SAR, Vol 13 No 1, November 1997
An editorial in which an honest answer to a pressing question is demanded from SAR's loyal readers.
"South Africa Now." We think the table of contents for this issue of Southern Africa Report speaks for itself. And so does the roster of authors we've assembled to help us through the maze of issues - "COSATU, Thabo Mbeki and the ANC Congress" - evoked by such a title: knowledgeable contributors like Glenn Adler and Eddie Webster, Hein Marais and Tom Lodge, for starters. Plus more top-of-the-line reportage and analysis later in the issue from such SAR regulars as Lauren Dobell, Richard Saunders and Joseph Hanlon, commenting on developments elsewhere in the region: in Namibia, in Zimbabwe, in Mozambique. And there's even a long, powerful poem, previously unpublished, by Ghanaian author and activist Abena Busia to add spice to our usual recipe.
This is solid, topical stuff, we hope you'll agree - well written, well argued, well considered, and pretty much unavailable elsewhere, either in Africa or beyond. What's more, it's the kind of coverage loyal readers have come to expect from SAR year after year (and now into our thirteenth year) - or so you tell us when, from time to time, we hear from you, by e-mail or by word of mouth. Moreover, so strong is the present issue that we've decided, for once, to leave you, our gentle readers, on your own recognizance, without benefit of our customary editorial dash of bitters, to savour its contents to your mind's delight.
Fact is, too, that we have something of even more pressing urgency to share with you in this editorial space. We begin with a question. Just how important, really, is SAR to you? To you, not merely as consumers of information about southern Africa (although we trust SAR provides you much information that you couldn't readily obtain elsewhere), but also as members of that broader community which still shares a commitment to helping facilitate humane and progressive outcomes in southern Africa?
We ask you because we've had to ask ourselves this question a number of times in recent months. Where is the energy to come from to sustain us in the challenging work of keeping a magazine of this quality afloat: beating the bushes for articles of high standard and finding the endless volunteer hours - we have no paid staff - that go into editing, printing and pasting, servicing newsstands and subscribers, keeping the books? And where, of at least equal importance, is the money to come from that can enable us to continue to turn that energy to productive account?
Let's be frank, and put money first - even though we all would feel more comfortable, no doubt, putting politics first. For unfortunately, right now, money has become the crunch issue for us. Subscriptions and newsstand sales have only ever taken us part way towards financial solvency (in part because some of those subs have been and remain complementaries to those, particularly in Africa, who can't readily afford to receive this magazine). We have had other sources of financial support in the past, much of it from our own pockets here at SAR (and from those of members of our home organization, the Toronto Committee for Links between Southern Africa and Canada [TCLSAC]). We've also received funding, over the years, from a number of other organizations and agencies dedicated to the southern African struggle. Now, however, many such organizations and agencies have, in the post-apartheid epoch, either moved on to other fronts or have merely folded their tents, satisfied with a job well done.
Much of this is understandable, of course. But freedom, of a sort, for southern Africa has come to mean financial crunch time for us, and this is a particularly unwelcome reality in light of our own strong conviction that there is still much work to be done on southern African issues in order to help people there truly to liberate themselves. Solidarity with people in that region remains of fundamental importance, we feel, and there's even the thought around here that such solidarity may well be more meaningful now than ever. After all, within the context of increased "globalization," mutual recognition - North and South - of our shared vulnerability in the face of a rootless and uncontrolled capitalism seems much more likely to draw our struggles closer together than it is to stretch them further apart!
Perhaps this is why, here at SAR, our energy remains pretty much undimmed - although it would be helpful to hear from our readers that you share this sense of the importance of the task we're undertaking and are even prepared to involve yourself in it more actively: giving us more feed-back, sending us articles and other publishable materials, touting the magazine to other potential readers, subscribers and distributors, be they institutions (libraries, book shops, conferences, political organizations) or friends. SAR is nothing if not a collective endeavour, not least to those closest to it. But we're eager and willing to expand the sense of your own joint ownership of the enterprise by incorporating any and all of you who are ready to enlist.
But, ah yes, funds. Our pockets are only so deep and here, especially, we both need help and welcome it eagerly. Case in point: recently we heard from one of our old comrades in TCLSAC, one who had indeed moved on to other fronts of struggle as the primary focus of her reading and her politics. But, for her, the sense of the importance of southern Africa issues remains intact, just a bit lapsed, she admitted, although still held in place by her on-going subscription to SAR. She had steady employment now, she said, and wanted to help in some kind of sustained, and sustaining, way. Could she send us a set of post-dated cheques, $60 a month, and for the foreseeable future? Yes, please, and thank you.
So, not to put too fine a point upon it, we return to the question with which we began: how important is SAR to you? We trust it's important enough for many of you that you, too, will feel moved to, as it were, cheque it out: "Dare to struggle, dare to sign."
Southern Africa Report
Contents - Vol 13 No 1
"South Africa Now: Cosatu, Thabo Mbeki and the ANC Conference"
Editorial: Cheque Up - 1
Besieged in Mafeking: The ANC Congress - 3
by Tom Lodge
The Mbeki Enigma - 6
by Hein Marais
Which Way Labour? Cosatu's 6th Congress - 12
by Eddie Webster and Glenn Adler
Testament for the First Accused:
Nelson Mandela for the Twenty-Seven Years - 16
A poem by Avena Busia
Striking Back: Worker Militancy in Zimbabwe - 18
by Richard Saunders
Struggle Against Silence: Reclaiming History in Namibia - 22
by Lauren Dobell
Success Story? Bretton Woods Backlash in Mozambique - 26
by Joseph Hanlon
Crossed Purposes: Migrant Attitudes in Southern Africa - 30
by David McDonald
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