Africa


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Nothing good will come to the working people of Nigeria from the recent elections. None of the main candidates stand for the interests of the workers, the peasants, the urban poor, the unemployed, the students of Nigeria. They represent different cliques within the Nigerian ruling class.

This article, written by a Nigerian trade union leader argues the case against privatisation of the state-run NEPA electricity company.


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Last year we publicised the plight of a group of Nigerian students who were shot at and arrested during one of their protes. Here one of those students describes the appalling conditions in Nigerian jails, but he also draws inspiration from his experience to continue in the struggle to transform society, the most noble cause anyone can dedicate themselves to.

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The implications of the INEC Registration of the PSD, NCP and 22 other parties for the forthcoming Nigerian elections.

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Since the introduction of Sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria the plight of Nigerian women has come to the attention of the world. In particular young women have been condemned to being stoned to death after being charged of the "crime" of adultery. This is a particularly barbaric aspect of class society and will only really be eradicated together with the system that spawns it, when the workers of Nigeria overthrow capitalism. Below we are publishing a comment on this situation by a Nigerian Marxist.

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We are continuing our series of articles on Nigerian Trade Unions disputes. Here we make available to our readers articles from our Nigerian worker correspondents from June 1999. These news items are taken from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative.

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With this new series of articles on Nigeria we plan to publish over the next few weeks news items on Nigerian Trade Unions disputes. We have received a series of articles from our Nigerian worker correspondents over the last few years and we are now making them available to our readers. Most of the news items are taken from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative. They give a clear feeling of the militant mood of the Nigerian working class.

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Last week a group of six NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) activists was arrested at Ondo State University, Nigeria. One of those arrested is Dotun Ilori who suffered a slight gunshot wound as the police opened fire on the students. This was during a two-day lecture boycott by the students to protest the victimisation of the students' union leaders of the university. A campaign is now under way in Nigeria for their release. We are appealing to all our supporters, sympathisers and readers in general to take part in our solidarity campaign for these students.

The terrible ethnic clashes and killing of over 200 people in Northern Nigeria that erupted around the Miss World pageant have brought to the attention of the world media the national question in this impoverished African country. What was the real cause of the conflicts? Fred Weston puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of western imperialism and their local lackeys in Nigeria.

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Due to the immense poverty and apparent hopeless situation of ordinary working people in Nigeria many of the old superstitions still survive today. Comrade CD in Lagos, of the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative explains why.

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We believe this letter eloquently depicts the conditions of workers in many parts of the world. The time has come to put an end to this suffering!

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The demand for a minimum wage is key to the improvement of the living conditions of millions of Nigerian workers. This article, from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers’ Alternative, explains the issues involved. (October 2000)

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In this article, the comrades of the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative, examine the revolutionary essence of the music and songs of the late Afro-beat master, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who died on August 2, 1997. The article was originally written on the first anniversary of his death. This artist was extremely popular among African workers and youth for the radical and revolutionary content of his lyrics.

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The objective situation in Nigeria can best be described as a big time bomb ticking at a very fast rate. The Trade Union leadership is under a lot of pressure, as big revolts over wages and working conditions have broken out. They are still holding back the movement qualitatively but it is only a matter of time before it explodes on a higher level. Many of the big companies are now directly cutting wages by as much as 40%-70%. The pressures on the lower classes are mounting by the day. The stock exchange is always overheating. A crash is inevitable.

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As was to be predicted the ANC government and the employers made a combined effort to discredit COSATU's two-day general strike on October 1 and 2. The strike has opened the doors for an all-out attack on COSATU by the right wing of the ANC. This started with Thabo Mbeki's statements on Friday to the effect that the "ANC is not a vehicle for socialism" and that anyone who disagreed was welcomed to leave, and accusing COSATU of being infiltrated by the "ultra-left".

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A massive march marked the first day of the 2-day general strike called by COSATU in South Africa to protest against the privatisation plans of the ANC government, and against job losses and poverty which have been aggravated by the recent increases in the prices of staple foods. Report from Johannesburg by Jorge Martin.

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Phineas Malapela, member of the Executive of the Anti-Privatisation Forum and member of the Vaal Working Class Communities Co-ordinating Committee spoke to In Defence of Marxismbefore the recent October 1-2 general strike in South Africa. He explains the devastating effects of the privatisation policies of the ANC government on ordinary working class people in South Africa and explains how people are organising to defend themselves.

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The process of privatisation and increase in school fees is common the world over. In Nigeria there are plans to impose huge increases in university fees on students who are already finding it difficult to cover their costs. At the same time, university staff has not been receiving wages. At the OAU University in Ife Nigeria the workers and the students are fighting back. The workers have been out on strike and the students are supporting them. We are publishing a press statement we have received from the Ife students.

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We are publishing an article sent to us from the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative and is to be published in the next edition of their paper. It argues the case against the privatisation plans of the Obasanjo regime and poses the need for planned economy in Nigeria.

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Hosting the World Summit for Sustainable Development was an important test for the ANC government in South Africa. Since it came to power in 1994 the ANC government has pursued openly pro-capitalist policies. A growing protest movement has emerged, particularly from the poorest townships where residents are being cut off from water and electricity and evicted because they cannot pay their bills.

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The South African working class movement has a long tradition of singing revolutionary songs and toy-toying as a way of expressing its ideas, anger and willingness to struggle. The 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party (SACP), held from July 24-28 2002 in Rustenburg in the North West Province, was no exception. This time revolutionary songs reflected very well the anger of the rank and file delegates against the policies and leadership of the ANC which have failed in government to solve any of the problems facing the South African workers and the poor. The only way forward is energetic organization around a clear, genuinely socialist programme.

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Jordi Martorell looks at the 2002 SACP pre-congress documents in the light of the developments in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. The positive break with the Stalinist two-stage theory must not mean a retreat into social-democratic ideas. The break with Stalinism should mean a return to the genuine revolutionary ideas of Lenin, for socialism and the overthrow of capitalism as the only way to acheive genuine liberation.

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The National Question in Nigeria is probably one of the most complicated in the world - with over 120 languages spoken, three main ethnic groups, none of which constitutes a majority of the population, and the religious divide between Christians in the south and Muslims in the north. Over the past few years thousands of people have been killed in ethnic clashes. Unless the working class can offer a way out, Nigeria could be dragged into a bloodbath of barbaric proportions. Here we are publishing a collection of articles from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative, concerning this question.

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Recently we received a request from an SACP activist for our comments on the exchange of letters between an SACP leader and an ANC leader that were published in the SACP quarterly journal, the African Communist. Quotes from Marx and Lenin were used to justify the pro-capitalist policies of the government. Jordi Martorell sets the record straight by explaining what Marx and Lenin really stood for.

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This is a brief report of May Day in Nigeria.

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This was the editorial from the first edition of the Nigerian Marxist paper, the Workers' Alternative which was launched in October, 1998.

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The regime headed by Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria prides itself at being "democratic". Recently it was involved in passing judgement on the electoral process in Zimbabwe. But behind the democratic façade hides the same old despotic regime of the military that governed Nigeria for many years in the past. At the University of Ilorin, a leading student activist, Tosin Akinrogunde, has been expelled for protesting against the sacking of teachers who were involved in a strike in 2001. During his long history of student union activity he has been expelled several times, and in 1999 was also arrested and imprisoned for five weeks. This case will go to court and will incur legal...

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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.

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87 people were arrested on Saturday April 6 at a protest outside the house of Johannesburg's mayor, Amos Masondo, in South Africa. The protest was against the practices of the privatised South African electricity company ESKOM, which has been disconnecting users who cannot afford to pay their bills. It was organised by the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC) which has trained activists in how to reconnect people's power supplies.

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This is another editorial from the Workers' Alternative, written at the time of the transition from the previous military dictatorship to the present civilian regime. At that time there were many illusions in so-called "democracy", as people hoped it would rectify the dire economic situation. We are republishing it now, as we believe it is as relevant now as when it was first published. (June, 1999)

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We are pleased to announce the publication on the internet of Richard Monroe's history of the ANC movement. This pamphlet, written in the 1980s, deals extensively with the struggles of the 1950s and the tactics adopted by the middle-class ANC leaders, who favoured negotiations with the "progressive" section of the capitalists. It was originally printed in issue 13 of Inqaba ya Basebenzi ("Workers' Fortress"), the publication of the Marxist Workers' Tendency of the African National Congress in March 1984. Now we have an ANC government in power which is pursuing capitalist policies, and we have new layers of workers moving into...

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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...

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Nigeria is facing the worst crisis in its history. So-called "democracy" has not improved the lot of the Nigerian masses. Manufacturing industry is in a state of collapse. And now the financial sector is also on the brink. In the past two years we have seen two general strikes and practically every section of the Nigerian working class has taken part in strike activity. Even the police has been out on strike and built its own union. And now there are rumours of a mutiny among the soldiers. Nigeria is facing an Argentine-type scenario. From the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative.

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We have received this report about the brutal repression at Sidi Ben Abdellah University last May which left 4 students dead. The news about these clashes have not been reported anywhere outside Morocco and the Moroccan press has given an extremely biased version of them. We urge our readers to express solidarity and spread the news of what actually happened.

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AIDS ACTION recently staged a successful march in Durban against pharmaceutical company Merck over its part in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations Court action against the South African government. Pravasan Pillay, an AIDS ACTION activist, charts the genesis of the March Against Merck.

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Nearly 40 South African pharmaceutical companies are taking the South African government to court in order to defend their massive profits, even if this means the death of millions of people who are HIV positive. The case opened at the Pretoria High Court on March 5th. This article examines how the profit motive of the pharmaceutical multinationals prevails over the lives of millions of people.

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On Saturday October 21st, nearly 40,000 people participated in 14 marches and 5 pickets all over South Africa to protest against racist and discriminatory banking practices. The day of action, called the 'Red Saturday', was organised by the South African Communist Party as part of their Red October Campaign. This article looks at the way South African banks discriminate against working class and poor people and argues that the SACP should have raised the issue of nationalisation of the banks.

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This article was first published in the October 2000 edition of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative. We think the analysis developed here by the Nigerian Marxists is still valid, and that the development of the MDC in Zimbabwe is full of rich lessons for the Nigerian and other labour movements. It shows that a mass party based on the trade unions can be created, and can be very successful - but also that this is not enough. To prevent the party from being taken over by capitalist elements, it must be controlled by the working class and have a socialist programme.

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This article describes some of the terrible conditions women face in many parts of Nigeria.

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This article exposes the conditions of the workers at the farm owned by Obasanjo, the ruler of Nigeria. Obasanjo is the "civilian" president of Nigeria, who was in power in the past, but as a military dictator. He is now in power as a so-called civilian.

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A week-long general strike from 7th to 13th June 2000 took place in Nigeria. It was in protest at the 50% increase in the price of fuel announced by the government of President Obasanjo. The strike was successful in forcing the government to drastically reduce the announced increases. We publish an eyewitness report we received.

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As much as half of South Africa's workforce participated in a 24-hour nation-wide general strike called by the 1.8 million strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on May 10th. The main reason for the strike was the jobs crisis but it did reflect a wider discontent with the pro-capitalist policies of the ANC government. The article argues that talking about socialism is not enough and that the leaders of the SA Communist Pary and COSATU should break with the capitalist wing of the ANC and put forward a clear socialist alternative.

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This document was written by Zimbabwean socialists in 1985 and deals in detail with the history of the struggle against colonialism, the character of the Mugabe regime and the tasks facing socialists in Zimbabwe at that time. We have decided to republish it here to give revolutionary activists in Southern Africa and in the rest of the world a better understanding of the background to the current crisis.

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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.

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All the world media have turned their attention to Zimbabwe in recent months since landless peasants started occupying white-owned big commercial farms. The press has unleashed a hysterical campaign against those land occupations which they depict as illegal and violent. They completely ignore the responsibility of capitalism and imperialism for robbing the land of the black peasants and pushing them into utter poverty. How do the white settlers dare to say those lands are theirs! When they robbed the lands of the blacks peasants they used all the violent means of repression possible.

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Here is a report on recent events in Nigeria. Five students were killed by a cultist gang, that is a neo-fascist type organisation, at Ife University. Our comrades were closely involved in the events and some of them are lucky to be alive, as the gang were looking for some of them. Luckily our comrades escaped.

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An article from the Nigerian Marxist paper Workers' Alternative which looks at the problems facing the student movement in Nigeria, and the events leading up to the arrests of our comrades there!