New Frame

New Frame aims to write from, and in conversation with, the growing popular ferment in South Africa, and elsewhere. We will strive to

We are committed to reporting that is accurate, careful and credible. We won’t always be first with the news. We won’t always run the most stories. We won’t publish an avalanche of opinion. We won’t allow twitter to set the agenda for our work. We are chasing quality, not clicks.

In January 1973 workers in factories across Durban went on strike. The largest and most decisive action was at the Frame Group of Companies, where more than 7 000 workers struck.

As more and more workers took to the streets colonial paranoia ran rampant and increasingly feverish claims were made about outside agitators.

The outside agitators only existed in the paranoid world of colonial fantasy. The workers had organised themselves and the Durban Strikes, as they came to be known, marked a decisive turning point in the struggle against apartheid. As the political ferment spread across the country repression was swift and brutal.

On 11 September 11 workers were murdered by the police during a strike at shaft No. 2 at the Western Deep Levels Mine in Carletonville.

But despite the repression the Durban Strikes led to the revival of the black trade union movement, and began a broader urban rebellion that would, by the mid 1980s, organise and mobilise millions of people.

There were vigorous debates between those who advocated a degree of autonomy for popular struggles in the workplace, and in communities, and those who saw popular struggles as a battering ram to be wielded by the national liberation movement.

Almost 25 years after the end of apartheid it is clear that the national liberation movement has betrayed the people whose strivings and struggles brought it to power.

Almost 25 years after the end of apartheid it is clear that the national liberation movement has betrayed the people whose strivings and struggles brought it to power.

Today millions of people make their lives in the pain, panic and exhaustion of mass and intensely racialised impoverishment.

We are undergoing a process of rapid deindustrialisation. Unemployment is endemic, especially among young people.

We all know young people who are blunting their pain, and making empty time pass a little faster, with cheap heroin.

The state has failed to undertake serious land reform, and it increasingly tries to contain its failure to address the urban crisis with organised violence, much of it in the form of casual sadism.

Schools and hospitals are often sites of neglect and abuse. Corruption is pervasive.

Few people in South Africa have not experienced some form of violence, and women are subject to harrowing levels of abuse. We all count among the women we love people who must, every day, summon the courage to make their lives against the weight of what has been done to them.

Migrants confront a hostile state and periodic outbreaks of popular violence. And, of course, no one in their right mind would suggest that racism has been decisively defeated.

We inhabit what Frantz Fanon called a “non-viable society, a society to be replaced.”

We inhabit what Frantz Fanon called a “non-viable society, a society to be replaced.”

Exactly six years ago, on 16 August 2012, the state massacred striking miners at Marikana. That massacre was as much a point of rupture as the Durban Strikes.

It marked the end of any credible claim to innocence about the character of the post-apartheid order, and its ruling class. From the land occupations out on the wastelands of our cities, to the factory floor, the universities and Parliament the massacre at Marikana came to mark a fundamental shift in our politics.

To reach towards an adequate understanding of this shift we require new frames, new ways of seeing and making meaning.

The removal of Jacob Zuma from the Presidency has not restored the credibility of our leaders or enabled the restoration of social hope.

The people most committed to making paths towards collective dignity and freedom are often subject to assault, arrest on trumped up charges, torture, dismissal, targeted eviction and, in some parts of the country, assassination.

Cyril Ramaphosa has not publicly condemned or acted to stop the ongoing assassination of grassroots activists. His farcically contradictory politics offers no credible emancipatory vision.

At the same time popular protest, often taking increasingly militant forms, is escalating. The political character of this ferment includes discernibly reactionary and progressive moments, elements and currents.

But it is clear that new social forces are emerging and, in some cases, cohering outside of the authority of the ruling party. It is common for dissident courage, often with women in the forefront, to take extraordinarily committed forms.

Struggles for urban land are increasingly well organised. Impressive work is being done to restore the political and intellectual autonomy and militancy of the trade union movement.

On the global stage the forces of reaction are in the ascendancy. It has, overwhelmingly, been the right rather than the left that has prospered in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

In the capitals of the world the corridors of power are inhabited by figures as unrelentingly grim as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Michel Temer, Donald Trump and Narendra Modi.

But new political forces are stirring against the authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia of the right, many of them resolved to subordinate capital as well as the state to society.

It is this ferment that New Frame wishes to document and engage at home and abroad. We are intensely aware that from Zuma to Modi and Trump organised dishonesty, often enabled by new forms of online communication, has been central to the rise of authoritarian and deeply reactionary forms of populism.

We are chasing quality, not 

We are committed to reporting that is accurate, careful and credible. We won’t always be first with the news. We won’t always run the most stories.

We won’t publish an avalanche of opinion. We won’t allow twitter to set the agenda for our work. We are chasing quality, not clicks.

We have assembled a team of writers and photographers who will strive to do justice to the detail, texture, dynamism and complexity of life in South Africa.

Together we will report the news, including culture and sport, from grand events to everyday life in the home, the union, the movement and on the streets.

We will strive to keep a clear and vigilant eye on the lived experience of oppression and resistance, and to develop new frames for making adequate sense of our time and place, and prospects for a better future.

If you want to republish this article please read our guidelines.