A forensic report by investigators appointed by the South African Reserve Bank into the collapse of the Limpopo-based VBS Bank has confirmed “one of the biggest bank frauds that we’ve seen in South Africa”. Over a period of three years, nearly 2 billion rand of poor people’s money was stolen. The report has identified at least 53 individuals who, through various schemes, benefited from a combined 1.89 billion rand between 2015 and 2018.

On 22 October (weeks after the polls opened on 7 October), it was finally confirmed that 85-year-old President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, will serve another term in office. Voter turnout was very low; and in the urban centres of Douala and Yaoundé, the leadership of the working class was nowhere to be seen – despite widespread hatred of the Biya regime. Moreover, violent unrest in the Anglophone regions made any kind of democratic process there impossible, and tit-for-tat skirmishes between state troops and separatists have aroused fears of a new civil war that could plunge the country into barbarism.

Monday 1 October marked the one-year anniversary of the declaration of independence by anglophone separatists in the southwest of Cameroon, when they announced the birth of a new nation: Ambazonia. That declaration of independence provoked a brutal clampdown by the Cameroonian government, leading to hundreds of civilians and dozens of members of the security forces being killed over the past year.

On Friday 14 September, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his much-awaited economic stimulus package, which is supposed to “kick-start” the sluggish economy and “ignite” growth. With the economy back in recession and the support for the ANC at a record low seven months before the next general elections, Ramaphosa has to move quickly to prevent the party losing its majority, which would usher in a new period of instability in the form of coalition politics.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday suspended its general strike on its fourth day, after the government agreed to meet the unions on October 4-5 to discuss an increase in the minimum wage. The call for the strike had surprised the union leaders themselves, who had not expected such a massive response. Now they are doing everything to demobilise.

Over the last week, some sections of the ruling class have changed their tune about the debate around land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. The rabidly conservative and far-right Afrikaner groups such as Afriforum, which were given a strong voice in the mainstream media at the beginning of the debate, are increasingly being squeezed out by the big capitalists.

Bobi Wine

Uganda’s next general election isn’t due for another three years, but recent developments are showing President Museveni’s increasing paranoia. The arrest on trumped-up charges of the main leader of the opposition, Bobi Wine, and the subsequent revelation that he was submitted to severe torture while in jail sparked a massive wave of protests, which represents the biggest challenge to Museveni’s power since the 2011 ‘Walk to Work’ protests.

SAFTU’s general strike on Wednesday was a serious warning to the government and the capitalist class. It was part of a sharp intensification of industrial action by workers in big sectors of the economy. The attacks on the working class are preparing a backlash and an upsurge of the class struggle.

Across the country, workers are mobilising for a mass general strike on 25 April. Although all sectors of the economy are likely to be affected, the strike is expected to hit municipal services, transport, manufacturing, mining, construction and the public sector particularly hard. The government’s determination to continue with the legislative process on proposed changes to the labour law is preparing the ground for a confrontation with the unions.

On 27 February, the National Assembly of South Africa passed a motion on land expropriation, tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters and supported by the majority of parties in parliament, including the ANC. Ben Morken in South Africa looks at the real meaning of this proposal and provides a Marxist perspective on the question.

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