Labour Research October 2012


African struggles today

Social movements since independence

Peter Dwyer and Leo Zeilig, Haymarket, 260 pages, paperback, £12.99

With South Africa hitting the headlines recently as striking miners in Marikana were gunned down, this book can help explain the background to these appalling events.

The book is rooted in “the history of protest and resistance over the last six decades” — in strikes, marches, demonstrations, and riots. But its major focus is on developments over the last 20 years.

Dwyer and Zeilig investigate the social forces driving the democratic transformation of post-colonial states across Southern Africa.

Research and interviews with civil society organisers in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland inform their analysis of the challenges faced by non-governmental organisations in relating both to the inequality of globalisation and to grassroots struggles for social justice.

They put forward an understanding of the central role of workers. But they also say: “There is no division between labour-based struggles and ‘myriad acts of resistance’ — they are in practice mutually reinforcing.”

Reviews contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. Order online at