In its first real act of Alliance defiance, the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) staged a nationwide strike on Wednesday. The union said 500,000 people would be on the streets demanding jobs for the youth. In Johannesburg, numbers were hard to gauge: the march was so big it was impossible to see everyone at once. While Numsa agitates, the left anticipates something new. By GREG NICOLSON & BHEKI SIMELANE.
"Profits Soar, Workers Go Under," screams the front page of February's Workers Vanguard, a diminutive paper yearning for an era when activists handed out pamphlets on the streets championing the progression of the Soviet Union. Another rag, Black History and the Class Struggle, No. 23, $1, leads with "South Africa: Marikana Massacre - The True Face of Neo-Apartheid Capitalism".
"How's business, gents?" we ask three men around the table of socialist zines. They're trying to sell us a subscription costing R40. A couple have glasses; some have beards. Their clothes rebel against established style and are best described as not-from-the-bourgeiosie, avant-garde, academic, loner chic. "We're not a business," says one behind the card table, mumbling about not making a profit and socialism. We persist. "So, ummm, how's... distribution?"