of the Sentinel Mountain in Hout Bay was catapulted into the spotlight when an operation by the City of Cape Town to demolish illegally built homes quickly degenerated into a violent confrontation between the police and residents. The events of that day are portrayed in The Uprising of Hangberg, a documentary by Aryan Kaganof and Dylan Valley, which they say aims to tell the other side of the story. Valley said his interest in the Hangberg saga had been piqued after fellow filmmaker Kaganof - who happened to have lived in the area for some time in the past - told him there was something wrong with the way that the community had been portrayed in the media by the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.He said there was something very wrong with the picture. That community is not the way they were portrayed…violent hooligans. We needed to tell the other side of the story.
This intensely powerful documentary has, with immediacy and passion, encapsulated much of what is so contentious within our country right now: misuse of power, manipulation of press freedom, lack of quality in Government leadership. We see the indignity of forced removal being contrasted with the dignity of being heard. This documentary stands as a testament to the Khoisan of Hangberg, and to the power of the individual voice in today’s patronising society. The fundamental issue of human rights in our country must be seen to be effective otherwise our entire constitution is a farce. The ramifications of this incident carry huge import for our country as a whole.
Coal & the US Electric Sector
Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign: Transforming the US Electric Sector
Date: Friday, 19 November 2010 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, The Tower, MTB, Howard College Time: 12:30‑14:00 Speaker: Cesia Kearns
Topic: Coal‑fired power is a major culprit for perhaps the biggest crisis of our time ‑ climate change ‑ as well as a tremendous source of highly toxic air and water pollution that poisons local communities and damages the beautiful places and resources that sustain them. Around 2001, when the coal industry and U.S. utilities began a mad Coal Rush to build 150 new coal‑fired power plants, the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign embarked on an aggressive organizing campaign to oppose every proposal. Discover the dirty truth about coal, how the Sierra Club's organizing strategies have defeated 138 of the previous 150 proposals, and dialogue about how the United State's largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization and its allies envision a global imperative to continue challenging Big Coal and building a clean energy future.
Speaker Bio: Cesia Kearns has worked for the past six years as a Regional Representative with the Sierra Club's (the Unites States' oldest and largest grassroots environmental non‑profit) Beyond Coal Campaign organizing with community leaders and allies to enact clean energy policies and stop the construction of a new coal‑fired power plant. She now works out of Portland, Oregon, on the Sierra Club's latest effort to make the Northwest region of the U.S. entirely free of coal‑fired electricity and to address coal project developments across international borders. Prior to the Sierra Club, Cesia received two bachelor's degrees from Minnesota State University in Mankato, served as a volunteer leader on human rights issues with Amnesty International, and as a fellow with the Kessel Peace Institute educating Southern Minnesota communities about peace and social justice issues.
US Philanthropy and the Global South">US Philanthropy and the Global South
In the US, private donations to charity amount to more than US$300 billion annually. Yet less than 5% of this philanthropy goes to international causes, and but a small amount makes it's way to the global South. When it does, it frequently comes with a US/ Northern agenda: Witness the Gates Foundation's massive support to African agriculture that places global corporate interests well above those of traditional African farmers. John Harvey, founding director of Grantmakers Without Borders (www.gwob.net), will offer a comprehensive overview of US philanthropy, its infrastructure and its relationship to social change in the global South. He'll discuss notable recent trends in US-based philanthropy, including philanthro-capitalism and increasing obsessions with social entrepreneurship and microfinance. He'll also discuss the small but vibrant community of social justice grantmakers and their relationship to US philanthropy as a whole.
Speaker Bio: John Harvey brings more than 20 years of experience to the field of global social change philanthropy. From 2000 to 2010, he served as director of Grantmakers Without Borders, a US-based network of social change grantmakers whose mission is to increase funding for global social change and to improve grantmaking practice. Prior to joining Grantmakers Without Borders, John worked with Grassroots International and Oxfam America. John speaks regularly on issues of social change philanthropy and grantmaking practice. John is currently in South Africa to develop and pilot an innovative evaluation program, called the Grantee Experience and Insight Report, that allows grantees to provide honest and confidential feedback on their donors.
Lynch Violence and the Governance of Evil
Date: Tuesday 26 October 2010 Time: 12:30 - 14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Speaker: Nicholas Rush Smith Title: Lynch Violence and the Governance of Evil
Topic: Through an account of a notorious incident of lynch violence in KwaMashu township, this paper demonstrates that punitive violence outside of the state is not necessarily caused by failures in policing as is often assumed. Instead, the paper argues, mob “justice” is better understood as being connected to problems of perceived moral failure and the spread of evil. The paper goes on to engage Walter Benjamin’s famous essay, “Critique of Violence,” and interrogates the relationship between violence, law, and state building.
Speaker Bio: Nicholas Rush Smith is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is currently researching a dissertation on crime, policing, and vigilantism in post-apartheid South Africa. His research is supported by the University of Chicago and the Social Science Research Council.
Western Sahara: Africa’s Forgotten Conflict
Date: 15 October 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Seminar: Western Sahara: Africa’s Forgotten Conflict Speaker: Mariem el Bourhimi
Topic: Often referred to as Africa’s forgotten conflict and its last colonial outpost the situation of the Saharawi people, both in the occupied territory and the refugee camps in south western Algeria, remains uncertain. Despite United Nation’s diplomatic initiatives, the International Court of Justice’s 1975 ruling in favour of independence for Western Sahara and African Union initiatives many languish in the camps and are oppressed violently in the occupied territory.
Presenters: Saharawi human rights activist, Mariem el Bourhimi who has been subjected, along with her family to imprisonment, torture and harassment will provide an update on the current situation of the human rights in the territory occupied by Morocco as well as the marginalization that the Saharawi population are exposed to in their own territory.
Peter McKenzie from the Durban based Dala collective will present his short film ‘Like Grains of Sand’, an ode to the women of the refugee camps.
Adapted technologies for the poor
Date: 14 October 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Seminar: Adapted technologies for the poor - how to disseminate knowledge Speaker: Rolf Schwermer
Topic: Sometimes it takes a few simple things and some extra knowledge to improve living conditions for people in developing countries. www.tecbase.org is a non profit initiative, which has found support in Germany and other countries as a platform for the exchange of knowledge about simple and efficient technologies as an open source.
About the Speaker: Rolf Schwermer is Senior Lecturer at Fachhochschule Hannover, University of Applied Sciences in Hannover, Germany
The Challenges of Global Warming
Speaker: Hayley Leck Seminar: Rising to the Adaptation Challenge? Responding to Global Environmental Change in the Durban metropolitan and Ugu district regions, South Africa. Date: Friday 17 September 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, The Tower, MTB
Topic: Global environmental change (GEC) or more narrowly, climate change is now widely recognised as the most formidable challenge facing humanity in the 21st century and beyond. The adverse effects of climate change are disproportionately distributed and it is the already vulnerable and marginalised who stand to be most affected. Broadly, Hayley’s research explores the opportunities and constraints to adapting to global environmental change (GEC), or more narrowly, climate change, in the eThekwini (Durban) and bordering Ugu District municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Particular emphasis is on the human dimensions of adaptation to GEC, while recognising the coupled nature of social and ecological systems. Specific attention is paid to how apparent disparities to vulnerability to GEC amongst households in different municipal spaces can be better addressed and accounted for in GEC adaptation initiatives. Hayley will present an overview of her research and fieldwork experiences and provide a tentative outline of some of her main findings so far.
Speaker Bio: Hayley is a PhD student at the Royal Holloway University London. She attended the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa from 2003-2008 where she completed her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies (Cum Laude), as well as BSocSci Honours, Geog and Env. Management (Summa Cum Laude). Hayley has been a visiting scholar at the Centre for Civil Society during her fieldwork period which began in October 2009 and will be shortly returning to London where she will complete her final year.
Civil society v Southern African dams
Joint seminar of the Centre for Civil Society of the UKZN School of Development Studies in Durban, and International Rivers in Berkeley, California
Speakers: Dudu Khumalo (CCS), Baruti Amisi (CCS), Molefi Ndlovu (CCS), Daniel Ribeiro (IR), Terri Hathaway (IR), Lori Pottinger (IR) Seminar: Civil society v Southern African dams Date: 10 September 2010 Times: 5:30-7pm (note new time) in Durban, 8:30-10am in Berkeley Venues: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower in Durban; International Rivers in Berkeley (2150 Allston Way, Suite 300)
Southern Africans have contested mega-dam onstruction for many decades, beginning with the Zambezi River's damming at Kariba in 1956. In addition to traditional anti-displacement considerations, these struggles have also entailed broader environmental concerns, including the contribution of tropical mega-dams to climate change due to methane emissions from decaying vegetation. This is true in two hydropower sites we consider in the seminar: Inga on the Congo River (the world's biggest planned installation) and Mpanda Nkuwa on the Zambezi in Mozambique's Tete Province. In another two sites, the Lesotho Highlands and Inanda, the contestations are largely around displacement associated with water transfer schemes (to Johannesburg and Durban, respectively). In Johannesburg, the extremely high costs of dam construction (two already, with four more in the works) also generated downstream disasters in low-income townships, where water wars have raged for a decade. How is civil society reacting to these multiple challenges: ongoing displacement problems, high costs of water/electricity associated with mega-dams, extremely uneven distribution of benefits (both water and electricity), and climate implications? Teams from the Centre for Civil Society in Durban and International Rivers in Berkeley will explore four of the major controversial sites as well as other struggles over dams and water in Africa.
(The seminar will have skype conferencing by video between the two sites, with a potential to add audio inputs from elsewhere, if you alert us at email@example.com on 9 September)
Speaker: Margaret Gärding Seminar: Donor power in the international aid industry Date: Friday, 27 August 2010 Time: 12:30‑14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower
Why is the nature of recipient‑donor relations important in international aid cooperation? What is the nature of recipient donor relations emerging in evaluations over the last 20 years, in critical literature and in different stakeholder concerns?
Margaret Gärding, a doctoral student at the University of Umeå in Sweden, is researching the topic, Partnership with Africa: Donor and recipient relations within a context of power inequality and cultural diversity. She is from rural KwaZulu‑Natal, but lived abroad for the last 32 years, primarily involved in international aid cooperation on the donor side for Oxfam, the British Govt and the Swedish Govt as a trainer (at Swedish, Nordic and European level), programme coordinator, advisor to governments and as a consultant. She has worked in Niger, DRC, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Topic: The PlayPump is a South African invention: a children's roundabout that pumps water. It has been highly successful at attracting support both within South Africa, and particularly in the United States and Europe; but reports of its performance in the field indicate that it does not work as well as it should for the user. The compelling image it presents to external audiences, of children's play effortlessly producing a social good, seem to have selected for the success of the PlayPump over its efficacy on the ground.
This possible consequence of designing objects that both equip users to access basic resources, and communicate to others, is the subject of Ralph Borland's PhD thesis, 'Radical Plumbers and PlayPumps - Objects in development'. He will present an overview of his research, which juxtaposes communicative objects such as the PlayPump with developing world activism over resources, interventionist art, and critical design, to produce a critique of contemporary 'design for the developing world'.
Speaker Bio: Ralph Borland is writing his PhD thesis in the Department of Electronic Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin. His undergraduate degree was in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, and his Masters in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University.
Trevor Field of PlayPumps International April 14th, 2008 by John Eastman
John Eastman interviews Trevor Field, the founder of PlayPumps International. They discuss many facets of the PlayPumps International projects as well as the daily life and difficulties of the average South African. Trevor Field elaborates on the catalyst for developing the system, the rewarding aspects of his work, and the partnerships that he has forged with supporters, including former AOL CEO Steve Case.
If you look at rural African schools, they haven’t got swing sets and the kind of playground equipment that European and American kids have got.
You saw a version of the roundabout at an agriculture fair in Johannesburg. Why were you drawn to it? What made you want to do this? FIELD: Well, what I saw at the agricultural fair was actually a model of a roundabout. And it was a working model built very small, perhaps at a tenth scale. I just thought it was a really cute idea. I had seen 100 people battling to obtain water in various parts of the country. And I just thought it was a really good idea in a very simple way, and an environmental friendly way of providing water to people. If you look at rural African schools, they haven’t got swing sets and the kind of playground equipment that European and American kids have got. So it was like killing two birds – or, since then, about six birds – with one stone. That’s what turned me on to it pursue it.
Were you looking for a project? Or did it come to you to work like this once you saw the model? FIELD: No. I’m a keen fisherman. Often would get out to the coast to a place they call Transky, which is on the east coast of South Africa. It’s called the “Wild Coast” because it’s called the – it’s wild, you know. It’s hard to get to. You need a four-wheel drive car and that’s why the fishing’s good. It’s difficult to get to. I think I went down there for a boy’s fishing weekend, and I observed some ladies standing next to a windmill waiting for the wind to blow, because the concrete reservoir at the bottom of the windmill was cracked and broken. And it wouldn’t hold water. And we were there for a couple days. And when we came back and these ladies were still there waiting for the wind to blow. And I thought, “that’s quite pathetic.”
So I had this notion in my mind of trying to come up with the idea of a sort of starter handle, like you get on an old motorcar, so you can turn the windmill when there was no wind. But that didn’t work because you’re going the wrong way for a gearbox. So, yes, I was looking for a solution. And I just stumbled across one.
Once you had the idea and were looking at reengineering and redesigning, did you build an initial prototype? FIELD: Yes. The guy who came up with the idea and I set about designing it and redesigning it. I’m not an engineer at all, but he came up with a couple of designs. And the first one that he came up with worked on an Archimedes’ screw principle. That only goes in one direction. And so the kids showed a resistance and wanted to go both ways. They all went the other way, the kids pumping water. So he had to come up with a method to get this thing to work in both directions, which is what he did, eventually. And we – my company, Roundabout Outdoor, bought pipe from him, and we reinstate it a half a dozen times since then. It’s going to be an export-quality product that we can leave in a very rural community. And it won’t tear or break down. And it won’t get damaged, ’cause it’s very, very strong and robust. We have trademarks in every country where we believe it will be used in the world.
Okay. As good of a cause as this is… what your organization is accomplishing, do you have competition at this point? Has competition emerged? FIELD: Yeah. We’ve had an outfit copied our system completely in South Africa. And we informed them they were infringing on our intellectual property via our patent attorney. We do know that the system has been duplicated in India. We don’t know how effective it is. But I’ve looked at their designs, and without being slanderous to them, I can tell you that from what I’ve seen on the drawing board, they should not put in the field. It’s not going to last far with this. It’s just the wrong thing.
Do you know the companies who you feel infringed upon your patent and copied your product? Are they for-profit or are they a nonprofit like your organization? FIELD: No. They’re a for-profit.
Your product works by extracting water from the ground with pumps powered by children playing on the roundabout, or the merry-go-round, and you subsequently sanitize the water and store it in towers. Have you looked at, or has the thought come up for using this type of solution to solve other types of problems in similar environments, as in the sub-Saharan area? FIELD: Yes. Well, we won the World Bank Development Marketplace competition in February 2000, in Washington, D.C. We were the highest-scoring division in the event competition was the replicability of the system. You know, we can take this system we’ve got here in our factory in Johannesburg, put in a 747 and fly it into your backyard, so to speak. Actually, if we find a borehole that has a sufficient quantity of water and quality of water, even I could bop this thing together and it would work exactly the same in your backyard as it works in South Africa, or it would do the same in India or China or anywhere else. Obviously, it won’t work in the Artic Circle or in the desert it would be so hot, you know, you wouldn’t be able to touch it. But in fairly temperate climates it’ll work anywhere.
Before you founded PlayPumps your career was in advertising. How do you compare the two in terms of personal satisfaction? Is what you’re doing now as rewarding, more rewarding? Can you speak to that for a bit? FIELD: Sure. I mean on a personal satisfaction level, I believe what I am doing now is a lot more satisfying. I can sleep at night. It really rocks me to know we’re making a difference to a lot of people who are nowhere near as privileged as I am or my family is. But when I was in advertising, I worked for Penthouse Magazine. That was a lot of fun, too, and quite satisfying.
Kept you up at night, huh? FIELD: Oh yeah.
How many people are involved in the Johannesburg operation? FIELD: In our offices here, we’ve got about 14 people who organize database and computer systems. And at the factory we’ve got about 35 people involved in the factory manufacturing the product. And then we’ve got all of the installation crews, who are contractors in the various provinces and countries where we install. So, all in all, this probably – we’re close to a hundred, I would guess, in total.
Are the majority of those people from the area? FIELD: Yes. Everybody at the factory works and lives in the area. Everybody here lives in Johannesburg. And all of the contractors who install and repair my timing equipment live in those provinces. You know, it’s ridiculous for us to drive to very far to go fix a leaking crack. We’ve got a Durban crew that lives there and they do all these fixes and do maintenance in that particular territory.
That’s great. I read that in September of last year, 2007, Dale Jones joined the company as the Chief Executive Officer. Tell me, how did you come to know him? What impact will he have? Why was he chosen to be the CEO? FIELD: Well, Dale is – I don’t know a great deal about his background, but I do know that he was one of the most influential people for one the biggest recruitment agencies in the States. And Steve and Jean Case were looking for someone to head up the operation in the US, that type of international Washington. And they called him up, and he thought that they wanting him to find somebody, when in fact, they were wanting him, personally. That’s how I got to know him. I think he’s going to have a fantastic impact because he’s very well connected. He’s particularly articulate. And because he’s a gentleman and now a good friend of mine now. So I think that why he was chosen to run the company because he’s just such a nice people’s person.
Can you tell me about the relationship between PlayPumps International and Revolution? Revolution is the company that was founded by Steve Case, the former owner of AOL? FIELD: Well, Revolution is Steve’s company, and PlayPump International is the initiative of the Case Foundation, that is of Steve and Judy Case. They’re a married couple. They started the Case Foundation and they have pioneered and promoted the PlayPump system. You may have seen that PlayPump system was endorsed by First Lady Laura Bush, and Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative Conference in New York in September 2006. That was an official announcement of the American Government getting involved. And I know that that was motivated by Steve and Jean, and also us. We did some presentations, too. Even I did when I was in Washington.
Is it an ongoing, working relationship? And is Steve Case personally involved? FIELD: Steve is involved personally. Not as much as Jean, his wife is. Jean is the chairperson of the PlayPumps, International, as far as I’m aware. And Jean is very much involved in the functionality and the day to day running of the initiative. Steve is involved as well because he’s fully up to speed with what’s going on. I was with them two weeks ago at their residence in Manhattan Avenue in DC, where they hosted a cocktail party with 200 people, which included seven ambassadors and all sorts of different people. And they were unbelievably supportive and verbal about the PlayPumps initiative and their intention to continue supporting it.
Okay. Can you tell me about the partnership with the Africa group of the Coca-Cola Company? Alexander Cummings is the president and the Chief Operating Officer, I believe. Can you tell me about that partnership with PlayPumps? FIELD: Yes. Well, we continue to have work with them. We have had a relationship with the Coca-Cola Company here in South Africa and with the head officer, for that matter. I personally hadn’t met Alex Cummings prior to a meeting a few weeks ago in DC. But I have spoken to him since then, and I’ve sent him a couple of emails. And he sent one back to me to say, you know, we want to work together with you. Let’s get your executive documents and you’re initiative briefing document, and outline your work that you’re currently doing, and then we’ll get back together. So we are intending to work with them.
If you walk down the street in South Africa, everybody says hello to you, even if you’re a complete stranger.
What strikes you the most about South Africa? FIELD: Ah, it’s just a beautiful place. It’s got the best weather in the world. It’s got the best atmosphere because it’s 6,000 feet up in the air – It’s clean and fresh. We got the most fantastic people. We’ve got the prettiest girls, the coldest beer, and the best steaks. What else do you want to know?
[Laughing] That’s quite a lot to be envious of. Do you have residence there, at this point? FIELD: Yes. I’m a permanent resident of South Africa. I’ve been here since 1975. I came here as a technician from the UK to install TV microwave links. There wasn’t any television in South Africa in those days. And I was trained in the UK for the telephone department there. And we came here as young guys to put in the microwave links. And once you’ve seen Cape Town, once you’ve been on the beach in Durban, you don’t want to go anywhere else.
If you walk down the street in South Africa, everybody says hello to you, even if you’re a complete stranger. Everybody says hello, smiles, greets you, tips their hat, and says, “Good morning How you doing?” That kind of thing. You know, I lived in London and I rode on the tube train. And nobody would make eye contact with you, let alone speak to you.
Well, we’ve really only got two problems in South Africa. One is AIDS, which is a massive problem. And the medical distribution of antiretroviral drugs is not so much of a problem, the distribution of it, it’s the actual administering of the stuff.
And then there’s the crime in New York and in many of the big cities in the States. You know get into a lift, and everybody looks at the digital counter that’s telling you which floor you’re on, and nobody says good morning or anything. In South Africa, everybody speaks to you. I mean, to give you a clue, when my daughter was in high school, I used to go and watch her play hockey. And you walked through the school. They’ve got 1100 children, and every child, by and large, everyone said, “Good morning, Sir.” Thank you. Every one. When you say good morning to 350 kids when you walk through it becomes a bit too much; you know what I mean?
Yes. Very touching. FIELD: Yes. It’s very, very warm. Very different.
Recently, on World Water Day, Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon released a statement discussing the depth of the problem with sanitation and safe drinking water. Do you have a relationship with the UN? Have you met the Secretary-General? FIELD: I haven’t met the Secretary-General. I would love to. There’s a lot of people I’d like to meet to tell them about what we do, and he’s one of them. We have worked with some of the United Nations departments. In particular, UNICEF, we’ve worked with in the past. We worked with UNICEF and a couple of others, but not in any good likeness in-depth as I’d like to.
You are in Johannesburg and working in various provinces. What other problems in the area need to be solved? In the United States, we hear about the problems of AIDS and distrubuting AIDS medication. Are there any other dire problems that you see? Well, we’ve really only got two problems in South Africa. One is AIDS, which is a massive problem. And the medical distribution of antiretroviral drugs is not so much of a problem, the distribution of it, it’s the actual administering of the stuff. You know, it’s not necessarily just one pill, where you can just take one pill and then you’re fixed, you know? It’s a regime of about 8 to 10 different drugs that you have to take in a controlled methodology. You have to take them at the same time every day. And you have to take some before you’ve eaten food and after you’ve eaten food. And you have to take the yellow one, then the blue ones, then the green ones. And it’s a regime. And when you get to the average African person that doesn’t possess a watch, it’s difficult for them to be able to adhere to the methodology of taking the pills in the right sequence. And they sometimes skip a day, or they forget to take them. That is a problem that is very real. And I’m led to believe that if people do take these drugs in the wrong order, or miss a couple of days of taking these, then they become immune to any kind of antiretroviral drug. That’s a real problem. That’s a difficult one to solve.
So that’s a big problem. The other problem we’ve got here is with crime, which is getting much better. It is a problem that keeps everybody on their toes. And, you know, a lot of it is opportunity at this time. And a lot of it is not malicious, you know, hijackings and murders. And they only got it because they’re starving. They’re going to sell something they got of yours for $2.00 and they’re going to buy a loaf of bread.
How do you handle potential volunteers? If someone wants to volunteer to work with your organization in Africa is there anything set up to do that? FIELD: Yes, it’s a difficult question. We get requests all the time from people who want to come to South Africa and install pumps. And obviously you’ve got to get a spade and a shovel and dig holes and mix concrete and like that. It’s all very noble. But we’ve got African people that actually need those jobs. And we’ve got those people to do those jobs. And also, we have a problem guaranteeing the safety and well-being of foreigners in rural communities, working in areas that they’re not familiar with. We have requests all the time from people wanting to volunteer. And the short answer’s no, we have cracked how to work that one out yet.
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
FIELD: The best advice I’ve ever received, ever, is to, and everybody says this, but it’s true, believe in yourself. You’ve got to believe in your idea.
I mean when I told all my friends that I was going to make a children’s roundabout that pumps water. And I was going to change the affliction of Africa, they all laughed at me. All of them. But when Laura Bush announced the 16.4 million dollar investment into my company, there was nobody laughing then.
I mean when I told all my friends that I was going to make a children’s roundabout that pumps water. And I was going to change the affliction of Africa, they all laughed at me. All of them. But when Laura Bush announced the 16.4 million dollar investment into my company, there was nobody laughing then.
So the best advice that I’ve ever got was that you’ve just got to do it. It’s like the Nike slogan. You’ve just got to do it. You have the most comprehensive map that anyone’s ever made, without having taken a travel once. And action’s what it’s all about. You’ve just got to do it. You’ve got all of these fantastic ideas, but if you just sit there and think about them, that’s hopeless. You know, you just got to get off your butt and get out there and got to do it.
I think a lot of the students in the university that have studied in Europe and so on would benefit from hands-on experience. I would make sure that they would have to go on a sojourn to different parts of the world, and actually, physically stand there and work with the engineers how they’re going to fix a bridge. Rather than looking at it on a computer in a university.
So at this point, there are approximately 1,000 pumps installed. FIELD: Yes.
Where does it go from here? What are the plans? Do you have a certain number of installations planned or targeted for the next several years? FIELD: Well, we’ve got a plan to expand into nine other countries and to expand the base in South Africa. The target at the moment is about 4,000 pumps, which will ultimately benefit close to ten million people. But that’s just a tiny fraction of what we’re trying to do. We’re working with all sorts of different of people. We’re looking for partners in all sorts of different countries. I mean we can’t do this on our own. We can try and do 4,000 pumps on our own, and we will do that. It will take a couple years. But if we had a franchise-type model – franchise is probably the wrong word but the right terminology – if we could put out a model together in such a way that we can take it to Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, India, Dinah, the Pacific Rim countries. If we could franchise the concept and the know how and the IP to other groups. That they could work on it and we could change this water shortage problem that the world is facing in a much bigger fashion than what we would be able to do on our own.
And in these regions, how is the government involvement? And what are you looking forward to in terms of help from political groups? FIELD: Well, all of the countries that we’ve been to have decided – well, we’ve got a public-private partnership with South African Department of Water Affairs. And they have helped us very nicely in the past to identify areas of need and then identify boreholes and such. And all the target countries that we’re going to before we actually get into their countries, we insist on putting an MOU, which is a Memorandum of Understanding between ourselves and the government. So that they free passage through their border posts with this equipment. There’s no way we’re going to pay import duty like gift. So they clear that import duty problem out of the way. They also help us with their Department of Water Affairs to identify certain boreholes or institute drilling programs for people who are disadvantaged. And that is the way we’re looking for help from the government. That’s what we want them to do.
You had previously mentioned the election in Zimbabwe, and of Robert Mugabe conceding. Are you looking to benefit from changing leadership? Can you foresee bettering conditions that can help your work? FIELD: I think you’ll find that Zimbabwe will be chalk and cheese as of tomorrow, if what I heard is correct, that Robert Mugabe has decided he’s not going to contest the election. We’ve worked a democratic change. If that is the case, then you will see Zimbabwe, can we say, come to life again. There will be so much money pouring into that place it will be a joke because the people are already suffering. They’re our neighbors. We’ve been wanting to help them for a very long time. But you can’t go into the place. We haven’t been there because we didn’t want put any of our installation crews at-risk for political harassment or worse, number one. Number two, they wouldn’t allow us to bring the equipment in without charging us a 32% import duty, which was never going to happen in my lifetime. And number three, you know, their own bloody basic system. They go uphill. You can’t shove a truck up with diesel. You can’t go anywhere. So all of those are big problems, and I think those going to get ironed out first. You know, the infrastructure’s going to get sorted out. The fuel situation’s going to change. The inflation rates going to start coming down because people will start investing in the country because of the fact that the regime has changed. And that helps to buy their future. I think it’s going back to impact, not just Zimbabwe, but the Sub-Saharan African Region in a positive way.
That all sounds very positive. FIELD: Yes. It does. We’re very excited. I can’t wait to get into Zimbabwe with my PlayPump system to help the people of Zimbabwe because, you know, I know that they’re suffering. I know just how many have been born in the wrong time in the wrong place and be under the wrong dictator. And, you know, they want to be able to breathe, eat, sleep just as well as you and me, and they deserve better.
I thank you very much for your time. I really respect what you are doing. FIELD: A pleasure talking to you then. Take care. Have a good day. blackandwhiteprogram.com
South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal: playpumps for rural schools Updated - Thursday 07 April 2005
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) Minister Ronnie Kasrils has announced 40 playground roundabout or merry-go-round playpumps to be installed at rural KwaZulu-Natal schools, providing learners with safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities. This is a result of the public private partnership between DWAF, the Department of Education and a KZN water utility - Umgeni Water - and Roundabout Playpump (Pty) Ltd. As the children spin, water is pumped from underground into a 2500 litre tank, standing seven metres above the ground. A simple tap provides easy access for the mothers and children drawing water. Four landscape billboards screen the tank creating an advertising opportunity. Two sides are used for health messages, i.e. messages warning against HIV/AIDS, and the other two sides are rented out as billboards for commercial messages. This advertising revenue ensures ongoing maintenance and sustainability of each project. “Women and unemployed youth will be involved in the construction phase, so that there is not only a direct financial benefit to the local community, but that the skills for maintaining the structures are built in,” Kasrils said. http://www.irc.nl/page/9001
THE MAKING OF A “PHILANTHROPRENEUR” Trevor Field, Director, Roundabout Outdoor, Founder, Playpump® Water System
Mark Melman, Co-Director, Roundabout Outdoor Johannesburg, South Africa
Background Trevor Field, a retired advertising executive, and his partner, Mark Melman, whose business background is also grounded in advertising, have formed a business alliance that has in turn forged partnerships with the Kaiser Foundation, Steven (founder, AOL) and Jean Case of the Case Foundation, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Clinton World Initiative, to combat the global crisis of lack of access to clean water experienced by over 1 billion people. As a result of many trips to rural villages located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Field realized that the burden of collecting water fell mainly to the women and girls of each household – a time-consuming chore which took them away from their educational studies and advancement.
Field then partnered with an inventor and created the “PlayPump®” – basically a children’s merry-go-round that pumps clean, safe drinking water from an underground aquifer as the children spin. The PlayPump® water storage towers are ensconced by four paneled billboards, two used for commercial advertising space to generate revenue to help pay for the system’s maintenance and provide local jobs, with the remaining two panels dedicated to the communication of social messages, predominantly to promote HIV and AIDS awareness.
PlayPump® International is a 501(c) 3 organization in the U.S. with the partner organization Roundabout Water Solutions situate in South Africa. Its stated mission is to help improve the lives of children and their families by providing easy access to clean drinking water, enhancing public health and offering play equipment to millions across Africa. Their goal to install 4,000 PlayPump® Water Pumping Systems in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa by 2010 — bringing the benefits of clean water to approximately 10 million people — closely aligns with the stated objectives of the United Nations’ Millennium Development goals. Most recently in August, 2008, the PlayPump® Water Pumping System was showcased at the 2008 Water Week Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden.
The remaining portions of this article are based upon an interview with Trevor Field conducted by editor Elizabeth Gingerich in March, 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Interview, March 15, 2008
PlayPump Q: I had the privilege to visit and experience first-hand the power of the PlayPump®, as I was spun by at least 20 school children during recess in the community of Diepsloot (an informal settlement in the Gauteng province, just North of Johannesburg).
Diepsloot where you went is still urban; Lesotho is more of a rural environment. They have 790 students in that school, mostly orphans. They will take anyone for a spin on these PlayPumps®. That’ll do your stomach well. They whiz you fast. And the boys will get on, and spin you the other way. But that’s what I like about the PlayPump®. It’s attractive to the children.
Q: I am curious as to what events stimulated you to do what you do – your upbringing, work and social experiences, environmental dynamics. Also, with respect to the installation of the PlayPump®, do you regularly employ experts or is all the work conducted by trained local laborers?
We use professional ground scientists or geologists to test the holes which are generally the starting point of installing a system. Regardless, you have to understand that local knowledge is very important in assisting to find where the best places are to dig. The locals are the best sources of knowing where the fracture lines exist and sometimes they have an 10 uncanny ability to use a divining rod to locate the best places to bore. So many times they show us where to dig, and sure enough it’s 35 ft down — right on the money. It is these resources we rely upon, together with our professionals.
Q: When you single out a new area to install a PlayPump® Water Pumping System, are you and your team, as well as your particular objectives to be accomplished, accepted by the local villagers?
The people are incredibly warm. They have nothing. We work together with them. Keep in mind that according to the facts and statistics of the World Health Organization, 6,000 people die each day from contaminated water sources. In fact, I think it is 1 in every 3 people who is negatively impacted by water-borne diseases.
Q: Through Engineers-Without-Borders, we have drilled wells in sub-Sahara Africa, specifically in the desert region of Northwestern Kenya, but have relied upon windmills instead. You apparently have used the windmill concept and turned it on its side to achieve a greater rate and flow of water?
What is the wind like there?
Q: There used to be consistent 10-plus mile per hour winds, day and night, but with recently altered weather patterns, presumably due to global climate change, the winds have stopped for the first time in recorded history in that area and are completely dormant throughout the daytime. That is why our chapter is retrofitting the windmills with solar motors. Is this also why you decided to harness another source of renewable energy? PlayPump
This is why, with the PlayPump®, we don’t have to worry about the climate. We are simply harnessing the power of child’s play. Another problem with the retro-fits would be as soon as the scrap dealers realize that there is silver in the solar p
Chinese Geogovernance in Africa
Date: Tuesday, 20 July 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Title: Chinese Geogovernance in Africa: Evidence from Zambia Speaker: Padraig Carmody
There is a substantial debate in the literature on the extent to which there is a coordinated Chinese government strategy of economic and political engagement in Africa. Some authors have tried to address this issue by conducting research amongst high-level policy makers. On the basis that actions speak louder than words, this paper adopts a different approach to look at the on-the-ground nature of Chinese economic engagements in Zambia. This is done to assess the way in which new modes of geogovernance are being constructed through economic and political nodes to form a network or matrix of influence and engagement in the country. This paper argues that on the basis of the empirical evidence, there does appear to be support for the proposition that engagement is planned, rather than ad-hoc or haphazard, with important implications for globalisation theory.
Speaker Bio: Pádraig Carmody is lecturer in Geography at Trinity College Dublin.. His research centres on the political economy of globalization and economic restructuring in Southern and Eastern Africa. He has conducted research on the impacts of economic liberalization on the Zimbabwean textile, clothing and footwear industries and the restructuring of South African multi-national companies. He has also conducted research in Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia. He was formerly editor of /Irish Geography /and has consulted for the Office of the President Republic of South African, amongst others. He coordinates the masters in development practice at Trinity College and University College Dublin. He has published in /Economic Geography/, /World Development/,/ Geoforum/ and /Political Geography/. His current research is a joint project focussing on how small businesses in South Africa and Tanzania use their mobile phones. His most recent book is /Globalization in Africa: Recolonization or Renaissance/, forthcoming, July 2010, Lynne Rienner.
Inanda's socio-spatial change
Date: 9 July 2010 Time: 12:30‑14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Seminar: Inanda in the longue duree of historical transformation Speaker: Giuliano Martiniello
The presentation will deal with social trasformation in Inanda in the longue dureé. Analyzing the historical genesis of processes of reserves making, land dispossession and labour alienation will constitute the leitmotiv to understand contemporary socio‑spatial configurations. The paper will then focus on the different trajectories of socio‑spatial change analyzing the place making dynamics in two areas in Inanda: Inanda Newtown, a peri‑urban township, and the Kwangcolosi traditional community in the ex‑homelands.
Giuliano Martiniello is a PhD student at the University of Leeds. He has undertaken extensive research in Inanda as a CCS visiting scholar. He is a contributing editor for the Review of African Political Economy Beside academic research Giuliano is an activist for social movements in Italy.
Seminar on grassroots video communications
Date: 8 July 2010 Time: 12:30‑14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Seminar: Video as a tool for outreach, communication, advocacy and community expression Speaker: Pamela Ngwenya
Over the past year, Pamela has been running video projects with various community groups throughout Durban, using video as a tool for outreach, communication, advocacy and community expression. Experimenting with different approaches to participatory film‑making and communication, she has been trying to use video to engage and enable groups in self‑advocating for their communities. Workshops have involved intensive skills‑training in basic video production techniques. There are currently 13 short community videos from Durban to share: 5 documentary shorts on community issues; 2 documentaries produced by community‑based students; and 6 community‑made films presenting their own issues. After presenting some background theory and methodology, some of the videos will be screened. Using these projects and videos as an inspiration and springboard for discussion, Pamela is focusing on developing ideas for future work around how social science can effectively and ethically employ video methods for research.
Speaker Bio: Pamela is an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with SDS. She obtained her doctorate in Geography from Oxford University Centre for the Environment in 2009. Her research interests include food and agricultural geographies, environmental justice, the politics of nature, rural livelihoods, feminist philosophy, ethics, migration and mobility, Caribbean studies, creative expression and emotional/spiritual spatialities.
Seminar on Black Economic Empowerment
Date: 2 July 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Seminar: Is Black Economic Empowerment working? Speaker: Renee Horne Topic: South Africa’s Racial Redress policy, Black Economic Empowerment
(BEE)/Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) in relation to political thought on race and class. Academics and politicians have argued that narrow BEE was designed to form a “black elite class”, this to the detriment of impoverished South Africans in the country, while BBBEE has been dubbed as an all inclusive and developmental approach alleviating the socio- economic disparities in the country. This dissertation plans to test the above hypotheses by the interviewing of prominent academics and politicians, while simultaneously comparing various BEE and BBBEE contracts.
Speaker: Ms Renee Horne is currently a doctoral candidate and African politics and government teacher at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Horne has a BA (LAW) (HONS) and MA (Politics) from the UKZN and a Mac (International Relations) from SOAS. She has worked as a SABC television and radio senior political journalist and war correspondent for more than ten years interviewing prominent politicians such as Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zama, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres. She has covered socio-economic issues and political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and reported on conflict riddled areas of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Burundi.
Green Resources Ltd in Tanzania
CCS Seminar ‑ all welcome
Date: 24 June 2010 Time: 12:30‑14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Speaker: Blessing Karumbidza, Timberwatch and Tshwane University of Technology Title: Banking on Poverty, Riding on Climate Change: Norwegian land grabbing and socio‑economic and environmental degradation in Tanzania's Southern Highlands
Green Resources Ltd, a subsidiary of Norway based Green Resources (formerly Tree Farms) has entrenched itself in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania where it looks to acquire at least 142 000ha of land and a total of not less than 170 00ha in Tanzania alone. This will add to its already existing and expanding presence in other African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique. This massive land grab occurs so as to plant exotic trees (varieties of eucalyptus and pine) for the purpose of selling an expected 400 000 tons of carbon credits to the Norwegian government. This project provides Norway with reasons not to reduce its own carbon emissions, on grounds that employment and other benefits will go to impoverished African communities, such as the Idete in the Iringa district. Yet studies of the plantation model and its impacts on local economies in Brazil, Equador, South Africa and Swaziland lead to doubt about these claims of Green Resources. Indeed, these projects represent a new form of colonialism, land grabs and carbon commodification as well as resource imperialism.
Dr Blessing J. Karumbidza is a post‑doctoral fellow with the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at the Tshwane University of Technology as well as Chair of the Timberwatch Environment and Development NGO Coalition. His work on the plantation model and its impacts on social, economic, cultural and environmental development started with his masters thesis on timber woodlots in KZN. Since then, he has been involved in the research and advocacy efforts of Timberwatch, traveled to Brazil, Equador, Kenya and recently Tanzania studying and sharing the experiences of timber plantation affected communities. More
Re-branding Durban through the 2010 World Cup
CCS Seminar - all welcome
Date: 14 June 2010 Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS Seminar Room, 602, Level 6, MTB Tower Title: Re-branding Durban through the production/policing of event-specific spaces at the 2010 World Cup Speaker: David J. Roberts
As South African cities prepare to host the continent’s first FIFA World Cup, one of the host cities, Durban, has constructed plans to revitalize its city image through the media attention that will accompany the tournament. This paper explores a three-pronged strategy for the policing of event-specific public spaces during the tournament – the policing of nuisance behaviors, the restriction of protests by social movements, and the use of volunteer Welcome Ambassadors. These three endeavors will significantly impact the way in which public space in Durban is experienced during the World Cup for tourists and Durbanites alike. I argue that these public spaces give us a glimpse into the vision that city planners have for the city of Durban as an elite sports destination. The World Cup and the media coverage that it brings provides a rich opportunity for Durban to re-brand its image. Yet, the question remains as to how this will ultimately impact the future direction of city revitalization.
Speaker bio: David Roberts is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto and a visiting research associate at the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is working on a research project investigating policing and tourist safety initiatives for 2010. In support of his work, David was awarded the 2008 João Havelange Research Scholarship.
(This event will be skypecast; please contact Patrick Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP by 13 June.)
Identity/Spatial Relations: scholar activism the greater Kei region
Speaker: Jessie Lazar Knott Topic Title: Identity/Spatial Relations: scholar-activism in the greater Kei region of the Eastern Cape Date: Tuesday 25 May Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS, #602 Memorial Tower Building
This seminar introduces an intensive fieldwork process on two research projects recently performed in the Greater Kei region of the Eastern Cape, from July 2009 until the present. During this time a seismic eruption of knowledge and issues were exposed as a consequence of the region’s volatile neglect as a site of struggle worthy of attentive (re)in(ter)vention. This socio-political indifference from an ‘intra-national’, neo-liberally co-opted, institutional, economic, social, media and intellectual gaze, not only creates the conditions for a veritable breeding ground of viral-like corruption, but a stagnation of energies that effect a gridlock of seemingly intractable social problems surrounding issues of identity (agency), in relation to structures, and modalities of imposed violences. The first project (the main focus of this seminar) is of rural transformation of a small Eastern Cape town in collaboration with UCT’s INCUDISA and UKZN’s SDS. It interrogates how social actor identities have changed as an effect of political transformation; and how particular identities are connected to a sense of space, determining a sense of ‘self’ and ‘place’ within the space, and in relation to the greater (global) context and topographies of power.
The second project documents a long struggle as an independent researcher and social actor, with an international NGO based in Seattle, seeking to intervene in local amaPhondo communities to effect a political transformation in Infant Feeding Practices of HIV positive mothers. Both research projects while separate began at the same time, and are theoretically and conceptually connected by the intent to divulge practical self-determined strategies of (re)integration as a post-transformative effect. The methodology and language of the ongoing sites of struggles – of bodies occupying spaces – for citizenship participation and rights in relation to South Africa’s democratisation project, subsequently emerged as the primary focus of both projects.
Revealed by this process is a particular clarity on the dialectical process we’re all struggling to survive, and surmount, concerning the realisation of citizenship participation and rights, scholar-activism, and our sense of being in relation to the tidal wave of crises – ecological, financial, political and social – observed and experienced at the most local of levels, as acute subjugation of ‘self’ and ecology in relation to a particular matrix, operationalised via discourses of dominance imposed upon social actors, at a trans-national level.
Speaker Bio: Jessie Lazar Knott is a photographer, documentary maker, and researcher who has been back in South Africa for just over two years following her ‘long journey to Timbuctou’; four years crossing overland from South Korea to India, documenting what passes as social life. A recent MA graduate (cum laude) from UKZN’s School of Development Studies, her thesis interrogated African ontological primacy manifesting in uBuntu as radical democratic governance towards a socially and politically just integrated Africa. Reality, knowledge production, social processes, protest-as-performative-being, ideas, power, and how everything connects to everything else in word and pixel form makes her spirit thrum. This passion is being gathered into a PhD specialising in political ecology, comparing the realities of the former Transkei and Cuba, looking especially at women; our bodies in relation to our ecologies, through a ‘black’ consciousness lens.
Chatsworth politics and municipal advocacy
Speakers: Barak Hoffman, with reply by Orlean Naidoo Topic: Chatsworth politics and municipal advocacy: What works, what doesn't and why Date: Monday, 17 May Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS, #602 Memorial Tower Building
Why are some advocacy efforts in South Africa more effective than others? Existing studies do not use research designs that allow them to answer this crucial question. This paper attempts to account for why some advocacy campaigns are more effective than others. It compares a successful one, a campaign for improved access to municipal services, to an unsuccessful one, demands to remove drug dealers, in Chatsworth, a poor suburb of Durban. Since in both cases, the same group of people led the advocacy effort against the same local government, our research design overcomes the problems of existing studies. The results suggest two factors are critical for protest to lead to greater government accountability in South Africa today. First, the government unit that is the target of the protest must have the capacity to respond to the activists’ demands. Second, more powerful interests must not oppose the change the advocates are seeking. The work has important implications for other organizations in South Africa seeking greater government accountability as it can devise more effective strategies and issues.
Barak Hoffman is the Director of the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. Prior to this position, Dr. Hoffman was a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, and his MA and BA in Economics from Michigan State University and Brandeis University, respectively. Before obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Hoffman worked for the Federal Reserve, the United States Agency for International Development, and the UnitedStates Department of the Treasury.
As respondent, Orlean Naidoo has been one of the central civic leaders of Chatsworth for more than a decade. She is a Community Scholar at the Centre for Civil Society.
Oil, minerals and maldevelopment in Africa
Speakers: Khadija Sharife, with reply by Eunice Sahle Topic: Oil, minerals and maldevelopment in Africa Date: Thursday, 13 May Time: 12:30-14:00 Venue: CCS, #602 Memorial Tower Building
Since the era of the African Berlin Conference (1885), the continent has been packaged as in need of external ‘expert civilising’ intervention for the purpose of ‘development’. The result, instead, is artificial poverty, famine, conflict, ecological degradation and behavioural corruption. The first task is to demonstrate that the extraction of non-renewable resources from Africa is not ‘development’, but looting. This requires a deconstruction of GDP and assessment of whether ‘natural capital’ measurements by the Bretton Woods Institutions alert us to a different set of policy implications than their standard liberalisation strategy. The case studies make it clear that multinational corporations are running roughshod: Tanzanian gold, DRC coltan, Zambian copper, Niger uranium, South African coal, and oil in Angola, Gabon, and Nigeria. What prospects are there for resistance to minerals and petroleum extraction?
Khadija Sharife is a journalist, policy analyst, research associate with the Tax Justice Network, a visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society, and a student at Harvard University. Her work frequently appears in African periodicals including Pambazuka. She is the author of the forthcoming book Tax Us If You Can (Africa edition).
Eunice N. Sahle is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and visiting scholar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society. Eunice’s current work focuses on geopolitics of knowledge production, imperialism, feminist political economy, political ecology, social movements and political economy of land. Her publications include the book World Orders, Development and Transformation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
Zimbabwe civil society between constitutionalism and redistribution
The University of KwaZulu‑Natal Centre for Civil Society Seminar welcomes you to a seminar:
Topic: Zimbabwe civil society between constitutionalism and redistribution Speaker: Erin McCandless (commentary by Shepherd Zvavanhu) Date: Monday, 3 May 2010 Time: 12:30‑2pm Venue: Memorial Tower Building 602, Howard College
The National Constitutional Assembly and War Veterans are entirely different social forces, and both have helped shape narratives of civil society and politics. One is allied with the opposition and in early 2000 defeated President Robert Mugabe's constitutional proposals; the other immediately took advantage of Mugabe's desperation to fulfill historic demands for land redistribution. What are the politics of transformation that we learn from these two distinct traditions? What electoral and mass‑action strategies and tactical approaches have come into play? What do they tell us about rights and redistribution, and about participation and resistance? What features of structure and agency must we consider in their stories?
Erin McCandless is a frequent United Nations consultant and a faculty member of the New School for Social Research. Her doctorate in international relations was awarded by the American University in Washington, DC, and she is the founding co‑editor of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. She has lived in Zimbabwe and Liberia, and works with civil society organisations in diverse sites across the world.
For more information contact Lungi Keswa, 260‑3195.
Debunking Delusions: The inside Story of The Treatment Action Campaign
Speakers: Nathan Geffen (with Faith ka Manzi) Date: Thursday 29 April Time: 11 am - 12:30 pm Venue: Room 300 2nd Floor MTB Howard College Campus
The world capitalist crisis
Date: Friday, 23 April 2010 Time: 12:30 - 14:00 Venue: Memorial Tower Building 6th floor, University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Campus Speakers: Alan Freeman and Radhika Desai Topic: The world capitalist crisis: Economic and geopolitical factors
The upturn in world economics should not disguise the perpetual long-term nature of the crisis. Severe problems in maintaining capital accumulation and geopolitical stability will resume, and next time, civil society must be better prepared. The presentation draws on many years of work on political economy and politics by two of the world's leading contributors to the literature. Freeman and Desai have made this presentation to social movement and labour leadership in Cape Town and Johannesburg, to great acclaim.
Freeman is Supervisory Economist at the Greater London Authority and Visiting Fellow, Department of City Planning, University of Manitoba. Books he has authored and co-edited include The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in crisis (Pluto, 2004); The New Value Controversy in Economics (Edward Elgar, 2001); Marx and Non-Equilibrium Economics (Edward Elgar, 1996); Marx, Ricardo, Sraffa (Verso, 1984); and The Benn Heresy (Pluto Press, 1982);
Desai is Professor (and former Head) of the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba. Her books include Developmental and Cultural Nationalisms (Routledge, 2008); Slouching Towards Ayodhya: From Congress to Hindutva in Indian Politics (Three Essays, 2004); Intellectuals and Socialism: ‘Social Democrats’ and the British Labour Party (Lawrence and Wishart, 1994).
For further details please contact the Centre for Civil Society’s Lungi or Helen at extension 3195 or 3577. Or come to the new office at the 5th floor, Memorial Tower Bldg, Howard College.
ALAN FREEMAN AND RADHIKA DESAI
Summary Our works shows that 'globalisation' is a word that has been substituted for what is actually a phase of US policy that began and ended in the Clinton era, as it attempted to compensate for the long and inexorable decline in the relative economic status of the USA in the world. The core of the strategy was the opening up of world markets, especially world financial markets, for what was in effect a series of worldwide predatory raids on the third world by US corporations and a funnelling of world capital into the US to offset the US’s endemic trade deficits, funnel money into a giant US investment boom in the 1990s.
Our work shows this is unsustainable. Economically it generates imbalances: growing world inequality and poverty, a growing mountain first of third-world and then of first-world debt resulting in an ever-greater series of bubbles cumulating in the last crash and, not least, the continued rise of US indebtedness and of its trade deficit. Politically and socially it is unsustainable because it is rendering countries ungovernable to the point where they generate national rebellions leading either to explicitly anti-'globalisation' governments as in Venezuela, Bolivia, and though less noticed, Iceland, or to permanent breakdown in social stability as in Sudan, with the prospect now that such instabilities will visit further European countries. Of course the crisis has also revealed the undermining of US hegemony with increasing political assertion from non-western countries, pre-eminently China but also others – IBSA in the WTO, and as witnessed in Copenhagen.
Despite the great cost paid by the rest of the world for ‘globalization’ (and its successor ‘empire'), this process has not rescued the US economy, which emerges from the crisis weaker than ever. Countries who rejected the full Washington Consensus, notably China but to some extent India, emerge onto the global scene with rates of economic growth which, notwithstanding internal contradictions that are stronger in India, point to the possibility of a very different, multi-polar world order. Success in establishing such an order would depend on decisive rejection of the most central planks of the 'globalisation consensus', hence capital controls and restraints on financial flows, national development programmes centring on state-led investment, systematic inequality-reduction drives centred on food, education, health and housing provision aimed particularly at the urban and rural poor, and a re-orientation of international trade relations in the South to focus on South-South economic ties and continent-wide integration (for example, cooperation with China, ALBA, etc)
This analysis is both empirical, and has a theoretical underpinning. We believe that the 'globalisation' decades have fundamentally weakened the theoretical apparatus at the disposal of those who wish to understand what is happening in the world, providing a more or less ideological framework that facilitates the substitution of apologetics for rigorous analysis. We are working to create the conditions for intellectual renewal, both through a return to classical theory notably that from the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist historical traditions, and through the promotion of new critical analysis and theory notably from the global south, and from writers - particularly young ones - whose work is kept from view by the gatekeeping mechanisms of modern academia. We are series editors of a new collection to be published by Pluto and entitled 'The Future of World Capitalism', with five works scheduled to launch in the spring of 2011.
Our own work has a strong theoretical underpinning. Radhika's work on 'globalisation' on which she is writing a book, will be published by Pluto and is to be entitled Capitalist Geopolitics and its Cosmopolitan Myths: debunking 'Globalisation' and 'Empire'. It takes on the 'globalisation' bandwagon frontally, continuing and building on her previous work on the theoretical foundations of neoliberalism and on developmental and cultural nationalism.
At the core of Alan's work is a re-appraisal of Marx's value theory, demonstrating that its continued relevance today has been obscured by 'Marxism' - a theory that substitutes, for Marx's own theory, a neoclassical interpretation of this theory in which it becomes impossible to formulate the notion that capitalism possesses internal contradictions. This has blind-sided Marxism terminally, both in its inability to grasp the centrality of imperialism to the development of capitalism and its failure to understand what 'globalisation' really consisted of, and in its failure to underestand or even foresee the causes of the present crisis. Alan works with the International Working Group in Value Theory (IWGT) and the new journal Critique of Political Economy (COPE) to build a community of dedicated to a proper understanding and development of Marx's own theory.
Geoeconomic and Geopolitics From Alan the most relevant work on the growth of inequality is The Poverty of Statistics which appeared recently in Third World Quarterly (ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/16827.html). This includes a much-cited graph showing how world inequality has grown, and demonstrating the fundamental distortions introduced by the World Bank statistics commonly used to prove that 'globalisation' has succeeded.
Radhika has written about the central importance of industrialization and the state in national development strategies, about the historical significance of national bourgeoisies. She can do presentations on what is wrong with globalization discourse and with ‘empire’ discourse. (she did these at the LSE recently so they are ready.) Her book also offers a critique of Marxist account of capitalist geopolitics: she argues that most Marxists do not look at the theory of Uneven and Combined Development (UCD) and even those who do, like Alex Callinocos, are unable to truly operationalise it for one reason or another: they are mesmerized by cosmopolitical, US centred accouts of the world economy; they discount the role of nation-states; and most importantly, they take no account of the economic role of nation-states.
Her work on nationalisms and nation-states argues, among other things, that nation states are not just cultural phenomena, but primarily economic ones, the products of UCD. This is captured in little economic theory – liberal or Marxist. But it has not warrant in Marx and requires us to combine Marx’s original and true understanding with Listian approaches and Polanyi/Keynes.
The state of US economy Radhika’s forthcoming book, Capitalist Geopolitics and its Cosmopolitan Myths revolved primarily around the US economy and its changing relationship with the world economy in postwar era. It argues that, while the will and desire were definitely there, the US was never, and given the situation, could not be, the world’s hegemon, even in the 1950s and 1960s, let alone later, when its economic weakness became more manifest.
Alan's prescient Europe, the US and the world economy: Alan Greenspans search for a fifth Kondradieff (http://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/2591.html) was delivered in Ankara on 9/11/2001 and sought to show that the USA had failed to launch a sustainable new process of growth, and would instead be driven in the direction of increasingly military solutions to its own problems, and those of its making in the global South
Subsequent shorter works have followed up on this at regular intervals, notably Globalisation: economic stagnation and divergence (ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/6745.html) and What makes the US Profit Rate Fall? (ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/14147.html), the second of which also addresses why the contemporary 'Marxist' framework has been incapable of understanding the causes of the crisis and why Marx's own remains still superior.
Solutions Arising out of this insight, Alan produced a book chapter which is not in the public domain but is attached entitled Investing In Civilisation which, by analysing the way the US got out of the 1929 crisis, argues that humanity is at a bifurcation point: We can get out of the crisis by adopting radically different solutions to economic management, centred on a central role for the state in realising what I term a 'civilizational step change' - raising the living and cultural standards of the great majority of people to a fundamentally higher level by estending to them new capacities which capitalism has developed but confined only to a few, and adopting and incorporating both the existing rights of the UN charter such as health, education, housing and health, and adding new rights that the economy can sustain but capitalism turns its back on - including the right to the environment, the right to art, sports and culture, and the right to care. If this is not done, Alan argues, we will see a return to the actual policies that brought about the recovery from 1929 - fascism, war, and hitherto unimagined levels of world brutality and barbarism.
Alan is working on a book Investing in Civilisation which will develop these themes fully
Radhika can also make a presentation on the dollar’s long-standing problems as the world’s currency and potential solutions to it (this is the subject of the article she’s written called ‘Keynes Redux’ which she can send.
Underpinnings: Marx and Keynes We share the view that modern economics and politics have suffered through a fundamental, and ideologically-imposed misreading of both Marx and Keynes, two of the greatest thinkers of the last two centuries. What passes for Marxism, and what passes for Keynesianism, are a travesty of what these thinkers actually said. In our view, a return to their original thought is required, not out of some holy respect for the texts but because of the lost requirement of genuine scholarship which the early radicals understood and their successors have forgotten, namely: whether you agree or disagree with a thinker, to evolve a superior theory you have to understand, and engage with, the actual theory of that thinker and not some substiute interpretation. When this is done, we find that they do often provide better answers than their successors and, in particular, provide a framewok for developing answers to new problems that is superior to that offered by their successors.
Alan has co-edited three books on value theory: Marx, Ricardo and Sraffa (co-edited with Ernest Mandel), Marx and non-equilibrium economics (co-edited with Gugliermo Carchedi) and The New Value Controversy in Economics (co-edited with Andrew Kliman and Julian Wells). His man works on Marx's value theory are best approached through his chapters in these books which are now available on his RepEc site http://ideas.repec.org/e/pfr102.html and the best starting point is his recent short article in Capital and Class this year, which is not yet in the public domain and is attached. Please note this version is not for wide circulation at this point under copyright restrictions.
Radhika has just finished a piece on ‘Consumption Demand in Marx and in the Current Crisis’. She can speak to: How consumption demand is a central theme in Gurndrisse and capital (3 vols) What is wrong with making the argument that consumption demand is not a factor in capitalist reproduction and a cause of crisis Where this argument originally came from and what made it endure. How this connects Marx with Luxemburg, Kalecki, Keynes and Hobson.
Our book series which you can find out more about at www.radicaldemon.org. We are particularly looking for authors and potential authors since an important aim of the series is to ensure that new, young, and third world voices are heard people interested in Marx's value theory on which we have a specific and orginal contribution, the upshot of the work of a growing group of scholars laying a solid basis for a radical break with present sterile thinking among Marxists, and a return to classical thinking on the economic relevance of value theory to understanding both the crisis and inequality.
WORKERS FIRED AT WESTVILLE: WHAT’S HAPPENING AT OUR UNIVERSITY?
All members of the university community, students and staff, are invited to attend a seminar to address workers’ issues on campus. The story of cleaning staff losing their jobs on Westville campus due to the university terminating the contract it had with a company has been appearing in the press recently. What is happening at our university? The seminar will seek to provide a full and accurate picture of what happened from the university’s, the contract company’s and the workers’ point of view. The problem will be addressed in the context of the challenges facing workers employed by contract companies on campus. The seminar will also seek to provide a platform for other members of the university community to share their views on this issue. It is also a chance for sympathisers to pledge solidarity with the fired workers.
For further details please contact the Centre for Civil Society’s Lungi or Helen at extension 3195 or 3577. Or come to the office at the 5th floor, Memorial Tower Bldg, Howard College
Date: 18 March 2010 Time: 12:30 ‑ 14:00 Venue: Sixth floor, Memorial Tower Building Speaker: Carol B. Thompson, Professor, Political Economy Topic: Our Food Future: African Alternatives to Industrial Agriculture
The number of hungry people on the planet rose to 1 billion in 2008, with another 4 million added each year, yet industrial agriculture of the North heralds its increased yields. Industrial agriculture is responsible for about 40% of global warming, yet claims that Africa needs its fossil fuel‑intensive production to withstand climate change. Instead, African farmers already engage alternative farming systems to mitigate climate change, sustain agricultural biodiversity and promote food sovereignty. What are these alternatives? Which civil society organisations are promoting them? How can they be sustained against the power of global food conglomerates?
Carol Thompson is currently working in the policy analysis unit of Community Technology Development Trust, Zimbabwe. Having worked and written about Southern African food security for many years, her latest book is Biopiracy of Biodiversity, co‑authored with Andrew Mushita. She is an activist scholar, organising in the USA against the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA).
Fifa's Looting of South Africa
The University of KwaZulu‑Natal Centre for Civil Society Seminar welcomes you to a seminar:
Topic: Fifa's Looting of South Africa Speaker: Dave Zirin Date: Saturday, 13 March 2010 Time: 12:30–14:30 Venue: Memorial Tower Building F601, Howard College (NEW LOCATION: CCS's new quarters atop Durban's highest building)
Dave Zirin is one of the world's greatest social commentators on sports, and has authored four books, including A People's History of Sport in the United States. He writes for The Nation, Huffington Post Sports Illustrated, and many other outlets, and is a regular television and radio commentator. His visit to South Africa is sponsored in part by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Harold Wolpe Trust, and on 11 March he appears twice at the UKZN Centre for Creative Arts Time of the Writer festival honouring his late friend Dennis Brutus (noon and 5:30pm). Zirin will comment on the new documentaries Trademark 2010 and Fahrenheit 2010, and describe his experience with Bad Sport, i.e. when commodification and commercialisation destroy the grace and art of sport ‑ and how civil society can resist.
The South Africa World Cup: Invictus in Reverse Dave Zirin: Sports correspondent for The Nation Magazine
Johannesburg ‑ You see it the moment you walk off the plane: a mammoth soccer ball hanging from the ceiling of Johannesburg International Airport festooned with yellow banners that read, 2010 Let's Go! WORLD CUP! If you swivel your head, you see that every sponsor has joined the party ‑ Coca Cola, Anheuser‑Busch ‑ all branded with the FIFA seal. It's when your head dips down that you see another, less sponsored, universe.
Even inside this gleaming state‑of‑the‑art airport, men ranging in age from 16‑60 ask if they can shine your shoes, carry your bags, or even walk you to a cab. It's the informal economy fighting for breathing room amidst the smothering sponsorship. Welcome to South Africa, a remarkable place of jagged contrasts: rich and poor; black and white, immigrant and everyone else. On a normal week, it's the dispossessed and the self‑possessed fighting for elbow room. But the 2010 World Cup, which starts in 90 days, has taken these contrasts and propelled them into conflict.
The present situation in South Africa could be called Invictus in reverse. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the film Invictus is about the way Nelson Mandela used sport, particularly the near all‑white sport of rugby to unite the country after the fall of apartheid. The coming World Cup has in contrast, provoked the camouflage of every conflict to present the image of a united nation to the world.
As Danny Jordaan, the World Cup's lead South African organizer said, People will see we are African. We are world‑class. Note that the concern is about what the world sees not what South Africans see. What South Africans see, as one young man told me, is, Football ..looting our country. The contrasts are becoming conflicts because the government at the behest of FIFA is determined to put on a good show, no matter the social cost.
There are the dispossessions as thousands have been forced from their homes into makeshift shantytowns, to both make way for stadiums and make sure that tourists don't have to see any depressing scenes of poverty. The United Nations even issued a complaint on behalf of the 20,000 people removed from the Joe Slovo settlement in Cape Town, called an eyesore by World Cup organizers.
There is the crackdown on people who make their living selling goods by the stadiums. Regina Twala who has been vending outside soccer matches for almost 40 years, has been told that she and others must be at least one kilometer from the stadiums at all times. She said to the Sunday Independent, They say they do not want us here. They do not want us near the stadium and we have to close the whole place.
In addition, FIFA has pushed the South African government to announce that they would arrest any vendors that sell products emblazoned with the words World Cup or even the date 2010. Samson, a trader in Durban, said to me, This is the way we have always done business by the stadium. Who makes the laws now: FIFA?
Samson was only referencing the threats toward vendors, but he could have been speaking about the series of laws South Africa has passed to prepare for the tournament. Declaring the World Cup a protected event, the government, in line with FIFA requirements, has passed by‑laws that spell out where people may drive and park their cars, where they may and may not trade or advertise, and where they may walk their dogs. They've made clear that beggars or even those found of using foul language (assumedly off the field of play) could be subject to arrest.
Then there are the assassinations. In a story that has garnered international news but little buzz in the United States, two people on a list of 20, have been assassinated for whistle‑blowing on suspected corruption in the construction of the $150 million Mbombela Stadium. The Sunday World newspaper attained the list, which included two journalists and numerous political leaders. There are accusations swirling that the list is linked to the ruling African National Congress, which the ANC has denied in bizarre terms, The ANC...wants to reiterate its condemnation of any murder of any person no matter what the motive may be, said ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane. It's never a good sign when you have to make clear that you are anti‑murder.
All of these steps‑ displacements, crackdowns on informal trade, even accusations of state‑sponsored assassinations ‑ have an echo for people from the days of apartheid. It's provoked a fierce, and wholly predictable resistance. In a normal month, South Africa has more protests per capita than any nation on earth. But when you factor in the World Cup crackdown, a simmering nation can explode. Over 70,000 workers have taken part in strikes connected to World Cup projects since the preparations have begun, with 26 strikes since 2007. On March 4th, more than 250 people, in a press conference featuring representatives from four provinces, threatened to protest the opening game of the Cup unless their various demands were met.
These protests should not be taken lightly. A woman named Lebo said to me, We have learned in South Africa that unless we burn tires, unless we fight police, unless we are willing to return violence on violence, we will never be heard, Patrick Bond from the Center Civil Society in Durban said to me that protests should be expected: Anytime you have three billion people watching, that's called leverage. Indeed.
There is a scene in Invictus where Freeman's Mandela says, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul. I am the master of my fate. The people of South Africa still consider themselves unconquerable: whether they face apartheid, FIFA, or their current government. But FIFA insists with equal insistence that the World Cup will brook no dissent. In 90 days, we'll find out who masters the fate of this beloved country. www.huffingtonpost.com www.thenation.com
Topic: Understanding Protest Action in South Africa Speaker: Trevor Ngwane Date: Tuesday 9 March 2010 Time: 13:00–14:30 (NOTE NEW TIME) Venue: Memorial Tower Building F208, Howard College, UKZN
In an effort to gain insight into the current wave of protest engulfing the country, Trevor Ngwane has conducted various interviews with leading activists in Khutsong, Siyathemba (Balfour), Intabazwe (Harrismith), Bushbuckridge, Sakhile (Standerton) and Soweto in recent weeks. Several preliminary themes are emerging strongly from the fieldwork. This seminar will share these findings and provide an opportunity for feedback on the current state of protest action in South Africa.
Trevor Ngwane is a Masters student in the School of Development Studies, based at the Centre for Civil Society. He is taking time off from his activist routine to reflect on his experiences, renew his energy levels and replenish his intellectual sources. The research presented at this seminar forms part of his dissertation. Over the last decade he has organised, coordinated and participated in many protest actions in his capacity as organiser of the Anti‑Privatisation Forum and the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee. He also bore witness to protest action during the height of the struggle against apartheid that laid the basis for the new democratic order in South Africa. His experiences and thoughts point to important continuities, and significant discontinuities, between anti‑apartheid and post‑apartheid social and economic struggles. He believes vision is crucial in taking forward the struggle today.
CIVIL SOCIETY PROTESTS IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE NEED FOR A VISION OF ALTERNATIVES By Trevor Ngwane
INTRODUCTION South Africa has arguably the highest rate of protest action in the world. In the debate on the role and nature of civil society some light might be shed from a consideration of the widespread protests that pepper the South African landscape. In this chapter we will look at how civil society, in the form of working class communities, is taking action to influence social change in South Africa. The masses ostensibly are interfering with history in order to push their agenda. What is the thrust of this agenda? What will it take for the masses to succeed? These are the questions this chapter tries to answer by way of a brief account of the protest action taking place in the country, consideration of the different the causes of the protests, and an assessment of the politics of the protests.
Protest politics played a crucial role in the struggle that culminated in the transition from apartheid to democracy. Protests continue to play a role in the democratic post-apartheid South African society although it as yet unclear what the long term implications are for the country. The history of the anti-apartheid struggles suggests that protest politics can be essential in the struggle to create a better and more just society. Forms of mass mobilization such as demonstrations, marches, protests and direct action are, therefore, modes of political engagement that help ordinary people to challenge vested interest in order to win their demands and satisfy their needs. From this point of view, protest politics are not a threat to democracy, they can actually strengthen democracy by ensuring that the voice of the weak, the downtrodden and the excluded is heard. In the South African context this appears to apply to the legitimate democratic – and neoliberal – government of the ANC as much as it did to the illegitimate apartheid regime. I will argue below that protest action alone is not enough as it is only one component of the struggle; what is also necessary is a transformative politics that facilitates the generation of new forms of governance and new forms of ownership that will replace or transform the present imperfect ones. For such a politics to emerge and develop, alternative visions of society are necessary. It is my contention and the main argument of this chapter that that alternative visions would immensely enhance the transformative potential of the issue by issue, community by community, protest politics gripping the country today.
DISCONTENT AND PROTEST IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA South Africa has a proud history of the use of mass mobilization to achieve popular ends. Protests and mass action have characterized our political history from about the early 20th century until the dawn of democracy. People took to the streets, either in marches, demonstrations or the erection of barricades, with the aim of winning political, economic or social demands. For the purpose of analysis, it is possible to identify and delineate waves of mass mobilization that took place during different periods of the country’s political history such as the military resistance during the 19th century wars of conquest, the strikes and worker action that convulsed the 1920’s, the defiance campaign demonstrations of the 1950’s, the student uprisings and resurgence of strike action in the 1970’s, and the call in the 1980’s to make South Africa ungovernable that saw the apartheid regime relent and scurry to the negotiating table.
Throughout these struggles we can detect varying forms and methods of organization, discern different and sometimes conflicting political perspectives and, with hind sight, make evaluations of the effectiveness, success, strengths and weaknesses of the struggles. The mass mobilizations against apartheid were waged against a hated regime, a state viewed as illegitimate and oppressive. The struggle in South Africa engendered perhaps the greatest international solidarity movement in history with many civil society organizations in different countries denouncing apartheid and exerting pressure on their respective governments and corporations to do the same.
When Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and became president of the country it marked a turning point in the history of the country. For many it represented the culmination and end of many decades, even centuries, of struggle. It was the beginning of a new and happy era. Once the new government was in place, an ambiguous attitude towards protest politics developed. Political leaders appeared to relegate protest action to the bad old days of the apartheid era and viewed it as an aberration in the democratic “new South Africa”. They made a sharp distinction between the old illegitimate government and the new people’s government and frowned upon mass action against the latter. It was suggested that mass mobilization should be used to support government programmes and positions rather than oppose them. Where people insisted on protesting in the streets it was expected that such action would be orderly and “non-disruptive”. Since protests might weaken “our” government, other ways had to be found to draw attention to things the government might be missing or doing wrong. In addition, there was an anxiety with what was perceived as a carry-over of the politics of protest and resistance from the past into the present era. The new government, for example, felt it necessary to organize against the “culture of non-payment” and in this respect launched a special campaign (“Masakhane”: let us build together/each other) to teach the masses to pay for their services and end the mentality garnered from the boycott of service payments during the apartheid days.
Some commentators argue that protest action was not the only form of mass participation discouraged. The role of civil society itself was reviewed and recast as not always good for “development”. The ANC, as head of the national liberation movement, closed down many organizations that epitomized the characteristic vibrancy and militancy of civil society under apartheid. The biggest and most important organization that was closed down was the United Democratic Front; this was justified on the grounds of the “new balance of forces” and the strategic imperatives of the new political situation. On hindsight, given the subsequent embracing of neoliberalism by the ANC government, it increasingly seems as if the political motives behind the demobilization and disorganization of the masses was a deliberate weakening of civil society by the new rulers to undermine opposition to its unpopular policies. The masses were being robbed of their agency and being reduced to spectators and at best supporters of the unfolding political process. The leaders knew best and they had to be left to lead. Perhaps this was harder to see at the time because everyone was too busy watching the drama of the unfolding transition. People held their breath in awe of the dawning of a new era. Whatever the reasons and motivations, a lull in mass mobilization and protests ensued.
The penny dropped in 1996 when the ANC government announced that it was abandoning the mildly redistributive Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in favour of the neoliberal Growth, Employment and Redistribution(GEAR) macro-economic policy. The die had been cast. The new government had chosen the path it was going to travel; it was embarking on a neoliberal project. Henceforth it was going to prioritise the interests of big business and pursue economic growth; redistribution of wealth would take place according to a trickle-down model. In practice this meant that the masses would have to wait longer for the economic benefits of freedom and democracy. In some instances it would involve the masses losing some benefits they had enjoyed under apartheid. This unexpected development sparked off some harsh criticism but no significant protest action accompanied this momentous rightward shift in policy and ideological orientation by the new government. The SACP and COSATU protested verbally but their opposition was contained and muted by their loyalty and allegiance to the hegemonic bloc, the ANC-SACP-COSATU Tripartite Alliance.
Despite all this it looked like protest politics are ingrained in the collective psyche of the South African masses. The first wave of protests took place around and immediately after liberation. This first wave consisted of the much-ridiculed “popcorn protests” that dotted the political scene for a short while. These protests were sporadic but there were enough of them to form a trend. They involved expressing dissatisfaction with what we now call “service delivery”, namely, municipal services, housing, roads, etc. People mobilized, for example, in Tembisa, a working class township on the East Rand, where residents fought against electricity cut-offs. Some of the “popcorn” protests seem to have been organized by new community organization that were independent of the newly-constructed hegemony of the ANC and its alliance partner, including its civic arm, the South African National Civics Organisation.
More research needs to be done on this first wave of protests after independence. It should be noted that most communities developed local civic bodies during apartheid days which often followed the contours of the particular history and dynamics of the area in question and the character of the local leadership. However, many of these grassroots organizations were gradually hegemonised by the “Congress tradition” as the struggle against apartheid peaked and it became clear that the ANC was going to be the new ruling party in South Africa. The ushering in of the new government and the excitement surrounding this raised expectations, a development that might have accentuated frustration leading to protests. Some communities and their leaders probably found it necessary to assert themselves and make their demands heard given the then rapidly changing political landscape and balance of forces. The new order must have also undermined local vested interest and the response to this took the form of protest action in some areas.
The popcorn (or “mushroom”) protests were marked by a degree of militancy such as in the example of Tembisa referred to above where residents invented “Operation Khanyisa”, re-connecting themselves to the electricity grid after being cut off for non-payment. I imagine many creative collective actions were taken by communities responding to the possibilities offered by the dawn of democracy. For example, there was a sudden increase in the number of informal settlements in the country as people invaded land and put up their shacks. Everyone wanted to have a place in the sun and a piece of the pie.
A negative development during these early post-apartheid days of protest was the regimentation and ritualisation of the protests. Protest action increasingly took the form of marches. The response of the authorities was to contain the action by making use of the Public Gathering Act which had a leveling effect on the militancy of the marches. To have a march you needed to apply, fill a form, write letters of notification to your adversary or target, attend a meeting with the police and national intelligence operatives, plan the route and times of the action jointly with the police, and end the march with the obligatory memorandum of grievances. The authorities played hardball trying to make the marches as short, invisible and non-threatening as possible. While one should not underestimate the political importance of these chaperoned protests, it soon became clear to the masses that the march was sometimes unable to elicit positive policy change from the government. Some senior officials were accused of simply ignoring the protest marches. Recent research suggests that some memoranda submitted by marchers were not seriously considered nor responded to by the authorities despite the government’s projection of itself as responsive and the government’s formal petitions response procedure.
We now turn briefly to the one-day general strikes by COSATU that took place towards the end of the 1990’s when the union federation felt compelled to act against privatization. The opposition to privatization was a direct challenge to GEAR, the government’s neoliberal macroeconomic policy. Many government workers were finding themselves “outsourced”, that is, removed from the government payroll and re-employed by contract companies. In some cases government departments became companies and the workers’ conditions of service changed mostly for the worst. A landmark struggle arose when, in 1997, the Johannesburg city council unveiled a comprehensive neoliberal restructuring programme. At the same time the University of the Witwatersrand was laying off hundreds of workers with its goal being to outsource workers. The combination of the two struggles, against municipal privatization and against university neoliberal restructuring, saw the birth of the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) in 2000, a body that would be central in the next wave of protest action that took hold of the country organized by the “new social movements”. Despite these developments and, notably the massive one-day strikes, the government did not move away from its stubborn neoliberal course.
The rise of protest action and mass mobilizations organized by social movement organizations, such as the APF, the Treatment Action Campaign, the Anti-Eviction Campaign, Jubilee South Africa, Landless Peoples Movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo and other organizations, heralded another wave of struggle in South Africa. The background to this is to be found in the increasing deterioration in living standards experienced by the working class as neoliberal policy started to bite. The neoliberal regime’s policies had immediate negative consequences for the masses. For example, the policy of cost recovery in the provision of basic services meant that people had to pay steeply rising prices for essential services such as water and electricity. It also meant less houses being built as government tried to keep costs down in line with neoliberal’s fiscal discipline and austerity regimen. Disaster struck and was partly averted by civil society mobilization lead by the Treatment Action Campaign, one of the new social movements, when President Mbeki’s administration tried to duck responsibility for the provision of medical treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. The victory against the myopic HIV denialism no doubt saved many lives. Arguably, it also symbolizes the effectiveness of social mobilization and protest organized at the level of civil society. There has been no such victory, despite mobilization led by the Landless Peoples Movement, against the neoliberal policy of “willing seller and willing buyer” that has slowed down the South African land reform programme to a snail’s pace. Nor has Jubilee South Africa, a social movement organization organising against the repayment of the apartheid, managed to stop the government’s approach to this question. Mostly fighting issue by issue, the new social movements and their mass mobilization marked a definite period or wave in the history of protest action in the country. Each significant aspect of the government’s neoliberal policy pushed the masses into struggle and facilitated organization.
The new social movements arose at a time when the world was on fire because of the anti-globalisation (anti-capitalist) movement that dramatically entered into the history books in Seattle in 1999. This global movement tremendously transformed our conceptions of civil society. South African protests organized by the new social movements are best understood against the stage set by this bigger international movement as much as arising out of the specific conditions and challenges of the South African struggle. Further research into the question is likely to reveal that new social movement activism in South Africa presents with some of the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the global movement. It is noteworthy that the decline of the new social movements in South Africa has broadly coincided with that of the international movement.
The authorities did not take kindly to the militant actions of the new social movements. Many of them tended to be politically critical of the ANC government and its neoliberal policy. Some of them went so far as to demand fundamental social change notably calling for an end to capitalism and its replacement by socialism. They were also prone to resort to militant forms of mass action including “direct action”. The ANC leadership organized the ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance to unite behind a line that denounced the social movement organizations as anti-government and indeed counter-revolutionary. The president of the country then, Thabo Mbeki, took it upon himself to be champion of this battle against the social movements and in the process achieved a division between important segments of South African civil society thus arguably weakening these. ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance members were encouraged to be hostile to the social movements despite the ostensible commonality of their problems. An exception to the rule was the TAC which somehow managed to work with COSATU despite the twists and turns of the relationship. It can be argued that this is one major weakness of this wave of struggle lead by the social movement organizations, the struggle of the workers at work and of the workers in the community took the form of two independent, mutually exclusive and even hostile struggles. This bifurcation of struggle weakened the struggle somewhat.
The last wave of mass action is the current one which consists of local community uprisings and militant national strikes. The first such community uprising took place in Diepsloot, a sprawling dormitory township and shanty town north of Johannesburg, in 2004. Everyone was caught by surprise. One day it was quiet the next the community was running berserk barricading roads, stoning cars, burning council offices and having running battles with the police. The struggle was mainly over housing although there are many issues to organize around in this desolate place that started as a “transition camp”. The next community to rise up in rebellion was Intabazwe, a working class township attached to Harrismith, a small town situated halfway between Durban and Johannesburg in the Free State province. Seventeen-year old Teboho Mkhonza, a high school student, was shot dead by the police during the fracas. This community appeared to have sparked off a series of similar uprisings in several small towns and townships in the Free State. My own tentative research into this phenomenon suggests that the expulsion of rural workers from the commercial farms in the province and the decline in mining activity put pressure on the livelihoods of some these small communities thus leading to eruptions. The riot movement spread to the Eastern and Western Cape, Gauteng and to other provinces, notably the Mpumalanga province. The peculiar characteristics of these community protests were established quite early on in this movement: they tend to have broad support and involve a big section of the community, they are often violent and disruptive and their demands relate to the provision of basic services, the accountability of councilors and corruption. Housing is a central issue as many of the communities are shack settlements or have significant sections of the community housed in the shacks. The community leaders in some areas tend to use the word “development” quite a lot to denote what they and the people want. Development means some improvement in the area: jobs, roads, electricity, recreation facilities, local economic development, etc. It should be noted that a study of the demands of the communities in question reveal a wide and deep range of issues, styles and emphases which reflect each areas’ circumstances: history, politics, organization, leadership, etc. However the riots quickly acquired a nomenclature, “service delivery protests” which has stuck but whose descriptive accuracy is subject to question. Since about 2004 until today they have steadily increased in number and notably peaking around the time President Zuma was elected president of the country in April 2009 and, to date, showing no sign of abating.
There are a number of points one can note about this last wave of mass action. Firstly, it has been around for a long time, about 5 years. Secondly, it has had its peaks and downswings but the trend seems to be steadily increasing and spreading to new areas. Thirdly, a strike wave accompanied the wave of protests in the community although there was no clear or immediate connection between the strikes and the uprisings. In 2007 workers took to the streets in the biggest public sector strike in the history of South Africa. There were also several important national strikes in the private sector that gripped the country just before the great strike. These strikes were bitter, protracted and often violent, such as the security workers’ strike which saw several workers killed. This sad and unacceptable development, in my opinion, is a reflection of the desperation of the strikers. Fourthly, we are now seeing repeat uprisings in many areas such as Orange Farm, Balfour and others. This seems to point to the intractable problems underlying the uprisings and might result in a search for radical solutions by the masses and their leaders as they realize that barricading the streets and burning the local council office does not lead to the desired change. Fifthly, some of the community protests have involved attacks on African immigrants and the burning and looting of their small businesses. The association between xenophobic attacks and the protest action is worrying and requires further research. This issue is in a section discussed below. Lastly, there is a need for further research into the impact and influence of the protests on general South African politics because they have become a permanent albeit sporadic fixture in the country’s political landscape. Few political players in the country can ignore them and below we look at the different perspectives advanced to explain the protests.
THE CAUSES OF THE PROTESTS We can identify different takes and perspectives on the protests if we consider the question of what is behind the protests. Establishing causality requires us to interrogate the protests further in order to find explanations for their appearance and development. Three approaches to the question of what causes the protests in South Africa are presented and critically discussed. This discussion allows us to later suggest the implications of the protests for civil society theory and for political philosophy.
From a sociological point of view, the protests present a unique subject matter that, if well researched, theorized and understood, can yield powerful insights into the operation of South African society and, generally, the nature of political processes in the 21st century. Their constancy spanning almost a decade since freedom was attained in the country. The protests exist sui generis; the protests are a reality, they happen almost everyday, they happen in many different parts of the country, they have happened in the past and they are likely to happen in the future. They cannot be ignored or wished away. This constant presence facilitates systematic study. They are a “social fact”.
There are certain political implications about the protests as fact. I want to suggest that it is increasingly dawning on the ANC government that it simply has no control over the protests and might not have the power to stop them. This was brought home sharply when the protests increased rather than decreased when Jacob Zuma, the people’s president, took over from the detested Mbeki upon whose head all the ills of the country were put. There is no doubt that the protests pose many questions and raise many issues that might uncomfortably challenge the status quo. It is likely that the protests are increasingly seen by the ruling class as a potential threat to the configuration of social forces and interests that constitute South African society in the 21st century.
The literature on the protests is replete with the search for causes: what is behind the protests? Analysts require explanations in their quest for understanding, practitioners need explanations in order to deal with the protests, some to stamp them out and others to egg them on. The most affected party is of course the ANC government. Its approach to the question has been mainly to acknowledge the existence of “service delivery” problems and to attribute these to the weaknesses (“lack of capacity”) of local government. The people need water, electricity, houses, roads, clinics and schools, but they are not getting them, so they get frustrated and protest. The solution: improve local government and service delivery.
It is interesting to note that the script the government is reading from when explaining the protests sometimes changes emphasis, contains many nuances and often new elements and twists are introduced by different government leaders and spokespersons. However, it is possible to detect the various thrusts in the government’s argument. A significant theme is for the government to blame the protests on a “third force”, that is, on unknown people with unknown agendas that seek to “destabilize our democracy”. Another is the accusation that certain people, in particular ANC local leaders, are agitating the masses in order to position themselves for leadership positions in the next local government elections in 2011. The latest explanation is the admission that blame cannot be put only on local government, provinces are also to blame. This is an interesting admission because in some cases the ANC senior leadership has responded to the most volatile protests by firing mayors and councilors seen as responsible for poor service delivery in a particular area. This begs the question of how many mayors will and can be fired given the fact that a substantial number of local municipalities are dysfunctional in South Africa. A possible way out of this has been to add the charge of corruption in addition to their being incompetent or not responsive to the needs of constituencies. Corruption is a thorny issue in South Africa and many protesters complain about this. The hitch is corruption seems widespread and permeates all levels and spheres of government; what is done about it in local government might set difficult to implement precedents for other spheres.
The ANC needs an intelligible and politically viable explanation for the protests but there are many difficulties in this respect. How does the ANC, for example, explain the fact that ANC members and supporters are increasingly involved in protest action? There have been instances when ANC councillors’ houses have been burnt down by protest action organized by the local ANC branch leadership. There are many implications of this for the ANC as the ruling party. Some old arguments that were used to keep things in control may lose their power. Mbeki tried to marshall ANC and Alliance forces to close ranks against a common enemy defined as those who agitate the masses to protest. But if it is members of the ANC and its alliance who are protesting then dismissing them as “counter-revolutionaries” and “ultra-leftists” seems unconvincing and problematic. A bigger problem is that the ANC can hardly afford to be protested against by its own members because this suggests a loss of support and might have disastrous electoral implications. The biggest problem is that the ANC appears today as a highly factionalised party where increasingly members of the respective factions ruthlessly attack each other oblivious of the political damage to the ANC as a whole. This means that some explanations given by the ANC government for the protests require scrutiny.
How does the media in South Africa explain and project the protests? Despite its sensationalist approach to newsworthy items, the mainstream press in South Africa is largely in line with the programme and vision of the government as both institutions share a neoliberal outlook and are in fact part of the bourgeois state. On the question of the protests the media tends to follow the government’s line with a few peculiar caveats which usually reflect the interests and concerns of its owners, big business. The bourgeois media is not exactly in love with the ANC even though the latter manages the bourgeois state. The capitalists were forced to accept ANC rule because no other party had the ability and the authority to lead South Africa from apartheid to democracy. The ANC qualified for the job because the masses had chosen it to be the party of national liberation and, most importantly, its leadership was willing to compromise with capital on the question of a new dispensation for South Africa. This involved the ANC agreeing to respect the law of profits and binding itself to protecting (stolen) private property. The ANC was also the only party that could successfully contain mass dissatisfaction with a less than perfect political dispensation because of its strong influence over the masses. But, the capitalists did not just wake up one day to the realization that the ANC could be useful in this way. There were times of mutual suspicion and hostility and this chapter in history could not simply be wiped clean. For example, at first and for many years big business cultivated and encouraged t
The World Bank and Eskom
You are kindly invited to join us at a CCS Working Seminar with groundWork and SDCEA
According to critics, the World Bank's proposed $3.75 billion loan to Eskom will exacerbate financial unaffordability for low-income people, worsen South Africa's already prodigious contribution to CO2 emissions and climate change, and permit continued subsidised supply of the world's cheapest electricty to the largest mining/metals firms, for export of profits/dividends to London/Melbourne/Luxembourg/Zurich. (Prior World Bank electricity loans to South Africa, during apartheid, had much the same effect, and the Jubilee movement has demanded an apology and reparations since no black households received electricity during the Bank-Eskom relationship from 1951-67, but to no avail.) Meanwhile the World Bank is seeking $250 billion in new capital from shareholders (including Pretoria), and positioning itself as a funder of climate-change mitigation, while also, ironically, expanding what is already the world's largest fossil fuel investment portfolio. Dozens of progressive groups in civil society in SA, Africa and around the world have reacted with anger, with protests at Eskom planned for Tuesday, 16 February. In advance of Climate Justice Now!-South Africa's KZN chapter meeting at CCS on Saturday, 13 February (9am-1pm), the finer details behind the loan require consideration. Presenting a major December 2009 report critical of the Eskom and the World Bank will be groundWork researcher David Hallowes, with commentary from Desmond D'Sa from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and CCS's Trevor Ngwane, Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada.
(For the sake of interested parties across SA and elsewhere, we will open this seminar to real-time skypecasting; please contact 'patricksouthafrica' on skype or email to email@example.com)
A Dearth of Imagination Leads to Wasting Perfectly Good Waste
The UKZN Centre for Civil Society welcomes you to a seminar
Seminar: A Dearth of Imagination Leads to Wasting Perfectly Good Waste Speaker: Susan Galleymore, independent writer and Stanford University broadcaster Date/time: 5 February, 2010, from 12:30‑2pm Venue: Memorial Tower Building F208, Howard College Campus
Between imperialist militarism in the Middle East and South Asia and the daily degradations of life in peri‑urban KwaZulu‑Natal lie stories of social resistance and solidarity. Susan Galleymore is author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror in which she shares the first‑hand stories of families in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel,West Bank, Syria, and the U.S. She hosts Stanford University's Raising Sand Radio and is currently writing about the connections between war, the environment, and the human beings affected.
Copenhagen Climate and Eskom Energy Conflicts
You are kindly invited to join us at a Centre for Civil Society Seminar
Topic: Copenhagen Climate and Eskom Energy Conflicts Speakers: Rehana Dada and Patrick Bond Date: Tuesday, 26 January 2010 Time: 12.30 – 14.00 Venue: Memorial Tower Building F208, Howard College, UKZN
In Copenhagen at the UN climate summit last month, most (although not all) of the South African civil society contingent demanded a radically different negotating position from Pretoria as well as from other rulers, and yet were not surprised at the summit's failure. Still, in view of the lack of legitimacy attached to the Copenhagen Accord signed by President Zuma, Copenhagen was a useful outcome, especially because a grassroots Climate Justice movement solidified. That movement increasingly links fossil fuels to energy consumption, asking the question especially of the South African government: who really benefits from the world's cheapest electricity? The answer is not poor people, as hundreds of Durban township residents demonstrated in protests at the regulatory hearings on Eskom's proposed price increases. Is there a better way to address climate, renewable energy and access to electricity than what is on offer from Pretoria and the SA Minerals Energy Complex?
Rehana Dada and Patrick Bond co‑edited the book Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society for UKZN Press (2009), and were in Copenhagen with protesters outside the Bella Centre. Dada co‑edited the activists' newspaper Climate Chronicle. Both have been involved in energy‑related research and advocacy for many years.
The Saharawi, Warwick Junction and Footsak Politics
Topic: The Saharawi, Warwick Junction and Footsak Politics Speakers: Peter McKenzie and Doung Jahangeer Date: Wednesday, 20 January 2010 Time: 12.30 – 14.00 Venue: Memorial Tower Building F208, Howard College, UKZN
The ‘Footsak’ 2010 project is kicking a soccer ball around six countries in Africa using soccer as a metaphor for ‘The game of Life’. Who’s kicking the ball? Who’s making the rules? Who’s offside? Who needs a red card? The ball rolls into situations and the documentaries made offer a balls eye view. The itinerant team are Doung Jahangeer from the Durban organisation Dala, Guy‑Andre Lagesse from les Pas Perdus in Marseilles, France and Peter McKenzie from Twasa in Jo’burg. The team has made some short documentaries, two of which will be shown at the CCS. ‘Like Grains of Sand’ features the women of the women of the of the refugee Saharawi people in the desert of Southern Algeria. They lead the struggle for liberation and return to their occupied homeland ‑ Western Sahara. The film incorporates classical Arabic poetry, local music and beautiful, elegant strugglistas and strives toward ‘another way of telling’. The second film ‘See Here’ engages the local issue of the Early Morning Market. The film grew out of a series of youtube clips that was made on the market. The use of new media gave voice to the struggle providing solidarity on a local and global stage. The film, although still with a deliberately activist slant, fictionalises it slightly as the protagonist ‑ the ball ‑ engages the market ‑ its people and its politics in a fantastical way.
Peter McKenzie was born in Durban. In 1982 he studied towards a Diploma in Photography at the Technikon Natal followed by an internship at the Sunday Tribune. He was a co‑founder of the photo collective Afrapix agency under the auspices of the South African Council of Churches and was the chief photographer for Drum Magazine until the late eighties before going free‑lance. He was also the co‑ordinator and facilitator of the photojournalism department at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism from 1996 to 1999. Mckenzie has published and exhibited both locally and internationally.
Doung Jahangeer is a practicing architect, artist and educator. He has become increasingly fascinated with the notion of ‘architecture without walls’, investigating the ‘spaces in between’, and was awarded a large public commission for a public sculpture at Ellis Park.