South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma was facing a vote of no confidence in parliament this week—just as protests surged in areas around the largest city Johannesburg.
Zuma is under pressure because of allegations of systematic corruption in his African National Congress government.
He is opposed both by wide sections of workers and the poor and elements of big business.
But it’s clear that workers could take the lead over the issue. Zuma was forced to make an embarrassing exit from the podium at the Cosatu union federation’s May Day rally in Bloemfontein.
He was greeted with chants of “Zuma must go” and “Zuma must fall”.
Meanwhile, widespread protests over the lack of housing, electricity and services last week engulfed the townships to the south of Johannesburg.
Residents of Finetown, for example, blocked all entrances and exits in the area with rocks and burning tyres.
Protesting residents also managed to block traffic on one of the nearby main highways, but were beaten back by a large police contingent with stun grenades and rubber bullets.
This follows protests in the neighbouring suburbs of Ennerdale, Eldorado Park, Lenasia South and Kliptown.
Vuyo Kamba, a community leader who was one of the organisers of the protest, told GroundUp news, “As the youth we need land.
“We tried speaking to our councillor but we have not made progress.
“We can’t be sharing a space with our grandparents and parents.”
Miners dig in for higher pay in Ukraine
Some 400 miners in the Kryvy Rih Iron Ore Combine in Ukraine occupied four pits in a fight for higher pay last week.
The NPGU union members are fighting for £1,000 a month.
Bosses include powerful oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov and Igor Kolomoisky.
The miners’ fight shows the potential power of Ukrainian workers.
It is a small but important antidote in a country where politics is dominated by rival nationalisms and the ongoing civil war with pro-Russian separatists.
But the NPGU leadership has liberal illusions in the European Union and the “market” as an alternative to the status quo.
For these struggles to succeed, workers must assert their independence from both the pro-Western and pro-Russian sections of the ruling class