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Africa

Fourth International: Report on international situation to the 16th World Congress; Role and tasks of the FI

By Laurent Carasso

February 2010 -- This report will not attempt a detailed survey of the world but will try to stress what is most significant, what, in our view, should come under a common understanding of events and tasks. On many regional situations, the comrades will broadly enrich the discussion through their interventions.

(I) The world situation is marked by crisis

For the first time in history, this crisis is located is explained by capitalist globalisation. No territory is immune. All the economic, social and political factors are interrelated worldwide. The economic crisis is not a conjunctural crisis. This is a systemic, structural crisis: this is the most serious crisis since 1929. The United States has lost 35% of its financial wealth and the Euro zone 25%. And, when governments speak of “emerging from crisis” we do not agree. There may be short-term recoveries, related to policies in support of activity in this or that country, but the countries of the centre -- the USA and Europe -- are not emerging from crisis. The explosion of public debt in southern Europe -- in Greece, Spain -- and the banking and financial uncertainty demonstrate the instability of the situation and a new phase of the crisis, at least in Europe.

The crisis is not over!

Zimbabwe: Despite Mugabe's opportunism, radical land reform is necessary

``What is often forgotten is that millions of Africans were disenfranchised by a system of state-managed repression, segregation and violence. These masses sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to liberate the country and have the moral right to claim back their land. This legitimate need to right the historical wrongs should never be confused with ZANU-PF’s attempts to manipulate history for its own selfish interests.''

By Grasian Mkodzongi

March 11, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Zimbabwe’s land issue has generated unprecedented debates both within and outside the country. The debates, which followed the dramatic occupations of white farms by rural peasants in the late 1990s, are generally polarised between those who support radical land reform and those who support market-orientated reforms. The former stand accused of supporting Mugabe’s regime while the latter are generally maligned as neo-colonialists running a smear campaign against the ruling Zimbabwe AFrican National Union-Patriotic Frent (ZANU-PF).

The Flame, March 2010 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame will cover news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

Fatima Meer, 1928-2010: `Regardless of how many years we have spent in this life, we must get up and shout'

In January 2000 Fatima Meer enraged ANC leaders by opposing the eviction of destitute families from council flats in Chatsworth, Durban. The ANC’s objective was to sell off the council housing. Meer helped to establish the Concerned Citizens’ Group to organise protests against the ANC’s anti-poor policies like privatisation and cost-recovery, which had led to violent evictions and water cutoffs. The ANC deputy mayor of Durban Trevor Bonhomme called Meer a counter-revolutionary. Watch the video above to hear her response.

South Africa: Momentum against climate-destroying World Bank loan grows

By Patrick Bond, Durban

March 16, 2010 -- In an indication that the climate justice movement is broadening, deepening and going local, there is now intense opposition to a climate-destroying energy loan for South Africa. The campaign is led by community activists in black townships allied with environmentalists, trade unionists and international climate activists.

The World Bank is trying to lend nearly US$4 billion to the Johannesburg-based state-owned electricity utility Eskom, the world’s fourth-largest power company and Africa’s largest carbon emitter (with 40% of South Africa's total emissions). The loan is mainly for constructing the world-s fourth most CO2-intensive coal-fired power plant, Medupi, in the ecologically sensitive Waterberg area north of the capital of Pretoria.

The World Bank also aims to finance privatised power generation, notwithstanding the abject failure of public-private partnerships in South African infrastructure, including in electricity and water. More than 200 organisations have signed up in protest.

Statement by the African Movement of Solidarity with the Saharawi People

March 11, 2010 -- A meeting of the Popular African Movement of Solidarity with the Saharawi People was held on the eve of the 34th anniversary of the proclamation of SADR (Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic), in Algiers, on the 26thSouth Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. An important delegation from the SADR was present at this meeting. of February 2010. It grouped civil and political movements from

The delegates included representatives of Movements of National Liberation, parliamentarians and political figures, Trade Unionists, representatives from different associations dealing with Women, Peasants, Youth and Students, Lawyers, Sports and Culture. In keeping with their commitment and convictions, and faithfulness to their history, they resolved to support the Sahrawi people, and their sole legitimate representative, the POLISARIO Front and its state, the SADR, a founder member of the African Union.

On this joyous occasion, the gathering formed a single, common delegation to take part in the official celebration of the 34th anniversary of the proclamation of the RASD on the 27th February 2010 in Bir Lehlu (a Liberated Territory of the SADR).

South Africa: "`Forgotten' Voices in the Present" book and documentary

A dream deferred from South African History Archive on Vimeo.

By the South African History Archive

"Forgotten" Voices in the Present: alternative, post-1994 oral histories from three poor communities in South Africa was authored by Dale McKinley and Ahmed Veriava and funded by Sephis and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. It is the fruition of two years worth of work and commitment to the goal of giving agency to those usually caught on the margins of South African society.

April 9-10, 2010: `Capitalism in Crisis -- Socialism or Barbarism', the 2010 ILRIG-Rosa Luxemburg Cape Partners Seminar

The Global Economic Crisis: Challenges and Possibilities for Trade Unions and Social Movements  

The 2010 ILRIG-Rosa Luxemburg Cape Partners Seminar

Mozambique: ‘The war ended 17 years ago, but we are still poor’

Children in Maputo who make a living salvaging at the dump.
 Photo by GroundWorkSouth Africa.

By Joseph Hanlon and Milton Keynes

March 5, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- A return to war in Mozambique is highly unlikely, but the widening chasm between rich and poor and growing social exclusion are creating a ‘serious risk’ of conflict. This was the warning issued by the Peer Review Mechanism Forum in Mozambique’s self-evaluation report to the African Union Peer Review in February 2009.[1] Similarly, Mozambique’s Institute for the Promotion of Peace—an association of former fighters from both sides in the 1981–92 war— remarked in March 2009 that Mozambique seems at peace, but growing economic disparities and socioeconomic injustice are weakening the peaceful transition.[2] Mozambique’s peace has been remarkable—without any truth commission or international courts, the 1992 peace accord has held without retributions and with former foes serving together in parliament and the army.

Swaziland Democracy Campaign launched: `Justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere'

Swaziland's absolute monarch and tyrant, King Mswati III.

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Campaigning for democracy in Swaziland NOW!

February 25, 2010 -- Johannesburg, South Africa --  On February 21, 2010, the world witnessed the launch of a global initiative to support pro-democracy forces in Swaziland: the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). This is a product of many years of working together between South African and Swaziland organisations, which includes political parties, trade unions, churches, youth and students organisations.

The SDC is an expression of the just and legitimate struggles waged by the Swazi people in their quest for human dignity, justice, democracy and human rights. It endorses the principle of justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere. Further, that the freedom of all the peoples of the world remains incomplete without the freedom of the people of Swaziland.

Our program

In this regard we wish to state that immediate campaigning priorities will be:

Mauritian socialists' open letter to Greenpeace -- `Don't help cover up colonialism's crimes on Diego Garcia'

Diego Garcia from a satellite. The US base in visible in the top left of the atoll. Photo from NASA.

By Ram Seegobin, Lalit de Klas

February 8, 2010

Dear leaders of Greenpeace [UK],

We understand that your organisation has taken a position in favour of the British government’s outrageous plan to create a “marine park” on territory which is not its own, thus tricking ill-informed people into supporting the British state on rather vague grounds of “the environment”, while they are in fact banishing the people who lived there and flaunting the Charter of the United Nations.

Mugabe and reconciliation: The genesis and meaning of `We Are All Zimbabweans Now'

By James Kilgore

[This paper was presented to the Center of African Studies, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, on February 3, 2010. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with James Kilgore’s permission.]

South Africa: 20 years after Mandela's release, class apartheid continues

Jacob Zuma.

By Patrick Bond

February 16, 2010 -- Recall that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma came to power last year as a result, mainly, of trade union and South African Communist Party mobilisations in 2006-08, culminating in the rude but welcome dismissal of president Thabo Mbeki.

And now, because he is unable to galvanise momentum for any sort of political project aside from survival [following another round of scandals surrounding his private life and dubious attitude towards women], Zuma appears to be drifting rightwards, towards the Afican National Congress' solid financial-support base of white capital and aspiring black entrepreneurs.

Swaziland: `The people are getting angrier and angrier'; Swaziland Democracy Campaign to be launched

February 13, 2010 -- B.V. Dlamini, deputy secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, spoke to London Student's Ingrida Kerusauskaite about the way forward for Swaziland. London Student is Europe's largest independent student newspaper. This interview is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

What is the political situation in Swaziland? What does that mean to the citizens?

The country is ruled under a dictatorship, where there is no separation of power: the judiciary, legislative and executive powers are all invested in the king, to the extent that the government cannot properly advise the monarch. First they have to know what he wants to hear, and then they tell him what he wants to hear, not what he has to hear. The distribution of resources in the country is very uneven: 69 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, despite the fact that Swaziland is regarded as a middle-income country by the international financial institutions. There are also serious violations of human rights.

Swaziland has an international reputation of being an “ideal tourist destination”. What effect does that have on the country?

Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle

Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa, on February 11, 1990. That historic victory was the product of the long and courageous struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa. It was also a victory for the international movement against apartheid. Revolutionary Cuba played a vital role in the international movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as the following article describes. (See also "Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom".)

* * *

By Nicole Sarmiento

January 21, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- Cuba's relations with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s, and shortly after the triumph of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front (Gleijeses, 1996a). Che Guevara's trip around the African continent in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba's relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

2010: Welcome to the upside-down world of South Africa

By Dale T. McKinley

January 11, 2010 -- SACIS -- Even if the meanings we give to measurements of time are most often overblown, there is something about the mark of a new decade. In the case of South Africa, 1990 marked the beginning of the end of the apartheid system, ushering in a period pregnant with new hopes, possibilities and dreams. When 2000 rolled around it heralded not only a once in a lifetime turn of a century but carried with it the delayed weight of the majority expectation of an age of progress and plenty. So what are our "inheritances" as we begin the new decade? Where do things stand? What is the mark of 2010?

Troubadour politics: How Dennis Brutus maintained ‘stubborn hope’

By Patrick Bond

I will be the world’s troubadour
if not my country’s
Knight-erranting
jousting up and down
with justice for my theme
weapons as I find them
and a world-wide scatter of foes

Being what I am
a compound of speech and thoughts and song
and girded by indignation
and accoutred with some undeniable scars
surely I may be
this cavalier?

-- Dennis Brutus, 1978  

January 1, 2010 -- World-renowned political organiser and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Vincent Brutus, died early on December 26 in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85. Poetry and Protest: A Dennis Brutus Reader is the title of the autobiographical sketches and verse published in 2006 by Haymarket Books of Chicago and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press. What links these aspects of your life, I once asked the itinerant Dennis Brutus, and he replied, “The role of the troubadour.”

Travelling from court to court during the Middle Ages, the troubadour was southern Europe’s sage, a wit whose satirical songs offered some of the most creative expressions of love for life and people.

Hamba kahle Comrade Dennis Brutus (1924-2009)

 

There will come a time
There will come a time we believe
When the shape of the planet
and the divisions of the land
Will be less important;
We will be caught in a glow of friendship
a red star of hope
will illuminate our lives
A star of hope
A star of joy
A star of freedom

-- Dennis Brutus, Caracas, October 18, 2008

By Patrick Bond

December 26, 2009 -- World-renowned political organiser and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Vincent Brutus, died early on December 26, 2009, in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid. He was a leading plaintiff in the Alien Tort Claims Act case against major firms that is now making progress in the US court system.

How to cure the post-Copenhagen hangover

Protesters in Newcastle,December 20, 2009. Photo by Rising Tide.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

December 23, 2009 -- In Copenhagen, the world’s richest leaders continued their fiery fossil fuel party last Friday night, December 18, ignoring requests of global village neighbours to please chill out. Instead of halting the hedonism, US President Barack Obama and the Euro elites cracked open the mansion door to add a few nouveau riche guests: South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, China’s Jiabao Wen (reportedly the most obnoxious of the lot), Brazil’s Lula Inacio da Silva and India’s Manmohan Singh. By Saturday morning, still drunk with their power over the planet, these wild and crazy party animals had stumbled back onto their jets and headed home.

The rest of us now have a killer hangover, because on behalf mainly of white capitalists (who are having the most fun of all), the world’s rulers stuck the poor and future generations with the vast clean-up charges – and worse: certain death for millions.

Lumumba Di-Aping: Third World hero of Copenhagen

Lumumba Di-Aping. Photo by Jens Norgaard Larsen/Reuters.

By Derek Barry

December 16, 2009 -- Woolly Days -- Lumumba Di-Aping has made the brave call that no Australian politician has been game to make, callin Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a climate sceptic. The key negotiator at Copenhagen on behalf of the G77-China group told the ABC (also see below) that Rudd’s message to his own people was a fabrication which “does not relate to the facts because his actions are climate change scepticism in action”. Di-Aping was pointing the disparity between Rudd’s sayings and actions on climate change. “It's puzzling in the sense that here is a Prime Minister who actually won the elections because of his commitment to climate change”, Di-Aping said. “And within a very short period of time he changes his mind, changes his position, he start acting as if he has been converted into climate change scepticism.”

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