Africa

As Nigeria is battling with the coronavirus, the merciless bloodshed going on, especially in the northwestern part of the country in recent times, is exacting a much larger human toll. 5,000 people, mostly women and children, have been displaced in the Faskari, Batsari and Dandume Local government areas of Katsina state, the home state of the current Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. In just a week, over 100 people are reported to have been maimed in these communities.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is just beginning to be felt in Algeria. Earlier this month, the government announced that the national budget would be slashed in half due to the global collapse of oil prices. Simultaneously, the much-discredited government is cynically manoeuvring to bury the popular Hirak movement under the cover of this healthcare crisis. But this coronavirus has brought to the fore the contradictions of a bureaucratically-ruled country, corrupted to the core by ‘le pouvoir’. These repressive measures cannot be allowed to asphyxiate the militant mood for change that has once again gripped the country.

Watch our interview with comrade Kazeem about the situation in Nigeria, where the coronavirus poses a catastrophic threat, and the perspective is one of explosive class struggle.

The Moroccan regime has detained over 500 political prisoners, according to the president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Aziz Ghali. Amongst them are those imprisoned in the Hirak Rif protests and the Gerak Jaradah movement: trade unionists, bloggers, a journalist… pretty much everybody. Not a day goes by without social media reporting the arrest of new militants or ordinary citizens whose only crime, in the majority of cases, is having published a Facebook post critical of living conditions or of the state’s politics.

Watch our interview with Ben Morken, who discusses the situation in South Africa: the impact of COVID-19, the political crisis and the perspectives for class struggle.

Kano has become the epicentre of the spread of Covid-19 in northern Nigeria. A large number of so-called “mysterious” deaths was recently reported, but the state government of Kano blatantly claims that the sharp rise in deaths is not due to Covid-19. Here we provide an eyewitness account from an IMT comrade in Kano.

A Moroccan proverb goes: “the sheep spends his whole life being afraid of the wolf, but in the end, who feasts on the sheep? The shepherd!” Well, some months after China and 10 days after Italy, Moroccan authorities announced the country’s first cases of COVID-19 on 2 March and attributed them to “external factors”. Specifically, a Moroccan returning from Italy, then French tourists. The epidemic has worsened, infecting 2,024 people, of whom 126 have died (as of 15 April, 45 days after the first infections) according to official data.

The coronavirus pandemic is a turning point in history. The world economy is receiving one savage blow after another. Healthcare systems are totally overwhelmed in the advanced capitalist countries as a result of decades of attacks on living standards. The inefficient and ghastly nature of capitalism is in full display in the west, where people until recently enjoyed at least a semi-civilised existence. In Africa, Asia and Latin America the consequences of a full-scale outbreak will be catastrophic.

It would be hell if the Covid-19 breaks out in Nigeria on the scale presently being witnessed in Europe and the US. Apart from the dire state of the healthcare system, 69 million Nigerians have no access to clean water. This invariably leads to water-borne diseases like cholera, which continue to break out as regular epidemics. Social distancing and self-isolation presuppose that people have enough space. In Lagos where we have over 100 slum areas, about 80 people can be found sharing a 10-room building with only two toilets and a bathroom being shared by all with no pipe-borne or treated water readily available.

South African capitalism is in total crisis. The ruling class is divided and the worsening conditions of the workers and poor are causing a groundswell of resentment that will burst to the surface sooner or later, placing renewed class struggle on the agenda.

Those who follow the situation in Morocco can see that the repressive dictatorial regime has become more and more frenzied, and the police state has tightened its repressive grip on everyone and everything. They are arresting those who protest, who sing, who criticise, who write, and who show solidarity with those arrested.

Yesterday’s presidential election in Algeria was marked by a massive boycott campaign called for by the Hirak movement, which is now 43 weeks old. The boycott had been preceded by a four-day general strike and was particularly strong in the Kabylie region. Tens of thousands came onto the streets across the country defying a police ban on demonstrations. Whoever the generals decide will be the country’s president, they will not have any real legitimacy.

The recent “release” and immediate brutal re-arrest of Sowore raises the question of the nature of the present regime in Nigeria. The justified anger of many workers and youth poses the problem of “what is to be done?” Here comrade Rashy in Nigeria explains that this event brings into sharp focus the need to radically transform Nigerian society along socialist lines.

Suddenly, and without any warning, a rap song appeared on social media, produced by three young men – who were unheard of up to that moment – and racked up millions of views in record time. The track was entitled "Long Live the People", based on the slogan of the revolutionary youth (especially notable in the 20F’s manifestations) directed against the monarchist slogan: “long live the king”. The track topped the list of most-watched Moroccan videos on YouTube. This is unprecedented for an agitational song, as the top spot has typically been occupied by pop trifles.

The huge demonstration on 1 November marks a high point for the Algerian Hirak movement, which has been going on for an uninterrupted 37 weeks. The regime has decided to call for presidential elections on 12 December, which the masses have correctly rejected. The slogan of a general strike to stop the elections and force the ousting of the regime is gaining ground.

The 1995 FIFA Player of the year, George M. Weah, has been in power for just a year and a half; and Liberia, often referred to as the “oldest independent African nation”, is suffering from severe austerity. The yoke of capitalism—neo-colonialism, imperialism, corruption and exploitation—has become an overwhelming burden resting on the shoulders of the worker and peasant masses of Liberian society, to such an extent that the soccer legend’s short presidency seems more like a decade.

A few months ago, Nigeria was thrown into one of the deepest socio-religious controversies ever when Busola Dakolo, a celebrity photographer and wife of singer Timi Dakolo, accused Biodun Fatoyinbo, senior pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) of raping her on two different occasions when she was 16 years old. The accusation, in an explosive interview she granted YNaija, was released on social and mass media via four separate videos on 28 June 2019.

The first round of the Tunisian presidential elections on 15 September, described as an “electoral insurrection,” was a heavy blow against all the parties that have in one way or another ruled the country since the revolutionary overthrow of Ben Ali in 2011. Nearly nine years later, none of the social and economic problems that sparked the revolution have been addressed. This was expressed through increased abstention (turnout was only 45 percent, 18 points lower than in 2014) and two “outsiders” going on to the second round, despite one of them being jailed for tax evasion during the campaign.

Since the death of Robert Mugabe last Friday, Western media outlets have been falling over themselves to show their distaste for the former dictator. What is not reported is that, for most of his 37-year rule, Mugabe was the darling of the West. As long as he was faithfully implementing the policies of Western imperialism, they propped up his regime and turned a blind eye to his atrocities. But that is all forgotten today, and Mugabe is portrayed as having mercilessly persecuted his opponents and ruined his country single-handedly.

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