Africa

This article was written by a Nigerian Marxist at the height of the recent general strike. It gives a flavour of the sudden change in mood among the oppressed Nigerian masses, their entry onto the scene of history, their desire to take their destiny into their own hands. Although the strike was eventually called off by the trade union leaders, Nigeria will not go back to what it was before the strike. 

As the scorching sun kissed our dehydrated skins, one could not help but feel goose bumps at the thought of being part of history as the oldest liberation movement reached the 100th year mark on Sunday, 8th January. The ANC leadership decided to mark this occasion by spending R100 million ($12. 3 million) on a commemoration that included a huge feast for invited heads of states and several guests, also indulging in celebrity music shows and a golf tournament.

Nigeria's trade union leaders have suspended the general strike as it was entering its second week. This comes after the government approved came up with a “compromise” on the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about $0.60) per litre, instead of the initial 140 naira. This is still an increase from the 65 naira ($0.40). Here we provide eyewitness reports of the events over the past week, (written before the calling off of the strike) which clearly indicate a radical change within the Nigerian working class, something that is not going to go away whatever the ruling class or the trade unions agree on.

As the movement against the fuel price hikes and corruption continues, Ola Kazeem expains how the Nigerian masses are radicalising as the struggle is developing. The demand for the president to step down is becoming ever louder.

History was made today, 9th January 2012, as Lagosians in their thousands harkened to the call of the Labour and Civil Society Organisation (LASCO) to embark on a nationwide strike/mass protest toexpress their dissatisfaction with the recent increment in the pump price of petrol as announced by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government on 1st of January. LASCO encompasses the two labour centers in Nigeria i.e. the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as the Joint Action Front (JAF) which is the umbrella body of the pro-labour civil society organisations.

In the final analysis, terrorism becomes an instrument of the oppressors against the oppressed majority. Over the years the Nigerian ruling elite has maintained its grip over the country on the basis of the old and tested method of divide and rule, a method inherited from the past colonial masters and perfected by the Nigerian ruling elite.

Police has fired tear gas at protestors in Nigeria angry at the latest increase in the price of fuel. In the northern town of Kano around 300 people were wounded in the attack and 19 were arrested. Tension has been mounting as protesters have clashed with riot police in different parts of Nigeria for the past three days and the trade unions have called for a nationwide indefinite strike to start Monday. More protests are expected across the country in the coming days. Here we provide the Editorial statement of the Workers’ Alternative on this key issue affecting the Nigerian masses.

Human consciousness is naturally conservative. People naturally stick to the old ways of doing things, but when a great event occurs, consciousness becomes transformed in a matter of seconds and people begin to question what they have not been questioning before. This perfectly confirms the present Nigerian situation. (3 January 2012)

Last Friday, 25th November, the Moroccan dictatorship organised sham elections for its puppet parliament. These legislative elections can only be understood as an attempt at survival on the part of the capitalist monarchy. The regime is desperately in search of a new legitimacy, but it failed miserably.

We interviewed the young comrades of the Communist League of Action who speak out on how the Arab spring has affected the Kingdom of Morocco. They explain how it has deeply shaken the regime, and most importantly that “the movement has also rid the masses of the feeling of fear and transferred it to the other camp, the camp of the ruling class and its parties and repressive apparatus.”

Although the Nigerian economy has been officially growing at over 6% for the past 5 years, the poverty rate keeps increasing; youth unemployment has risen to an unprecedented 47% and over 80 per cent of Nigerian youth don’t have more than a secondary school certificate.

The conservative Islamist party Ennahda won a majority of seats (90 out of 217) in the elections to the Constituent Assembly in Tunisia on October 23. This result has sent many on the left into confusion. This represents a shift to the right, some argue. How can the Tunisian revolution end up in a victory for the right wing, ask others. Scandalously some “modernists” argue that “elections were premature”.

On October 27 and 28, thousands of South African youth participated in the March for Economic Freedom called by the ANC Youth League. Meanwhile the Young Communist League had organised a Jobs for Youth Summit together with the youth organisations of the main parties which was addressed by representatives of Capital. Vusumuzi Martin Bhengu, a revolutionary Marxist who is a member of both the YCL and the ANCYL participated in the March and sent us this report.

On September 10th during the celebration of the ANC Youth League's 67th anniversary in Alexandra, ANCYL president Julius Malema declared “economic war” against the rich minority and made a call for a “March for Economic Freedom” to be held on Thursday and Friday, October 26-27th. "The day has come” he said “and on O.R. Tambo's birthday, we are going to march to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and take the battle to the monopoly capital."

The capture and killing of Colonel Gaddafi has been described in detail by the mass media in all its gory details. With the death of Gaddafi and the taking of Sirte the National Transitional Council is talking about forming a transitional government. The NTC is recognized by the imperialist powers whose interests it represents. However, many ordinary Libyans look with justified mistrust at the NTC and their imperialist backers.

Workers at Waha Oil company have been on strike and holding protests for 7 weeks now. Their main demand is the purge of the top management of the company from directors whom they accuse of being stooges of the old regime. It is an example of class issues coming to the fore once the old regime has been put to one side.

In November 2005, during the tenure of Obasanjo with Okonjo Iweala as finance minister, Nigeria paid the huge sum of 12 billion dollars to buy back 18 billion dollars of debt owed to the Paris Club. This prepared the ground for Nigeria to completely pay off its debt by April 2006. And it also made her the first African country to fully pay off its debt (estimated at $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club. This “exit” from the debt trap was celebrated both nationally and internationally; the celebrations alone were estimated to have consumed 2.4billion Naira.

Twenty four hours ago, the streets of Tripoli were full of the sounds of rejoicing. Now they are filled with the sounds of gunfire. The real battle for Tripoli has commenced.

The end came suddenly and without warning. In the moment of truth the Gaddafi regime fell like a house of cards.

Last night the streets of Tripoli were filled with wild rejoicing as rebel forces occupied Green Square in Tripoli. Libyan rebels waved opposition flags and fired shots into the air in jubilation after reaching the central square of the capital in the early hours of Monday. Until now the vast square was reserved for carefully orchestrated rallies praising Moammar Gaddafi. Now it erupted in celebration after rebel troops pushed into the centre of the Libyan capital.

The strike by metalworkers that began on the 4th of July, ended over the weekend when workers accepted a 3-year contract from the Steel and Engineering Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA). Metalworkers will receive a first year pay rise of 10% effective from July 1 2011. The second year and third year, the workers will receive not less than 8% in each year.

South Africa is witnessing a growing strike wave, with the metalworkers in the lead, but with more and more sections taking strike action or threatening to do so. A new wave of militant class struggle is on the agenda as the contradictions between bosses and workers become more exacerbated by the day. Here we publish an outline of what is happening

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) went on strike action on Monday, following a breakdown in negotiations at the end of June. NUMSA would not budge on its demand for a 13% increase across the board, better working conditions and a total ban of labour brokers.

Statistics can be very revealing at times. If anyone had any doubts about the dictatorial nature of the political regime in Morocco the official “results” of the constitutional referendum surely must have removed them. The Ministry of Interior expects us to believe that nothing less than 98.94% voted Yes, while  amere 1.1 % voted No. Such figures would make even the North Korean regime blush with embarrassment!

We provide an eyewitness account by a recent German visitor to Morocco, who provides a taste of the mood that prevails in the country, describing some of the many protests that are taking place and the manoeuvres of the regime to avert an outright revolution. All to no avail of course!

In the recent local elections in South Africa we witnessed a concerted campaign by the Democratic Alliance, backed by the media, to exploit discontent with the ANC to their own advantage. They failed to do so, as the masses instinctively see the DA as a threat to the conquests of the anti-apartheid movement. However, what is true is that the ANC leadership, pursuing policies that are limited to what can be achieved within the confines of capitalism, have failed in the recent period to solve the fundamental economic and social problems faced by working people.

Further to the yesterday’s appealfor solidarity, we are publishing an account of the anti-union activities at Dangote Pasta which led to the victimisation of the union organisers at the plant, including the firing of 200 workers who refused to leave the union.

We publish here an article written by a comrade of the Young Communist League in South Africa. The article, which was first published on the website of SASCO (The South African Students Congress) was a reply to another comment on the same website called "A revolution foresaked or advanced: 2007 Polokwane aftermath" (at the bottom of the page). Although we are not in complete agreement with all the content of the article we think that it is an important contribution to the debate that is going on within the South African worker movement.

Ever since the South African masses overthrew the apartheid regime and propelled the ANC into power, the South African bourgeoisie, its ideologists and its media have waged an uninterrupted and daily war of lies and slanders against the ANC, SACP and COSATU – i.e. the traditional mass organizations of the South African youth, workers and poor.

Nigerian workers joined their brothers and sisters throughout the world to celebrate Workers’ Day on May 1st. In Lagos State, the celebration was held at Onikan Stadium. Workers trooped into the stadium en masse to mark the day. However, they had a surprise coming, with the newly elected State Governor giving them a lecture about how increases in workers’ wages cause inflation!

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.

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.

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