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Africa

South African election: Zuma elite will maintain ANC's pro-capitalist course

Jacob Zuma (right) will maintain Thabo Mbeki's course.

By John Appolis and Dale McKinley, for the Anti-Privatisation Forum

April 16, 2009 -- We are now in a world radically different from what it was a mere four months ago. The world economy is collapsing, torn apart by an economic recession. Thousands of workers are being thrown out of work; millions find themselves hungry in the midst of plenty of food; millions are homeless in the midst of houses being repossessed and standing empty. Factories that once produced bricks and cement are standing idle when millions require shelter. Neoliberal capitalism has over the past 30 years inflicted untold misery onto the world's poor whilst simultaneously making a very small minority filthy rich.

Sudan: ICC indictment of Omar al-Bashir -- justice or a poisoned chalice?

Remains of medicines destroyed in the US attack on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant is Khartoum in 1998. Photo by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk (more HERE.)

By Steven Fake and Kevin Funk

March 21, 2009 -- After an hour and a half of walking under the intense Sudanese sun, armed with crude maps printed from the internet, we paused before a field of rubble in an industrial area of North Khartoum.

Two teenagers sat on the porch in front of the still-partially standing building, conversing and watching the world go by in this gritty, dusty area of the Sudanese capital.

“Al-Shifa?”, we mustered as a question, the name of the massive pharmaceutical plant that stood on this site until just over a decade ago.

They nodded.

“Bill Clinton”, we responded, pointing to the ruins of the facility that his administration bombed in 1998. The two boys chuckled.

Just over a decade after the US bombing of al-Shifa, on March 4 of this year, a different leader — Sudanese head of state Omar al-Bashir — was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That Bashir is a war criminal whose policies are responsible for widespread death and destruction in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is well documented.

Yet, after stepping over rolls of decaying labels for life-saving malaria medication at al-Shifa — and watching mounds of dark brown medicine bottles, some still full, baking in the afternoon heat — it seemed an appropriate point to pose what should be an obvious question: why is the ICC not seeking to indict Clinton as well?

Salim Vally: The campaign to isolate apartheid Israel -- lessons from South Africa

By Salim Vally

[Salim Vally, a leading member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa and a veteran anti-apartheid activist, will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.] 

Who said nearly 50 years ago that Israel was an apartheid state?

By Ronnie Kasrils

"...a colonial racist mentality which rationalised the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, in Africa from Namibia to the Congo and elsewhere, most clearly has its parallels in Palestine."

March 17, 2009 -- Media Monitors Network -- At the onset of international “Israel Apartheid Week” in solidarity with the embattled Palestinian people, I want to start by quoting a South African who emphatically stated as far back as 1963 that “Israel is an apartheid state”. Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Joe Slovo, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.

He was irked by the criticism of apartheid policy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech, in contrast to the West’s unconditional support for Zionist Israel.

Let Darfurian and Sudanese voices be heard

By Kevin Funk and Steven Fake

March 9, 2009 -- When the Save Darfur Coalition held a rally on April 30, 2006, drawing thousands to Washington DC, it was a watershed for Darfur activism in the US. Save Darfur's advocacy efforts enjoyed a moment in the sun, the culmination of an aggressive and well-funded media campaign.

Yet the rally also symbolised another, less-reported aspect of Darfur activism in the US: the tendency to marginalise Darfurian and Sudanese voices.

As reported, “the original list of speakers [for the April 30 rally] included eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four politicians and assorted celebrities -- but no Muslims and no one from Darfur”; organisers had to hurry “to invite two Darfurians to address the rally after Sudanese immigrants objected” to their previous exclusion from the line-up.

South Africa: A critique of the ANC and COPE election manifestos

Neither the ANC or COPE offer answers for South Africa's poor.

On April 22, 2009, South African voters go to the polls to elect a new national government. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) government will be opposed by a new split-away group, the Congress of the People (COPE), led by former ANC leaders opposed to the current ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Below, the Anti-Privatisation Forum's Dale McKinley assesses their policies.

Concerned African Scholars: Reflections on Mahmood Mamdani’s ‘Lessons of Zimbabwe’

[Below is the introduction to a special issue of the Concerned African Scholars debating prominent African intellectual Mahmood Mamdani's views on the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The introduction has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Concerned African Scholars. It contains links to the various contributions and to the table of contents. Interested readers are encouraged to explore the linked articles thoroughly. Links also examined the views of Mamdani HERE. For Links' full coverage of Zimbabwe, click HERE.]

By Sean Jacobs

The Flame, March 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 will be 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.”

Zimbabwe socialists: Fight for fresh elections under a new people-driven constitution!

February 6, 2009 -- The International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe (ISOZ) has consistently argued for the last few years that the poor and working people would pay dearly if they naively followed the false calls for “change” championed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its imperialist-supported civic society allies, and subordinated their organisations to the same.

We called for the urgent establishment of a radical and anti-neoliberal united front of working people's organisations, to spearhead the struggle even when the opposition leadership eventually sold out. We argued that the MDC was preparing for a sell-out deal with Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as a junior partner and that Mugabe was now ready to accept this. Three years ago, we wrote:

Zimbabwe: How Morgan Tsvangirai saved the Mugabe regime

Tsvangirai and Mugabe at the signing ceremony for the unity government in September 2008.

By Tendai Dumbutshena

February 2, 2009 -- After the June 27, 2008, putsch by Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe signs were always there that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was headed for surrender. It officially happened on January 30, 2009, when the party hoisted a white flag on top of its Harvest House headquarters. What followed was a pathetic attempt by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to portray this decision to join the unity government without any of the MDC's conditions being met as some sort of victory.[Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on February 11, 2009.]

Equally pathetic was a plea to Mugabe to be treated as an equal partner. There is a fat chance of that happening. The old tyrant must have chuckled when he heard this.

South Africa's new opposition party: Face to face with `Terror'

The following was presented by social movement activist Ashwin Desai as part of t

Can Washington `save Darfur’?

By Kevin Funk and Steven Fake

Few humanitarian crises have occasioned as much media and activist attention in the US as the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

* * *

Click HERE for an exclusive free excerpt from Kevin Funk and Steven Fake's latest book, Scramble for Africa.

* * *

Major politicians routinely pay homage to suffering Darfurians in their speeches, well-heeled Darfur advocacy groups take out full-page ads in the New York Times, and commentators regularly fill op-ed ledgers around the country with righteous, indignant calls for the West to act to end the suffering. Yet for all the rhetorical attention and concern afforded to Darfur in the US, what is actually understood about the US role in addressing the conflict? Further, what do we know about the historical and current nature of Washington’s relations with Sudan, and how does this relate to our understanding of the Darfur crisis, and what we can do to address it?

Lessons of Zimbabwe: An exchange between Patrick Bond and Mahmood Mamdani

Aftermath of Mugabe's 2005 Operation Murambatsvina.

By Patrick Bond

December 2008 -- Mahmood Mamdani is an inspiring intellectual and political writer, one of Africa's greatest ever. But I think there are a few points raised in his recent London Review of Books article, ``Lessons of Zimbabwe'' (see full text in the appendix at the end of this article; quotes from Mamdani's article are in indented italics) that are worth debating.

... [Mugabe's] policies have helped lay waste the country's economy, though sanctions have played no small part.

A deeper capitalist malaise engulfed Zimbabwe since around 1974, the year that per capita wealth began to decline, based on overaccumulation of capital and, by the time of structural adjustment in the early 1990s, a turn to the speculative/parasitical mode of not only capital accumulation but also state management. These are not Mugabe's ``policies'', but problems all state managers have faced, nearly everywhere in the world.

Western Saharan minister: `Only one solution -- our return to our sovereign homeland'

27 February refugee camp, south-west Algeria

November 29, 2008 -- In October, a three-member delegation of Australian trade unionists visited the Saharawi (Western Saharan) refugee camps in the Hamada desert, south-west Algeria. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.Green Left Weekly/LinksMargarita Windisch spoke with Sid’Ahmed Tayeb, the minister of public health for the exiled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, when she visited the 27 February refugee camp.

The Saharawi refugee camps have now existed for close to 33 years in extremely inhumane surroundings. What has led to the Saharawis becoming refugees and what are the challenges facing the Saharawi people?

First, I would like to thank you very much for your visit. It shows us that we are not alone. This is important support that international community can give us.

A brief history of the Western Saharan people’s struggle for freedom

A Saharawi fighter on May 20, 2008, at a parade
to mark 35th anniversary of the Polisario Front. Photo by EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA.

By Margarita Windisch

[Read more on the Western Saharan people's struggle HERE.]

Spain colonised Western Sahara and its mostly nomadic people in 1884 claiming it as a protectorate of the Spanish Crown. Spanish rule over Western Sahara was codified in Berlin in 1885, where Africa was carved up among the European powers. The period of Spanish rule was marked by ongoing resistance, revolts and armed clashes with the indigenous population, with its liberation movements being brutally repressed by the Spanish authorities.

A 1966 UN resolution called for Saharawi people’s right to self-determination to be exercised via a referendum which never eventuated. The lack of political developments led to the formation of Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (the Polisario Front) in 1973. Polisario was conceived as a nationalist front with the aim of achieving independence, and encompassed all Saharawi political trends.

Team Obama: Channelling Clinton, extending Bush

By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

Zimbabwe: First signs of united front mass action against elite settlement

Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del globo

Por Adam Hanieh

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

La actual crisis económica global tiene todas las características de un evento trascendental. Economistas de la corriente dominante – no conocidos normalmente por su lenguaje exagerado – emplean ahora abiertamente frases como "catástrofe sistémica" y "mirando hacia el abismo." El 29 de octubre, por ejemplo, Martin Wolf, uno de los principales comentaristas financieros del Financial Times, advirtió que la crisis augura "bancarrotas masivas," "desempleo en alza" y una "catástrofe" que amenaza "la legitimidad de la propia economía de libre mercado... el peligro sigue siendo inmenso y queda poco tiempo."

Cabe poca duda de que esta crisis ya tiene un impacto devastador en los hogares estadounidenses fuertemente endeudados. Pero una de las características impactantes del análisis hasta la fecha – tanto de los medios de izquierdas como los dominantes – es el enfoque casi exclusivo en los países ricos de Norteamérica, Europa y del Este Asiático. De las ejecuciones hipotecarias en California a la bancarrota de Islandia, el impacto del colapso financiero es raramente examinado más allá del núcleo capitalista avanzado.

Making the world's poor pay: The economic crisis and the Global South

[This article is available in Spanish: `Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del glob'.]

By Adam Hanieh

November 22, 2008 -- The current global economic crisis has all the earmarks of an epoch-defining event. Mainstream economists – not usually known for their exaggerated language – now openly employ phrases like ``systemic meltdown'' and ``peering into the abyss''. On October 29, for example, Martin Wolf, one of the top financial commentators of the Financial Times, warned that the crisis portends “mass bankruptcy”, “soaring unemployment” and a “catastrophe” that threatens “the legitimacy of the open market economy itself... the danger remains huge and time is short”.

There is little doubt that this crisis is already having a devastating impact on heavily indebted American households. But one of the striking characteristics of analysis to date – by both the left and the mainstream media – is the almost exclusive focus on the wealthy countries of North America, Europe and East Asia. From foreclosures in California to the bankruptcy of Iceland, the impact of financial collapse is rarely examined beyond the advanced capitalist core.

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