By Meredeth Turshen (eds.)
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Together with the Zimbabwe trade union movement, the NCA formed 32 PATRICIA McFADDEN the basis of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC is an openly neoliberal alliance between former trade unionists and former white settlers, all of whom are focused on getting a chunk of the national cake. Groups situated outside the ambit of the state are merely pawns in their game to capture and consolidate power within Zimbabwean society. In South Africa, one sees a tremendous acceleration of strategies to reconstruct the trade union movement (COSATU) into a critical part of what seems to be a future version of the ANC as a people’s party or maybe into a future opposition movement in the likeness of the MDC as a prototype that has been developed for several countries in the region (there is an MDC in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, all of which wear very similar traits; they call for change as the rallying theme).
To take the first point: the way in which African societies were only partially expropriated from their land at the turn of the twentieth century is central to the explanation of the emergence of a migrant workforce in the industry that provided the motor of capital accumulation in South Africa—mining. Equally importantly, the existing sexual division of labor in African societies, reinforced by missions and colonial legal codes, ensured that this was a male migrant force. The way African women were drawn into wage labor, both on white farms and in towns, was thus clearly linked to the subsequent development of the migrant labor system.
She also emphasizes the need to analyze the subordination of African women. Into the equation she puts the kaleidoscopic history of domestic service, the political economy of gender relations between white men and white women, and the history of racial subordination and capitalism in South Africa. One important factor missing from this equation is what might be called the political economy of gender relations between black men and black women. In our view it is necessary to go back again, to go deeper into the history of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, taking a consciousness of gender categories.
African Women: A Political Ecomony by Meredeth Turshen (eds.)