South Africa is in the hands of global capital. Thats
why it cant meet the legitimate demands of its people.
- George Soros, money launderer
Its all hitting the fan in South Africa and thats before
60,000 delegates fly in for the huge talking shop that will be the
World Summit on Sustainable Development coming up at the end of
It all started when the ANC government (yes the same people that
fought against Apartheid) began implementing a World Bank-influenced
development model for Johannesburg which included privatization
of public services. When the ANC first came to power in 1994, its
Freedom Charter promised one million houses, universal and affordable
electricity, a national health scheme and social security. But in
1996, the ANC was forced by powerful investors and the International
Monetary Fund to adapt itself to the realities of the
global economy. Since then, health, welfare, education, electricity
and housing budgets have been slashed. The gap between rich and
poor has increased since the end of apartheid, with around 1 in
4 South Africans unemployed.
Now the social force that helped bring down apartheid is once again
active in townships across the country and this time the
ANC isnt taking too kindly to it.
Yesterday the trial began of 87 people arrested in April as part
of an action organised by the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee
(SECC). The group had gathered in front of the mayors house
to protest about peoples services being cut off. Some thought
it would be good to give him a taste of what they have to put up
with and tried to cut off his water and electricity when one of
his bodyguards fired eight shots into the crowd, wounding two people.
The protestors were then all nicked for public violence and damage
to property. Most of the damage was done to the Mayors swimming
pool, ironic since most of the people in Soweto cant even
afford to pay for drinking water.
On the official summit website they talk of hundreds of millions
of people living under conditions of abject poverty or experiencing
highly unequal access to resources, living in inadequate human settlements
characterised by over-crowding, lack of access to basic infrastructure,
services and economic opportunities, inadequate resources, environmental
degradation, homelessness and social exclusion.
And what would you do if some of these same people lived in your
country, in townships just a few miles away from the conference
centre? Well you would host a summit that costs £34 million
pounds to talk about it of course! And who would you get this money
from? From Eskom, the electricty company whove been busy helping
people stay in abject poverty by pushing up bills past the point
where people can afford to pay for them and then cutting their electricity
Last September, 1800 houses in Tafelsig, a township near Cape Town,
had their water cut off because they couldnt afford to pay
the bills the recently privatised company was demanding, some of
which had increased about 400%. People who resisted were shot with
live ammunition while riot cops protected the people who were busy
disconnecting. Within weeks, a major cholera epidemic broke out
because people were forced to use rivers and stagnant ponds for
water. To date there have been more than 100,000 cases of cholera
and 250 deaths.
Meanwhile, the recently privatised electricity company, Eskom,
started cutting off the electricity of people who couldnt
pay their massively increased bills. Poor communities in Sowetan
South Africa organised a boycott of their Eskom payments and the
Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee began illegally reconnecting
the power of families left in the dark. For their troubles one ANC
minister called them a criminal gang. For nine months
it co-ordinated this campaign, until last October, when Eskom announced
it would no longer disconnect those who couldnt pay:
The success of the campaign inspired a similar boycott of water
payments, and thousands of Sowetans took to the streets.
With the telephone system also recently privatised, 40 per cent
of the new phone lines that the company Telkom has delivered have
been disconnected because the people cant afford the new rates
that have gone up by 35%. In contrast, the price of domestic long-
distance and international calls, used mainly by wealthy South Africans,
has become 40% cheaper!
Earlier this month, hundreds of residents of Mandela Park in Cape
Town occupied a house before a pensioner was rightsized
by the Servcon Housing Company. Rightsizing is a legal
process whereby vulnerable people such as pensioners, the disabled,
and the unemployed who cannot afford to meet repayments on houses
(some of which arent even properly built) are forced to move
to tiny houses. These tiny houses are described as dog kennels
and are often far from their community. One pensioner recently died
after being forcibly evicted.
The township of Soweto will always be known for its own Spirit
of 76 when a thousand students were killed in an uprising,
an event which radicalized a generation of anti-apartheid activists.
Resistance to privatisation has once again radicalized this and
other communities across the country. As one campaigning group put
it, The Summit will offer the opportunity for the social movements
to demonstrate with the whole world watching. This will be the time
to show that the neo-liberal model aided by the international financial
institutions and profit hungry corporations do not deliver social
or ecological justice to those who need it most.
- Aug. 31 will be a global day of action against big business
muscling in on sustainable development. www.aseed.net
- Also on Aug. 31, many of the social movements in South Africa
have agreed on a common platform to organise what they hope will
be the biggest independent political gathering since apartheid
ended in 1994. To keep updated with the protests visit http://southafrica.indymedia.org
- For more: www.earthsummit.biz
Arrest of the Week
For stealing his own spoon!
Tom Harris spent 12 days in remand earlier this year after taking
part in an office occupation to protest against Huntingdon Life
Sciences the animal torturers. He was arrested for burglary
by cops who said hed photographed sensitive documents.
When they later decided that this wasnt actually illegal,
they accused him of stealing a spoon and threw in section 4 of the
Vagrancy Act. After 12 days inside they dropped the case after realising
that section 4 doesnt apply to office blocks and the spoon
was actually his!
NOW! SchNEWS of the World
YEARBOOK 2002 Issues 301-350
A schnip at £7 + £1.50 p&p
Send cheques payable to Justice
Hot off the presses
And now boys and girls, its time for another South American
economic crisis brought to you by our old friends at the IMF and
World Bank. By now its a familiar storythe IMF lends
money to an impoverished country, on condition that said impoverished
country will agree to IMF demands for structural readjustment,
i.e. privitisation of public services, unlimited foreign investment
(read: allowing Nike to build as many sweatshops as they like) and
free trade agreements which allow local industries to be outdone
and then overtaken by foreign multinationals. Once structural
adjustment is up and running, large amounts of cash flow OUT
of the country (into the bank accounts of aforementioned multinationals
or corrupt local governments), causing the local currency to plummet
and the price of goods and services to skyrocket.
In the beginning of August, Uruguay began to show signs of just
such a disaster. President Batle closed banks and froze savings
deposits in fear of bank runs amid a freefall in the value of the
Uruguayan peso. Pressed to the breaking point, the poor and starving
population of Uruguay decided theyd had enough. In a recent
statement, the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) describes
the situation, The tariffs of essential services (water, electricity,
etc.) had been raised, supermarkets increased prices scandalously...
Basic items doubled their price in little time. Salaries stayed
the same, however, and there were hardly any more odd jobs
available. Quite simply, hunger had taken over the world of the
poor. On August 2nd, the Uruguayan people took actionmore
than 13 supermarkets were looted in the poor neighborhoods of Montevideo
to the shouts of We are hungry! The FAU letter explains,
Hundreds of people looted supermarkets in different
areas. Children, women, the elderly, entire families entered and
took what they could: sugar, rice, noodles, flour, oil, etc.
As a result of these food liberations, the government
and corporate media in Uruguay have started a campaign against alternative
media sources, desperate to blame the situation on anyone but the
truly responsible parties. On August 3, police raided and shut down
the community radio station El Quijote, also located
in the neighborhood of Montevideo, blaming them for inciting the
lootings. Mainstream newspapers have published articles accusing
radio stations and even Uruguay Indymedia of inciting looting at
supermarkets. In articles reminiscent of The Sun or The Daily Telegraph,
one paper assured its readers that The Minister of the Interior
(blames)Anarchists for the looting... These are people
who want to destroy our style of life. (Our style of
life which includes starvation, poverty, and suffering for
the poor, of course). Meanwhile, President Batle has managed to
re-open all banks. And just how did he manage this fantastic achievement??
Why, by securing a new £1 billion loan from the IMF, of course.
For breaking news, visit
(or if you can read Spanish):
- Check out the new Lancaster Re-Source centre, a fair
trade café and local campaigns base, open every Wednesday
12-7pm. 78a Penny St., Lancaster Tel- 01524-383012
- Another World is Possible free festival is happening
on 31st August from 1-9pm, Tankerton Slopes, Whitstable. 07753
- One of the last independent political bookshops in the country,
Little Thorn Books in Leicester desperately needs money
(or better still, people to go in and buy books) or theyll
have to close. And of course you can always go and get the new
SchNEWS book there thats out today so hurry! 73 Humberstone
Gate, Leicester. Open 10-5.30 Tues-Sat 0116 251 2002
- The Green Blayde Fayre which the Levellers were organising
has been cancelled cos the nice people of Sidmouth in Devon didnt
want a lot of New age traveller types staying there
for weeks disrupting the local community
- The Ministry of Defence care so much about life that
theyre putting up birdboxes for ospreys at their Trident
nuclear submarine base. On Wednesday activists from the nearby
peace camp dressed up as birds, a cockroach and a dog commenting,
Nuclear weapons could make all life on the planet (with
the possible exception of cockroaches) in danger of extinction.
The ospreys have so far declined to take up residence, obviously
they are aware of the dangers within the base. So far 53
have been nicked during the summer Trident Ploughshare camp including
two who swam out to HMS Vigilant and spray-painted Vile
on both sides of the submarine! 0845 4588366 www.tridentploughshares.org
- Several thousand Polish shipyard workers last week broke
into the Odra clothes factory in Szczecin where women workers
have not received pay for several months and are on partial strike.
The shipyard workers pelted the boss with eggs and then stuck
him in a wheelbarrow apparently an age old custom in Poland
when firing your boss!
- The world car-free days billed as Fifteen Days to End
the Auto Age are coming up on September 13-27 for more
- The International Longshore and Warehouse Union in San
Francisco is under threat from the Bush administration who are
threatening to bring in the National Guard (a division of the
army) to break a threatened strike. Working for months under an
expired contract, 10,000 dock workers face a threatened lockout
by their bosses who want to sack staff, cut healthcare, and attack
workers rights. http://sf.indymedia.org/
A new squatted community art space will be opening at 282 Richmond
Road in Hackney, London on the 24th August, running for a week with
workshops on sculpture/metalwork, woodwork/speaker cabinet building,
web design, and desk top publishing, plus an array of the finest
underground art in the capital. Running along side this event will
be Riot Squad Records, a squatted record shop devoted to underground
dance music and hoping to be a vital link between musicians, artists,
producers and performers. Finally there will be a friendly
place to listen to tunes, with good prices and the opportunity to
get some second hand classics, say the organisers. More info
on 07092 012299 www.randomartists.org
* The Edith Cavell building, a huge modern office building in Hackney
(between Enfield Road and Hertford Road, just off Kingsland Road)
has just been squatted as a community centre.
* Parents at St Johns nursery, Hackney have organised a festival
of resistance on Saturday 31 August as part of a campaign to fight
its closure by the bankrupt council. The nursery is at 22 Milborne
St Tel 07905 460472 or contact email@example.com
On Tuesday a group of people occupied Reed Recruitment Agency to
protest against the companys involvement in the privatisation
of education, in particular the creation of a privatised City
Academy in Leicester. 16 people gathered outside Reed Recruitment
Agency in Leicesters market square carrying banners with slogans
such as, Keep Fat Cats Out of Education. Several people
entered the agency and refused to leave while Reeds window
was decorated with banners and spoof job vacancies
School Governor wanted: no previous experience necessary,
must have lots of wonga, call inside and ask for Tony. Staff
kept asking people to leave but as one protestor said, Alec
Reed decided to interfere with education so well interfere
with his business.
Alec Reed, owner of Reed Executive, already owns one school in London
and has a fortune in the region of £50 million. He has argued
that the present school curriculum should be torn up and thrown
away and that his investment buys him permission to
interfere. Alec Reed wants free enterprise to be taught in
schools to children of all ages so that they can all grow up to
be wankers like him. As part of the Labour Governments new
privatisation policy, 10% of funding required to establish a new
school comes from the private sector. Even though the remaining
90%, along with the running costs, is fronted by the taxpayer, the
private backer is considered the owner and is handed control of
the whole school. With City Academies being exempt from
the national curriculum, this gives the owner free reign over what
children can be taught. firstname.lastname@example.org
Still think the UN has peoples best interest in mind? That
the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) really cares about the health
of the worlds children? SchNEWS (in co-operation with our
McDonalds corporate sponsors) begs you to reconsider. Last
month UNICEF and McDonalds announced plans to team up
to raise money on behalf of the worlds children as part of
a new McDonalds fundraising initiative called World
Childrens Day to be held on November 20th. How
Too bad McDonalds is a global leader in the marketing
of junk food that creates soaring rates of childhood obesity and
diabetes. Too bad that its type of nutritionless convenience crap
is disrupting traditional ways of food preparation in families and
cultures, and its Golden Arches are branded on urban and rural landscapes
from Bangkok to Mexico City, bright shiny symbols of a country whose
children throw away more food in a year than the children of some
other nations eat. The initiative, which aims to raise money for
McDonalds charitable arm and a dozen UNICEF programmes, includes
a pop concert in China which will be broadcast over the internetaccess
to which can only be obtained by buying a Big Mac burger! Handily
enough, UNICEF will receive a cut of the profits from each Big Mac
sold. Sensing a slight inconsistency in the alliance, an international
coalition of public-health professionals and activists has asked
UNICEF to withdraw from the partnership. The charity, which stands
to make millions of pounds by lending both its name and resources
to the event, responded to the coalition by saying that, The
partnership does not mean that UNICEF endorses McDonalds or
its products. But if this Buy a Big Mac and Help UNICEF
arrangement isnt an endorsement, we at SchNEWS wonder what
is? Perhaps Buy a Happy Meal and Support Global Destruction
would have been a bit more appropriate.
Schnews warns all conference goers to stay at home and watch
TV and not to go to any legal gathering.
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