Tag Archives: Africa
You’ve probably heard about the class struggle unfolding over the past few months in South Africa. An unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes has all but shut down much of the mining sector since August, with workers resisting wage cuts, layoffs, and hyperexploitative working conditions. When the South African Police Service massacred 34 strikers in broad daylight, the workers were not deterred; instead of backing off, the strikes spread across the entire mining sector, with iron ore and gold miners joining their platinum mining comrades in struggle against the multinationals that own and profit from these oppressive conditions. Now the struggle has spread into Namibia, Botswana, the Western Cape, and elsewhere, and strikers have self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt.
So what does all of this mean for class struggle in South Africa? How are these workers’ committees being organized, and why is this (as the Financial Times recently claimed) potentially the most effective strike wave to hit South Africa since the demise of apartheid?
Mazibuko Jara, a long-time organizer from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and one of the founders of the Democratic Left Front, will be giving two presentations on this new wave of class struggle:
On Thursday, Nov. 15, he will be speaking at a forum organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies at 4 pm (575 McCone Hall). While admission is free, we highly encourage people to make donations to the strike fund for these unprotected workers’ committees. Please give generously; every last dollar will help prolong this struggle.
On Friday, Nov. 15, Mazibuko will be speaking at La Peña in Berkeley (3105 Shattuck Ave) at 7 pm. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-20, but please give as much as you can: every dollar raised will go to the workers’ committees. Additional donations are highly encouraged.
We hope to see you at one or both events. A luta continua! Forward to a living wage for all workers!
On September 12th of this year, 3,000 Kenyan public doctors and health workers voted to strike in solidarity with medical students demanding to be paid for their volunteer hospital work. This is the second time in one year health workers have staged a strike. On Friday the health workers called off the strike, with some initial indications that it’s a serious victory for the Kenyan working class, health workers and consumers both. (We’re also hesitant to crow victory too quickly in these complex situations.)
After talks with the union officials, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o announced that he had revoked all disciplinary measures that the government had taken on the medics for taking part in the strike.
At a joint press conference with union officials at Afya House on Thursday evening, Nyong’o said the government would also release the salaries that had been withheld from the striking doctors.
The meeting agreed to set up a committee that would address the doctors’ grievances, which included demands for fastracking of a return-to-work formula that had been signed to end a similar strike late last year.
Kenya is a country in which politicians make about $130,000 a year, while doctors receive a $36,000 a year salary that doesn’t even let them visit private clinics. Health workers in Kenya struggle to meet the needs of their poor and working-class patients with a dire lack of basic resources like drugs and surgery tools. In the meantime, Kenyan legislators hop on flights to America or Europe to kick it with their imperialist puppet masters and get their surgeries and check ups.
My mother was a kitchen girl//My father was a garden boy//That’s why I’m a communist//I’m a communist//I’m a communist! – Popular apartheid-era song still sung today
The recent armed conflicts between miners and police in South Africa are part of a long legacy of class struggle against the capitalist state. Recently we in AS along with our comrades in La Pena 2nd Gen organized a forum to tap some of our comrades’ knowledge on the incredible history of South African working-class resistance, both against apartheid and against the neoliberal African National Congress.
The first presentation “The Birth of the Modern Trade Union Movement in South Africa”, by former Black Panther Gerald Smith, is a very useful initial overview of South African history from a class struggle perspective; it’s also a more specific history and analysis of Black labor militancy in the 1980s under apartheid. Learn something from his dynamic speaking style!
The second presentation, “Social Struggles and the Capitalist State in South Africa since 1994″, by UC Berkeley PHD student Zachary Levenson, focuses on post-apartheid history. Levenson recently returned from 6 months in South Africa and describes the terrain of struggle and nature of the capitalist state after apartheid.
Check it out and tell us what you think!
With the chorus of ‘eighteen years and we’re still the victim’ this song from political hip-hop collective Sounds of the South represents in English and native tongues the hypocrisy of the post-Apartheid regime in South Africa. The African National Congress was a political party central to ending apartheid, making use of political strikes as one of its most powerful tactics. This tactic must be used here in the USA. But without a communist goal, all the best tactics in the world will loop back to capitalism and all its horrors.
Focusing on the African continent and the parts of the world where a lot of people of African descent live, this article challenges the notion that the fight for national ‘self-determination’ is a more valid political agenda than the fight for international proletarian self-determination. The author blames much of the confusion about the value of nationalism as a revolutionary movement, on VI Lenin:
“The silencing of the working class and the decade-old replacement of informed socialist discourse with the half-wit sound bites of liberalism in the world-sociopolitical debate is a natural consequence of generations of adherence to the [Leninist] “political line” which preached the gospel of “United Democratic Fronts” against “Imperialism.” This doctrine, as we have seen in practice, is capitalist ideology in essence, all nationalist struggles being ultimately directed at fortifying the capitalist order of society. It has yielded the most repressive and corrupt regimes in Angola, The Congo, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia – - the list goes on ad infinitum.”
To counter this historical trend of nationalism (necessarily) gone wrong, the author urges:
“Working people have a duty to reassert the primacy of the working class struggle over all others. The working class has no allies among the capitalist of any country irrespective of what their race, or, religion might be. The battle lines may not be clearly demarcated in this era of sound bites and systematic dis-information about “national security,” “democratic values,” and “war on terrorism” but there is no question that the real struggle is between capital and labor. Whatever the diversionary route taken society shall finally come face to face with this reality. That is the bottom line. It is time to return to basics.”
In this article, Glenn Ford of Black Agenda Report calls out the hypocrites who love Obama yet claim to hate imperialism. Imperialism is a complex relationship of unequal power between nations, with a select few nations at the center of the commanding structures and the great majority of nations at the receiving end of the core countries’ dictates. The core countries got to the core because of their upward progress in the division of capitalist labor, starting with West Europe’s innovative city-based manufacturing and trans-oceanic plunder, evolving into European and North American industrial factory production and colonialism, and the present-day “financialization” of the world economy and the global network of sovereign nation states. The world today is the product of history which is pushed forward by class struggle. The independence of the former colonies was a victory for the global working class, and should be defended today. That’s precisely why the US – no matter who the president is – should never be supported in its foreign policies which even more than its domestic policies are inevitably at odds with the interests of the global proletariat.
“It requires rivers of obfuscation and oceans of purposeful omission to separate the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States from the crimes planned and carried out in his office.”
International capital, in its search for outlets for investment in these times of worldwide stagnation, turns increasingly toward Africa. China, which itself had become the focus for foreign investment a couple decades ago, now has enough capital of its own to unleash on the world and Africa is one of its favorite targets. It is encouraging to see that Mozambiquan workers stand up to the exploitation and oppression that comes with this investment, as they have throughout the history of their interaction with the capitalist world system. As African ruling classes try so desperately to attract capital, the workers defend themselves from the consequences. As our president, partly of African heritage, takes steps to establish African Command – a regional military mega-center – and encourage capital to flow into the region, US workers have a new opportunity to develop international proletarian consciousness and to express solidarity. Solidarity is best expressed through being inspired to resist the system and do a fair share of the fighting. Are we fulfilling our duties to our class? African workers are.
Read about the Mozambique strike here.
Some people claim Marxism is Eurocentric and inapplicable to other countries around the world. We disagree. Here is a piece written by a leading Pan-Africanist, (Kwame Nkrumah) who considered himself some kind of Marxist and is still seen by many Black Nationalists as a hero. Nkrumah puts class struggle forward as a strategy for liberation.
Excerpt from Kwame Nkrumah’s: What I Mean by Positive Action
What is Positive Action?
By Positive Action we mean the adoption of all legitimate and constitutional means by which we can cripple the forces of imperialism in this country. The Weapons of Positive Action are:
(1) Legitimate political agitation
(2) Newspaper and educational campaigns and
(3) as a last resort, the constitutional application of strikes, boycotts and non-co-operation based on the principle of absolute non-violence.