Africa

On 25 January 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen from office, and immediately swore in the most senior Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ibrahim Muhammed, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. According to President Muhammodu Buhari, the act was his way of executing an order ‘ex-parte’ of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which was granted on 23 January 2019.

Trotsky wrote in the Transitional Programme: “The capitalists are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes closed.” Today in Nigeria, we can make a simple modification to this assertion that the Nigerian ruling elites are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes wide open. They can see what is happening, they can see what is coming, but they can do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

On Tuesday, 29 January 2019, the MAP (Maghreb Arabe Presse) announced that the Kingdom of Morocco expressed its official support for Juan Guaido, who has proclaimed himself “interim president” of Venezuela. By doing so, Morocco became the first country in all of Africa and the second in the Middle East to express its support for the American-backed coup against the democratically elected President Maduro. Israel (headed by the child-murderer Netanyahu) has also recognised Guaido as a "legitimate president", just because he declared himself so.

Zimbabwe is again moving in the direction of a social explosion. Over the last few days, mass protests against new austerity measures have spontaneously grown over into a general strike against the government. The strike was formally announced to last for 72 hours – from Monday to Wednesday – but as we write these lines, it is in effect still ongoing.

When the Abacha dictatorship in Nigeria (1993-98) was facing collapse, the Nigerian elite, backed and advised by imperialism, prepared the ground for a transition to a bourgeois democratic regime. The various presidents, from Obasanjo to Buhari today, have run corrupt regimes, doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian masses, while enriching themselves and their cronies in the process.

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.

Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day jaunt across Africa, visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The purpose of May’s whistle stop tour (aside from showcasing her inimitable dance moves) was to strike up post-Brexit trade relations with Africa’s “emerging economies”. The visit was a cringe worthy affair that saw May shuffle awkwardly from one public relations blunder to the next, and it highlighted the decline of British imperialism and the crisis facing the capitalist class as the Brexit cliffedge looms.

GERD workers

There is a crisis flowing downstream towards the mouth of arguably the world’s longest river. The Nile has been the source of Egypt’s water supply – and therefore the basis of agriculture in the country – for many thousands of years.

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.

On 21 February the middle-class illusions in Ramaphosa received a shattering blow when the outgoing finance minister delivered a brutal austerity budget. This was just one day after the new president had told everyone during his State of the Nation Address that a “new dawn” has broken.

A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental.

Mientras escribimos estas líneas, el imperio Zuma-Gupta se está desmoronando. En uno de los días más dramáticos de los últimos tiempos en la política sudafricana, Jacob Zuma -y sus amigos, los hermanos Gupta- están siendo purgados por un ala rival de la clase dominante. La purga es el signo más enfático de que las dos facciones rivales ya no pueden cohabitar.

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