The Western imperialists were very quick to brand the recent elections in Zimbabwe undemocratic, but there is no shortage of undemocratic and rigged elections in the African continent. Jordi Martorell takes a timely look at the history of the country since independence in 1980; its relations with the IMF, and why the imperialists have switched their support from Zanu-PF to the MDC. He says the main lesson to be drawn from the history of Zimbabwe in the last 20 years is precisely that genuine national liberation cannot be achieved simply by winning formal independence and democratic rights, but only by the overthrow of the capitalist system itself. Capitalism has sufficiently proven its inability all over Africa to solve any of the problems facing the masses. It is time for a socialist alternative, based on the democratic planning of the continent's vast resources by the workers and peasants themselves.

Jordi Martorell reviews this new book by Patrick Bond and Masimba Manyanya. It traces the economic history of Zimbabwe over the last 100 years but pays special attention to the last 20 years since the coming to power of Zanu-PF. But while they make a damning condemnation of the IMF and their policies that have wrecked the Zimbabwean economy, the authors are proposing reformist solutions of tariff barriers and exchange controls, which will not solve the main problem which is the over-exploitation of the workforce. There is no way forward on a capitalist basis.

We publish this translation of an article that originally appeared in the last issue of La Riposte, the Marxist journal in France. The article analyses the role of French imperialism in the latest conflicts, and looks at the perspectives for future French involvement in the region. 

The conflict in the Western Sahara is an important question for revolutionaries in the Maghreb not only from the theoretical point of view (taking into consideration the importance Marxism gives to the right of self-determination), but also from the political and practical side of the issue (as it is impossible to carry out the tasks of the socialist revolution in the region without putting forward a clear Marxist and internationalist understanding of the national question).

Mass protests of university and school students shook the Tunisian regime in April. Some sections of the workers, protesting against privatisation, also joined in. We have received the following article about the situation in Tunisia toghether with an interview with a Tunisian student activist.

Last month the dictator of Tunisia, Ben Ali, sent Sharon an invitation to visit the country. This has provoked massive opposition from the youth. Throughout the whole of last week, one school after another, one campus after another, came out in protest. Many have been arrested and badly beaten by the police. Thus Tunisia joins the long list of unstable countries throughout the region, but because the protests are against a regime that is a friend of US imperialism these have not made the headlines like the events in Lebanon.

Tunisian student youth remain very defiant despite the repression against them. The immediate reason for the spontaneous student protest two weeks ago was dictator-president Ben Ali’s invitation to Ariel Sharon, the butcher of the Palestinian Intifada, to visit Tunisia in November. This invitation is becoming a focal point through which all the social frustrations of the youth in particular are erupting.

On top of all its other anti-working class policies, the Obasanjo regime in Nigeria has recently introduced a new pension scheme, which is nothing other than a privatisation of pensions, with investment funds taking over the running of workers' pensions, funds which could collapse easily, and with no government guarantees, leaving future pensioners destitute.

Back in February two Lagos students were killed by police as they protested against the recent hike in school fees. In some cases fees have been increased a hundred times over. This is making it practically impossible for poor and working class Nigerian children to get an education.

In March millions of Nigerian were forced to stay at home for the day as government officials carried out a head and property count. The regime claimed this would allow for a serious calculation of the level of unemployment and thus allow for “job-creation” to go ahead. The operation was inefficient and plagued by corruption. In the real world Nigerians continue to lose their jobs, pensions, education…

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