Africa

Hundreds of thousands marched today in the streets of the main cities and towns of Tunisia against the Gannouchi government and demanding a Constituent Assembly. According to the revolutionary youth which has taken the initiative of these demonstrations, 250,000 marched in the capital Tunis alone, and another 100,000 in other cities (video of demonstration in Sfax). A police source in Tunis gave the figure for demonstrators in the capital at “over 100,000”. The Red Crescent said that this was “the largest demonstration since the fall of Ben Ali”.

Power is rapidly slipping out of the hands of Muammar Gaddafi, as anti-government protests continue to sweep the African nation despite a brutal and bloody crackdown. As city after city falls to the anti-Gaddafi forces his only base is now Tripoli. The East is in the control of the insurgents and most of the West has fallen into the hands of the rebels, including cities very close to the capital.

The Young Communist League of South Africa held its 3rd Congress in the university town of Mafikeng on December 8-12, 2010. The congress was the culminating point of four years of explosive growth and big success for the organization that has quickly grown to be a massive force of more than 56,000 activists. It also brought into sharp focus the conflict between the left and right wing within the South African Communists.

Today marks one month since the revolutionary overthrow of the hated dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia on January 14. The last month has been a constant struggle between the ruling class which wants to return to bourgeois normality and workers and youth who carried out the revolution and who are struggling to stop the old regime from trying to make a comeback.

Further to the information we provided yesterday about Morocco, we received this report from comrades in Fez about the ongoing student protests.

Finally, after a long wait, prime minister Gannouchi announced changes in the government of national unity which was formed in Tunisia after the overthrow of Ben Ali. The masses of workers and youth, for two weeks, have been demanding the overthrow of this government, which they consider as a continuation of the old regime. They have staged massive regional strikes and demonstrations and a sit-in outside the government’s office. This new government of Gannouchi must also be rejected and the people take power into their own hands.

Wednesday, January 26 was marked by yet more massive demonstrations throughout Tunisia against the “national unity” government, whose key ministers come from the government of the hated dictator Ben Ali. The same dictator that the masses forced to flee two weeks ago.

Events over the weekend have shown the strength of the revolutionary movement in Tunisia and revealed the weakness of the national unity government. The organisation of a “Liberation Caravan” marching to the capital has the potential, if combined with a mass movement of demonstrations and strikes, to bring down the government.

On Friday, 14th January the revolutionary upsurge of the oppressed masses in Tunisia made history. Such was the intensity of the mass revolt that the autocratic and corrupt ruler Zine al Abidine Ben Ali had to scurry to the nearest airport to flee the country he had despotically ruled over for twenty three years. After being refused entry by his “friend” Sarkozy he was finally accepted by the Saudi monarchy. How apt this was!

While the “new” Tunisian government of “national unity” (in fact, stacked with Ben Ali ministers) had its first meeting on Thursday, January 20, and attempted to rush through a series of measures which would gain it some legitimacy, the revolution continues on the streets and in the workplaces with workers taking on anyone in authority who had links to the old Ben Ali regime.

Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 saw the continuation of mass demonstrations all over Tunisia against the “new” national unity government and demanding an end to the RCD ruling party. Tens of thousands marched throughout the country under the slogan “RCD degagé” (Out with the RCD), clearly identifying the national unity government as a continuation of the old regime.

As soon as Ben Alí was on the plane to Saudi Arabia on Friday, January 14, ousted by the mass revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth, the Tunisian ruling class and its imperialist puppet masters started manoeuvring to make sure that they remained in control of the situation.

In the past days, Tunisia has witnessed rapid developments, the most important of which was the announcement by Prime Minister, Mohammad Al-Ghannoushi, that he was taking over temporarily as President due to Ben Ali’s inability to carry out his duties, and the announcement of a state of emergency in all areas of the country. We publish here a translation of an Arabic language article published on marxy.com as the dramatic events in Tunisia were unfolding.

The marvellous revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth is an inspiration and an example to the whole world. For more than one week Tunisia has been living through a revolution of epic dimensions. The mass uprising in Tunisia has ended in the overthrow of the hated dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

The marvellous uprising of the Tunisian people has taken on revolutionary proportions. The coldblooded murder of more than 20 demonstrators by the police over the weekend did not have the effect the dictatorship hoped it would have. The result was not fewer demonstrations but more with even more people taking part who were more determined than ever not to be intimidated any longer. One thing is sure now: this tug of war with the dictatorship will be waged until the very end by the masses.

This article, written by the comrades of Marxy.com, the Arab website of the IMT, gives a full account of the development of the Tunisian uprising, its roots, the hypocrisy of imperialism, and discusses the methods of struggle and the programme needed to take it to a victorious conclusion.

Fear has changed sides in Tunisia. For years the Tunisian population, its youth, its workers, its mothers were paralysed by fear of repression. Political lethargy was the rule, revolt the odd exception. Now things have turned upside down. Defiance of the brutal regime, its state, its spies, its media, its ruling party, its police and its army has become the rule during the three weeks of the uprising which has shaken Tunisia. This represents a seismic change in the consciousness of the youth and the general psyche of the masses, the poor as well as the middle class. This has had an impact not only in Tunisia but in the whole Arab world.

In the last two weeks, the streets of Tunisia have been the scene of clashes between protesters and the forces of repression. The direct cause behind the outbreak of these events is the solidarity shown by the masses with a young man who immolated himself in the the town of Sidi Bouzid on the 17th December. After this incident, another young man (Hussein Falahi) committed suicide by jumping off a electricity pylon to protest against his unemployment. After this, a third young man, aged 34, committed suicide by jumping into a well in the Gdir region. These acts reflect the deep frustration that young Tunisians are experiencing.

Several suicide attempts by young Tunisians, as protest against poverty and unemployment, sparked a number of riots and protests all over the country in the last few weeks. We publish here a short English introduction to an article in Arabic. A translation of the more detailed analysis will be published tomorrow.

Miners at the Aurora mining company’s Grootvlei mine in Springs, on the East Rand, and the Orkney mine in the North West have taken action demanding the payment of their wages and to get their jobs back. We publish here a letter (with an introductory explanatory note) we have received from South Africa regarding this issue, which expresses the anger of the miners and also advocates the only solution to the problem: nationalization under workers’ control.

The Nigerian ruling class continues to lose its social base. And rather than this process being reversed, it is accelerating. The main social base upon which this present bourgeois democratic experiment bases itself has been almost completely eroded. The ruling class finds itself more and more isolated from the ever increasing mass of Nigerian masses.

Of Nigeria’s 150 million population 40 million are unemployed. As 45% of the population is between the ages of 15 to 40 years, this means unemployment mainly affects the youth. The Nigerian ruling class is incapable of solving this problem. Only the working class can take on the task of eradicating unemployment.

On October 1st Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence. A lot of money is going to be spent on the celebrations by the present ruling elite. But what is there to celebrate for the teeming masses of poor? The already terrible living conditions are getting worse as each day passes.

Nigerian Marxists have always called for the setting up of a trade union based mass workers’ party. The Nigerian trade unions have the authority, the power and the mass following to do this. A few years ago a half-hearted attempt was made to launch the Nigerian Labour Party without much success. The union leaders didn’t give their full backing. Now, however, the party is becoming more attractive and in some states large numbers of workers are joining. Here we publish an editorial from the December 2009 edition of the Workers’ Alternative on this question.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) recently set up a Commission to investigate the extent of workers’ participation in and desire for the Labour Party. In spite of the Labour leadership’s claims that Nigerian workers do not desire a party of their own, the report of the investigation revealed the contrary.

South Africa was moving towards a general strike type situation as the public sector strike that started on August 18 was building up momentum. Now the strike has been suspended by union leaders because of some concessions on the part of the government. This has angered many workers who wanted to step up action, not take a step back.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the Nigerian section of the International Marxist Tendency organised a Marxist weekend school on August 27-28, where they discussed the history of the workers’ internationals and other questions. Comrades were very happy with the school and look forward to more such events.

As the strike by more than a million public sector workers in South Africa enters its second week, the government has launched an all out attack against the unions using all powers at its disposal, including the courts, the police, the Army and the media. The unions have replied by threatening solidarity action which could involve the police and the army.

More than a million South African public sector workers started an all-out national strike for better wages and conditions on Wednesday, August 18. The present wave of strikes shows that the South African workers are not prepared to accept promises anymore and it's time for the Zuma government to deliver the change it was voted in for.

After months of build up, the World Cup is finally underway. As it approaches the end of the first week, in what is a month-long bloated competition, something has become rather clear. Hype is everything.

This year’s Mayday event was quite historic for the Communist League of Action, the Morrocan section of the IMT. It was the first time we sold our paper, The Communist in public. This is quite an audacious move under a repressive regime also considering that our paper was the only illegal revolutionary paper to be sold on the Mayday demonstrations.

Over 70% of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line; life expectancy stands at 43 years; and 50,000 Nigerian women die from childbirth every year. Instead of finding a solution to these burning problems, the corrupt Nigerian elite is now playing with the idea of “electoral reform” and the labour leaders are falling for this. What is required is an independent party of the working class capable of leading the workers in a struggle to change society.

This year there was a massive display of working class militancy at the May Day rallies in Nigeria. What was evident, however, was the glaring contradiction between the main speeches calling for “dialogue” and the desire to take the road of militant strike action by the rank and file. The Marxists of the Workers’ Alternative intervened successfully with a huge sale of their paper and with many workers showing a keen interest in their ideas.

We make available the latest edition of the Moroccan Marxist journal, The Communist, in Arabic, which has articles on The origins of May Day, the Mass struggles in Jebha and Chefchaouen, the Western Sahara Question, and the IMT Statement on the Fifth International. [Download pdf]

David van Wyk in South Africa sent us this comment on how Mugabe, from a leader of the war of liberation, became a pliant tool in the hands of imperialism, impoverishing the Zimbabwean masses in the process, and only later turning to “land reform” and so-called “economic indigenisation” as a means of diverting attention away from the very problems his policies had provoked in the first place.

Inmates at a Kaduna Prison in Nigeria last Tuesday attempted a jailbreak, and no fewer than 15 of them are feared dead as security forces were called in to regain control of the situation. At the root of this situation are the appalling conditions in which the prisoners are kept, and beyond the prison itself the appalling living conditions of millions of Nigerian poor.

The recent death of Eugene Terre Blanche, leader of the AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), at the hands of two farm workers, has highlighted the situation that exists today in South Africa, on the one hand the many unresolved problems of the huge majority of black workers and poor, and on the other a minority within the white population who cannot reconcile themselves to the end of Apartheid, upon which their privileges depended.

The Nigerian workers’ genuine mass organised expression is the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a powerful trade union body. But they lacked a political expression, a genuine workers’ party. In recent times a Nigerian Labour Party has been formed, which has attracted some attention from activist within the movement. The problem is that the NLC has not put its full backing behind it, leaving it in a kind of half-way house, limbo state. What is required is to transform it into a genuine mass party with the full backing of the NLC.

Over the weekend of March 6-7, hundreds of people, including many women and children, were butchered like animals in ethnic conflicts near the city of Jos in Nigeria. This is not the first time such ethnic strife has erupted. It is a symptom of the decay of Nigerian society under the rule of a parasitic local bourgeoisie at the service of imperialism.

After several weeks of solid protest, the state authorities released the three youth activists of Jebha from prison last week. This is a huge victory for the struggle against the lack of water supplies, power cuts and other problems affecting the village. We want to thank all our readers who sent solidarity messages.

We provide here a link to this important document produced by the ANC Youth League on the question of the nationalisation of the mines. The ANC YL document is inspired in the bold call of the Freedom Charter that "the mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole." This document has created a heated polemic within the workers' movement in South Africa and with the capitalist class. We publish it here for the information of our readers. This should be read in

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A storm erupted in policy circles in South Africa after Julius Malema the leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) boldly proclaimed the need for the mining industry in South Africa to be nationalized. The demand was predicated on fulfilling the vision of the Freedom Charter, which was adopted at Kliptown in 1955 as the ‘manifesto’ of the liberation struggle. According to the Charter “The wealth of the country shall be shared among all who live in it!” (Note: the full ANC YL document on nationalisation of the mines can be read ...

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