Africa

There has been a lot of talk about eradicating poverty in Africa over the past few days. Africa is a continent rich in raw materials. There is no logical reason why it should be poor. But under capitalism there is a logic, the logic of the greedy multinationals, of the capitalists who condemn Africa to this poverty.

On February 24, 2004 a large earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale rocked the Rif region in northern Morocco. More than one year later, hundreds of families continue to live in utter misery. Now other tremors are hitting the region.

To an ordinary sincere observer, a recent clampdown on a few corrupt officials by the Obasanjo administration is just a difficult to unravel riddle. How come an Obasanjo who did everything possible to cover up the certificate forgery scandal of the then speaker of the Federal House Of Representatives (Alhaji Buhari), even planned to reinstate him back after impeachment, could have become a saint overnight? Is this the Obasanjo who entered a deal with Abacha’s son, that all that he wanted back was half of what they stole? Now this same Obasanjo is prepared to stake everything to imprison these criminals.

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).

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.

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.

The impasse of the Obasanjo regime has provoked one general strike after another. The situation is very explosive. To try and divert attention from the real issues the regime has now come up with the idea of a delegate conference known as “National Dialogue”, which opened on February 21. The petit-bourgeois opposition is calling for an alternative conference. Both are clearly diversions aimed at holding back the movement of the masses. The only way out is for the NLC leaders to break with all these manoeuvres and build a party of labour.

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 planned November 16 general strike in Nigeria was called off at the last minute after the government accepted a small reduction in the price of fuel. We have seen this scenario before. The government has been let off the hook yet again, but for how long?

After the four-day warning general strike, the Nigerian unions are calling on workers to resume strike action on November 16. This time it will no longer be limited to the issue of the price of fuel. The situation is becoming very tense. The workers have reached the limit of what they can take. They are putting immense pressure on the leadership of the NLC to act decisively.

This article was written by a member of the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative. Shortly after we received it we were informed that the government has increased the price of fuel by a further 15 Naira. This can only be seen as a serious provocation. It exposes the government for what it is. And it renders almost impossible any idea of a deal between the unions and the government. If the government does not back off on this then the leaders of the Nigerian unions have no choice but to pull out all the workers again.

After last week’s general strike in Nigeria the leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) gave the government until October 27th to come up with a reasonable proposal on the price of fuel, otherwise the strike would resume. The leader of the NLC, Adamas Oshiomhole, has said that in such a secenario the unions would make the country “ungovernable”.

Today is the fourth day of the Nigerian Labour Congress’ four-day warning general strike. However, the strike may be resumed on Monday after the police have killed, arrested and beaten workers and trade union leaders. The general strike is posing the question of power, but the union leaders refuse to call for the downfall of the government.

The leaders of the NLC have confirmed the strike is going ahead today. Saturday’s arrest and injury of Adams Oshiomhole, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, is an indication of the tension building up.