Africa

The political drama that unfolded with the April 2011 general elections turned out to be all revealing about the real nature and the deceit of the various sections of the Nigerian ruling class; and more obvious was the lack of genuine political alternative to the present rot in society, which a number of critical voters unconsciously sought during the elections.

Yesterday, a bomb killed 16 people at the historic centre of Marrakesh. Most of the people killed were sitting in a café overlooking Marrakesh's Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a place that is often packed with foreign tourists.

The Moroccan regime is treading very carefully, doing everything to avoid situations that could lead to confrontations between the revolutionary youth and the forces of state repression, but the movement keep getting stronger. It was in this situation that the Moroccan Marxists of the LAC gathered for their first Spring Marxist School.

The French army has bombed the residence of Laurent Gbagbo, to "protect civilians" we are told. One is struck by the wide variety of means used to achieve this so-called “humanitarian” objective!

On Saturday, April 9, the Pretoria Central branch of the South African Young Communist League held a political seminar and a memorial session on the anniversary of the death of the South African Communist leader Chris Hani, where two speakers addressed the gathering, Leon Wiitboi, the branch secretary and Ali Nooshini of the International Marxist Tendency.

We provide a brief historical outline of the development of the Gaddafi regime from the bourgeois Arab nationalism of the early days, to the period of so-called Islamic socialism, to the recent period of opening up to foreign investment, with major concessions to multinational corporations and the beginnings of widespread privatisations.

What started as a genuine revolution against Gaddafi, has been taken over by reactionary bourgeois elements. In the Interim Council, and now the newly formed Interim Government, direct representatives of imperialist interests have been promoted to leading positions.

A new momentum has been reached by the protest movement in Morocco. The call for a new Day of Action on March 20 was a test. Would the King’s shadowy reforms succeed in demobilising the masses or on the contrary push the movement forward? As we predicted the latter happened. Possibly twice as many people came out on the streets than a month earlier.

On Saturday afternoon French warplanes were the first to bomb Libya, in what one can only describe as open imperialist aggression. This was followed by US and UK ships and submarines launching 110 Tomahawk Cruise missiles. The French are strengthening their position by sending their Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier into waters off the Libyan coast.

Yesterday the United Nations Security Council voted by 10 votes in favour against 5 abstentions to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution authorises UN member states "to take all necessary measures... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".

After taking one town after another in the early days of the Libyan revolution, now the insurgents are having to come to terms with the fact that Gaddafi has managed to hold together a significant section of his special security forces and is hitting back. How does one explain this dramatic turnaround?

Three weeks after the first Day of Rage in Morocco, King Mohamed VI made a surprise speech on television. He delivered a message promising ‘constitutional reform’. Fear of protracted revolutionary turbulence and even of the risk of being toppled seems to have gripped the regime.

The revolutions unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East are having an impact well beyond the Arab world. In Nigeria too, the effects are being felt. Here we publish a comment by a Nigerian Marxist on what lessons can be drawn from these events for workers in Nigeria.

On Monday, March 7, Tunisia’s new prime minister Béji Caïd el Sebsi announced the composition of his government, the third since the overthrow of Ben Ali by the revolutionary uprising of the people on January 14. Essebi himself only came to power on February 27, after the resignation of Mohamed Ghannouchi, who had been Ben Ali’s prime minister and continued in the same role after his overthrow.

There has been a lot of discussion in Latin America about the events unfolding in Libya. This article explains the position of the IMT, which is one of support for the uprising of the Libyan people, while at the same time opposing any imperialist intervention. We also critically examine the position adopted by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

Rebels in the Libyan city of Az Zawiyah (close to the capital) have fought back an attempt by Gaddafi’s forces to retake the city. According to eyewitness reports there were six hours of fighting during the night as the two sides struggled for control of the city. As one anti-Gaddafi activist explained, “We managed to defeat them because our spirits are high and their spirits are zero.”

In Venezuela, and Latin America as a whole, some on the left have been presenting the Gaddafi regime as if it were anti-imperialist, failing to see the real nature of the revolution that is taking place. Here we publish a statement of the Venezuelan Marxists of Lucha de Clases, where they explain the real nature of the regime and explain the need to support the uprising of the Libyan people.

The Communist League of Action, the Moroccan section of the International Marxist Tendency, has issued the following statement about the February 20 demonstrations expressing its stance on the violence that followed the demonstrations and the wave of repression suffered by the Moroccan masses. One of their comrades was also arrested and brutally beaten by the police, suffering serious injury and ended up being hospitalized.

Hundreds of thousands marched today in the streets of the main cities and towns of Tunisia against the Gannouchi government and demanding a Constituent Assembly. According to the revolutionary youth which has taken the initiative of these demonstrations, 250,000 marched in the capital Tunis alone, and another 100,000 in other cities (video of demonstration in Sfax). A police source in Tunis gave the figure for demonstrators in the capital at “over 100,000”. The Red Crescent said that this was “the largest demonstration since the fall of Ben Ali”.

Power is rapidly slipping out of the hands of Muammar Gaddafi, as anti-government protests continue to sweep the African nation despite a brutal and bloody crackdown. As city after city falls to the anti-Gaddafi forces his only base is now Tripoli. The East is in the control of the insurgents and most of the West has fallen into the hands of the rebels, including cities very close to the capital.

The Young Communist League of South Africa held its 3rd Congress in the university town of Mafikeng on December 8-12, 2010. The congress was the culminating point of four years of explosive growth and big success for the organization that has quickly grown to be a massive force of more than 56,000 activists. It also brought into sharp focus the conflict between the left and right wing within the South African Communists.

Today marks one month since the revolutionary overthrow of the hated dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia on January 14. The last month has been a constant struggle between the ruling class which wants to return to bourgeois normality and workers and youth who carried out the revolution and who are struggling to stop the old regime from trying to make a comeback.

Further to the information we provided yesterday about Morocco, we received this report from comrades in Fez about the ongoing student protests.

Finally, after a long wait, prime minister Gannouchi announced changes in the government of national unity which was formed in Tunisia after the overthrow of Ben Ali. The masses of workers and youth, for two weeks, have been demanding the overthrow of this government, which they consider as a continuation of the old regime. They have staged massive regional strikes and demonstrations and a sit-in outside the government’s office. This new government of Gannouchi must also be rejected and the people take power into their own hands.

Wednesday, January 26 was marked by yet more massive demonstrations throughout Tunisia against the “national unity” government, whose key ministers come from the government of the hated dictator Ben Ali. The same dictator that the masses forced to flee two weeks ago.

Events over the weekend have shown the strength of the revolutionary movement in Tunisia and revealed the weakness of the national unity government. The organisation of a “Liberation Caravan” marching to the capital has the potential, if combined with a mass movement of demonstrations and strikes, to bring down the government.

On Friday, 14th January the revolutionary upsurge of the oppressed masses in Tunisia made history. Such was the intensity of the mass revolt that the autocratic and corrupt ruler Zine al Abidine Ben Ali had to scurry to the nearest airport to flee the country he had despotically ruled over for twenty three years. After being refused entry by his “friend” Sarkozy he was finally accepted by the Saudi monarchy. How apt this was!

While the “new” Tunisian government of “national unity” (in fact, stacked with Ben Ali ministers) had its first meeting on Thursday, January 20, and attempted to rush through a series of measures which would gain it some legitimacy, the revolution continues on the streets and in the workplaces with workers taking on anyone in authority who had links to the old Ben Ali regime.

Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 saw the continuation of mass demonstrations all over Tunisia against the “new” national unity government and demanding an end to the RCD ruling party. Tens of thousands marched throughout the country under the slogan “RCD degagé” (Out with the RCD), clearly identifying the national unity government as a continuation of the old regime.

As soon as Ben Alí was on the plane to Saudi Arabia on Friday, January 14, ousted by the mass revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth, the Tunisian ruling class and its imperialist puppet masters started manoeuvring to make sure that they remained in control of the situation.

In the past days, Tunisia has witnessed rapid developments, the most important of which was the announcement by Prime Minister, Mohammad Al-Ghannoushi, that he was taking over temporarily as President due to Ben Ali’s inability to carry out his duties, and the announcement of a state of emergency in all areas of the country. We publish here a translation of an Arabic language article published on marxy.com as the dramatic events in Tunisia were unfolding.

The marvellous revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth is an inspiration and an example to the whole world. For more than one week Tunisia has been living through a revolution of epic dimensions. The mass uprising in Tunisia has ended in the overthrow of the hated dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

The marvellous uprising of the Tunisian people has taken on revolutionary proportions. The coldblooded murder of more than 20 demonstrators by the police over the weekend did not have the effect the dictatorship hoped it would have. The result was not fewer demonstrations but more with even more people taking part who were more determined than ever not to be intimidated any longer. One thing is sure now: this tug of war with the dictatorship will be waged until the very end by the masses.

This article, written by the comrades of Marxy.com, the Arab website of the IMT, gives a full account of the development of the Tunisian uprising, its roots, the hypocrisy of imperialism, and discusses the methods of struggle and the programme needed to take it to a victorious conclusion.

Fear has changed sides in Tunisia. For years the Tunisian population, its youth, its workers, its mothers were paralysed by fear of repression. Political lethargy was the rule, revolt the odd exception. Now things have turned upside down. Defiance of the brutal regime, its state, its spies, its media, its ruling party, its police and its army has become the rule during the three weeks of the uprising which has shaken Tunisia. This represents a seismic change in the consciousness of the youth and the general psyche of the masses, the poor as well as the middle class. This has had an impact not only in Tunisia but in the whole Arab world.

In the last two weeks, the streets of Tunisia have been the scene of clashes between protesters and the forces of repression. The direct cause behind the outbreak of these events is the solidarity shown by the masses with a young man who immolated himself in the the town of Sidi Bouzid on the 17th December. After this incident, another young man (Hussein Falahi) committed suicide by jumping off a electricity pylon to protest against his unemployment. After this, a third young man, aged 34, committed suicide by jumping into a well in the Gdir region. These acts reflect the deep frustration that young Tunisians are experiencing.

Several suicide attempts by young Tunisians, as protest against poverty and unemployment, sparked a number of riots and protests all over the country in the last few weeks. We publish here a short English introduction to an article in Arabic. A translation of the more detailed analysis will be published tomorrow.

The recent dramatic events involving Sahrawi protestors near the city of El Aayiún, with ordinary poor people fighting off the armed security forces, which led to death of around a dozen people, the wounding of several hundreds and the arrest of more than one hundred, highlight the plight of the Sahrawi people. Here we publish and account and an analysis of the events by Moroccan Marxists.

Miners at the Aurora mining company’s Grootvlei mine in Springs, on the East Rand, and the Orkney mine in the North West have taken action demanding the payment of their wages and to get their jobs back. We publish here a letter (with an introductory explanatory note) we have received from South Africa regarding this issue, which expresses the anger of the miners and also advocates the only solution to the problem: nationalization under workers’ control.

The Nigerian ruling class continues to lose its social base. And rather than this process being reversed, it is accelerating. The main social base upon which this present bourgeois democratic experiment bases itself has been almost completely eroded. The ruling class finds itself more and more isolated from the ever increasing mass of Nigerian masses.

Of Nigeria’s 150 million population 40 million are unemployed. As 45% of the population is between the ages of 15 to 40 years, this means unemployment mainly affects the youth. The Nigerian ruling class is incapable of solving this problem. Only the working class can take on the task of eradicating unemployment.

On October 1st Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence. A lot of money is going to be spent on the celebrations by the present ruling elite. But what is there to celebrate for the teeming masses of poor? The already terrible living conditions are getting worse as each day passes.

Nigerian Marxists have always called for the setting up of a trade union based mass workers’ party. The Nigerian trade unions have the authority, the power and the mass following to do this. A few years ago a half-hearted attempt was made to launch the Nigerian Labour Party without much success. The union leaders didn’t give their full backing. Now, however, the party is becoming more attractive and in some states large numbers of workers are joining. Here we publish an editorial from the December 2009 edition of the Workers’ Alternative on this question.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) recently set up a Commission to investigate the extent of workers’ participation in and desire for the Labour Party. In spite of the Labour leadership’s claims that Nigerian workers do not desire a party of their own, the report of the investigation revealed the contrary.