Africa

South Africa was moving towards a general strike type situation as the public sector strike that started on August 18 was building up momentum. Now the strike has been suspended by union leaders because of some concessions on the part of the government. This has angered many workers who wanted to step up action, not take a step back.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the Nigerian section of the International Marxist Tendency organised a Marxist weekend school on August 27-28, where they discussed the history of the workers’ internationals and other questions. Comrades were very happy with the school and look forward to more such events.

As the strike by more than a million public sector workers in South Africa enters its second week, the government has launched an all out attack against the unions using all powers at its disposal, including the courts, the police, the Army and the media. The unions have replied by threatening solidarity action which could involve the police and the army.

More than a million South African public sector workers started an all-out national strike for better wages and conditions on Wednesday, August 18. The present wave of strikes shows that the South African workers are not prepared to accept promises anymore and it's time for the Zuma government to deliver the change it was voted in for.

After months of build up, the World Cup is finally underway. As it approaches the end of the first week, in what is a month-long bloated competition, something has become rather clear. Hype is everything.

This year’s Mayday event was quite historic for the Communist League of Action, the Morrocan section of the IMT. It was the first time we sold our paper, The Communist in public. This is quite an audacious move under a repressive regime also considering that our paper was the only illegal revolutionary paper to be sold on the Mayday demonstrations.

Over 70% of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line; life expectancy stands at 43 years; and 50,000 Nigerian women die from childbirth every year. Instead of finding a solution to these burning problems, the corrupt Nigerian elite is now playing with the idea of “electoral reform” and the labour leaders are falling for this. What is required is an independent party of the working class capable of leading the workers in a struggle to change society.

This year there was a massive display of working class militancy at the May Day rallies in Nigeria. What was evident, however, was the glaring contradiction between the main speeches calling for “dialogue” and the desire to take the road of militant strike action by the rank and file. The Marxists of the Workers’ Alternative intervened successfully with a huge sale of their paper and with many workers showing a keen interest in their ideas.

We make available the latest edition of the Moroccan Marxist journal, The Communist, in Arabic, which has articles on The origins of May Day, the Mass struggles in Jebha and Chefchaouen, the Western Sahara Question, and the IMT Statement on the Fifth International. [Download pdf]

David van Wyk in South Africa sent us this comment on how Mugabe, from a leader of the war of liberation, became a pliant tool in the hands of imperialism, impoverishing the Zimbabwean masses in the process, and only later turning to “land reform” and so-called “economic indigenisation” as a means of diverting attention away from the very problems his policies had provoked in the first place.

Inmates at a Kaduna Prison in Nigeria last Tuesday attempted a jailbreak, and no fewer than 15 of them are feared dead as security forces were called in to regain control of the situation. At the root of this situation are the appalling conditions in which the prisoners are kept, and beyond the prison itself the appalling living conditions of millions of Nigerian poor.

The recent death of Eugene Terre Blanche, leader of the AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), at the hands of two farm workers, has highlighted the situation that exists today in South Africa, on the one hand the many unresolved problems of the huge majority of black workers and poor, and on the other a minority within the white population who cannot reconcile themselves to the end of Apartheid, upon which their privileges depended.

The Nigerian workers’ genuine mass organised expression is the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a powerful trade union body. But they lacked a political expression, a genuine workers’ party. In recent times a Nigerian Labour Party has been formed, which has attracted some attention from activist within the movement. The problem is that the NLC has not put its full backing behind it, leaving it in a kind of half-way house, limbo state. What is required is to transform it into a genuine mass party with the full backing of the NLC.

Over the weekend of March 6-7, hundreds of people, including many women and children, were butchered like animals in ethnic conflicts near the city of Jos in Nigeria. This is not the first time such ethnic strife has erupted. It is a symptom of the decay of Nigerian society under the rule of a parasitic local bourgeoisie at the service of imperialism.

Niger’s military overthrew former President Mamadou Tandja in February. In a sense it can be seen as a military coup against a constitutional coup that Tandja had carried out last year. But why was Tandja removed? Ola Kazeem and Fred Weston look at the background to the coup and the economic interests that it serves.

After several weeks of solid protest, the state authorities released the three youth activists of Jebha from prison last week. This is a huge victory for the struggle against the lack of water supplies, power cuts and other problems affecting the village. We want to thank all our readers who sent solidarity messages.

We provide here a link to this important document produced by the ANC Youth League on the question of the nationalisation of the mines. The ANC YL document is inspired in the bold call of the Freedom Charter that "the mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole." This document has created a heated polemic within the workers' movement in South Africa and with the capitalist class. We publish it here for the information of our readers. This should be read in

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A storm erupted in policy circles in South Africa after Julius Malema the leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) boldly proclaimed the need for the mining industry in South Africa to be nationalized. The demand was predicated on fulfilling the vision of the Freedom Charter, which was adopted at Kliptown in 1955 as the ‘manifesto’ of the liberation struggle. According to the Charter “The wealth of the country shall be shared among all who live in it!” (Note: the full ANC YL document on nationalisation of the mines can be read ...

The physical ill-health of the present President of Nigeria is compounding the crisis of the regime. But whoever the ruling class replace him with, the anti-worker policies will stay the same. What is required is for the Nigerian Labour Party to break with the bourgeois elements and pose as a completely independent party of the working class.

After the blow to the Nigerian economy by the sharp fall in the price of oil, due to falling demand on a global scale, now that there are signs of recovery in the advanced capitalist economies, the price of oil has been rising for some time, although not reaching anywhere near the peak of over US$140 per barrel. Thus, Nigeria is also set to grow, but all this hides the real underlying weaknesses of the Nigerian economy.

Last Thursday there was a demonstration in Chefchouan to demand the immediate release of the three young victims of the police repression in Jebha. They were arrested on January 11 following their participation in the protest movement against the deterioration of the living conditions in their village. We also ask the international youth and workers movement to keep on sending letters of protest.

A Labour Party was created in the recent period in Nigeria. This had been a long time coming, but unfortunately many renegades from various bourgeois parties have jumped on the bandwagon using the party to promote their own careers. The Marxists maintain that the party must be tightly linked to the Nigerian Labour Congress and the workers must take control of the party if it is to become the true voice of the Nigerian working class.

As a result of a mass protest against the lack of water supplies, power cuts and other problems affecting the village of Jebha (Chefchaouen) in Morocco, three leaders of the protest have been arrested. We call on all our readers to send messages of solidarity.

A Labour Party has been formed in Nigeria, but it has not received the official backing of the NLC national leadership, although trade union activists are members and work within it. Unfortunately, the present leadership is not pushing for a stronger trade union link. On the contrary, it wishes to distance the party even further from the trade unions. What is required is for the trade union movement to put its full backing behind the party and transform it into a fighting working class organisation.

Initially Nigerian so-called economic experts were denying the world crisis would affect Nigeria. Then reality hit them with a bang! There had been a frenzy of speculation, as the investors believed they could money from money, without actually producing anything. Now the financial mess is clear to all, and the only answer the ruling class has is to throw more money at the speculators, while squeezing the Nigerian masses.

The working masses and poor of South Africa overthrew the old hated Apartheid regime as a means of improving their living and working conditions. Instead what we have is a party in power, the ANC, which was created by the working masses but which is presently carrying out policies in the interests of the rich. This contradiction must be resolved and the only way is for the working people to take back control of the party they created.

Supporters of the International Marxist Tendency in Morocco have just published the first edition of their paper, The Communist. Here we provide a brief explanation of the contents and also make it available online for any reader who wishes to download it.

A militant strike has been going on of the University academic staff in Nigeria. Significantly this time they have linked up with the non-academic staff. The education system in Nigeria is in a dismal state, with the best academics leaving in droves for the advanced capitalist west. This very fact is a condemnation of the corrupt Nigerian ruling elite.

Earlier this year, in May, the Niger Delta region of Nigeria was in what amounted to a state of war, with the army bombing villages, killing many poor civilians. This article, written at the height of the events, looks into what is behind this conflict, placing it within the context of the crisis of Nigerian capitalism, the unstable nature of the present Yar’Adua government and the key product of Nigeria, crude oil.

A sizeable proportion of Nigerian workers receive pay that is nothing but a starvation wage. Today, over 75% of them live in conditions of crushing poverty, in conditions not far removed from barbarism. And yet any demand for a decent minimum wage is presented by the ruling elite as “unaffordable”, as something that would do terrible damage to the economy.

There has been much talk in Nigeria among bourgeois economists on how to “save the Naira” the country’s currency. Here a Nigerian Marxist explains how none of the policies advocated by these “experts” can work. Only by taking over the banks and the commanding heights of the economy can real control be established over monetary policy.

There is much talk of electoral reform in Nigeria, but even if a genuinely democratic procedure were put in place the workers would still be faced with a choice between parties that stand more or less for the same bourgeois interests. What is required is a party of labour. The Labour Party exists but is run by bourgeois gangsters that have hijacked it. The task is to boot these out and place the party in the hands of the workers.

Adams Oshiomhole was last year declared the rightful winner of the gubernatorial elections in Edo state. He is a very popular figure, having been for years the general secretary of the NLC (Nigerian Labour Congress). But instead of standing for Labour he stood on a bourgeois ticket. Many hopes were placed in him, but what has he achieved so far in the state he now governs?

The entire land redistribution programme in South Africa is being bedevilled by a mixture of feudalist and capitalist land rights, with the liberal constitution of the country protecting private property as a 'right', while the majority black African population not having private property in land, still being subject of a pre-colonial property dispensation that came to be entrenched under Apartheid.

The National Union of Mine Workers of South Africa today marched on the Reserve Bank of South Africa to deliver a memo protesting the conservative monetary and fiscal policies of the Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank Governor Toto Mboweni refused to receive the memo from the protesting workers. After hours of waiting outside the SARB, the protesters broke down a police barrier and threatened to storm into the bank.

Nigeria is an oil-rich country and yet its people live in absolute poverty. A small privileged elite profits from the oil industry, stashing away their ill-gotten gains and do not use this oil wealth to improve living conditions for the masses. Now they want to worsen things with deregulation. The only answer is nationalisation and planning of the resources under workers' control.

The workers and poor of South Africa voted massively for an ANC that had been purged of its right wing. Now that the ANC is once more in office, the bourgeois – having failed to stop this – are putting enormous pressure on its leaders to steer away from any radical pro-worker policies. What is required is a struggle within the South African labour movement to anchor its organisations to genuine socialist policies.

Today South Africans are going to the polls. The elections come after the December 2008 Pholokwane Conference of the ANC, where the Mbeki-led right-wing clique was resoundingly defeated, breaking away to form the Congress of the People, while the new Zuma leadership took over. For years workers in South Africa have waited for the "second stage" of the South African revolution that never materialised. It is about time the socialist agenda were taken up again by the ANC!

"We no longer take orders from our hierarchy, we are following our hearts. We were trained to protect property and citizens, not to fire at people. We are with the people," one rebel soldier is reported as saying.

Scenes of innocent people being killed at the hands of the police are becoming ever more common in Nigeria. Here a Nigerian Marxist links this phenomenon to the ever deeper senile decay of capitalism.

Most Nigerian workers earn miserably low wages. The present minimum wage is set at 5,200 Naira (US$36) per month. The workers have now raised the demand for a 52,000 Naira (US$360) minimum wage, still low compared to international standards, and yet the Nigerian elite complain that this will damage the economy!

We publish this impressive video of a school students' demo against the Israeli imperialist aggression in Gaza. It illustrates well the sea change in the consciousness of young people in the Arab world, in Morocco in particular.