Afrique du Sud

Mergers, rationalisation, cost-efficiency, and outsourcing have become the terms defining the "transformation" of the universities in post-apartheid South Africa. For all their sound and fury, recent debates on the changing institutional landscape of post-apartheid universities have been deafeningly silent about the fate of university workers- academics, administrative staff and support service workers.

’Avoid Aids, come inside’ says the sign outside the sex shop near the Durban beachfront. Just 100 meters away 500 Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) activists, from 110 branches across South Africa, were meeting at the second TAC National Congress to plan how to carry on their fight for the roll out of a comprehensive treatment plan for the 5 million people living with HIV-AIDS.

Zackie Achmat, a South African who is a leading proponent of an international solution to the AIDS crisis, was in New York last fall, just as his government at long last delivered on the demands that he and other activists have pushed for years that it develop a comprehensive treatment plan for its 4.5 million citizens living with HIV.

Forget the Soaps! It’s the daily grind of ’normal’ life for working class communities and workers that make compelling drama in post-apartheid South Africa.

A rare activist-driven win for some of Africa’s wretchedly poor women, men and children leaves me humbled. In June 2002, I wrote a ZNet column’Corporate cost-benefit analysis and culpable HIV/AIDS homicide’in which the main prediction proved partly wrong within a few weeks. I have been waiting for a chance to correct the mistake. My error, excessive pessimism, was compounded by another event I would not have considered possible: the November 19 announcement that the South African government will now finally begin providing anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines to hundreds of thousands of people who are HIV+.

Since 1994 South Africa’s largest trade union federation COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, has been in a tripartite alliance with the African National Congress Party (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). With the ANC commanding a majority of seats in the national government and most provincial and municipal governments in South Africa, this alliance has mainly served to help legitimize the current government as being the champion of the poor and working class.

Another dusty day in Orange Farm, red earth split in cracks, long dry dirt roads lead to the freeway that leads to the city. The sun above is like a grapefruit in the centre of the sky. South Africa. Nothing here, as anywhere else is more vital to life than water, and yet it is here that struggles for access to this basic service are the strongest.

Fighting poverty and exclusion in the global South is often reported as a dry struggle involving policies and regulations, and rarely as an effort to reclaim simple everyday joys for the world’s poorest.

Quand la compagnie Johannesburg Water a commencé à installer ses compteurs prépayés dans une petite communauté sud-africaine, à quelques jours du Sommet mondial pour le développement durable (SMDD) en septembre 2002, les résidents ont alors goûté à une certaine conception du « développement » : privatisation des services essentiels, politiques de recouvrement des coûts, hausses des tarifs… Pour le 1,5 million de citoyens d’Orange Farm, bidonville situé à 50 km au sud de Johannesburg où le taux de chômage frise les 80 %, ces politiques se traduisent par des coupures de services et des évictions. Une dure réalité pour un nombre grandissant de citoyens de la « nouvelle » Afrique du Sud.

When Johannesburg Water started installing pre-paid water meters in their community in the weeks running up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), residents of Orange Farm in South Africa got a taste of today’s conception of "sustainability:" privatization of basic services, cost recovery policies, and tariff increases. For the one and a half million people living in Orange Farm, an informal settlement 50km south of Johannesburg where unemployment reaches 80 percent, these policies mean cut-offs and evictions. A harsh reality for an increasing number of people in the new, neoliberal South Africa.

PHOTO: Eza Paventi For nearly 20 years, Godfrey Seneso has been guarding cars on 7th street in the Melville district of Johannesburg. He guides cars to an open spot, then keeps an eye on the car while its owner wines and dines or goes shopping. He makes sure nobody steals the car or anything in it, and he polishes it up so it looks sharp for the drive home. When the car owner returns, Seneso hopes the owner has the good grace to give him a tip; usually he gets one, but often there’s an excuse why the owner can’t cough up any change. Business is tough - and it’s only getting (...)
Context : Historical victims of racial discrimination and gross human rights violations, the non-white populations of South Africa have enjoyed, since 1994, full civil and electoral rights. Held as an example throughout the world, the South-African constitution is regularly quoted as being a progressive document fostering social integration and the protection of women, children, cultural minorities and immigrants. However, many people active in the developmental community, such as researchers and human rights advocates are currently uneasy with the government of South Africa. (...)

Alternatives has been working in Africa for many years. This work includes lobbying for the cancellation of African debt.

Changer la vie des gens grâce à des histoires, c’est possible. La comédienne sud-africaine Andrea croit que l’art peut apporter bien des solutions à des gens qui ont peu de ressources.

It is well known that Sub-Saharan Africa is dealing with an HIV/AIDS pandemic that is skyrocketing out of control. But behind the statistics, which show that in some areas one in four people are already infected with the deadly virus, is another problem - those who are left behind. The millions of children struggling to grow up without parents.

En Afrique du Sud, alors que le sida tue chaque jour des centaines de personnes, le président Mbeki refuse toujours de fournir l’accès aux antirétroviraux. Si la politique gouvernementale ne change pas rapidement, un enfant sur trois sera orphelin d’au moins un parent d’ici les 10 prochaines années.

En Afrique du Sud, les médias alternatifs ont joué un rôle important dans la lutte contre l’apartheid. Aujourd’hui, ils sont devenus une arme pour combattre la pauvreté et les inégalités sociales.

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