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Centre for Civil Society (2007) CCS Newsletter- January August 2007 . Centre for Civil Society : 1-24.

So far 2007 has offered the challenges for civil society that we’d expected: riding out the windstorm associated with the ruling party’s year-end congress machinations. In this environment of unrelenting hot air, it is possible to retain optimism only by focusing on an increasingly vibrant group of citizens’ movements as antidote to the mendacity of political society.

With 11 million strike days recorded during the first half of the year, organised labour – especially teachers, nurses and other providers of desperately-sought state services – won sympathy (mainly) and major concessions from a government boasting a budget surplus but not much apparent commitment to sharing the society’s wealth. Community groups and other social forces maintained formidable courage during the period, punctuated in Durban by more than 500 arrests of street traders one day alone in June, alongside protest marches to an unresponsive City Hall by shackdwellers especially from Crossmoor), fisherfolk, students, public sector workers, human rights activists and other communities.

Durban had perhaps the hottest winter in the country this year, but it appears Gauteng and Cape Town have caught the spirit for the springtime, attracting yet another set of formal investigations into social protest by the Cabinet, Public Prosecutor, and intelligence agencies, apparently aimed at yet again deflecting blame. In late August, president Thabo Mbeki told parliament, ‘For anyone to posit a notion of a crisis of service delivery in the country would e incorrect’ because there was no ‘mass rebellion’. But with SA’s world-leading per capita protest figures rising in 2007 from the SA Police Service’s 2005 report of nearly 6000 separate actions, we beg to disagree.

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