Africa

On Monday, September 3, most of the miners arrested during the Marikana massacre were released after an outcry of protest forced the state prosecutor to withdraw charges of murder against them. The strike at Lonmin continues as well as strikes and protests at other mines. The incident has clearly revealed the real content of the struggle between left and right in the run up to the ANC Manguang Conference.

Eighteen years since the end of Apartheid – and the dawn of ‘freedom and democracy’ -  the  brutal killings of 34 miners by the police in the Lonmin owned platinum mines at Marikana last Thursday has exposed the stark reality of the suffering and agony of the South African proletariat. This shooting is reminiscent of the harrowing Sharpeville massacre of sixty black protesters in 1960 by the then racist Apartheid regime.

The fatal shooting of 34 striking miners at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg has met with outrage. A crowd of defiant strikers were gunned down in cold blood in a hail of police gunfire that brought back memories of the Apartheid era, of Sharpeville, Soweto and the struggles of the 1980s. A further ten people have been killed prior to this massacre and 234 have been arrested.

Following the declaration of independence by South Sudan – which is dependent on financial and military aid from American imperialism – tensions between Khartoum and Juba have been steadily ramped up over the past year and have brought death and destruction both sides of the border. Into the high-octane mix of mass land grabs by foreign capital, which in turn places an even greater strain on the land available for both settled farmers and nomadic herders, are thrown heavily armed militias on both sides of the border and a brutal struggle for control over the oil of Sudan amidst the wider regional struggle of American and Chinese capital.

The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.

There has been much hype around the discussion on the policy document of the African National Congress, titled The Second Transition?: Building a National Democratic Society and the balance of forces in 2012.There has been much discussion around the title of the document rather than its content.

The comrades from the 20F movement and the AMDH, the human rights organisation made this video in honour of comrade Anas Benani, member of the Communist League of Action and leader of the 20F youth movement against the dictatorship.

A bright young revolutionary has gone. Anas Benani, alias Yayha Benhamza died in a bus accident Sunday on his way to a football match of his favourite team the ‘Maghreb de Tétouan’. A car accident is rarely an accident on the Moroccan roads. It is probably one of the most predictable things to happen when driving in the country.

The situation is moving at lightning speed on a world scale. After the Arab Revolution, events followed in quick succession: the movement of the indignados in Spain; the wave of strikes and demonstrations in Greece; the riots in Britain; the movement in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in the U.S.; the overthrow of Gaddafi; the fall of Papandreou and Berlusconi; all these are symptoms of the present epoch. (See Perspectives for world capitalism 2012 (Draft discussion document) – Part One); and, if we may add, there was the magnificent movement of millions of Nigerian masses in January of this year.

Originating in the USA, a video titled “KONY 2012” is doing the rounds of the internet via various social networks. The video, which is approximately thirty minutes long, is designed to make the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony internationally known and to justify launching a campaign against him and hunting him down. This campaign, however, reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of social networks.

Despite having a constitution that enshrines equality between the sexes, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to some of the most extreme and brutal oppression of women. This demonstrates in a very vivid manner that women’s oppression cannot be eliminated simply through legal rights, but requires certain material conditions, which in turn must be fought for in the shape of a class struggle. (The author of this article recently visited the DRC where he found a country ravaged by imperialism and where the oppression of women was extremely acute.)

The city of Bni Bouayach in the mountainous area of the Northern Rif in Morocco has been sealed off since Wednesday, March 8. All the repressive organs of the state, the army, the gendarmerie together with the secret and public police, have joined forces to blockade the small city. The inhabitants live in fear of police terror and the raiding of houses and arrests. Other repressive forces are hunting down activists who fled into the neighbouring mountains to escape arrest. The media black-out is total.

“Decent work is a right, labour broking is just like slavery and is causing major problems for the working class... we want the National Executive Committee of the African Nation Congress to sit down and review this.” Irvin Jim, General Secretary of the National Union of Metal workers of South Africa (NUMSA). As hundreds of thousands of worker and the general public were marching under the blistering sun in 32 cities across South Africa, their mood was captured by these words from their leader.

The recent militant strike by the miners at the Impala Platinum Mine has highlighted how far the present NUM leadership is lagging behind the mood of the workers. The contradictions that had been brewing beneath the surface at Impala Platinum Mine, in Rustenburg, came to the public’s attention on the 12th January 2012 when rock drill operators (RDOs) refused to work. On the 24th January the mining company dismissed 5000 workers who went on strike without giving the employer a “formal notice”, and as the strike intensified the number of workers on strike significantly increased.

In Zambia the lightning offensive of the workers has thundered on as the strike wave rolled into the New Year, drawing in broader layers of the class and demonstrating the strength of the workers in action. Undeterred by attempts to victimise striking workers – including the sacking of 200 miners by China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Group (CNMMG), who were reinstated under government pressure the very next day – the strikes have continued

One year after the revolutionary overthrow of Ben Ali, Tunisia faces a wave of strikes, regional uprisings, sit-ins and protests of all sorts. For hundreds of thousands of Tunisian workers and youth who bravely defied the bullets of the dictatorship to get jobs and dignity nothing has fundamentally changed.

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)

In a country two thirds the size of Western Europe the overt and widespread rigging of elections has not prevented the Congolese masses turning out to decide their own fate by any means they can find. In the process more than a dozen have been killed and over a hundred injured before the election with at least another four killed by the police of the regime in the days after the result was announced.

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 class struggle in Zambia has won important victories in recent weeks, with 2,000 copper miners winning a 100% wage increase against the Chinese mine owners, while a movement of the unemployed and youth have driven the ‘King Cobra’ to power in last month’s presidential election.

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.

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