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Socialist International honours the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela

by Socialist International (SI)
The Socialist International is deeply moved by the passing of Nelson Mandela, the man who, representing the struggle for freedom of an entire nation, became a symbol for justice, reconciliation and peace for the entire world.
Nelson Mandela’s life touched countless people across the globe. His determination to put an end to racism and apartheid and his humanity in dealing with the horrors of the past and in creating the basis for a common future for all in South Africa set the stage for a new global society for the twenty first century - the only one possible, of inclusion, tolerance, respect, peace, democracy, freedoms and rights. That is his foremost legacy, and today our entire movement pays respect to a unique man, a man in whom our vision of a better world, a society of opportunities for all and of real solidarity between people and nations, found its best exponent.

Mandela was born to the Thembu people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1918. Throughout his life many fondly referred to him by his Thembu clan name, Madiba. In 1943 Mandela joined Witwatersrand University to study law, then a predominately white institution where he came up against racism. Becoming active in the ANC and co-founding the ANC Youth League, Mandela rose in the movement against racial discrimination and against the apartheid policy implemented in 1948 by South Africa’s white minority government, under the leadership of the National Party. He led crucial rallies and demonstrations with the ANC and after their Defiance Campaign in the early 1950s the United Nations formally incorporated apartheid among the issues to be tackled by the organisation. Mandela became central to the work of the African National Congress, strengthening the party’s underground networks to ensure it withstood the government ban imposed on it in 1960. He was charged several times during the movement’s protests and in 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason.

Throughout Mandela’s incarcerated years, the Socialist International and its member parties were actively engaged against apartheid, drawing international attention to the campaign for the release of Mandela and the other political prisoners, and in support of the African National Congress.

Mandela was extraordinarily selfless in his commitment to put an end to apartheid, turning down offers of conditional release by the South African government that involved the abandonment of his political work. His convictions and strength were such that he endured 27 years of prison until he was released unconditionally in 1990 under South African President FW de Klerk who legalised all the political parties that had been banned. In 1993, Mandela’s role was acknowledged when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with de Klerk, for the ‘peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa’.

After his release, Nelson Mandela participated in various activities of the Socialist International during the early 1990s, including the SI Council meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 5-6 October 1993, and the SI Council organised with the ANC in Cape Town, South Africa, on 10-11 July, 1995.

In his memorable speech at the SI Council in Lisbon, Mandela called for an official SI observation mission to South Africa to ensure that the 1994 elections, the country’s first in which his party would run, would be ‘free and fair’. Highlighting the historical significance of the vote, he said ‘Some 19 million people who will make up 91 per cent of the electorate will be voting for the very first time’ and that the elections would finally achieve for South Africa a government democratically chosen by the people. The International was proud to carry out this mission, and celebrated Mandela’s overwhelming victory in these elections, becoming not only the country’s first black president after over three centuries of white rule but the country’s first president to be democratically elected.

Mandela’s domestic achievements as President and his commitment to national reconciliation and to ensuring that the new democracy reflected respect and equality for all people, regardless of race or colour, was an example to the world. The new South African Constitution was agreed by parliament in May 1996. In his efforts to achieve a strong and resilient democracy, Nelson Mandela also paid particular attention to foreign policy, focusing on contributing to more fair international relations and greater dynamism for the South African economy.

Mandela was warmly welcomed at the SI Council meeting in Cape Town, its first ever meeting in South Africa, and his speech received a standing ovation: ‘We in South Africa have been very fortunate in that our struggle, and as difficult as it was, enjoyed the support of democrats throughout the world… In prison, those thick walls could not prevent the ideas which challenged the cruel system of racial oppression under which we were living. And the Socialist International was in the forefront of that struggle.’

After retiring as President, Mandela continued to promote and cultivate democracy and freedoms in Africa and for nations and people across the world. He voiced his opinion in international politics, raised awareness of HIV/AIDS, and launched the Mandela Foundation in 1999 and The Elders group in 2007.

The International has been inspired by Mandela’s life, and has been honoured to work with him on a journey that has given so much hope to other democratic struggles in the world. His dignity, character and indomitable spirit will never be forgotten.

We stand today with his family, his people and his comrades of the African National Congress, ANC, who hosted our global movement last year for the XXIV SI Congress, in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Madiba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

§Nelson Mandela
by Socialist International (SI)
§Socialist International (SI)
by Socialist International (SI)
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...and whose murderous antics helped to guarantee the rise of Hitler in Germany, ladies and gentlemen, may I present -- the Socialist International! And today their fraternal parties rule such bastions of egalitarianism and working class power as Mexico, El Salvador -- and Iraq! Ugg!

No wonder they are in love with the late President of South Africa. Here's a clearer view on capital's man Nelson "call me a Thatcherite" Mandela, from the business section of 'The New York Times:'

"When you think about Nelson Mandela, you probably think about freedom — free people, free country, free speech. What may be overshadowed by Mr. Mandela’s extraordinary legacy was his complicated journey to support free markets and a free economy.

When Mr. Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he told his followers in the African National Congress that he believed in the nationalization of South Africa’s main businesses. “The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the A.N.C., and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable,” he said at the time.

Two years later, however, Mr. Mandela changed his mind, embracing capitalism, and charted a new economic course for his country.

The story of Mr. Mandela’s evolving economic view is eye-opening: It happened in January 1992 during a trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Mr. Mandela was persuaded to support an economic framework for South Africa based on capitalism and globalization after a series of conversations with other world leaders.

“They changed my views altogether,” Mr. Mandela told Anthony Sampson, his friend and the author of “Mandela: The Authorized Biography.” “I came home to say: ‘Chaps, we have to choose. We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.”

Inside South Africa, Mr. Mandela’s quick reversal was viewed with skepticism, and questions have long persisted about whether he was somehow pressured by the West to open up the country’s economy.

However, according to Tito Mboweni, a former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, who accompanied Mr. Mandela to Davos, Mr. Mandela’s change of heart was genuine.

When they arrived in Davos, where Mr. Mandela was scheduled to speak, “We were presented with a speech, prepared by some well-meaning folks at the A.N.C. office” in Johannesburg that focused on “nationalization as A.N.C. policy,” Mr. Mboweni recounted in a letter to the Sunday Independent newspaper in South Africa late last year. “We discussed this at some length and decided that the content was inappropriate for a Davos audience.”

“So I drafted a short message for the audience,” he added. “That message was about how the A.N.C. intended to achieve social justice for the majority black people: decent housing, health care, decent education, public transport, access to clean water, sanitation and access to what I called ‘the means of production,’ that is, the creation of a black business class. That is all. No capitulation.”

But as the five-day conference of high-level speed-dating wore on, Mr. Mandela soon decided he needed to reconsider his long-held views: “Madiba then had some very interesting meetings with the leaders of the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam,” Mr. Mboweni wrote, using Mr. Mandela’s clan name. “They told him frankly as follows: ‘We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are Communist Party governments, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?’ ”

“It was those decisive moments which made him think about the need for our movement to seriously rethink the issue,” Mr. Mboweni said.

Mr. Mandela’s push toward free markets opened up his country to become the fastest growing in Africa and eventually brought in billions of dollars of investment from large companies outside the country. Barclays, for example, acquired Absa, South Africa’s largest consumer bank, in 2005. Iscor, the country’s largest steel maker, was sold to Lakshmi Mittal’s LNM in 2004. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China bought a big stake in Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest financial services company, in 2008. And Massmart, a South African supermarket chain, sold a majority stake to Walmart in 2011.

Mr. Mandela himself also embraced the big money charity that can only be delivered by billionaire capitalists. He became a friend of Bill and Melinda Gates, who have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the region; Theodore J. Forstmann, the buyout executive and philanthropist; and Richard Branson, the entrepreneur, among others.

But for all of Mr. Mandela’s embrace of capitalism and free markets, as demonstrated though his policy called GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution), the results raise more questions than answers about its success.

South Africa has certainly grown, but at an annual 3.2 percent clip from 1993 to 2012, far below other emerging countries like China and India. And the gap between the haves and have-nots is now higher than it was when Mr. Mandela became president. Inequality in South Africa is a real and growing issue.

South Africa’s National Planning Commission has said that in 1995, the proportion of its citizens living below the poverty line of $2 a day was about 53 percent; the figure has gone as high as 58 percent and as low as only 48 percent.

The official unemployment rate hovers at about 25 percent and may, in truth, be much higher. According to Bloomberg News, the average white household earns six times what a black one does. Among young black men, unemployment is close to 50 percent. Whites still hold nearly three-quarters of all management jobs.

“There is still a war between capital and labor,” Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s The Big Debate program in September, according to The Africa Report magazine. “Nothing has changed. During the struggle, workers fought for a living wage, but the apartheid wage gap is still there.” The average white wage is 19,000 rand ($1,900) a month, he said, but for blacks it is just 2,500 rand. “What does that buy? Inferior squatter camps, inferior goods, inferior everything.”

Mr. Mandela may have ended apartheid and years of awful violence, but his dream of creating a country that, as he said, is “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities” may still remain a dream that capitalism and free markets have yet to solve."
by F4V
Between Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe, I will choose Mandela.

Between Socialist International and Communist International, I will choose the former. Communism did bring the oppressive and murderous regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxha, Nicolai Ceausescu, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong Un and others.
by Richard Chen
The MNR in Bolivia and the APRA in Peru.

Having visited these two countries and seen what those parties have done, you might want to consider that there are at least two whole countries whose people would happily tear down the Second International and rip the leaders of the local franchise limb from limb. Actually, in Bolivia, they usually hang those people in the town square. I have to say that I sympathize.

There's no need to support the Third International if you think there needs to be a political alternative. It's never been an either/or question. During the heyday of Stalinism and Maoism, which you hate so much, there was the Fourth International, Third Campism and all sorts of other ideologies. Simply make an intelligent evaluation which you can live with.
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