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South Africa’s hard-won democracy, symbolised by the late liberation hero Nelson Mandela, was the main victim of the chaos in parliament during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
In Recovering Democracy in South Africa, Raymond Suttner brings together the best of his recent writings and essays; he offers a fresh look at the wide range of contentious issues that currently preoccupy South Africans, from the threat to constitutionalism to problems with leadership and questions of ethics.
The book is as much an in-depth engagement with our difficult present as it is a damning account of the politics of the Zuma era.
This book comes out at a time when South Africa faces its own challenges. What the future holds for South Africa depends on what each of us puts into reclaiming our democracy and the values that underpin our country.
Jacana Media is proud to make this important book available again, now with a completely new introduction. First published by Oceanbooks, New York and Melbourne and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg in 2001, the book was short-listed for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award in 2002.
In the public imagination the struggle that saw the end of apartheid and the inauguration of a democratic South Africa is seen as one waged by black people who were often imprisoned or killed for their efforts. Raymond Suttner, an academic, is one of a small group of white South Africans who was imprisoned for his efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime. He was first arrested in 1975 and tortured with electric shocks because he refused to supply information to the police. He then served 8 years because of his underground activities for the African National Congress and South African Communist Party.
After his release in 1983, he returned to the struggle and was forced to go underground to evade arrest, but was re-detained in 1986 under repeatedly renewed states of emergency, for 27 months, 18 of these in solitary confinement, because whites were kept separately and all other whites apart from Suttner were released. In the last months of this detention Suttner was allowed to have a pet lovebird, which he tamed and used to keep inside his tracksuit. When he was eventually released from detention in September 1988 the bird was on his shoulder. Suttner was held under stringent house arrest conditions, imposed to impede further political activities. He, however, defied his house arrest restrictions and attended an Organisation for African Unity meeting in Harare in August 1989 and he remained out of the country for five months. Shortly after his return, when he anticipated being re-arrested, the state of emergency was lifted and the ANC and other banned organisations were unbanned. Suttner became a leading figure in the ANC and SACP.
The book describes Suttner’s experience of prison in a low-key, unromantic voice, providing the texture of prison life, but unlike most ‘struggle memoirs’ it is also intensely personal. Suttner is not averse to admitting his fears and anxieties.
The new edition contains an introduction where Suttner describes his break with the ANC and SACP. But, he argues, the reason for his rupturing this connection that had been so important to his life were the same – ethical reasons – that had led him to join. He remains convinced that what he did was right and continues to act in accordance with those convictions.
According to the conventional wisdom, the ANC after its banning in 1960 by the apartheid government and the imprisonment of its leaders largely disappeared off the face of South Africa until public support for it revived in the wake of the Soweto Uprising of 1976. This title takes issue with that view. Drawing on substantial oral testimony, Raymond Suttner, an academic and former ANC underground worker, develops a convincing case that internally based activists, working independently of the exile organisation, were able to reconstitute networks within South Africa after the ANC had been declared illegal. He discusses the salient characteristics of their underground work and presents a fascinating investigation of the various kinds of 'heroic masculinity' that helped invigorate the ANC's clandestine life. Interesting too is his discussion of the way in which the organisation itself supplied a surrogate focus for suppressed personal emotions. In a final chapter, he explores the content of the hegemony that the ANC had established by the late 1970s, which enabled it to become the prime political beneficiary of the Soweto Uprising of black students.
It is widely assumed that the African National Congress essentially disappeared from South Africa after its banning in 1960 and the imprisonment of its leaders, until public support for it revived in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising. Raymond Suttner takes issue with that view. Drawing on extensive oral testimony, Suttner reveals how internally based activists, often working independently of the ANC in exile, were able to reconstitute and maintain effective underground networks. His scope encompasses the broad features of the clandestine work, the impact that it had on personal lives, and the opportunities that were presented for both bravery and abuse. He also considers the gendered character of the underground ANC. In the concluding chapter of the book, he explores the gradual establishment of the ANC hegemony, which continues to this day. This title reveals the little known role of internally based, clandestine ANC activists in South Africa during the years that the organization was banned and its leadership in exile.
After Raymond Suttner's arrest in 1975, he was subjected to torture, solitary confinement and long periods in jail. This book includes letters smuggled out of jail and provides insights into the psychological effects of confinement.
All my life and all my strength gives insight into this extraordinary woman who was a Jew, feminist, leading communist, trade unionist, stalwart in the liberation movement in South Africa and partner of Jack Simons for over fifty-four years. The title spans her entire life - from her childhood in Lithuania to the present - and details her tireless struggle for freedom from racial domination, the harsh relationship between her personal and political lives, how she dealt with these priorities and how her values manifested in all aspects of her life, including her health. The auhtor tells of her early struggles within the South African Communist party, of life in exile in Lusaka and of the dominant role she played in shaping unions and organizations, such as the Food and Canning Workers' Union (now FAWU), of which Comrade Ray remains life president and the Federation of South African Women (FSAW).
The main body of the text, initially prepared in 1986, has been left unaltered, but the authors have added a substantial new introduction and a bibliography of some of the literature that was not then available within the country or emerged after the publication of the book. The authors met in Pretoria Security Prison, both jailed for ANC underground activities. Both have published extensively. Jeremy Cronin is an award-winning poet, his most recent work being Inside and Outside (1999). Raymond Suttner has published Inside Apartheid's Prison (2001) and various scholarly works. Currently Suttner is attached to the History Department of the University of South Africa in Pretoria and Cronin is an ANC member of Parliament, and Deputy General Secretary of the South African Communist Party.
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