Africa

We publish this impressive video of a school students' demo against the Israeli imperialist aggression in Gaza. It illustrates well the sea change in the consciousness of young people in the Arab world, in Morocco in particular.

Not so long ago Nigerian economists were claiming Nigeria would be immune from the world financial meltdown. Now the Nigerian economy is being hit very hard as the world economy is pushed more and more into recession. The dramatic fall in the price of oil is having a devastating impact on Nigeria's finances and the coming period will see this translated into even greater suffering for the working masses.

The present Yar'Adua administration in Nigeria elaborated a so-called "Seven Point Agenda" as it came into office. None of its goals have been achieved and will not be achieved on the basis of the present capitalist economic set up.

The crisis in Nigeria is affecting all layers of society. Significantly the Lagos doctors have taken a decision to embark on militant strike action for better wages, but also better and cleaner working conditions.

The barbaric attack of Israeli forces on the people of Gaza has provoked widespread mass opposition within the Arab world. Here we provide a brief report on youth mobilisations in Morocco, where the Marxists have intervened connecting well with the militant youth.

Just a few months ago all the talk was of Nigeria avoiding the effects of the world crisis of capitalism, the idea being that the local economy was not as integrated into the world financial markets as the more advanced economies. Then suddenly things started to change...

As food prices soar world-wide it was reported recently on the BBC that ‘Ethiopia has launched an urgent appeal to international donors for more than $300m (£154m) of emergency aid’. According the news item, ‘a total of 4.6 million people are now thought to need food aid’.

A major teachers' strike has broken out in Nigeria over the question of a Teachers' Salary Scale. What is significant is that 88% of the population is backing the strike. This fact alone reveals the real feelings of the Nigerian working class and poor masses. It reveals the potential for a much wider movement involving the whole of the working class.

A huge protest movement has erupted in the mining area of Gafsa in Tunisia, and it is spreading. An enormous gulf has opened up between an exasperated people and the authorities. The response of the Ben Ali regime has been brutal repression with some workers being killed.

There has been brutal repression of the workers in Sidi Ifni in Morocco. At least seven protestors have been killed by the police. Please raise a protest, write to the Moroccan authorities and take this issue up with your local Moroccan embassy/consulate.

Nigeria, like all countries, is being affected by the sharp increase in food prices. Now the government, floating on the huge amounts of petrodollars coming into the country, has ordered 500,000 tons of rice to flood the Nigerian market in an attempt to get the price down. But will this solve the problem?

The recent barbaric events in some of the poorest townships of South Africa highlight the dramatic situation that is developing in the country. The ANC leaders have sold out the cause the masses struggled for so many years. Apartheid was brought down but not the system that spawned it. There is an unfinished task to accomplish.

In spite of the bulk of the population being employed in agriculture, the main source of revenue for the Nigerian state is the export of oil. At the moment a lot of money is coming in, and yet poverty and income inequality have never been so high. When the US recession finally hits Nigeria it will have a tremendous impact on the political life of the country.

According to official figures Nigeria is booming, thanks mainly to the sky-high price of oil. And yet poverty levels are increasing and the gap between rich and poor has never been so high. There is a lot of talk of boom, but more and more people are literally becoming hungry, some on the verge of starvation.

This year's May Day rallies in Morocco revealed a more militant mood and where the Marxists intervened they received a huge welcome from the workers.

May Day in Nigeria this year came after a series of rotten deals between the trade union leaders and the bosses in many companies. That explains why the turn-out was not as high as in previous years. In spite of this, the union leaders came under such pressure that they have been forced to call a day of action for May 8.

Last year's elections in Nigeria saw fraud on a scale never seen before. This has severely undermined the authority of the government in the eyes of the masses, so much so that the judiciary are now overturning some of the results. This has led to illusions that the judiciary is now a friend of democracy and even "revolutionary". Nothing could be further from the truth.

The present impasse in Zimbabwe is a direct result of the so-called Structural Adjustment Plans so dear to imperialism, imposed on the Zimbabwean people in collaboration with Mugabe after he came to power. Now they have turned against him, but he is a creature of their own making.

Until recently Kenya was held up as a glowing example of the success of the free market economy. It was supposed to be a shining example of democracy, a beacon of hope for what Europeans used to call "the dark continent." Now all these dreams lay in ashes. In recent weeks Kenya has been torn asunder by a wave of ethnic and tribal violence that has claimed nearly a thousand lives.

This article, written this summer, highlights the material and human devastation provoked by the oil barons in Nigeria. They have sucked out billions of dollars from the Niger Delta region without any benefit accruing to the poor masses that inhabit the regions. That explains the violence and constant conflict. It is an utter condemnation of the Nigerian bourgeoisie that is totally incapable of solving any of the pressing problems facing the masses.

At the beginning of November, the Marxists in the Moroccan student union UNEM organised a political drive towards this year’s new intake of university students. Here you can read extracts of a remarkable report.

Once again, just as the general strike was starting to have an effect, the leaders of the Nigerian trade unions called it off. The regime was on its knees, but it has survived thanks to the unwillingness of the trade union leaders to go all the way. It highlights the need for a genuine fighting leadership. The Marxists can play an important role in building this.

The contradictions and tensions in Nigerian society have exploded and the class struggle is back firmly on the agenda. Nationwide strike action has been called to battle government proposals to raise petrol prices, increase the VAT, and sell two state-owned refineries. After two days of solid support for the strike, the struggle continues.

Less than a month ago the present government of Nigeria was brought into office on the basis of blatant and massive fraud in the elections. We predicted it would be a weak regime with no real base in society. Faced with a general strike this regime has already been forced to make concessions. But it is only playing for time.

The increasing use of repressive measures in Morocco reflects the weakness, not the strength of the present regime. We can expect more of this in the next periods as the protests spread. The families of the arrested workers and youth thank everyone for their support and renew their appeal for more solidarity actions.

The recent elections in Nigeria were blatantly rigged, but the nature of the official opposition – as corrupt as the clique in power – means the masses have no clear point of reference to rally round. In this situation the responsibility of the leaders of the labour movement is enormous. If they gave a lead the masses would rally behind them and it would mean the end of this regime and the beginning of the struggle for socialism.

Repressive measures in Morocco are being stepped up. The five activists arrested in Ksar-ek-kebir in the aftermath of the May Day demonstrations have been sentenced to three years in prison! They need the solidarity of the workers and youth of the world. Please take up the issue in your country and join the protest movement.

Further to yesterday's report, we publish some pictures of the demonstration in support of the political prisoners of KK yesterday in front of the court. The sit-in was composed of young left wing activists, members of the union, of the ANCDM (the unemployed youth association), of the AMDH (the Human Rights Association) and of activists of the youth of Voie Democratique.

A number of left-wing activists have been arrested and sentenced to severe terms in prison in Morocco. The regime is cracking down because there is a growing wave of militancy in the country. Please sign and send off the protest letter here provided.

For the first time in years there was one joint Mayday rally in Nigeria of all the trade unions. The Marxists intervened successfully in spite of attempts by the police to stop the distribution of material. Meanwhile the petit bourgeois left are once again making the same mistakes as in the past by mouthing the same slogans as the bourgeois “opposition”.

The recent elections in Nigeria were blatantly rigged. The problem is that the official bourgeois oppositions is incapable of doing anything about it. That is because they serve the same interests. It is up to the working class to build its own party through the trade unions and offer a genuine socialist way out of the present crisis.

The Nigerian authorities are attempting to crush all independent student union representation. At the OAU campus the students are valiantly defending their right to organise but have been met with a brutal response. Please add your name to the protest.

Workers at the Riekebir shoe factory in Morocco work under terrible conditions with dangerous chemicals. They have set up a union and are fighting for better and safer working conditions. The bosses have launched a counter campaign of sackings and intimidation. We are launching the following appeal in support of the workers at the factory.

The Obasanjo regime in Nigeria boasts about its economic achievements, but it is only fooling itself. The real situation is that polarisation between the classes, with extreme wealth for the few and intense poverty for the many, has never been so great.

A Labour Party has been launched in Nigeria and is standing candidates in the forthcoming elections. Unfortunately it is dominated by bourgeois politicians, in many cases people who have abandoned the rotten ship of the discredited parties that make up the present set up. That may explain why so few workers have joined it so far.

Guinea has been rocked by a series of mass mobilisations and general strikes since the beginning of the year. The strikes in January and February represent the high point in a series of mobilisations that have taken place since the end of 2005.

The Communist League of Action has published a reply to the leadership of the Democratic Path in Morocco. The Democratic Path, the main left-wing party in Morocco and inheritor of the old Marxist-Leninist left, has recently called for negotiations to resolve the question of the Western Sahara. The purpose of CLA’s critique is to arm the new generation of socialist activists with a clear Marxist understanding of the question of the Western Sahara and the national question in general.

The National Union of Moroccan students recently organised a week of political and cultural activities with the aim of reaching new layers of youth with their ideas. From meetings to film shows, the National Union was able to explain their ideas and discuss current events in Latin America and the world with a wide layer of students.

Yesterday a newly formed Moroccan Marxist group was publicly launched on the website www.marxy.com. The group, called the Communist League of Action, brings together students and young workers from different towns in the country.

While promising to meet the unions, the Nigerchin management is trying to use scan labour to break the strike. On recognising the workers’ right to join any union thy wish they have raised the excuse that they must first consult with the owners back in China! These workers are fighting for basic trade union rights. Please support the solidarity campaign and raise this in your union.

Chemical workers at the Nigerian company, NIGERCHIN, have come out on an indefinite strike simply to defend their right to join the trade union of their choice. Trade union activists and members are being victimised because of this. They need your support! Raise this issue among your workmates and friends and get letters of protest sent off.

On top of all its other anti-working class policies, the Obasanjo regime in Nigeria has recently introduced a new pension scheme, which is nothing other than a privatisation of pensions, with investment funds taking over the running of workers' pensions, funds which could collapse easily, and with no government guarantees, leaving future pensioners destitute.

Back in February two Lagos students were killed by police as they protested against the recent hike in school fees. In some cases fees have been increased a hundred times over. This is making it practically impossible for poor and working class Nigerian children to get an education.

In March millions of Nigerian were forced to stay at home for the day as government officials carried out a head and property count. The regime claimed this would allow for a serious calculation of the level of unemployment and thus allow for “job-creation” to go ahead. The operation was inefficient and plagued by corruption. In the real world Nigerians continue to lose their jobs, pensions, education…

Recently Nigeria paid a sum of $12billion to the Paris Club, thus cancelling its foreign debt. The fact that through the servicing of the debt, Nigeria had already paid back more than it has borrowed is conveniently skipped over. Those $12bn could have been used to improve the miserable lives of most Nigerians.

Pensions have been privatised, 92% of Nigerians are living on less than $2 per day, the interest rate stands at 36%, the (official) inflation rate at 15%, millions are either unemployed or not gainfully employed, life expectancy stands at 45 years, annual per capita GDP at $200 and incredible sums of debt hang over the head of the poor. There is no way out on the path of capitalism.

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