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  • South African visual activist Zanele Muholi debuts first solo show in London

    By Robyn | July 24, 2017

    A new exhibition  ‘Somnyama Ngonyama’ by South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi is running  at the Autograph ABP gallery in London from 14th July to 28th October Muholi is a self-proclaimed visual activist who is known for her advocacy work on behalf of the LGBTI community in South Africa, particularly with regards to re-presenting the black lesbian community.

    Somnyama Ngonyama, which translates from Zulu as ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’, features ongoing self-portraits from the South African photographer. The exhibition is comprised of more than 60 photographs, each intended to spark debate on human rights, social justice and contested representations of the black body. Elements of the collection act as a powerful political commentary on South Africa’s history, with references to the2012 Marikana massacre, as she wears miners goggles and hat in one image. Whilst another calls to mind apartheid era punishment of necklacing – depicting Muholi with tyres around her neck. Other images hold a more different dimension, referencing personal challenges she has faced in her life.

    All appear politically and psychologically charged, a characteristic which has caused some controversy in South Africa.  A South African government minister is reported to have walked out of one of her exhibitions, lamenting it as ‘immoral’.  She has also been the target of burglary, when computer files documenting the funerals of 3 lesbian women who were murdered in South Africa were stolen.

    Quoted in The Guardian she admits she is scared but says: “This work needs to be shown, people need to be educated, people need to feel that there are possibilities”

    Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is at Autograph ABP, London EC2A until 28th October 2017


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    O. R. Tambo, the Quiet Revolutionary, Centenary London Lecture by Albie Sachs

    By ACTSA | July 21, 2017

    In celebration of the centenary of the birth of O. R. Tambo, President of the African National Congress (ANC) 1967-1991 and a founding father of democratic, non-racist and non-sexist South Africa ACTSA has joined with others to host a lecture in central London. On 26th October 2017 Judge Albie Sachs who knew and worked closely with O.R. Tambo will deliver the Tambo centenary London lecture, O.R. Tambo, the Quiet Revolutionary.

    Albie Sachs is a distinguished human rights activist, lawyer, judge and scholar. He was imprisoned by the apartheid regime, forced into exile where he was the target of a letter bomb designed to kill him. He lost an arm and the sight in one eye. He is a renowned former South African Constitutional Court Justice and a key drafter of the post-apartheid constitution. On display at the lecture will be a new photo exhibition, O.R. Tambo and the role of International Solidarity.

    To register your interest email us at info@actsa.org.

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    Future of South Africa

    By Tony | July 19, 2017

    A conference for the Future of South Africa was held on 18 July (Mandela Day) in Johannesburg. The organisers say 600 people from 130 civil society organisations attended.

    The conference was convened by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Save South Africa campaign. The conference was held due to continuing and increasing concern around the alleged corruption of state institutions and in particular what has been termed, “ state capture” used to denote family, corporate interests not just influencing but “capturing” state resources so they are used for their benefit. In particular it is alleged the Gupta family which has close links to President Zuma have directly and indirectly influenced and benefited from government institutions and policy. These allegations are denied.

    The use of PR firms by companies with strong connections to the Gupta family has become highly controversial with accusations that the campaigns these companies have engaged in to deflect attention from the allegations of state capture not only targeted individuals but sought to provoke racial tensions. Bell Pottinger set up an independent enquiry into its work. After receiving an interim report it dismissed a senior partner, suspended several other staff and issued a full, unequivocal and absolute apology to anyone impacted saying, “These activities should never have been undertaken. We are deeply sorry that this happened.” Bell Pottinger has been reported to the PR regulatory body. Bell Pottinger’s apology has been called insufficient and they have been requested to make public all communications they sent or received in connection with the PR work they undertook. Criticism has also been levelled at McKinsey who have suspended their South African director.

    A vote of no-confidence in President Zuma is scheduled for a parliamentary vote on 8 August.  It has been requested that this be a secret ballot. The president is elected by secret ballot by parliament. The constitutional court has ruled the Speaker can decide to hold a secret ballot. A national day of pray against state capture has been called for and it is likely there will be demonstrations in the run up to the no-confidence vote. The ANC currently holds 62% of the parliamentary seats.

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    Coughing Up: Justice for Southern African gold mineworkers with silicosis and tuberculosis

    By Tony | April 25, 2017

    Coughing Up

    Justice for Southern African gold mineworkers with silicosis and tuberculosis

    ACTSA Briefing Paper Published April 2017.

    ACTSA calls on the mining companies that profited from South Africa’s gold to provide proper medical screening, decent financial compensation and healthcare for all ex and current mineworkers suffering from silicosis and TB.

    Read the full briefing paper here

    ACTSA – Justice for Miners briefing – Apr 2017

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    South Africa: President Zuma reshuffles cabinet, sacks Minister of Finance and his deputy

    By Tony | March 31, 2017

    South Africa: President Zuma reshuffles cabinet, sacks Minister of Finance and his deputy.

    31 March 2017

    President Zuma has made many changes to his cabinet. It is a controversial reshuffle and the main focus is that he has dismissed the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy Mcebisi Jonas. The new Finance Minister is Malusi Gigaba who was the Home Affairs minister and prior to that Minister for Public Enterprise. Those supportive of President Zuma support the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan arguing he was a block on speeding up transformation of the economy so it delivered more and more quickly to the poor and disadvantaged in South Africa. However many others say Pravin Gordhan has been dismissed as he challenged waste and corruption and in particularly refused the treasury providing guarantees on loans in connection with a proposed $100 billion nuclear power programme and $624million leasing facility for South African Airways. They believe these are deals that those with strong connections to the President want to happen as they stand to benefit financially. Pravin Gordhan was known to be critical of the role and influence of the Gupta family on leading members of the government and ANC and some see his removal as strengthening their influence. The Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern at the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan but confirmed he would not resign from the cabinet. The General Secretary of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe said they were informed but not consulted on the changes and it felt as if the list of the changes had been drawn up elsewhere. He expressed concern that Ministers who were performing well had been dismissed and some who had not been kept in the cabinet.

    The cabinet reshuffle included many other changes with some ministers moving from one ministry to another.

    The reshuffle exposes widening rifts in the government and the ANC. A number of prominent veterans of the ANC including Rivonia trialist and close friend of Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, who served more than 26 years in prison and died on 28 March have called on President Zuma to resign. A number of civil society groups including Save South Africa are planning marches and symbolic acts also calling on the President to step down.

    The immediate impact of the cabinet reshuffle was to reduce the value of the rand on world markets and increase the cost of South Africa borrowing.

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    Ahmed Kathrada dies

    By Tony | March 28, 2017

    28 March 2017

    The death of Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, known to many as Kathy, has been announced. He was one of the group along with Nelson Mandela known as the Rivonia trialists who were put on trial in 1963/1964 with charges that if found guilty they could face the death penalty. They were found guilty but sentenced to life imprisonment. Their lawyers believed that “Kathy” had strong grounds to appeal and that he would be acquitted. However the accused had decided whatever the sentence they would not appeal and also the lawyers did say if “Kathy” appealed the state may be able to reopen the cases of others and seek the death penalty. Ahmed Kathrada spent over 26 years in prison, 18 of these years on Robben Island.

    Ahmed Kathrada was last in London in January 2016 and he received the freedom of the City of London. He was a man of principle, integrity, courage with an unswerving commitment to democracy and overcoming racism. He served as Nelson Mandela’s parliamentary counsellor in the first democratic elected government and chaired the Robben Island Museum Council until 2006. He established the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation with the objective of deepening non-racialism, promoting the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa; and a non–racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

    At Nelson Mandela’s funeral he said in a moving way tribute to his comrades who had died,” when Walter died (Walter Sisulu one his co-accused and the mentor of the group including Mandela) I lost a father with Nelson going I have lost a brother, I don’t know what to do.” In the last few years of his life he became increasingly critical of what was happening in the government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and was the first signature to a letter from ANC veterans to the leadership of the ANC calling for change.


    There are now two surviving Rivonia trialists Andrew Mlangeni and Denis Goldberg.

    Ahmed Kathrada born 21 August 1929 died 28 March 2017

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    South Africa: Victims of the Sharpeville Massacre Remembered on Human Rights Day

    By ACTSA | March 21, 2017

    On 21 March 1960, 69 black South Africans were killed by Read the rest of this entry »

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    South Africa: ANC stalwarts criticise current leadership

    By ACTSA | December 19, 2016

    A group of veteran ANC members including the three Read the rest of this entry »

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    16 December: South Africa marks the Day of Reconciliation

    By ACTSA | December 15, 2016

    Coming into effect after the 1994 democratic elections, the Day of Reconciliation – 16 December – was inaugurated to help South Africans Read the rest of this entry »

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    5 December: 3rd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death

    By ACTSA | December 5, 2016

    Nelson Mandela died on 5 December 2013, aged Read the rest of this entry »

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