Africa

The recent Constitutional Court judgment against President Jacob Zuma is only the latest in a series of rapid-fire events which have shaken South African society fundamentally. From the Marikana massacre in 2012, to the latest revelations, society has been staggering from one crisis to another. The turnover of these events is astonishing. New shocks crop up almost on a weekly basis, and old controversies resurface periodically only to assume new convulsive forms. In the final analysis, this shows that, on a capitalist basis, none of the fundamental problems of society can be solved.

Nigeria is an oil-rich country and yet periodically it faces massive fuel shortages. The inept Nigerian bourgeoisie is incapable even of building the necessary fuel refineries to provide enough fuel for the home market. The reason for this is that it is more profitable to trade in importing refined fuel than to produce it themselves! Here we provide a comment on the situation from a comrade in Nigeria.

The clashes among the South African ruling class which erupted into the open last December have now turned into open war. The revelations that the Gupta family have offered cabinet posts to various people on behalf of president Jacob Zuma have thrown the ANC government into disarray. This indicates the extent to which corruption has extended itself to the executive branch of government and to the heart of the ANC itself. The fact that private families can decide who serve as ministers in the cabinet shines a spotlight on the rottenness of the scandal-prone Zuma presidency.

Everything has now been set in place for an imperialist intervention in Libya. Ashton Carter, United States Defence Secretary, has anointed Italy as leader of the “Coalition”. Meanwhile, in Italy, the past imperialist master of Libya, the war drums are beating.

For the past several months there have been persistent reports in the media about the possibility of a coalition between the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the main bourgeois opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), at local government level. Now the leadership of the EFF have confirmed that discussions have taken place.

This report was originally sent to us on January 14th as the movement of the trainee teachers in Morocco was beginning. Since then, the struggle of trainee teachers against the decrees has continued. In response to the intransigence of the government, the National Coordination of Trainee Teachers called for a national march in Rabat on Sunday, January 24th.

On Wednesday, 9 December the government of South Africa was thrown into a new crisis when president Jacob Zuma unexpectedly fired his finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with David van Rooyen, a little known ANC backbencher. This decision was so unexpected that neither the ANC nor members from his own cabinet were aware of it. The events over the four days which followed, once again shook the country to its foundations and ushered in a new period in the class struggle.

As the third wave of global crisis of capitalism is approaching – the first and second waves being respectively the sub-prime housing and European sovereign debt crises – the so-called emerging and developing economies are entering deeper into economic, political and economic crisis. Nigeria connects to this global crisis through the mechanism of the global crude oil glut and collapsing commodity prices.

Below is a resolution of the which is being discussed in Marxist societies all over Britain this week. As Marxist students fighting tuition fee rises, privatisations and attacks on our living standards, the struggle of the South African students is a great inspiration to us. Their struggle is our struggle. Workers of the world unite!

On Friday, 23 October, South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, announced that there will be no increases to student university fees for next year. This was a clear attempt by the government to contain a movement which has became too big to control.

The 15th issue of the Moroccan Marxist paper The Communist is out. In this issue you can read about: The attitude of Marxists towards elections, report from the 2015 IMT world school and the medical students protest in Morocco. Download the PDF of the issue here.

On 25 June year, President Jacob Zuma released the report of the Farlam Commission, which was appointed by the government to investigate the killings of 44 people at the Lonmin mine in Marikana in August 2012. This includes the massacre of mineworkers on 16 August that year, when the police opened fire on the striking workers, killing 34 and injuring 78 more.

Over the recent period, beneath the appearance of relative calm in the South African Communist Party (SACP), serious divisions have begun to open up. These divisions are manifesting themselves along fault lines which have existed for long periods of the party's existence. Now, under the impact of the raging organic crisis of capitalism, the turbulence which accompanies it, the resultant instability in the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance and the emergence of formations to the left of the ANC, the cracks in the party have begun to open wider and wider. The SACP now finds itself struggling to fight for its relevance. Sooner or later all the divisions must burst into the open, further

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Recent comments by South Africa’s most powerful business tycoon, Johann Rupert, gives interesting and penetrating insights into the current state of mind of the bourgeoisie. Rupert is clearly very disturbed by the current state of affairs, even admitting that they are keeping him awake at night.

In a highly significant event, delegates to the 15th National Congress of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have voted to remove the incumbent general secretary, Frans Baleni and replace him with a clear left wing candidate, David Sipunzi. The result, which came as shock to many, is a heavy blow to the class collaborationist right wing of COSATU, the main trade union federation. This shakeup will have wide ramifications not only in the trade union movement, but also in the Tripartite Alliance.

The recurrence of the barbaric violence against mainly African immigrants in some parts of South Africa over the past week has once again shone the spotlight on the worsening situation which is developing in the country. These reactionary attacks go against the whole grain of the history of the South African workers’ movement which was mainly born out of the need to combat this kind of racist and xenophobic violence and discrimination and to unite all oppressed layers of society under the umbrella of working class solidarity.

After sixteen years in power, the PDP has finally been removed by the Nigerian masses. This is a direct consequence of the mass movement that erupted in January 2012. Buhari has been elected by enthusiastic masses in the hope that he will provide real change. But his programme remains one of continuation of privatisations and sell-offs. It will not be long before the Nigerian masses realise this from their own living experience.

Over the last three weeks, students, lecturers and workers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have been demanding that management remove a statue of Cecil John Rhodes – a 19th century British colonialist whose destructive imperialist legacy is still remembered across much of Southern Africa to this day. However, the issues that have been brought up by the students in the wake of the campaign are much broader and more far-reaching than the mere removal of a statue. The "Rhodes Must Fall Campaign", which was started by a handful of students, has mushroomed into a furious country-wide debate over the need for radical change.

With the oil price below $60 per barrel and with the significant collapse of Nigeria’s oil market as a result of the US’s zero importation from Nigeria since July 2014, it is clear that the Nigerian economy is facing a serious crisis. This situation has been made even more serious by the fact that the crisis comes at a time when Nigeria’s foreign reserves stand at less than $34billion.

The dust still has not to settled after the stormy start to this year’s parliamentary year. The extraordinary events of 12 February and in the days which followed it, have thrown South Africa into a maelstrom of political crisis, which is at bottom a reflection of the crisis of the capitalist system.

The number of civic protests in South Africa has skyrocketed to new record highs. New figures which were released by the Civic Protest Barometer of the University of the Western Cape on 19 February 2015 show that the number of protests by communities, so-called ‘’service delivery’’ protests, more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The researchers also show that 2014 was the year with the highest number of these protests on record.

The political, tribal, and religious divisions in Libya, which have been fuelled for many years by imperialism, are dragging the country into a bloody civil war, never seen before. Just as in Iraq, military intervention by the imperialists rather than stabilise the country enormously destabilised it.

Over the weekend of 13-16 December 2014 the Economic Freedom Fighters held their first national congress. The event was attended by more than 2000 delegates, representing more than 500 000 members. This  was an excellent turnout  for a party which is just over one year old!  

Boko Haram has carried out a number of suicide bomb attacks, such as the one that took place in Maiduguri in northern Nigeria earlier this week, in which 78 people were killed. Over the last four years, suicide bombings have become one of the avowed weapons of the right-wing Boko Haram insurgency campaign in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. Musa Atiku explains the background to all this.

A revolutionary situation is currently spreading across West Africa. Over the last few days and weeks, big movements of the masses have shaken the regimes of Togo and Gabon to their foundations. It is clear that these are not isolated events. Rather, it is part of a revolutionary wave which has the potential to engulf the entire region.

To properly understand and locate the underlying factors that have led to the fragmentation of Cosatu, one needs to go no further than the South Africa Communist Party.

The expulsion of NUMSA from the COSATU trade union confederation, is one of the most significant events in the African class struggle in the whole of the past period. It clearly exposes the reactionary character of the present COSATU leadership who are willing to tear the union apart rather than allow a militant union to remain within its ranks, even if this means paralysing the workers’ movement in order to preserve their own privileged positions.

As a party that purports to stand for the unity of workers, one expected that the South African Communist Party (SACP) would do its utmost to avert the implosion that is tearing the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) asunder.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 8 November, the Central Executive Committee of South Africa's largest labour federation, COSATU, voted by a margin of 33 to 24 to expel its biggest affiliate, NUMSA from the federation. This decision will have far-reaching consequences not only for COSATU, but for the liberation movement and the direction of the class struggle.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) announced on Monday that it is severing ties with the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU, the trade union federation. It also announced that it is setting up its socialist "United Front" on 13-16 December this year.

As a result of the increased domestic production of shale oil, the US has slashed crude oil imports from a peak of almost 14 million barrels per day in 2006, to slightly above 7 million barrels per day. Crude oil imports from Nigeria, one of the principal sources of light crude, were also slashed from more than one million barrels per day in 2010 to zero in July 2014.This figure is unprecedented since Nigeria started exporting oil about 40years ago.

The 5th parliamentary term has been unlike any of the  others in the last 20 years of bourgeois democratic rule. In the four months since the elections in May,  parliament has suddenly become a real focal point of attention.

On Tuesday, 1 July, hundreds of thousands of metalworkers went out on strike in the engineering and metals sectors, bringing the industry to a complete standstill. The strike involves small, medium and large companies, with more than 220,000 workers at about 10,500 workplaces. Some of the big companies that are affected includes Bell Equipment, Dorbyl, Murray and Roberts, Scaw Metals and Reunert.

The longest strike in South Africa’s history has ended. For nearly five long months, platinum miners affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) held out against the arrogance and intransigence of the platinum mine bosses. On Thursday the business press  broke  the news that an “in principle agreement” had been reached between the platinum mines and the union. The markets and the national  currency made strong gains in response. On the same day the workers indicated at mass rallies in Rustenburg that they would accept the latest offer of the mining houses. The companies and the union are expected to sign the agreement soon.

In 1998 a number of students were arrested at the University of Ilorin for organising protests against hikes in student fees. They were held in prison for over a month and this website campaigned for their release at the time. One of the students involved in that struggle was Rasheedat Adeshina, a leader of the student union. The price she paid for daring to protest was that although she passed all her exams brilliantly, her degree certificate was never released by the authorities. It has taken 14 years, but finally she has won.

The abduction by the Islamic fundamentalist Boko Haram group of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in the north of the country and the way the Nigerian government has reacted to it has highlighted the truly corrupt nature of the regime. It has revealed its utter cynicism in the face of the real suffering of the masses.

An explosive situation is once again building up in the platinum belt around Rustenburg, as a four month old strike over wages by 70,000 miners has seen the dramatic escalation of tensions in the last few days. Just in the last few hours the state has dispatched the army to assist the already large police contingent in a desperate attempt to break the strike.

The dramatic events that have unfolded in this country in the past few weeks – among them the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram – confirm more than ever the complete impotence of the inept and extremely corrupt Nigerian ruling class, and also the rottenness of the country's armed forces, in the face of the insurgency.

The the South African national elections of 7 May resulted in a clear victory to the African National Congress. However beneath the surface the mood is one of anger and disillusionment with the corrupt right-wing leadership of the party through which the masses overthrew the Apartheid regime.

On May 7th, South Africa will hold the 5th national and provincial elections to take place since the downfall of apartheid. This year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. However, the elections are not marked by a jubilant mood. The past few years have seen a very sharp increase in the class struggle. At the same time the political establishment is stumbling from one crisis to another. This is a reflection of the sick nature of capitalism.

A group of ANC veterans led by anti-apartheid stalwart Ronnie Kasrils are urging disgruntled ANC voters, rather than staying home, to either spoil their ballots at the May 7 elections or tactically vote for some of the small opposition parties. They are unhappy with their political home, but don’t have an alternative. The veterans are urging voters to spoil their paper rather than abstain because, in their view, this will send a clear message to the politicians.

On Friday 4 March, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of the metal union NUMSA’s and Zwelinzima Vavi’s application for the latter’s suspension as COSATU general secretary to be lifted. Vavi had been illegally suspended as the federation’s General Secretary on 14 August 2013.