Pambazuka News 808: Taking down Trumpism from Africa

The South African student #FeesMustFall uprising at its peak has been largely single-issue driven – scrapping of tuition fees - rather than calling for systemic societal, political, social and economic change, and pushing for change of national leadership, as was the case in North Africa.

So much has been put at stake ― the proud history of the U.S. as a home for those in need, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It is a personal tragedy writ large, one shared across thousands of individual families, stories of separation and degradation.

In many ways women have been underestimated by the male-dominated recording industry. But women such as Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt have proved that as the classic song says, “It Ain't Necessarily So.” They have proven themselves and stood toe-to-toe with the brothers in the industry.

President Trump’s temporary order banning people from seven majority Muslim nations from entering the United States is a most unfortunate and thoughtless decision. The order targets people who have neither the desire nor the capability to carry out hostile actions against America. What’s more, these people are from some of the countries that have been destroyed by the misguided policies of America and its allies.

What Trump has done in the name of “protecting the nation from foreign terrorists” is nothing new in American history or politics. It is only the latest chapter in a long train of attempts and efforts to keep out “undesirable aliens” dating back to colonial times. But this too shall pass away.

The case of Augusto Pinochet illustrates that international law has fundamentally changed to make it difficult for the perpetrators of international crimes to escape justice by hiding in safe havens. Individual criminal acts cannot be attributable to an impersonate state for the purpose of absolving one from criminal liability. It is therefore incumbent upon the new government of The Gambia to take all measures necessary to deliver justice for the victims of crimes committed by former ruler Jammeh.

Given the title “Queen Mother” by the Ashanti people, Moore was a symbol of resistance through the turbulent years of the 1950s through the 1970s, where she was a stalwart at numerous mass meetings, conferences and demonstrations across the U.S. and the world. She left a legacy of struggle for the contemporary generation of African American and African activists to emulate.

Morocco was admitted to the African Union at the recent AU Summit. Until now, it was the only African country not to belong to the AU. Morocco left the AU's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1984 after the body recognised the independence of Western Sahara, which is still illegally occupied by Morocco. The following is a legal opinion by the AU regarding Morocco's application for re-admission:

President Obama appeared as a wobbly giant embarrassed by his own might, thus his seemingly apologetic passivity and indecisiveness. He refused to assume the mantle of leader of the free world, choosing to defer to others and to lead from behind. Anywhere he left a power void. And when he intervened, President Obama created the nightmarish reality of dirty wars and assassinations from his secret Kill List.

In 2013 Mozambican government officials formed three private companies and took out illegal secret loans totaling $2 billion. Donors suspended credit to Mozambique because of the loans as the national currency fell by 70% in 2016. Restructuring the illegal loans means imposed austerity on a population already living in extreme austerity and eventually repaying the creditors from revenues derived from Mozambique’s natural gas deposits that on the market in 2023.

In the US there are already effective Trump boycotts seeking to delegitimise his political agenda. Internationally, protesters will be out wherever he goes. And from Africa, there are sound arguments to play a catalytic role, mainly because the most serious threat to humanity and environment is Trump’s climate change denialism.

Pambazuka News 807: What we must do: Resistance and solidarity

With the internet and all other technologies which can connect the world working class into a global fighting force to defeat global capitalism which is threatening not only human life but the entirety of our universe, there have never been better conditions for the success of the global Socialist Revolution than now.

The US was deeply involved in the overthrow and assassination of Liberian President William Tolbert that led to a 14-year civil war in which as many as 250,000 Liberians perished. Subsequently, America was also implicated in the removal from power of two other Liberian heads of state. The truth of this extensive meddling is important for genuine reconciliation among Liberians.

With Trump’s America First campaign, African nations need to craft a coherent regional foreign policy approach for development and security cooperation with external actors to benefit Africans. Meanwhile Australia should take every step to ensure its investments and security engagement do not result in the destabilisation of African countries.

Introduce sanctions and boycotts against the repressive Swazi regime and help the democratic movement with everything from legal assistance to torture counselling, organizational skills and information dissemination, says young Swazi activist.

How long will it take before SADC has the means and the will to remove rulers who have either been defeated in an election or who refuse to leave at the end of their terms? Will what has happened in West Africa in the case of The Gambia help persuade SADC to move towards more effective interventions to remove dictators and other illegitimate rulers?

The West African regional bloc’s no-nonsense stand against former Gambian despot Yahya Jammeh is admirable. But there are a few other places where ECOWAS has not performed well. For one, the bloc needs to devise ways by which citizens of a misruled nation can get back their money from a fleeing tyrant – and justice.

South Africa no longer belongs to the people but to the rich few. The hopes of the liberation struggle have evaporated. Only a new leadership that is guided by the interests of the citizens will save the nation.

My neighbors Anthony and Fenton, brothers aged 7 and 8, and I had a sidewalk conversation about Trump’s victory one evening. The boys were nervous because they had heard that Trump hated Black people; they wanted to know whether this was true. I told them that all evidence indicated it was. They deliberated for a few minutes, and then Anthony said, “Well, our dad is white, and our mom and grandma are Black. So he would hate our family.”

Donald Trump is a manifestation of the crisis of capitalism, which has entered a profound state of economic and ecological imbalance, social instability, inter-imperialist fighting, mass displacement, increased suffering and rampant carnage on a global scale. Salvation of the human family is up to the revolutionary Left and the people’s movements. They must find a way to align and unite and form a revolutionary, counter-hegemonic force.

The Trump phenomenon points to a civilizational shift; namely, the slow, painful demise of the Western Empire. If this shift breaks down the European Union, dismantles NATO, weakens the Empire’s financial control over the global South, and opens a space for a new moral and political order to emerge, then it is an opportunity all revolutionary forces must seize.

Canada’s announcement that it intends to send 600 troops on a peacekeeping mission in Africa has elicited little enlightened discussion about Ottawa’s history in the continent. In addition to Canadian extensive mining interests, the country has a growing military footprint in Africa over the past decade - working closely with the new United States’ Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The attempts to President Buhari’s nominee for anti-corruption chief, Ibrahim Magu has nothing to do with Magu being unsuitable for job. This is a grand scheme of a formidable network of highly placed crooks inside and outside government who are hell-bent on stopping Magu, given the rare vigour and impetus he has introduced to the anti-corruption crusade.  Buhari should resubmit Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s ruler Joseph Kabila was constitutionally supposed to leave office on 19 December 2016. He did not. There were no elections. Instead, an agreement brokered with the help of the Catholic Church extended Kabila’s rule to December this year when elections of his successor will be held. In the following interview, Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo, explains the political situation in DRC and America’s endless meddling.

In this two-part workspace, a collective of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary scholars will come together to deliberate on and practice new modes of communicative praxis in academic conference/workshops.

In spite of all of the horrible things they continue to experience, the Afrikan people of Haiti keep fighting to be free.  Haitian resistance to entrenched U.S. interference has not ceased for over 200 years. The latest attempt to kill Haiti’s freedom by aborting her dreams of democracy via the electoral process was designed to prevent landslide victories for the popular Fanmi Lavalas party.

Under unremitting pressure from the regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union and the UN, Gambian strongman Yahya Jammeh fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea. There are credible allegations of serious human rights violations against him, covering his 22 years in power. Jammeh can run but cannot hide. Everything possible must be done to bring him to justice.

Greater workplace democracy in South Africa’s companies is both a moral and ethical issue. Employees are often treated as infants. Because Black people are still predominantly low-skilled, low-wage and dominating manual positions – with whites occupying the high-skilled, high-paid and managerial positions - as it were during apartheid, racist perceptions of Black people as being inferior persist in many workplaces.

Ghana’s national election in 2016 was hailed as a success. It was the seventh poll since the birth of the Fourth Republic in 1992. But according to the results, nearly 5 million voters did not turn up to cast their ballots. What accounted for this situation? Voter apathy or there was a problem with the voters roll?

SPECIAL ISSUE: Labour movements and the African revolution

It was the first significant strike by working people since Namibia’s political independence. The strike threw the government into a panic, showing clearly that resistance still exists among the working people. But poor organization, fragmentation of the union movement and a self-interested leadership were major setbacks.

In the face of multiple crises of profit-driven socio-economic systems that have driven millions of people in Africa into hopeless poverty, the urgent questions of our time are quite clear: How do we change the balance of class forces in favour of the working class? What are the radical reforms around which a program of mass action could be initiated? How do we form mass workers’ parties all over the continent? What about organisations of the jobless, the landless and the homeless, the feminist structures, the youth?

The right to work remains a challenge for labor groups in Africa because of constant economic instabilities, the severe impact of globalization and unfavorable rapport between the countries of the North and the global South. However, as the case of the SYNARES exemplifies, labor organizations in Africa have embarked on a new direction since the end of the Cold War. They have multiplied and defended their workers’ rights a lot more rigorously.

Since independence, Namibian trade unions have failed to mount a coherent challenge to the market-driven economic policies embraced by the ruling party despite its socialist rhetoric. The labour movement needs to build a counter-hegemony, which requires a new form of social movement unionism through which working-class interests could be articulated beyond the point of production, in alliance with other socially excluded groups.

Unions have historically been important agents of socio-political change in Congo. But today, the rights of workers are increasingly violated in the context of the current economic crisis. Fearing repression, some union leaders submit to the political party in power in the hope of collecting short-term dividends.

The labour movement is at a crossroads, as the country grapples with a major political crisis rooted in capitalism. This requires the labour movement to re-evaluates past strategies and seriously considers a new politics that  grapples with issues of top-down, patriarchal forms of organisation, and forges broad counter-hegemonic alliances that question economic growth paradigms which threaten the planet.

With the claims that a new trade union federation will be launched in March 2017, it is appropriate to draw up a balance sheet of the labour movement in South Africa, and ask whether the optimism of many that a new Left force is going to be unleashed is justified. Or whether the possibilities for a force of revolutionary working class politics lie elsewhere.

This critique is offered for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) as food for thought towards unlocking Numsa’s historical task that presents possibilities for unifying the working class in struggle, increasing its confidence and steering us towards socialist revolution.

Transition to a liberal democracy has seen no change. Resistance to apartheid has morphed into resistance to neoliberalism. Ongoing crises in healthcare and service delivery, runaway corruption, continued debasement of education, an inability to meet housing needs, out-of-control crime and high unemployment all speak to the intolerable conditions that have worsened since 1994. It is no exaggeration to say that South Africa is ripe for revolution.

The fundamental question confronting the Zimbabwean working class and socialist movement today is leadership. Under the pressure of a growing crisis, with socialist intervention, will rank-and-file union activists break through the suffocating grip of the old union bureaucracy? Can the post-independence generation, which is educated, casualised and extremely militant, create its own leadership and mobilise other sections of the oppressed, joining such struggles with other struggles in the region?

Mauritius is being, and will continue to be, seriously hit by economic crisis, perhaps more than other countries, because as a nation, Mauritius was invented by an emerging capitalist system that populated it though successive waves of Dutch, French and British colonisation and the slave trade. Luckily, the working class has always been hard for the capitalists to control. It is rebellious.

South African unions are large but fragmented, substantial but politically weak. They represent different political traditions and all are marked by serious organisational problems. They have little impact on the official public sphere. The unions need to work towards realizing a stateless, classless, self-managed society without hierarchy, based on political pluralism and freedom.

The Nigerian labour movement is fragmented and ideologically incoherent. Most people suffer poverty under capitalism, but socialism does not appear as an immediate realistic alternative. As a result, especially in the southern half of the country, churches, both traditional and revivalist, have a huge following, providing hope for many in the next life, if not in this.  

It is a great period to be a revolutionary activist in Africa. Yet the sense of stop-start progress and regress in so many sites of struggle reflects in part how poorly the working-class, poor, progressive middle class, social movements and other democrats have made alliances. The African uprising against neoliberalism hasn’t yet generated a firm ideology. In this case the best strategy would be a critical yet non-dogmatic engagment with the various emerging forces on the left.

Pambazuka News 805: Yahya Jammeh must go!

Kenyans go to elections on 8 August 2017 against the backdrop of empty promises by the government of Uhuru Kenyatta, widespread looting of state coffers, poverty and massive borrowing that has left the nation mired in debt. The future of Kenya is in the hands of a united Opposition.

There are several reasons why the West African regional grouping ECOWAS should not allow Yahyah Jammeh to stay in office beyond January 19, but three stand out – a bad precedent, violation of the will of majority of the Gambian people and violation of regional norms and standards.

Apart from perhaps Senegal and Ghana, none of the West African nations now holding Yahya Jammeh’s feet to the fire has conducted a credible election. Gambians must be allowed and supported to resolve their crisis without threats from regional powers. West Africa is arguably Africa’s most troubled region; another front of confrontation, this time in The Gambia, must be avoided.

How will President Obama be remembered in Africa? In the dying days of his administration, Obama lifted sanctions imposed on Al Bashir regime in Sudan. That decision confirms to the world Obama’s true face and on which side of history he has stood in relation to Africa for the past eight years.

The Ethiopian women’s association AWiB, upon hearing the unsettling news of the UK Parliament decision to pull DFID support to YEGNA, a program which has been instrumental for addressing core issues of the unspoken and unseen trials of women and young girls, skillfully crafted to get to people’s hearts and minds and changing millions as a result, asks the global community to start a conversation on this issue. Dialogue is the first step to change!

If the people of Kasese in Uganda are marginalised, discriminated against, exploited and dispossessed, what's wrong with them making calls for secession? In his violent crackdown on them, Yoweri Museveni has committed crimes against humanity for which he should be tried by the International Criminal Court.

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau is attempting to alter the narratives about our country's relationship with the African continent. Beware the initiative is largely an ideological chimera devoid of concrete action, but even worse, it is blatant hypocrisy.

As a member of the petty bourgeoisie in the final decade of colonialism, Congo’s iconic independence leader Patrice Lumumba supported the idea of a Congolese-Belgian commonwealth in which Africans and Europeans shared common interests. It was only later that he abandoned this view and aggressively championed Congolese independence in the European framework of a nation-state.

It looks increasingly likely that the West African regional bloc will have to send troops into The Gambia to remove Yahya Jammeh and install President-elect Adama Barrow. But ECOWAS should keep in mind that military intervention is fraught with risk. It is essential that thorough and efficient planning is done beforehand to avoid civilian deaths.

President Yahya Jammeh should save his family and thousands of innocent lives by retiring to his Kanilai Villa and later face the International Criminal Court. But as it is, he has chosen a worse fate. No effort should be spared to take down The Gambian tyrant and to install President-elect Adama Barrow.

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Will he succeed in carrying America’s “imperial burden”? It is too early to say, but it will, undoubtedly, be a compromise between what he and his inner circle of policy advisers intend to do, and what the military-industrial-financial complex wants him to do.

Tagged under: 805, Global South, Yash Tandon

Two contrasting political transitions are scheduled this week: In America, President Obama will hand over power to his successor Donald Trump. But in The Gambia, President Jammeh will not be stepping down for Adama Barrow who beat him in December. The regional bloc ECOWAS should have found a way to hear Jammeh’s Supreme Court appeal instead of planning a military intervention.

While acknowledging the moral, religious and ethical concerns raised by those opposed to progressive abortion law reforms, it is important to critically reflect on the public health implications of unsafe abortion on women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health. It is equally necessary to sustain constructive engagement with every section of the society to find lasting solutions to preventable deaths and disabilities from the scourge of unsafe abortion.

Aggressive population control campaigns in Africa have their roots in American foreign policy going back nearly 60 years. US authorities concluded that rapid population growth in the developing world  threatened America’s access to cheap resources necessary for their consumerist lifestyle. Unknown to many in the countries targeted, and against protests from the Catholic Church, America has pretty much achieved its objectives.

A year ago, Kenya’s army suffered its worst attack in history inside Somalia chiefly due to lack of clear objectives and operational strategies. The government has kept the exact details secret, even as it spends $1 billion annually without crushing al-Shabaab. Meanwhile lecturers, doctors, nurses and other workers are up in arms demanding better terms. The military invasion of Somalia, now in its sixth year, has failed and should be halted. An alternative reconstruction plan for Somalia is needed.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, expresses deep concern over the political situation in The Gambia, and calls for stronger South African engagement.

Yahya Jammeh has violated the constitution and subverted the electoral laws of The Gambia by refusing to hand over power to the winner of the December elections. His decision constitutes treason. It triggers the right and duty of the citizenry to rise up against him in defence of the constitution. Military intervention by ECOWAS is also justified.

Pambazuka News 804: Mixed signals: The AU and Africa in 2017

The future is still largely open-ended. Trump could try to make a difference, but whether he would succeed or not depends on many systemic and structural constraints at both national and global levels.

The current efforts to elect a new Chair of the AU Commission have been caught in the crosswinds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of reseating Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The AU will survive this turbulence. But the rise of the Pan African Movement will likely sweep away the present crop of leaders.

What are the lessons from Cuba in dealing with racism? Denial of racism is clearly not an option. Discouraging public discourse about it can not help either. Greater awareness is needed of the systemic nature, the multiple forms and the seeming invisibility of racism in institutions, social spaces and relations.

President Zuma has always openly derided the intellectual class as “the clevers” because he knows that, at the end of day, they are not prepared or even able to carry out the donkey work of building and nurturing political constituencies and kissing naked, impoverished snotty-nosed kids just to win the vote. The “clevers” are probably too busy analysing the worth of their shares on the stock market. Perfunctory calls for the resignation of a sitting president would entail far more than this attitude.

Negotiations with descendants of the Herero and Nama people massacred by Germany in Namibia have been difficult. The government of Chancellor Merkel does not want to pay compensation for the genocide. But at the same time Germany is attempting to reassert its political and economic influence in Africa.

Opposition candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has been sworn in as Ghana's new president. Beyond the current euphoria sweeping through much of the nation, the winning party is stuck with Ghana’s IMF programme at least for the next two years.  It remains to be seen how they will rise above the country’s worrying high debt ratio, currently around 70 per cent of GDP, to achieve their ambitious campaign promises.

Aside from its reliance on anonymous witnesses, the Washington Post story – while criticizing Burundian soldiers - failed to mention that the top ten contributors of UN peacekeeping troops include infamous human rights abusers Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal, Egypt and Indonesia. 

 

The golden era of Nigeria’s civil society featured names such as Wole Soyinka, Alao Aka-Bashorun, Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Baba Omojola, Comrade Ola Oni, Ayo Obe, Dr. Segun Osoba, Idowu Awopetu, Clement Nwankwo, Frank Kokori, Chidi Odinkalu, Abdul Oroh, Richard Akinnola…But today things are sadly different.

The wild celebrations in honour of top-level thief James Ibori's release from prison, though detestable, are quite understandable. Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees as a "blessing from God".

Someone asked whether the younger generations ever read Frantz Fanon. But how can they read Fanon when the education system recommends books that teach children that heads are for carrying loads? The older generations should be grateful then that the youth have not read Fanon, Nkrumah or Cabral, because if they had, they would be out on the streets attempting to tear down the system.

Cuba’s medical intervention in international health crises is unparalleled among nations. As of 2014 there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries. This outstanding legacy of Fidel Castro demonstrates what can be achieved when a very high value is placed on human life, every human life.

For over two decades under President Jammeh, independent views were considered seditious. Secret police were everywhere listening for hints of subversion. Jammeh’s name was spoken only in whispers, unless you were praising him, in which case you genuflected and shouted yourself hoarse at rallies, thanking Allah for loving The Gambia so much as to bless it with a leader of such peerless morality, wisdom and compassion. That is why the people elected Adama Barrow on 1 December 2016.

The political crisis in The Gambia remains unresolved as January 19, the date for President Yahya Jammeh to leave office, nears. Jammeh must be told in unequivocal terms that he has to respect the will of Gambians who voted him out of power. But he should also be provided with a “safe-landing” to avoid possible bloodshed.

Facts are overrated – who has them anyway? World Bank reports, IMF figures, Human Rights Watch narratives, national GDP figures, CIA fact files, entries in the Lancet, government stats, etcetera are not facts in any benevolent sense. As means of control and manipulation, they are instead the most supported (and perhaps most persuasive) opinion of the day.

The book’s central theme focuses on the serious impact of modernism, colonialism, and post-colonialism on Africa. It is an interesting work, which contributes to knowledge of democracy, economy, social conditions and globalism in the African context.

While inequality has become a topic of increased popularity and politicization in recent years, most of the attention has focused on how 1% own an increasingly large share of the world’s wealth, rather than on inequalities between nations. In a global context in which national borders and citizenship pose few barriers to the mobility of capital, the reality is also a story of the world’s richest nations continuing to reap a disproportionate amount of the globe’s profits.

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