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Africa

New phase in the struggle for Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia.

By Lalit (Mauritius)

December 3, 2009 -- The Diego Garcia struggle is moving into what we call “phase 4”. Each past phase has had its victories, victories within which there were defeats. And each victory won has been won because the three elements making up the struggle held together, were embraced as one “whole”.

Before looking at phase 4, let's look first at three intertwined past crimes.

The first crime – and it is the cause of the problem – was the United States' diabolical plan to set up an imperialist military base in the Indian Ocean from which it could control the world’s raw materials and transport systems, and its spy systems. And from where, when necessary, it launches attacks on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, if convenient, it illegally renders prisoners. So, if we want victory on any Diego Garcia issue, we should never, ever collude with the base, never remain silent about it in exchange for anything whatsoever. The base is the reason for all the suffering and, for victory, it must be constantly in our sights.

The Flame, November-December 2009 -- 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.”

Socialists, the environment and ecosocialism: a view from South Africa

Trevor Ngwane.

By Trevor Ngwane

November 19, 2009 -- There is an ecological crisis in the world and this crisis can be traced to capitalism. There is deforestation due to the trade in timber. There is climate change due to unsafe production methods.
The working class is the class that suffers the most from the ecological crisis. Working-class people are in the majority and their life conditions make them more vulnerable. Workers live in flimsy houses and shacks that are easily washed or swept away by strong rains and winds. When workers are sick or injured there is always not enough medical help for them.

Over the years not enough attention has been paid to this problem by socialists. What is worse is that some people who call themselves socialists have added to the ecological crisis, for example, the Soviet Union was responsible for one of the biggest nuclear accidents in human history in Chernobyl. The Chinese Communist Party continues to supervise the destruction of nature through its single-minded and ruthless adoption of capitalist production methods.

What is 'left' about 'the left' in South Africa?

There was uproar over SACP general secretary and government minister Blade Nzimande's 1.2 million rand luxury BMW. Cartoon by Zapiro. For more Zapiro cartoons, please visit http://www.zapiro.com.

By Dale T. McKinley

November 5, 2009 -- For several years now, but particularly since the ascendancy of Jacob Zuma and his South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) allies within both the African National Congress (ANC) and the state, ``the left'' in South Africa has come to be almost completely associated with (and presented as) the SACP, COSATU and, to a lesser extent, the ANC itself. Even though this state of affairs ignores a wide range of organisations and people that can stake a serious claim to being part of ``the left'', the fact is that contemporary politics in South Africa are dominated, in one way or another, by these three alliance partners. As such, it is a good time to pose a critically important question: What is ``left'' about ``the left'' in South Africa?

South Africa: Time for a new democratic left party?

Mazibuko Jara.

By Mazibuko K. Jara

October 30, 2009 -- Our country is in crisis. There is deepening inequality, many people live in permanent poverty and millions are unemployed for most of their adult lives. Women continue to suffer from social oppression, violence and poverty. The very ecological and biophysical conditions for our human existence are under threat.

Retrogressive ideologies in our society are gaining ground: we are going back to ethnic identity, we have retrogressive notions of womanhood, we have seen the rise in the power of undemocratic rule of unelected chiefs. The state is dysfunctional, corrupt and fraudulent. The state seems unwilling to confront the economic system that produces all these crises. Together, none of these socioeconomic problems can be addressed by a South Africa that reproduces capitalism. These problems require solutions that go beyond capitalist accumulation.

Is it correct to regard the Jacob Zuma-led African National Congress (ANC) as left? Whilst the Zuma-led ANC is much friendlier to the left than Thabo Mbeki's, neoliberal capitalism survives in South Africa.

South Africa: ‘The African Communist': 50 years of mobilisation, analysis

The African Communist, 1991.

By Blade Nzimande

October 26, 2009 -- A browse through the very first edition of the African Communist in 1959 not only gives an insight into the time and context during which it was launched but also the courageous and defiant character of those who breathed life into our historic journal.

This magazine, the African Communist, has been started by a group of Marxist-Leninists in Africa, to defend and spread the inspiring and liberating ideas of Communism in our great Continent, and to apply the brilliant scientific method of Marxism to the solution of its problems.

It is being produced in conditions of great difficulty and danger. Nevertheless we mean to go on publishing it, because we know that Africa needs Communist thought, as dry and thirsty soil needs rain.

The Flame, October 2009 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

October 21, 2009 -- 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.”

Polisario Front briefing paper on the question of Western Sahara

By the Polisario Front

October 2009

1. Western Sahara (the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic) is located in northwest Africa and covers an area of 266,000 square kilometres. It is bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast and Mauritania to the East and southeast and has a 1,200-kilometre-long Atlantic Ocean coastline. The Saharawi Republic was proclaimed on 27 February 1976; its capital is El Aaiún.

2. In the pre-colonial times, the Saharawis lived as one independent community and developed their own cultural forms of expression and socio-political organisations; it was these idiosyncratic elements that constituted the distinctiveness of the Saharawi society over the centuries. The Saharawi are known for being a tolerant, open and peaceful society that has never been involved in any form of political or religious extremism.

South Africa: Democracy’s everyday death -- the ANC's coup in Kennedy Road; Shack dwellers: `Our movement is under attack!'

Protest in iRhini against attacks on Kennedy Road shack dwellers.

By Nigel Gibson and Raj Patel

October 8, 2009 -- Pambazuka News -- You don’t need presidential palaces, or generals riding in tanks, or even the CIA to make a coup happen. Democracy can be overthrown with far less pomp, fewer props and smaller bursts of state violence. But these quieter coups are no less deadly for democracy.

At the end of September 2009, just such a coup took place in South Africa. It wasn’t the kind involving parliament or the inept and corrupt head of the African National Congress (ANC) Jacob Zuma. Quite the opposite. It involved a genuinely democratic and respected social movement, the freely elected governing committee of the shack settlement at Kennedy Road in Durban. And this peaceful democracy was overthrown by the South African government.

South Africa: `The ANC has invaded Kennedy Road' shack settlement

A statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo president S'bu Zikode. S'bu and his family have been living as refugees since the September 26-27 violence by the African National Congress targeting Abahlali leaders at Kennedy Road shack settlement in Durban, South Africa. He appeals for continued support for the Shack Dwellers Movement in these dire times of government repression and lies. It can be said without exaggeration that the so-called democratic government of South Africa is attempting to silence and disband the country's largest social movement of the poor. 

By Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers Movement)

The persecution of Caster Semenya -- sport and intersex people's rights

Caster Semenya.

By Farida Iqbal

September 20, 2009 -- Eighteen-year-old South African track athlete Caster Semenya has done nothing wrong. Yet she has been accused of deceiving the world about her sex. There is nothing wrong with Semenya’s body. Yet her body has been paraded in front of the world by the mass media as if she were a sideshow freak.

Semenya is a talented athlete. Yet her career is at stake.

Semenya won the 800 metres in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships on August 19. She was accused by the international media of having won the race due to her unfair disadvantage of “really” being a man.

Semenya, like many other female athletes, has been subjected to sexist judgement of what a female body is supposed to look like.

Semenya is an intersex woman. But intersex women are not the only women who have been subjected to such scrutiny. The accusation of looking “too masculine” has always been used to degrade female athletes, including tennis great Martina Navratilova. For years the media focused on her highly developed biceps.

Semenya was subjected to invasive “gender tests” (actually testing biological sex, not gender). The test results were leaked to the international mass media. Australia’s Daily Telegraph was the first to run the story, revealing Semenya has internal testes and no womb. This may or may not be true.

Swaziland: Democracy leader released after 340 days, struggle continues

September 22, 2009 -- Morning Star -- Democracy activists in Swaziland celebrated on September 22 after the leader of the country's opposition was acquitted of terrorism charges and freed from prison after 340 days. Banned People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) leader Mario Masuku (pictured above) was arrested and charged with terrorism on November 15, 2008. The charge centred on seditious statements he had allegedly made during the funeral of a militant.

Judge Mbutfo Mamba acquitted Mr Masuku because the evidence was too weak to link him to the charge.

As Mr Masuku left the court amid scenes of jubilation, he told his comrades that the struggle for democracy and human rights in Africa's last absolute monarchy had only just begun.

Western Sahara: Venezuela's President Chavez calls for liberation of the Sahrawi people

By the Bolivarian News Agency

September 21, 2009 -- The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, expressed his solidarity to the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to reach their independence from Morocco.

The statement was issued by President Chavez during his talk with Mohamed Saui, who studies in Cuba and is now visiting Venezuela together with a delegation of young African students who are to take part on the Third Cultural Festival of the People of Africa, from September 20 to 25, on the way to the Summit of Presidents Africa-South America.

“As Fidel [Castro] told you, I tell you on behalf of Venezuela: We support and we will always support the cause of your people, the cause of the freedom of the Sahrawi people”, Chavez expressed.

Moreover, he reaffirmed his commitment of eventually visiting the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and he categorically affirmed that “it is necessary that we have more awareness and solidarity with the Sahrawi people”.

The Venezuelan president expressed as well that the Bolivarian government has travelled up to the country located in the western Sahara. “Minister Ramirez was there; there are some students from here; and we have been modestly cooperating.”

Declaration of the Africa People's Movement on Climate Change

Confronting the climate crisis: Preparing for Copenhagen and beyond

Nairobi, Kenya, August 30, 2009 -- We, the leaders of various people's movements, community-based groups, academia, NGOs and civil cociety organisations, met in Nairobi under the banner of the People's Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) to discuss strategies to confront the climate change crisis for Copenhagen and beyond from August 27 to 28 , 2009.

Do hereby affirm that:

Call for a ‘Seattle’ approach to Copenhagen climate talks, Africans demand reparations

A `Seattle' in Copenhagen could scuttle a climate deal that only serves the richest countries.

By Patrick Bond

September 5, 2009 – Durban -- Here’s a fairly simple choice: the global North would pay the hard-hit global South to deal with the climate crisis, either through the complicated, corrupt, controversial ``Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM), whose projects have plenty of damaging sideeffects to communities, or instead pay through other mechanisms that must provide financing quickly, transparently and decisively to achieve genuine income compensation plus renewable energy to the masses.

The Copenhagen climate summit in December is all about the former choice, because the power bloc in Europe and the US have put carbon trading at the core of their emissions reduction strategy, while the two largest emitters of carbon in the Third World, China and India, are the main beneficiaries of CDM financing.

`Amanzi Ngawethu' (water is ours); Health and environmental victories for South African activists

On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.

Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.

The Flame, August 2009 -- 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 covers 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.”

Hillary Clinton in Africa: Promoting US corporate and military interests

Hillary Clinton and South African President Jacob Zuma.

By Firoze Manji

August 6, 2009 -- International media attention is focused on the August 3-14 visit of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to seven countries in Africa. Judging by the behaviour of representatives of many African governments, there are great expectations that this visit –- following so closely after US President Barack Obama's two earlier visits to Egypt and Ghana this year -– holds out vast hope for Africa.

But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); oil and natural resource exploitation; and security.

Zimbabwe: Interviews -- The struggle for a people-driven constitution

Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai hoped to steer through an elite-driven constitution. Photo from http://kickmugabeout.blogspot.com/.

July 25, 2009 -- The first All-Stakeholders' Conference aimed at drafting a new constitution in Zimbabwe was held in Harare on July 13-14. The constitutional reform process is the result of the agreement reached between President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), when they formed a power-sharing government in February 2009.

The agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC sets an 18-month timeline for drafting the constitution. It mandates two so-called all-stakeholders’ conferences and national consultation, but the process is controlled by a parliamentary committee. The final draft is to be determined by parliament before going to a referendum.

Many in the pro-democracy movement believe the constitutional reform process is dominated by politicians and will fail to incorporate the demands of ordinary Zimbabweans suffering worst from the country’s social and economic crisis.

Swazis claim their democratic space

By Jan Sithole, general secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions

July 16, 2009 -- Ask most people around the world who are not from Swaziland what they know about the country, the most likely response will be a blank stare. Those who have heard of Swaziland are mired in stereotypes about an exotic mountain kingdom.

As a Swazi citizen who was born, brought up and lives in Swaziland, these conjured images bring weary smiles every time I am confronted with them, especially when I am abroad on an assignment representing the trade union movement.

Yes, Swaziland is a beautiful kingdom at the southern tip of the African continent, dotted with mountains and full of exciting flora and fauna and other natural scenery. Yes, Swaziland is very proud of its rich cultural heritage, which includes the famous annual reed dance. And yes our country is so small that it is often barely visible on the African map.

But we are all that and more.

Swaziland, just like the rest of Africa and the global South, is a country grappling with all the contradictions and challenges thrown up by history, globalisation and internal power politics.

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