Leonard Gentle

Leonard Gentle

Leonard Gentle is the director of the International Labour and Research Information Group (ILRIG), an NGO that produces educational materials for activists in social movements and trade unions. He has been an anti-apartheid activist for many years and has worked as an organiser for the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (SACCAWU), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) and as an educator for the International Federation of Workers' Educational Associations (IFWEA).

Leonard is interested in and has been published on matters concerning national and international political economy. He has B.A (Hons) and B.Sc degrees from the University of Cape Town.

Forging a New Movement: NUMSA and the Shift in SA Politics

Picture credit: General Secretary of Numsa, Irvin Jim courtesy You Tube screengrab. Leonard Gentle - The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the African National Congress (ANC) has received poor analysis. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019 or whether all this means that Zwelenzima Vavi will get his job back. As such, the greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neo-liberal order, and thus to the left of the...

A Week in August: Factions in COSATU, Economic Fear Mongering and the State We're In

Picture credit: Crosses planted at the foot of the infamous Koppie in Marikana in memoriam of the miners killed, courtesy destiny.com. Leonard Gentle - Lenin once said, “There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen.” British Labour Party Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was to similarly explore the vicissitudes of political time when he remarked, “a week was a long time in politics.”         It’s too early to say whether the week beginning 12 August 2013 was such a week, as might have been thought of by either the revolutionary Lenin...

AngloPlat: The Economic Propaganda War and the Battle for Democracy

Picture credit: Leonard Gentle - How soon we forget…When the striking workers were killed by the police at Marikana there was a universal sense of shock and horror. How could it have come to this? Just 18 years after apartheid and here we go again - the police mowing down demonstrators. Now AngloPlat has announced that it will retrench 14 000 workers and the mood amongst the commentariat is, “Well, what did they expect?”    Angloplat’s announcement seems to confirm our most dismal...

The Strike Wave and New Workers' Organisations: Breaking out of Old Compromises

Picture credit: Banksy artwork courtesy oliverlindberg/Flickr Leonard Gentle - Over the past weekend, the striking mineworkers of Amplats gathered at a mass rally in Rustenburg and howled their defiance of a series of ultimatums issued by the company. At De Doorns, farm workers are on a wildcat strike - the latest of a series that has become a feature of the South African landscape over the last three months, knocking Mangaung off the front pages. Something is stirring from below…and it is time we got beyond the fear and trepidation that have become the stock...

Mangaung Versus Marikana: COSATU Chooses Sides

Picture credit: Adapted by SACSIS from various sources. Leonard Gentle - In the run up to the September COSATU Congress, the media began to float the story that Zwelenzima Vavi’s position as General Secretary was going to be challenged by NUM, NEHAWU and SADTU because of his perceived opposition to Jacob Zuma. A subtext to this was the idea of the congress as some kind of debating forum where workers would reflect seriously on critical issues facing the labour movement and where there would be the rough and tumble of debate and contestation. But two...

The Massacre of Our Illusions...and the Seeds of Something New

Picture credit: www.libcom.org Leonard Gentle - The story of Marikana runs much deeper than an inter-union spat. After the horror of watching people being massacred on television, Marikana now joins the ranks of the Bulhoek and Sharpeville massacres, and the images evoked by Hugh Masekela’s Stimela, in the odious history of a method of capital accumulation based on violence. But this is not just a story of violence and grief. To speak in those terms only would be to add the same insult to the injury perpetrated by the police on...