Africa

On 22 October (weeks after the polls opened on 7 October), it was finally confirmed that 85-year-old President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, will serve another term in office. Voter turnout was very low; and in the urban centres of Douala and Yaoundé, the leadership of the working class was nowhere to be seen – despite widespread hatred of the Biya regime. Moreover, violent unrest in the Anglophone regions made any kind of democratic process there impossible, and tit-for-tat skirmishes between state troops and separatists have aroused fears of a new civil war that could plunge the country into barbarism.

Monday 1 October marked the one-year anniversary of the declaration of independence by anglophone separatists in the southwest of Cameroon, when they announced the birth of a new nation: Ambazonia. That declaration of independence provoked a brutal clampdown by the Cameroonian government, leading to hundreds of civilians and dozens of members of the security forces being killed over the past year.

On Friday 14 September, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his much-awaited economic stimulus package, which is supposed to “kick-start” the sluggish economy and “ignite” growth. With the economy back in recession and the support for the ANC at a record low seven months before the next general elections, Ramaphosa has to move quickly to prevent the party losing its majority, which would usher in a new period of instability in the form of coalition politics.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday suspended its general strike on its fourth day, after the government agreed to meet the unions on October 4-5 to discuss an increase in the minimum wage. The call for the strike had surprised the union leaders themselves, who had not expected such a massive response. Now they are doing everything to demobilise.

Over the last week, some sections of the ruling class have changed their tune about the debate around land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. The rabidly conservative and far-right Afrikaner groups such as Afriforum, which were given a strong voice in the mainstream media at the beginning of the debate, are increasingly being squeezed out by the big capitalists.

Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day jaunt across Africa, visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The purpose of May’s whistle stop tour (aside from showcasing her inimitable dance moves) was to strike up post-Brexit trade relations with Africa’s “emerging economies”. The visit was a cringe worthy affair that saw May shuffle awkwardly from one public relations blunder to the next, and it highlighted the decline of British imperialism and the crisis facing the capitalist class as the Brexit cliffedge looms.

GERD workers

There is a crisis flowing downstream towards the mouth of arguably the world’s longest river. The Nile has been the source of Egypt’s water supply – and therefore the basis of agriculture in the country – for many thousands of years.

Bobi Wine

Uganda’s next general election isn’t due for another three years, but recent developments are showing President Museveni’s increasing paranoia. The arrest on trumped-up charges of the main leader of the opposition, Bobi Wine, and the subsequent revelation that he was submitted to severe torture while in jail sparked a massive wave of protests, which represents the biggest challenge to Museveni’s power since the 2011 ‘Walk to Work’ protests.

SAFTU’s general strike on Wednesday was a serious warning to the government and the capitalist class. It was part of a sharp intensification of industrial action by workers in big sectors of the economy. The attacks on the working class are preparing a backlash and an upsurge of the class struggle.

Across the country, workers are mobilising for a mass general strike on 25 April. Although all sectors of the economy are likely to be affected, the strike is expected to hit municipal services, transport, manufacturing, mining, construction and the public sector particularly hard. The government’s determination to continue with the legislative process on proposed changes to the labour law is preparing the ground for a confrontation with the unions.

On 27 February, the National Assembly of South Africa passed a motion on land expropriation, tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters and supported by the majority of parties in parliament, including the ANC. Ben Morken in South Africa looks at the real meaning of this proposal and provides a Marxist perspective on the question.

On 21 February the middle-class illusions in Ramaphosa received a shattering blow when the outgoing finance minister delivered a brutal austerity budget. This was just one day after the new president had told everyone during his State of the Nation Address that a “new dawn” has broken.

A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental.

Mientras escribimos estas líneas, el imperio Zuma-Gupta se está desmoronando. En uno de los días más dramáticos de los últimos tiempos en la política sudafricana, Jacob Zuma -y sus amigos, los hermanos Gupta- están siendo purgados por un ala rival de la clase dominante. La purga es el signo más enfático de que las dos facciones rivales ya no pueden cohabitar.

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” - Lenin

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” - Euripides

As we write these lines, the Zuma-Gupta empire is crumbling. In one of the most dramatic days in South African politics in recent memory, Jacob Zuma – and his friends, the Gupta brothers – are being purged by a rival wing of the ruling class. The purge is the most emphatic sign that the two rival factions can no longer cohabitate.

Extraordinary events over the last few days, surrounding the fate of Jacob Zuma, have plunged the ANC – and the country – into a deep crisis. Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency is clearly untenable for the Ramaphosa faction, which marginally controls the ANC. Moreover, Zuma’s continued presence is destabilising the whole political situation and could damage the ANC’s electoral prospects in 2019. Big business is desperate to dig itself out of a hole. The problem for them is that the balance of forces between the two fighting ANC factions is very even, as we saw at the national

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Las últimos semanas han visto el comienzo de un nuevo movimiento de la juventud tunecina, casi siete años después del derrocamiento del odiado régimen de Ben Alí, en 2011. Esta vez, el detonante de las protestas en todo el país se produjo con el anuncio de los presupuestos elaborados con las propuestas del FMI. Decenas de activistas han sido arrestados y un manifestante ha sido asesinado. El movimiento "Fech Nastannou?" (“¿A qué estamos esperando?”) es una clara demostración de que haber derrocado al dictador no resolvió automáticamente los problemas de pobreza, desempleo y falta de futuro, que desencadenaron el levantamiento de 2011.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president in December has coincided with the meltdown of the main bourgeois opposition party: the Democratic Alliance. But while the DA’s fortunes are declining, paradoxically, Ramaphosa’s victory at the Nasrec conferencewas widely welcomed by large sections of the ruling class, including big business, which now feels more secure with one of its own at the helm of the ANC.

The last few days have seen the beginning of a new movement of the Tunisian youth, almost seven years to the day after they overthrew the hated regime of Ben Alí in 2011. This time, a proposed budget, imposed by the IMF, has sparked protests around the country. Dozens of activists have been arrested and one protester killed. The “Fech Nastannou?” (what are we waiting for?) movement is a stark demonstration that having overthrown the dictator did not automatically solve the problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of a future that provoked the uprising in 2011.

The factional fights in the ANC have left its 54th National conference in deadlock. It confirmed what we have known all along – that the organisation is in terminal crisis. It also revealed that the ANC is divided straight down the middle. In the end the leadership tried to come to some sort of agreement. But the effect of this has only led to paralysis. The process could end up in court with the ANC even weaker as a result.

The African National Congress (ANC) is holding its 54th National conference - at the Nasrec Expo Centre near Gold Reef City from 16 to 20 December - more divided than ever before. Tottering on the brink, the party has never been in such a lamentable state, not even in the days of the underground and in exile.

The news of heavy fraud and corruption in two of South Africa’s biggest monopolies has thrown the big capitalists into turmoil. The scandals, which broke out almost simultaneously, involve two global behemoths, Naspers and Steinhof, and implicate some of the very biggest tycoons in the country, such as Christo Wiese, Markus Jooste and Koos Bekker.

Robert Mugabe’s departure on Tuesday, 21 November as president of Zimbabwe, after 37 years in office, has sent ripples throughout the southern African region. In Uganda it has brought out many of the underlying tensions beneath the surface of society.

Note: this article was published shortly before Mugabe announced his resignation, with immediate effect, at approximately 4pm (UTC).

On Monday morning, Zimbabwe was on a knife-edge after Robert Mugabe failed to announce his resignation as state president the previous evening. His resignation was widely expected after he lost complete control of his party over the weekend.

Tensions are reaching boiling point in Zimbabwe after the Army Commander, General Constantino Chimurenga, threatened that the army could “step in” if the ruling party, ZANU-PF, continues with the purge of veteran leaders in its ranks.

The announcement on Wednesday of more than 3000 job cuts at Sibanye Gold represents a clear attack against the South African working-class. Sibanye announced 2,025 ‘retrenchments’ and 1,350 ‘voluntary redundancies’, i.e, 3,375 job cuts at its Cooke mines in Gauteng and Beatrix West operations in the Free State.

Over the recent period sections of South African big business have been very vocal against corruption and have promised to “fight against” it.

But all of this hue and cry is merely a cover for an ongoing clash between different wings of the ruling class. These are primarily between the traditional big business section and the upstart wing of the Gupta family, which has close ties with president Jacob Zuma and a big section of the ANC government.

Like a hydra-headed monster, once again, ethnic tension has risen to near boiling point, threatening to tear Nigeria apart. This time around, it is the renewed call for secession of the South Eastern region (the Igbos) from Nigeria by the “Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” to form the Republic of Biafra, that is haunting the nation. Similar agitation for Biafra in the late sixties eventually led to three years of civil war from 1967 to 1970, in which over two million men, women and children perished.

The murder of former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Secretary-General, Sindiso Magaqa, was received with shock, anger and revulsion across the country. Although his shooting is connected to the infighting in the ANC at local level, it reflects the present crisis in the party generally. Now, three months before of the National Conference, the factions in the party are in an open civil war with serious consequences for the class struggle.

Over the last few days hundreds of thousands of people have returned to the streets of the West African country of Togo to protest against the brutal dictatorship of Faure Gnassingbé. This is a continuation of a mass revolutionary wave which have hit the entire region over the last period.

The imperialist military interventions in Iraq, Syria and Libya were portrayed by Western leaders as “humanitarian” operations to restore democracy and human rights. But what has instead occurred is the exact opposite with the rise of different degrees of barbarism in all three countries. Just like in Syria and Iraq, we are now also witnessing the rise of slave-like conditions in Libya on a systematic level.

Desde outubro do ano passado, Al Hoceima e suas regiões vizinhas têm visto um grande movimento de protesto. A razão direta por traz disso foi o esmagamento de um jovem vendedor de peixes (Mohsen Fikri) em um container de lixo por funcionários locais depois de protestar a confiscação de seus bens. Atrás do movimento, no entanto, há razões mais profundas, como a ditadura, exploração, marginalização e desemprego: isto é, o capitalismo e o seu estado.

Het regime slaat hard in op de opstandige Rif. De Marokkaanse lente bloeit opnieuw op.

Afgelopen vrijdag, 26 mei, werden de gelovigen in de moskeeën van Al Hoceima verrast en kwaad gemaakt toen zij de preken van de religieuze leiders hoorden.

Dall’ottobre scorso, Al Hoceima e le sue regioni limitrofe hanno assistito un grande movimento di protesta. La ragione immediata dietro allo sviluppo delle mobilitazioni è stata l’omicidio di un giovane pescivendolo (Mouchine Fikri) letteralmente triturato in un camion della raccolta rifiuti. Fikri era inseguito dalla polizia locale dopo aver protestato per la confisca dei suoi beni. Dietro il movimento, però, esistono altri motivi più profondi, come la dittatura, lo sfruttamento, l’emarginazione e la disoccupazione, cioè il capitalismo e il suo stato.

Le régime marocain réprime durement le Rif en révolte. Vendredi 26 mai, les croyants de la mosquée d’Al-Hoceïma ont été surpris et offensés en entendant les sermons des chefs religieux.

Since last October, Al Hoceima and its neighboring regions have seen a big protest movement. The direct reason behind this has been the crushing of a young fish vendor (Mohsen Fikri) in a garbage container by local officials after protesting the confiscation of his goods. Behind the movement however there are other deeper reasons, such as dictatorship, exploitation, marginalization and unemployment: i.e Capitalism and its state.

The regime comes down hard on the rebellious Rif. The Moroccan spring rises again.

Last Friday, May 26th, the believers in the mosques in Al Hoceima were surprised and outraged when they heard the sermons of the religious leaders.

Over the weekend of the 21-23 of April, 1384 delegates from 24 unions gathered in Boksburg for the founding congress of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU). The launch of South Africa’s second biggest labour federation comes at a time of heightened political tensions and could be a decisive event for the labour movement.

Over the last few days the political crisis in the country has deepened. The ANC government is in turmoil after President Zuma’s midnight purge of his cabinet on Thursday. Leading members have openly come out against Zuma, bringing the factional battles which have been raging over the last period clearly into the open.

South Africa is in turmoil. President Jacob Zuma has effectively carried out an overnight soft coup. By purging the opposing big business faction from the cabinet and replacing it with stooges from his own faction he has brought the ANC infighting to a head. The consequences will be monumental, not just for the factions involved but for the class struggle in general.

Jacob Zuma at World Economic Forum. Photo: Matthew Jordaan (CC-BY-SA)

At his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), South Africa’s president  Zuma made a song and dance about embarking on a programme of “radical economic transformation”. At the time we explained that this was actually a ruse. What he was actually embarking upon was an attempt to promote the interests of the emerging parasitic black bourgeoisie around the Gupta family at the expense of the black working masses.

The mobilisation of thousands of South African students taking their futures into their own hands has shaken up South African society. This is an extremely significant development. It means the youth are not content to leave their fate to the those politicians and leaders who have adapted themselves to life under capitalism. The youth are now some of the most politically active layers in society and are taking the road of class struggle.

Events over the past week have deepened and accelerated the political crisis. In addition to the relentless student protests for free education, the so-called “war within the government” has intensified. This political turbulence is shaking the country to its foundations.

This week has seen a dramatic escalation in the student protests which have flared up on a national scale over the past four weeks. The protest movement is sweeping across the country and shows no signs of abating. Protests of the scale and scope of these have not been seen since the student uprisings of the mid-1980s.

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