Monday, February 27, 2017

Mad Capitalism in Madagascar

In America, a single individual accumulated enough of our country’s wealth in the past year to ensure the availability of clean drinking water for the ENTIRE WORLD. That man, Jeff Bezos, who has profited greatly from the technological infrastructure built up over many years by many people has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists to avoid the taxes owed by his company.

In a Madagascar village mothers walk three hours to get water from a well, but the well has gone dry, and so they have to bring their dying cattle to sell to a man who trucks in the water. This in a land that not long ago was overflowing with farms and rivers and flowers, but has turned to desert, almost certainly due to the climate change caused by rich countries. This is where a 10-year-old girl named Fombasoa was forced to quit school to spend her days searching for wild red cactus fruit, the only source of food for her family. When the fruit is gone they eat the cactus leaves. Sometimes they take chalky rocks and break them up for soup, and sometimes they eat the ashes from old cooking fires. Fombasoa’s family is hoping to marry her off – at 10 years old – so that her new husband can provide for her. Her father is torn between the ugly reality of marrying off a child or letting her starve.

The drought in Madagascar is a result of human-caused climate change, which, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and the American Meteorological Society, has exacerbated El Niño and reduced rainfall in southern Africa.

In America, denial comes from rich and powerful people. Donald Trump said, “I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change….nobody really knows.” Charles Koch uses some of his billions to support the author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” and to fund a fossil fuel group that claims to be “standing up for poor, underserved communities” by rejecting subsidies for electric vehicles and solar panels. In the Madagascar village, children sometimes wake up crying in the night from hunger. By the start of one recent evening two little boys – Fokondraza, 5, and Voriavy, 3 – hadn’t eaten anything all day. Their aunt boiled cactus leaves for their dinner. They have some reason for hope with the UN World Food Program providing lunches in local schools, and Catholic Relief Services offering emergency food supplies and assistance with farming. The UN Population Fund, which for nearly 50 years has helped to keep new mothers healthy, was recently defunded by Donald Trump.

In America, the portion of speculative wheat market trades by Goldman Sachs and other players quintupled between 1996 and 2011. The price of wheat went from $105 a ton in 2000 to $481 a ton in 2008. By 2014 food speculation by banks and hedge funds had again doubled.
Madagascar is the most severely affected country in the world – for THE PLAGUE once known as The Black Death. Today it’s called a “disease of poverty” by the World Health Organization. People in Madagascar are also at high risk for hepatitis, typhoid fever, and malaria.
In America, Silicon Valley billionaires are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to prolong their own lives. Peter Thiel, Larry Ellison, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are some of the billionaires who have invested in anti-aging science, much of it unproven – Artificial Brains, Anti-Viral, Genetics, Cryogenics. Meanwhile, it has been estimated that less than 10 percent of the budget for health research is spent on diseases that cause 90 percent of the world’s illnesses.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

“Cry, the Beloved Country,” 1953 book review

Book Reviews from the February 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard

Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, we are not on the lists that book publishers use for sending out free copies for review. Being members of the working class we are unable to acquire all the books that are published, and very few books when they are first published. Further, being members of the working class, we have limited time for reading. Invariably we wait until we learn something about a book before we give it a scanning and refer to it in these columns. That means that some books are in their second or third, or even later, editions before we get round to them.

Such a book is “Cry, the Beloved Country,” by Alan Paton published by Jonathan Cape at 10s. 6d. This book was first published in 1948 but the recent film of the story has drawn a lot of attention to it.

It is a story of what may be termed the industrial revolution of South Africa. It deals with the final destruction of tribal life among the African negroes and the drawing away of the younger men and women from the rural areas to. the industrial centres where they become wage workers. It emphasises the difficulties that these people experience in adapting themselves to the conditions of a rapidly expanding capitalism and the crimes that follow from their abject poverty.

The story centres mainly in Johannesburg where theft, prostitution, drunkenness, rape, robbery with violence and murder are rife. The author tells us in his introductory note that his story is a compound of truth and fiction. He says that his account of the boycott of the buses, the erection of Shanty Town, the finding of gold at Odendaalsrust and the strike of the miners is such a fiction-truth compound; that in some respects it is not true, but “considered as a social record it is the plain and simple truth.”

The whole theme is worthy of a better approach. The events narrated are viewed through the eyes of a religious humanitarian and the story is plastered with religious quotes and sentiments. There are passages that reveal a clear understanding of the process that is taking place in South Africa, but the idea that permeates the book is that the solution to the negro workers' problems is to be found in a kinder, more Christian and humanitarian approach, especially on the part of the white population. This is overdone and spoils the reading. This is a book worth reading if it should come your way, but it is not worth going out of your way to read it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The pace of urbanisation in Africa is bewildering. In 1950, no city in sub-Saharan Africa had a population greater than one million. It is now estimated that over 50 cities have a resident population of over one million people. As a consequence of this dizzying population growth, city and municipal authorities are overwhelmed. City leaders and managers are unable to respond, with sufficient planning and regulatory tools as well as services, to harness this phenomenal demographic change.

Our cities are drowning in garbage. Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam are a gridlocked disaster. Commuting in our cities is miserable and expensive. Housing is scant and squalid. It is estimated that about two-thirds of Nairobi’s residents live in just six per cent of the city’s land. These informal slum neighbourhoods lack basic services such as water and sanitation, schools and hospitals.

New urban growth is essentially unmanaged, disastrous sprawl. Owing to the lack of planning and inefficient land markets, urban neighbourhoods have turned into bourgeois slum cities. In Kenya, Kitengela, Ongata Rongai, Ngong Syokimau and Ruiru are perfect examples of shanty-towns. They lack roads, public schools, open public spaces and sewerage services.

Many of Africa’s youthful urban workers are in the low wage service sector. You see them in food markets, on the street or traffic-choked highways, where young men and women weave through dense jams under the gray cloak of vehicular emission, selling chewing gum, water, fruits, car accessories and pornographic videos compact discs. Many young urbanites are low-skilled construction workers. A sizeable proportion of workers in our cities are in the semi-skilled low technology fabrication sector known as jua kali industry. Africa’s urbanites work so hard and so long for so little. Hence, a defining characteristic of Africa’s urbanism is low productivity and low income. A majority of Africa’s urban workers live below the poverty line.

Rapid urbanisation has not been accompanied by economic growth. Cities in this continent are largely metropolis of concentrated consumption. Our urban centres are the epicenter of non-tradable goods — public service, big hotels, plush suburbs and fancy retail shops, with imported cloths and shoes, and fancy schools. Hence, it is easy to understand why rapid urbanisation has not been associated with economic growth.

World Bank economists found Africa's cities are among the costliest in the world for businesses and households. African cities are 29% more expensive than cities in countries with similar income levels. African households face costs relative to their per capita GDP that are 55% higher than in other regions, with city dwellers paying about 35% more for food in Africa than in other low-income and middle income countries and forced to pay high commuting costs - if public transport is available. Africa was urbanising at income levels much lower than those of many other developing countries, so that there were fewer resources available for public investment - East Asian countries could invest 40% of GDP in infrastructure while in Africa the ratio is only about 20%. 

Feeding Africa

Africa, with most of the world’s arable land and a large and growing workforce, spends $35bn a year importing food.

Africa has a young workforce in an ageing world, with an estimated 226 million people between the ages of 15 and 24. More than 70 percent of those youngsters are believed to live on less than $2 a day, most of them relying on vulnerable or unpaid employment for their survival.

The agriculture sector is set to create an additional 8 million stable jobs by 2020, a figure that could be significantly increased through increased investment in education, infrastructure, technology and various other support services. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Barely a month after President Lungu swore in his new-look cabinet into office in September last year the country was hit sudden hike in field pump prices. A liter of petrol jumped up to K13.70 from K11.50 and diesel is now selling at K11.50 from K8.70 a liter. The rise in fuel prices has translated into the rise in other prices – especially mealie-meal which shot up from K75 per 25kg bag of breakfast to Kl10.
Subsidies on fuel were removed by the late President Sata way back in 2012 in order to disadvantage fuel vendors who were deemed the main beneficiaries. But the removal of subsidies on fuel in particular gave rise to unanticipated economic and social problems.
Indeed consumption subsidies by their nature only benefit the rich in society given the fact that the majority of Zambian workers and peasant farmers get a meagre income of K1200 (minimum wage).
The 'poor oriented' budget came in 2017 annual budget presented to parliament by the newly appointed Finance Minister Felix Mutati on 11 November in what was dubbed 'Zambia plus'. The 2017 Budget seems to be a plan to change Zambia stalled economy. The economic recovery programme sets out to restore economic stability and aims to scale up government social protection programmes so as to protect the most vulnerable in society from the negative impacts of macro-economic programmes. To quote from Felix Mutati's budgetary speech: 'The government aims to improve economic and fiscal governance by raising levels of accountability and transparency in the allocation and use of public money.'
The 2017 budges (K64 billion) is believed to be a self-grown budget mostly funded by internal borrowing. It holds a lot of promise to the workers earning K3000 and below who are exempted from paying PAYE.
The Finance Minister Felix Mutati is a veteran MMD president and was recently appointed by President Lungu to replace PF Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda. The appointment of Mutati was foreshadowed by his support of the PF during the 11 August presidential election. More or less it is an infusion of new blood into the PF of whose original members have mostly resigned.
The fight against corruption
During the past years President Lungu has been blamed among other things for having been too silent on corruption. The President came out now into the open during the inauguration speech that he was going to stamp out corruption from the PF. The first victim of the fight against corruption was the former Minister of Broadcasting and Information, Mr. Chishimba Kambwili, who was recently dismissed on allegations of corruption.
Far back in 2012 the late President Michael Sata had cautioned the anti-corruption Commission against investigating and indicting serving cabinet ministers. It is alleged that Chishimba Kambwili, the most outspoken and versatile of politicians, has amassed large amounts of wealth. It has been revealed that Kambwili recently purchased a fleet of thirty articulated trucks worth billions of kwacha. It is also on record that he owns a construction company that has failed to complete the construction of clinics and schools despite having been paid in full by the government.
In Zambia must cabinet ministers and members of parliament own private enterprises that are awarded tenders to supply building materials, food to hospitals and uniforms for nurses and police offices etc. It is also on record that the government has been in most cases failing to pay private contractors in time – thus the failure to complete public projects. More or less the fight against corruption is in most cases a jaundiced political tactic as most ministers who have been indicted for corruption have not yet been imprisoned. People were not surprised when President Lungu recently announced that he was forgoing 50 percent of his salary to sacrifice for national development.
The fall of the Post newspaper
The sensational and notorious Post newspaper was finally liquidated and placed under receivership in October after having had filed to remit K80 billion owed to the Zambia Revenue Authority in taxes. It is also alleged that the Post had accumulated debts and outstanding salaries totalling some K228 billion. The paper was a thorn in the flesh of most politicians ever since it was founded in 1992.
The Post newspaper was part of the culture of political democracy, defined as the right to media freedom and political transparency. Though claiming for speaking on behalf of the silent majority and politically non-partisan, the newspaper took sides in Zambian domestic political. It was a tool of political propaganda.
It was owned by Mutembo Nchito and partners and it may not appear as a surprise to many people that its liquidation brought to the conclusion the embittered political career of Mutembo Nchito after he was fired as director of public prosecution on 10 August last year. This was after the tribunal appointed to investigate him had presented its recommendation to President Lungu.
The tribunal concluded that terms of reference number 2 – alleged grave misconduct or misbehaviour by the DPP – when on February 20, 2015, the DPP temporarily took over prosecution of a case before senior resident magistrate Jack Mwale. In the afore-mentioned case the DPP was the accused person and proceeded to enter a nolle prosequi in his own recognition, thereby defeating the ends of justice which has been proved against him.
During the past three years the Post was a mouthpiece of the UPND in terms of political propaganda (coverage). This was especially evident during the 11 August presidential political campaigns. The former Information Minister, Chishimba Kambwili, will be remembered for having threatened the Post with liquidation during the recent past year. The liquidation of the newspaper was precipitated by its employees who had sued the company for bankruptcy for non-payment of accumulated salaries.
Tribalism at the helm
During the presentation of his inauguration speech on 11 September President Lungu went on to assure the people of Zambia that he was going to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to find out the people behind an ethnic fracas that look place in Namwala when a mob of Tonga tribesmen descended upon some Bemba-speaking residents ransacked and evicted them from their homes. This was after it was announced that PF president Lungu had won the elections. It was an expression of political dissatisfaction and UPND leader Hichilema had disputed the election results. President Lungu had defeated Hichilema by a slim margin of 100,530 votes during an election that has left Zambia divided in terms of political and tribal loyalties (regional) tribalism in Zambia today is perceived to be a cultural traditional and political antagonism between those who voted for the PF and UPND respectively.

Ever since he succeeded the late Anderson Mazoka as president of the UPND in 2005 Hichilema has been championing tribalism by parading himself as a political spokesman of the Tonga tribe. The UPND leader is renown for promoting, organizing and inciting political hooliganism during election campaigns. It is Hichilema who has been spearheading the culture of political and ethnic antagonism (defined as tribalism) between Tonga, Lozi and Bemba tribe. The UPND alleges that the Tonga in particular has been politically marginalized ever since the dawn of political pluralism.

The veteran Zambian politician and member of the UPND Daniel Mukombwe even went to the extent of advocating the rotation of the presidency between Tonga, Lozi and Bemba tribe's every after four years. The reluctance of Hichilema to accept the results of the 11 August presidential election gave vent to heightened feelings of ethnic and political marginalization among UPND supporters throughout Zambia.
Because Zambia is dubbed a Christian nation, the extent to which Christianity is helping to restrain ethnic and tribal prejudice needs to be appreciated. The moral and ethnic value of Christianity blends well with the PF slogan of 'One Zambia One Nation' and is visible among the street vendors that congest along Chisokone Avenue in Kitwe town centre who seems little affected by the hike of fuel and mealie meal price.

The Labour movement in Zambia seems to be far removed from awakening class political struggle in that the trade unions play a minor role in the day-to-day social problems facing the working class. Because the social and economic problems Zambia is experiencing originate from capitalism, they cannot be resolved from within the social and economic programme implemented by government. Social poverty is here to stay.


Friday, February 17, 2017

South Sudan's Crisis

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has "deteriorated dramatically," said Eugene Owusu, the U.N. aid chief in South Sudan, who described the country as troubled by the threat of famine and widespread sexual violence. "We are facing unprecedented needs, in an unprecedented number of locations,"

More than 1.5 million South Sudanese have become refugees and their humanitarian needs are overwhelming aid efforts during the country's civil war, according to the United Nations.
South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 and roughly 3.6 million people have fled their homes or become refugees, according to the U.N. The country is Africa's largest refugee crisis and the third largest in the world, after Syria and Afghanistan.

Roughly 7.5 million people are in need of assistance and protection, a majority of the country's estimated 12 million population, according to the U.N. Around 4.6 million people are expected to receive food assistance in the first part of 2017, according to the World Food Program.

South Sudan's government spends roughly half of its national budget on defense spending.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

South Africa's Shame

More than 100 people have died and the death toll is still rising after a government decision to transfer psychiatric patients from hospitals to unlicensed private care homes in South Africa.  Senior officials were repeatedly warned of the risk of the patient-transfer scheme, yet they pushed ahead with it anyway.  

South African health ombudsman Dr. Malegapuru Makgoba's investigation found a range of troubling factors in the scandal: a government cost-cutting campaign that went wrong, private homes that saw the psychiatric patients as a business opportunity, appalling living conditions that sometimes resembled those of a concentration camp and senior officials who ignored all warnings of looming disaster. The senior officials who pushed for the patient transfers “knew of the risks before embarking on this project and watched as the tragedy unfolded,” said Section27, a public-interest law centre in South Africa.They did nothing to stop it. They should be held to account to the fullest extent of the law."

Some patients were transferred to the private homes in the back of pickup trucks or were tied with bedsheets during their transfer, the report found. They were sent to homes without doctors, nurses or other qualified staff. Some of the homes lacked proper food, water, medicine and even heating in the winter. Many patients died of dehydration, heart attacks, diarrhea and pneumonia. Some had become emaciated from hunger. In many cases, the causes of death are still unknown.

Some of the facilities were just double-storey houses, and some were run as a business venture, the ombudsman said. None of the homes had valid licences, and many were overcrowded and lacked the resources to care for the influx of psychiatric patients, he said.

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the private homes chose the patients “like a cattle auction,” without regard to the specialized care that the patients would need. “How could they take patients without medical records into their care?” he asked.

 The Treatment Action Campaign, said it was shocked by the “inhumanity and callous disregard for the lives of others”  The report “paints a picture of a government with no regard for the lives of some of the most marginalized people in our society – people with severe mental-health problems,” it said. “The report also paints a picture of a health-care system that is grossly mismanaged and has been entrusted to people incapable of effectively serving the public interest.” 

African Robbery

Many people ask: “Why should we spend funds on Africa when we are suffering?” The developed world have actually been ripping off Africa for the past 700 years, ever since the Portuguese began the slave trade, all the while insisting that Africa has been the beneficiary of this relentless exploitation. 

Slavery and the slave trade, upon which Western Europe and the United States developed their economic superiority, were said to be positive for Africans, whose innate inferiority meant they had no capacity to run their own lives.

 Colonialism, in turn, was the West’s ostensibly philanthropic attempt to gift Africa with “Christianity, Civilization and Commerce,” in return for making possible Europe’s assorted empires.

Neo-colonialsm, which has operated for the past 65 years since the West first “gave” their African colonies freedom, is the stage we have all lived through. During this period, according to Western mythology, Africa has been the problem to which the generosity of the rich world is the solution. You know – a goat at Christmas, the “adoption” of an unknown child, meagre foreign aid and neoliberal economic policies.
Africa’s multiple woes were a function of deliberate policies of exploitation by Europe’s colonial regimes. espite mounting evidence, mass ignorance in the West, cultivated by both elites and aid agencies, remained dominant. Yet excellent research by sophisticated NGOs have made indisputably clear the manifold ways in which foreign interests consistently ripped off African countries, not least through tax evasion and the investment privileges gained by Western corporate interests. urces that get transferred between rich countries and poor ones each year, including aid, foreign investment and trade flows, as well as debt cancellation, workers’ remittances and unrecorded capital flight. The conclusion was categorical: The flow of money from rich countries to poor countries, including most of Africa, pales in comparison to the flow that runs in the other direction.
In 2012, the last year of recorded data, poor countries received a total of $1.3-trillion (U.S.), including all aid, investment, and income from abroad. But that same year some $3.3-trillion flowed out of them. In other words, developing countries sent $2-trillion more to the rest of the world than they received. Since 1980, these net outflows add up to a staggering total of $16.3 trillion. That’s how much money has been bled out of the global south, including Africa, over the past few decades. Add in the massive corruption, enabled by Western interests, plus the violent coups and conflicts that Western interests facilitated, and there’s only one conclusion: Rich countries aren’t developing poor countries; poor countries are developing rich ones. Canada is a pretty good example. On the one hand, its government sends them paltry amounts of foreign aid. On the other, to take only one example, Canadian investment in African mining ventures, many of them deeply destructive to locals, are often actively promoted by Canadian politicians and bureaucrats.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Maji Maji War

Germany’s colonial record is Africa was a cruel one. This blog has already revealed the genocide they tried to commit in Namibia of the  Herero and Nama people  but they also massacred many tens of thousands in other colonies.

The Maji Maji ("sacred water". Maji was a drink of water mixed with millet given to the warriors before they went to fight.) War was an armed rebellion against German colonial rule in German East Africa and lasted from 1905 to 1907. The war was triggered by a German policy designed to force the indigenous population to grow cotton for export. Villages were ordered to grow cotton as a cash crop for expor). Each village was charged with producing a quota of cotton. The headmen of the village were left in charge of overseeing the production, which set them against the rest of the population.

The rebellion spread throughout the colony, eventually involving 20 different ethnic groups all of whom wished to dispel the German colonizers.  As such it was the first significant example of interethnic cooperation in the battle against colonial control.

The German army adopted famine as a weapon and starved their opponents to death by destroying fields and killing livestock. It is estimated that over 50% of the Matumbi people died, and 75% of the Pangwa people died.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Tax Cheats

 A World Bank report has raised concerns about tax compliance by mining companies in Africa, tax loopholes and the illicit flow of funds in a range of African countries. The report, ‘Transfer Pricing in Africa, with a focus on Africa’, has shown that several countries on the continent have struggled to achieve a tax to gross domestic product ratio of 15%, against an average of over 33.6% for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries since 2000.

“While some tax practices may be technically legal, it may be argued they are ethically questionable,” says the report.

The report says multinational enterprises (MNEs) often undercharge for mineral products they export and overpay for routine corporate services and specialised goods and services, such as insurance and logistics. By doing this, they reduce the profit of the mining subsidiary and the tax collected in the host country.

MNEs have tended to structure their businesses by consolidating high-value functions and related intangible assets in hubs that provide goods and services to their global operations. They locate them in low-tax jurisdictions or in jurisdictions allowing the establishment of preferentially taxed special purpose entities.

The way MNEs organise their global corporate structures often leads to the eroding of the tax base of the host country as profit is shifted abroad. The functions of the mining subsidiaries are often stripped down to mostly routine activities using primarily less skilled employees and tangible assets, the report reveals.

 The report says few mining companies are fully vertically integrated, while, increasingly, mining companies are entering into cross-border transactions which provide for high-value, specialised services and assets and financing.

 The report says the “extreme complexity and artificiality” of some multilayered structures shows evidence that some conduit companies are effectively just “mailboxes” with no clear business purpose, adding little or no value. There are indications that they are primarily designed to cut the tax paid by multinational companies at the consolidated level.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Jobs Famine

Sub-Saharan Africa is fast becoming a place of unemployment, vulnerable jobs and poor workers, a reality that is making the aspiration of most countries to transform into middle-level economies a mirage.  Research has shown that sub-Saharan Africa is not only grappling with run-away unemployment but the majority of the jobs are in the informal sector and the few employed people are actually living in poverty.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reckons that the informal economy contributes 50-80 per cent of gross domestic product, 60-80 per cent of employment and 90 per cent of new jobs. Worse, about nine out of 10 workers in both rural and urban areas hold only informal jobs, leaving the majority of the population living from hand to mouth.

"In sub-Saharan Africa, poor-quality employment - rather than unemployment - remains the main labour market challenge. This problem is compounded by rapid population growth, specifically growth of the working-age population," states the ILO's World Employment Social Outlook 2017 report.

The problem of poor quality jobs is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where over 70 per cent of workers are in vulnerable employment against the global average of 46.3 per cent. The informality of employment is exerting pressures on economies because only a few people can afford vital services like medical cover or saving for retirement.  The lack of productive opportunities for the youth and adults alike mean that 247 million people were in vulnerable employment in 2016, equivalent to around 68 per cent of all those with jobs. Over the next four years, the region will pump an additional 12.6 million youth into the same precarious labour force market.

The reality of vulnerable employment is worsened by working poverty, considering that 33.6 per cent of all employed people in sub-Sahara Africa were living in extreme poverty -- that is living on less than $1.90 per day -- in 2016. An additional 30.1 per cent were living in moderate poverty at between $1.90 and $3.10 per day, which corresponds to over 230 million people living in either extreme or moderate poverty. The rate of moderate working poverty is rising and is projected to be 30.5 per cent in 2017, representing an increase of approximately five million people in one year. The challenge is particularly dire for youth considering that almost 70 per cent of them in 2016 were in jobs characterised as working poverty.

 Unemployment and low quality jobs is worsening in East Africa despite the region's being expected to post economic growth of 5.4 per cent in 2017 against a continental average of 2.5 per cent.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Warned but not heeded

Kenya's president has declared the drought, which has affected as much as half the country, a national disaster. Kenya's Red Cross says 2.7 million people face starvation if more help is not provided.

In Somalia, nearly half the population is suffering from food shortages and the UN says there is a risk of famine in several parts of the country. During the last drought on this scale in 2011, famine killed about 250,000 Somalis.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Nigeria: an artificial entity

All States are artificial but the new ones in Africa are particularly so as they reflect the carve-up of Africa by the former colonial powers. We publish a contribution below, without of course endorsing its Biafran nationalism, which illustrates this.

Nigeria is one of the countries in West Africa that got her independence from the Great Britain on 1st October 1960 after Ghana. From the declaration of an  independence, Nigeria has been a confused nation because of  the poor qualities of their leaders and cronies. It is a  nation that is made up of various ethnic fools and sycophants ranging from 250 to 400 ethnic groups. Nigeria has a population of one hundred and ninety two millions people. Nigeria has three major ethnic tribes, the Igbos from the east, the Hausas from the north and the Yorubas from the west.

Actually, what orchestrated the declaration of Biafra Republic was because of anti Igbo pogrom of 1966. From 1960 Nigeria independence, the Nigeria politicians took over power from Britain to enrich themselves thereby introduced  nepotism, tribalism and corruption at the highest level. Some refined Igbo military officers deemed it necessary and did coup d'état in January 15, 1966. Some Northern and Western politicians were killed, while the Eastern politicians were not killed because of the Cypriot Bishop that visited Enugu on the day of the coup. The coup plotters'  intention was    to introduce “socialism” among Nigerians and thereby appointed Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Yoruba ethnic to become the President of Nigeria. But, the coup did not go well among other Nigeria tribes.

Therefore, a counter coup was staged by Northern military officers led by Theophilus Danjuma, William Walbe, Jeremiah Useni, Murtala Mohammed. The executed General Aguiyi Ironsi, the Nigeria Head of State, on July 29,1966 with his guest in Government house Ibadan, Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the military administrator of Western region. General Ironsi was murdered just because he was an Igbo. The most horrifying thing was that Gen. Ironsi and Col. Fajuyi was abducted from government house Ibadan and murdered and buried in Iwo town near the border with Benin Republic.
General Ironsi's chief of army staff, Yakubu Gowon took over power as Nigeria Head of State and never bothered to declare the death of his boss Ironsi to Nigerians. When Gen. Ironsi was rounded up in government house Ibadan, in the early hours of the morning by troops led by Theophilus Danjuma, he desperately tried to contact Yakubu Gowon for a rescue team but, Gowon never picked up the call. Yakubu Gowon and Theophilus Danjuma were the worst betrayals of our generation. They had forgotten the good old days when Gen. Ironsi took them as his own brothers and fed them with love and compassion.

The killing of Igbos was declared by Nigeria army under Yakubu Gowon regime since 1966 and the Igbos had no other choice than to defend themselves against the vultures called Nigeria. thereby, declared the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967. The death of General Ironsi was announced on January 14, 1967 by Col. Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to Igbos as the military Governor of Eastern region.

The kingdom of Biafra existed 500 years before Nigeria was created by Lord Lugard's amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914. The amalgamation was actually a fraud and deceit by the colonial master Britain in order to exploit the Biafran people of their resources. The inhabitants of Biafra were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to ethnic, economic, cultural and religious inquisitions among the various ethnics of Nigeria.

Biafra is made up of other ethnics like Efik, Ibibio,Annang, Ejagham, Eket, Ibeno, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko among others. Biafrans in 1967 were seventeen million people. They are hard-working people, resilient with sound vision. Today Biafrans are seventy five million people. Igbos are the Jews of Nigeria and the convex lens to expose Nigeria atrocities to outside world. The Hausa Fulani master and the Yoruba slave agents are interested in the resources from Biafraland but not interested in the potentials of the Biafran people.

The Nigeria Federation was formed on a foundation of sand and not on solid rock like Biafra Republic. Nigeria is never one and can never be one. Nigeria is ruled by Wahhabi, Salafist doctrines of the  royal house of Saud in the Saudi Arabia. It is the country where thieves are hailed and given post of responsibilities.

On May 30, 1967 when Biafra declared her independence, Nigeria was on the brink of going back to the abject poverty as Biafraland was their only hope of living. Therefore, the remaining Nigeria Federation ganged up with other African states whose hope of survival is from Biafraland to fight Biafra.

Biafra waged war against Nigeria Federation, Arab states, Russia and Britain with only one hundred and twenty eight rifles. Because Biafrans are determined people in what the believe, they were able to stand the enemies for three good years. During the Nigeria-Biafra brutal war from 1967 to 1970, Biafra produced weapons, battle tanks, pharmaceuticals, cassava beer, refined petrol even manufactured aircraft but did not fly.

Biafra was formally recognised by Gabon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Zambia. Other nations  provided support assistance to Biafra included Israel, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Zimbabwe South Africa and the Vatican City. After three years of brutal civil war which over three millions Biafran civilians died  from starvation caused by total blockage of the region by the Nigerian government. And on the Nigeria side, millions were killed too.

During the war, the Igbo neighbours mindset was polluted by Hausa, Fulani and their Yoruba puppets that Igbos are their enemies and the believed them. Those that promised Niger Deltans security ended up killing them, abusing and humiliating them. So, awakening the consciousness of Deltans after several years of slavery by Nigeria.

Major. Isaac Jasper Boro, born to Kaiama family from Bayelsa State in 1938, was recruited with one thousand river men into Nigeria army to fight Biafra by Gowon. They were recruited to join 3rd marine commando headed by headed by Benjamin Adekunle. And it was the same third marine commando that killed him on May 16, 1968 in Port Harcourt.

Another, victim of the Nigeria Federation scam was Ken Saro Wiwa, who was a commissioner in Port Harcourt. He was used to betray Biafra. In 10 November, 1995 he was executed  by the Sanni Abacha junta for becoming environmentalist for the Ogoni people. Today, Niger Deltans know that the Igbos are there best brothers and sisters.

After fourty nine years of the brutal civil war, the Igbos have regrouped, under Indigenous People of Biafra by Mazi.Nnamdi Kanu, all over the world to demand for the Republic of Biafra which has come to stay now. Kanu was arrested on October 18, 2015 by Mohammed Buhari agents, the DSS, on his arrival in Nigeria from the United Kingdom. He has been in detention since then till today with other Biafra activists. He made Biafra more popular now than before. Kanu did not commit any crime under international law. The courts in Nigeria granted him unconditional bail but, Buhari is using his executive power to hold Kanu in Kuje prison with frivolous charges that has no evidence.
That was the reason why Biafra exited from Nigeria in 1967. Nigeria does not respect the rule of law and their footsoldiers does not know what a code of conduct means. So, Biafrans saw that Nigeria is not a progressive nation and decided to pursue their future.

Today Nigeria is more divided than before under the leadership of President Buhari and his cohorts. The Nigeria Federation has failed everybody. In 2009 Mohammed Youssuf formed Boko Haram in north-east of Nigeria demanding to have their caliphate. Boko Haram means that women education is forbidden. Niger Deltans are demanding for resource control from south south. Biafra from south- east want their independent state.

The 808 people of southern Kaduna Christians were butchered on Christmas eve and Xmas day 2016 by Janjaweed Fulani militias under Buhari's government. The Biafra protesters are also butchered everyday by Nigeria's untrained armed forces. The Niger Deltans are facing the same wrath.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Another Colonial Plot (1959)

The Passing Show column from the April 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

In Nyasaland the Governor proclaims a state of emergency because, he says, a plot by. the Africans to massacre the whites has been discovered. Southern Rhodesian security forces have been drafted into the country. There are three million Africans in Nyasaland, a sea of Negroes in which are scattered a handful of whites, no more than eight thousand all told. Despite this enormous disparity of numbers, the number of whiles so far killed as a result of the “massacre plot” is—none. But more than forty Africans have up to now been slain by the security forces.

The disturbances in Nyasaland originated in the desire of the Southern Rhodesian ruling class for aggrandisement. In Southern Rhodesia, the situation is much like that in South Africa. The white farmers and planters insist on "apartheid’’--although they don’t call it that. Hotels, restaurants, schools, are run strictly on racial lines. Political power lies in the hands of the whites. Theoretically anyone can vote, but the great majority of Africans are barred because they must pass a means test before they can exercise the franchise. If too many Africans apply for enfranchisement, then the means test can be stiffened—this, says a writer to the Manchester Guardian (March 11th, 1959) has been done twice in the past.

The devil they know
But the parallel with South Africa goes further than this. Successive governments of the Union, while pressing the desirability of keeping whites and blacks apart, nevertheless regularly, demand the handing over of Bechuanaland. Basutoland, and Swaziland—although these three territories together would add nearly a million Negroes to the population of South Africa. What the white South Africans want is not separation, but white domination: and so it is in Southern Rhodesia. Fcderation—which is in fact rule by Southern Rhodesia—was imposed on Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland against the wishes of the great majority of the Africans living in those countries. Many Nyasas travel far afield to find work: they have seen the subjection of the Africans of Southern. Rhodesia to the whites, and they don’t like it.

Not British
These developments have aroused much uneasiness in Britain. Modern capitalism demands educated workers; at school the worker learns enough arithmetic and English to labour at his employer’s bench or keep his employer’s books. Capitalism also demands enfranchised workers; the worker who votes from time to time —whether in Britain. America or Russia believes he is ruling himself, and this encourages him to think that the prevailing economic system is fashioned in his interests, fhc Southern Rhodesian ruling class, whose power is based not on industry but land, has shown itself hostile to both of these requirements. Hence the divergence of views between Britain and Southern Rhodesia. Sir Robert Armitage, the British-appointed Governor of Nyasalund, has been markedly less active in the latest developments than Sir Roy Welensky, the Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister of the Federation, and Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Premier of Southern Rhodesia itself. In Southern Rhodesia, where there had been hardly any civil disorder reported except some stone-throwing by strikers, a state of emergency was declared on February 26th. On the same day in Nyasaland, where the trouble was, a spokesman of the Government "said, “there was no question of a situation requiring a state of emergency in the protectorate" (Manchester Guardian, February 27th, 1959): the Nyasaland state of emergency was not in fact declared until March 3rd.

As in South Africa, the inevitable industrialisation of the country will settle these problems as capitalism wants them to be settled.. Socialists can leave capitalism to get over its own difficulties, and concentrate on the spread of Socialist ideas.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Passing Show: African Edition

Don't do as I do

Sir Roy Welensky has made the point several times recently that African politicians in the Rhodesian Federation must not presume to aspire to the Premiership. For example, in a statement reported in The Times (18/1/60) Sir Roy said: “Ambitious African leaders wanted a break-up of the Federation because it would mean fulfilment of their personal ambitions to be Prime Ministers and Ministers of black States."

Socialists have their own opinions about "ambitious African leaders," or about ambitious leaders of any nationality. But if anyone can lecture others about their "personal ambitions to be Prime Ministers," surely Sir Roy Welensky can't. He used to be Premier of Southern Rhodesia, and is now Prime Minister of the Rhodesian Federation. Another case, it seems, of "Don't do as I do, do as I say.”

Capital is safe

Any capitalist who is still dubious about the new independent capitalist states now being set up throughout Africa can take heart from a letter written by Sir Robert Kirkwood which appeared in The Times of 27/1/60. Sir Robert, writing from Jamaica, points out that: “When I first came here, 20 years ago, the average white Jamaican openly and vociferously argued, and genuinely believed, that the “black man" was quite incapable of running the country. And even conservative coloured and black Jamaicans averred that universal adult suffrage could never work here."

But the British ruling class decided to set up the West Indies as an independent federation. The result has been a great development of capitalism. As the letter says: "More economic progress has been achieved in the short time since Jamaicans elected under universal adult suffrage took over the Government than in the previous century."

Even capital owned by Europeans is quite safe: “Nor have I ever detected that our politicians' felt the slightest inclination to penalize capital of any description going about its legitimate business."
The “legitimate business" of capital being, of course, to wring surplus value out of the workers. Sir Robert warns of the dangers of thwarting the "rightful ambitions" of the native ruling class:

    "I am certain that most of our present West Indian leaders, who have earned general commendation from Europeans resident in these parts, as well as in their missions abroad, would have been capable. only a few years ago. of leading revolutions, bloody revolutions, if their rightful ambitions to govern in their own homes had been indefinitely and unreasonably deferred."

The letter goes on to assure fainthearts that the African nationalists, too, only wish to develop capitalism in their own countries:

    "Although I nave not visited Africa myself. experienced and reliable Jamaican friends of mine who know the leaders in Kenya, Nyasaland, the Rhodesias, etc., tell me that most of these men. though dedicated and even fanatical nationalists, are, for the most part, far from holding radical views in economic matters. My friends consider that once elected to power these men would seek advice and assistance, and govern with a sense of responsibility and attention to what is best for the, economic, development of their respective homelands."

It is obvious that Sir Robert Kirkwood, at least, does not see any danger to capitalism when formerly colonial countries become independent.

Diamonds thicker than dogma

The diamond producers of the Western world let the Central Selling Organisation of the De Beers group of companies handle virtually all their diamonds: thus this South African concern is able to maintain high prices and high profits for the shareholders of the diamond companies. The Observer (24/1/60) called it “one of the most efficient organisations for resale price maintenance that capitalism has yet produced." But recently the Russians discovered large new deposits of diamonds in north-cast Siberia and in the northern Urals. It was feared that once the exploitation of these new mines got under way, the Russians would export their surpluses, and undercut De Beers organisation. This would mean a slump in prices and in profits. But now all is well. The Russians have agreed to let the Central Selling Organisation market all the diamonds they export to the Western world.

As The Guardian says (19/1/60): "The agreement to channel these sales entirely through the De Beers organisation shows that the Soviet authorities have no intention of underselling South Africa, but intend to fall in with the price maintenance arrangements of the African producers in order to get the best possible returns.” So the Russian and the South African capitalists join hands to safeguard their surplus value.


The recent banning by South Africa of a number of the SPGB's pamphlets has led to a certain amount of publicity for the party there. An article appeared in the Johannesburg Star on November 3rd. 1959. There are the sneers which one might expect when a capitalist paper deals with a Socialist Party, but at least the article contained the following:

    "The SPGB believes in no war. no leaders, no bosses, no capitalism, and no Soviet Communism. It believes in the common ownership of the means of producing and distributing the world's goods, and does not believe that Russia or China any more than the United States or Britain have achieved this."

Free publicity for the Socialist Party can hardly have been one of the results the South African Nationalists aimed at when they clamped their censorship down on our pamphlets.


You may not be interested in boxing, but it could hardly have escaped your attention last summer that a certain Ingemar Johansson had taken the world's heavyweight title from the previous holder, Floyd Patterson. The South African government believes, however, that such knowledge as this would be seditious for all except the white population of South Africa. As it was reported in the Johannesburg Star (14/7/59):

    "Non-whites arc not allowed to see any film containing "scenes of intermingling of Europeans and non-Europeans.'' That is why non-whites have been banned from seeing the film now circulating of the recent Johansson-Patterson world heavy-weight title fight. Johansson is white, but Patterson is a negro. So the film cannot he screened at all in non-white cinemas. And in those where non-whites may sit in the gallery and whites in the stalls, the non-whites have to wait outside until this newsreel ends before taking their seats."

If the South African government really thinks that this will keep the coloured population ignorant of the fact that a black man and a white man fought for the title, they must be well out of touch with reality.
Alwyn Edgar
(This article first appeared in the March 1960 Socialist Standard, and has just recently been added to our online archive).

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Empire and Poverty

Pages from South African History

A corner stone in the British Empire is the Dominion of South Africa, the Prime Minister of which. General Smuts was made a Field-Marshal of the British Army on his 71st birthday two years ago. The approval accorded to him in the British Press contrasts rather forcibly with the rather nasty epithets bestowed upon the politicians of other countries who have accepted office under their conquerors, during the past year or so.

While still in his twenties Smuts became State Attorney of the Transvaal Republic under Kruger, whose administration (according to most British accounts) was one of the most corrupt on earth. After the war of 1899—1902 the Boer politicians were out of the limelight, their territory being annexed and administered by a High Commissioner of the Crown. The grant of responsible government a few years later, however, gave them their chance once more. General Louis Botha (who had succeeded Joubert as commander during the war) formed Het Volk and secured a majority in the first elections 1907. From that time onwards Smuts was in close association with Botha, until the latter's death in 1919, occupying ministerial positions under him and eventually succeeding him as Premier of the Union. He held this office till 1924, when he gave way to General Hertzog and the National Party, triumphant at the polls with the aid of the Labourites. Some eight or nine years later, however, when the economic blizzard had affected the popularity of Hertzog's ministry, we find Smuts again in office as Minister of Justice in a Coalition with his late rival. Since then Smuts has reaped the reward of his pertinacity and occupied the supremacy so dear to him.

Smuts cannot be accused of neglecting his opportunities, a fact which can be appreciated best against the background of history.

His countrymen fought the war of 1899-1902 in the desperate attempt to preserve their political independence. This had been in a precarious state ever since the British occupied the Cape; and some three-quarters of a century earlier the Boers in large numbers had trekked northwards to avoid British control. Their primitive mode of life was gradually complicated by the discovery of minerals and the arrival in the country of prospectors and their hangers-on, and this led to a clamour for annexation. One attempt in 1877 lasted over three years. The Boers tolerated the position while the British were engaged in their struggles with the natives (chiefly the Zulus) and then revolted successfully, resuming' the status of a Republic in 1881. A few years later the discovery of gold on the Rand laid the foundations of the economic “fifth column," which led to its final downfall.

A description of some of the gentry the Boers were expected to tolerate is contained in a small volume, "South Africa" by J. I. A. Agar-Hamilton, lecturer in modern history at Pretoria University. ("South Africa" Modern States Series: Arrowsmith.)
  Pioneers are always pleasanter in retrospect than in close proximity in the flesh, and many of the earliest inhabitants of Barberton and Johannesburg were drunken rowdies and ne'er-do-wells, who were a pest to any law-abiding citizen. In the second wave came international crooks, swindlers and bullies, criminals of every sort who needed a respite from the attentions of the European police. (P. 36.)
More formidable were the large financiers such as Rhodes, who became Prime Minister of Cape Colony in 1890 with the support of Hofmeyr, the leader of the Cape Dutch. The Rand magnates backed the demand for the enfranchisement of the alien element in the Transvaal. .The answer of the Kruger Government was to raise the residential qualification to fourteen years (1890), and any prospect of a more moderate attitude was killed by Dr. Jameson (Rhodes' friend and Administrator of Rhodesia), who "invaded" the Transvaal in 1895 in the vain hope of bringing to a head a much talked of rising on the Rand. The Boers rounded him up with his 500 men and handed the captives over to the British High Commissioner. This magnanimity, however, did not indicate any weakening of their purpose. In October, 1899, the Transvaal and Orange Free State, making common cause, demanded the withdrawal of British troops and the war was on. The Boers could not maintain their initial success. In June, 1900, their capital, Pretoria, was in British hands and Kruger was in flight. None the less, the conflict dragged on, guerrilla fashion, for another two years. To bring it to a conclusion. Kitchener had to evacuate the rural population; concentrate them in camps, and supply them with rations.
The farmhouses were then systematically destroyed and blockhouses and barbed wire sought to restrict the movement of the commandos. ("South Africa," p. 44.)
So great a havoc was wrought that no indemnity from the vanquished was possible. On the contrary, the victors had to advance considerable sums to restore agricultural production.

Although the Boers could hardly be suspected of aiming at world domination, the workers in Britain were fed the customary pap about their "enemies" being skulking cowards who hid behind rocks to snipe the manly British Tommy, who, as often as not, had to beg his bread in British streets when the war was over. The bioscope shows of the day depicted the ruthless Dutch farmers attacking the hospitals (plainly marked with red crosses) and molesting the helpless and attractive nurses. A large percentage of the wounds were supposed to be due to "dum-dum" bullets. Then of course the Boers were brutal to the niggers; but this did not prevent them being allowed to retain their rifles, when peace was signed, "for their protection" against these same niggers, and they were "secured against a native franchise." (South Africa, p. 44.)
From the Orange to the Limpopo the countryside lay waste, without house or inhabitant, and its simplest agricultural needs were imported from elsewhere— Swiss milk, Australian butter and Irish eggs. The whole rural population had to be repatriated, the economic machinery of the country must be set going once more, and a new civil service and administration recreated. (p. 48.)
Under these circumstances it is hardly surprising that Botha and Smuts felt their dependence on their conquerors, and that their policy of conciliation received the support of the majority of their countrymen for a period of several years. In the Orange River Colony which had no large English-speaking population like the mining towns in the Transvaal, this policy was by no means so popular. Nevertheless the Union of the two ex-republics with the British colonies of the Cape and Natal was eventually effected in 1910.

Botha became the first premier. He expanded Het Volk into the South African National Party aiming to include British as well as Boer supporters. The mining interests of the Transvaal, however, combined with British elements in the Cape to form the Unionist Party, which retained its independent existence for ten years. The Labour Party, though strong in the Transvaal towns, was naturally weak in an agricultural country run on unenfranchised native labour, and "direct action" has, on more than one occasion, led to considerable violence on the Rand.

It was not long before the Government found itself in conflict with this element of the working-class. In July, 1913, a miners' strike brought out the whole Imperial garrison to restore order. Six months later an attempt at a general strike, including the State railwaymen, "was countered by the Proclamation of Martial Law. . . . Nine trade union leaders were summarily deported without trial" (South Africa, p. 58.)

A few months earlier, Hertzog (one of Botha's ministers who was dropped on account of his open hostility to the British elements) formed a new National Party. When the European War broke out in 1914, he advocated neutrality. The Botha Government, however, proceeded to send an expedition to invade German South-West Africa. A 'rebellion led, among others, by De Wet, gave them some trouble, but the leaders of the Nationalist Party had little confidence in its success and Botha kept control of the situation; his party lost ground, however, as the followers of Hertzog increased in number. Smuts held a place in the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917 along with Lord Milner, the High Commissioner of Boer War days.

Botha died "execrated among his own people" but "the hero of the Imperialists" (South Africa, pp. 62-3) and " Smuts inherited a peck of troubles. The elections (1920) returned the Nationalists as the biggest single party, while the Unionists lost heavily to the advantage of Labour in the towns" (p. 65). Smuts had only one course in order to retain office. He secured support from the Unionists who sank their identity in his party and allowed three of their members to join the Cabinet. Botha's dream of conciliation was realised—a Dominion of the British Empire in South Africa had been established.

March, 1922, saw a revival of the Rand trouble. Strikers drilled openly on the Reef, the defence commandos were called out and aeroplanes and field artillery were finally required to quell the rising.

At the next election in 1924 the Labour Party formed a pact with the party of Hertzog to avoid splitting the anti-Government vote. As a piece of tactics it was an immediate success. The Nationalist-cum-Labour coalition had a substantial majority and two Labour leaders entered the Ministry.

In order to secure the support of the Labour Party the Nationalists dropped the Republican clause from their constitution. Nevertheless General Hertzog spent some years trying to clarify the status of the Union. He wanted the right to secede recognised and it took two Imperial Conferences to satisfy him. In economic matters his government pursued a policy of Protection coupled with Factories Acts, Wages Boards and Industrial Conciliation.

In native affairs Hertzog stood for white supremacy and repressive legislation (such as the Colour Bar Bill, 1926, which limited natives in mines to unskilled labour, the Riotous Assemblies Act, 1930, and the Native Service Contract Act, 1932) found its way on to the Statute Book. As Mr. Agar Hamilton points out, he "could always rely on the support of ultra-British Natal for the more repressive side of his policy" (South Africa, p. 122). And, we may add, that of the more short-sighted white members of the working-class who fail to realise the necessity for organising irrespective of race or colour.

In 1929 the Labour Party split over the Question of continuing their pact with Hertzog. In the elections of that year the Coalition lost ground but the Government retained its majority. The following year the world depression made itself felt throughout the Union where the number of mortgaged farms is abnormally high. "Long established landowners were ruined and those small farmers and "bywoners" who normally lived dose to the poverty line suffered appalling privations" (South Africa, p. 80),

The diamond mines were closed as the price of their product collapsed and thousands of diggers in the Western Transvaal found themselves destitute. Relief works became the order of the day.

After a vain struggle to remain on the gold standard the Government finally abandoned it in December, 1932. During the following year negotiations were opened between the Nationalists and the South African Parties. The two Labour Ministers were dropped while Smuts and five of his supporters joined the Government. "Parliament was dissolved, but an adroit system of parcelling out the seats ensured the return of the two big parties very nearly as before " (South Africa, P. 84).

Thus the intrigues and trickery with which we are familiar in the case of the Mother of Parliaments, are very closely reflected in her youngest daughter. Those workers who believe that the British Empire is democratic in principle might reflect on these facts; and, further, ask themselves what is the lot of the workers in the latest addition to the Commonwealth of Nations. According to Mr. Agar Hamilton, "two major problems commonly exercise the minds of the people of South Africa, the Poor White and the Native" (p. 105).

The Carnegie Commission reckoned that in 1929-30, before the effects of the depression were felt, 17.5 per cent, of the white population were "very poor." After 1930 the position became more serious, i.e., 20 per cent. Poverty among white workers in Africa has its peculiar features due to local conditions yet Professor Macmillan says: "The poor whites are little more than the 'reservoir' of unemployed to be found wherever Western industrialism has dislocated the old agrarian system." (Complex South Africa, p. 16.)

The native population of five and a half million may be divided broadly into three groups. First some two and a half million have their homes in "Reserves," i.e., "the last vestiges of the land once occupied by independent tribes" (South Africa, p. 111). They are little more than a breeding ground; for the majority of the able-bodied males are away working in the mines or on farms for the greater part of the year. The Reserves are not capable of feeding their inhabitants and the shortage of production has to be made good by imports paid for largely by remittance from the absent wage-earners.

The second group of two million (the so-called "squatters") reside on the farms of the white invaders who annexed and divided up the land. They pay for the accommodation either in labour or produce according to the requirements of the owners. The remaining group work in the towns.

All alike suffer poverty. In the words of Professor Macmillan: "There is little room left for doubt that the natives of the Union as a whole are a community dragging along at the very lowest level of bare subsistence." (Complete South Africa, p. 221.)

From all of which it would appear that the Commonwealth of Nations is not incompatible with the poverty of its people.
Eric Boden
(Socialist Standard, July 1943)

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Namibia sues Germany for "forgotten genocide"

 Representatives of two indigenous groups have filed a class action suit in New York against Germany seeking reparations for an alleged genocide of their peoples by German colonial rulers over a century ago in what is now Namibia.

  The suit filed by the Ovaherero and Nama people on Thursday in New York also demands that their representatives be included in negotiations between Germany and Namibia on the issue.

  The plaintiffs said they were bringing the class action suit "on behalf of all Ovaherero and Nama worldwide, seeking reparations and compensation for the genocide" suffered at the hands of the German colonial authorities.

  They said they were also seeking a declaration of their right "to be included in any negotiation between Germany and Namibia" and that no settlements can be reached unless they are among the signatories.

  The dispute harkens back to a period in the late 19th and early 20th century when South West Africa, now known as Namibia, was a German colony.

  The suit alleges that from 1885 to 1903 about a quarter of Ovaherero and Nama lands -- thousands of square miles -- was taken without compensation by German settlers with the explicit consent of German colonial authorities.

  It also claims that German colonial authorities turned a blind eye to rapes by colonists of Ovaherero and Nama women and girls, and the use of forced labour.

  Tensions boiled over in early 1904 when the Ovaherero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.

  The suit alleges that as many 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama people died in a campaign of annihilation led by German General Lothar von Trotha.

  The plaintiffs include Vekuii Rukoro, identified as the paramount chief of the Ovaherero people, David Frederick, chief and chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association, and the non-profit Association of the Ovaherero Genocide in the USA, Inc.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

His Excellency

Dear Comrades

  I was shocked a few weeks ago when I read the utterances by a Mr. Steve Franke (said to work for a global group) in a local daily. He attributes President Mugabe’s socio-economic catastrophe to his Marxism. I wonder if anyone on Earth could be farther from Marxism than Mr. Mugabe: Mr. Trump is much better because he acquired his wealth outside of government office. Our own Mr. Excellency abused Marxism (equality/fairness) to win public support.

  If you have access to the likes of Mr. Franke kindly put the following questions: Did not Marx say (if socialism is implemented) the state will wither away? While 99 percent of us (Zimbabweans) are literally starving is not His Excellency building a too large army and police force? Marxism? Add state-of-the-art military academies (and we are not under threat from anyone), new parliament, new capital city etc.

  While we starve Mr. Mugabe was among the poor before going into public office, but his cabinet are Christian, did not Marx criticize religion? In fact, what I can say is that Marx overrated influential people’s morals and compassion. And while Christ and other religionists were dreamers, mysticists (selfish and arrogant) Marx was the best in terms of ethics, they (gullibly) believe they will join their god in the (imaginary) paradise. Although they now disown each other, law, politics, religion originate together, in a bid to make order to society; tragically the cunning and powerful abused power selfishly. Hence proponents of just, fair and ethical ideals like Marx were condemned while proponents of bigotry/dictatorship like Christ (read, e.g. Matthew 10:34-42 and Luke 9:59-60) are eulogised. An Almighty Dad (if he has the power; love and mercy he is said to have) would never subject his son to barbaric torture.

  Instead of facing reality (like Marx), mysticists waste time and resources wrestling an imaginary monster. Thus the very real monsters abusing power (the bully bigots exploiting and torturing 99 percent of the population) are ignored. Really, some churches are very well organised, help their members in need but, pathetically, if you are going in the wrong direction, you will never get to your destination, however graceful your pace may be.

  Bigots wishfully think they can lock reality out of the front door. I am one of the many made destitute when our cruel and selfish leaders forfeited our savings (now I am unemployable due to age. Ironically, His Excellency wants to work beyond 2020, even if he is 25 years older than me, old enough to be my father. But ever since robbing us in 2008/9 they are bombarding us with propaganda ‘Empowerment! Zim asset’ instead of doing some good to us. They defrauded/robbed in 2008/9, once more they are squandering millions of US dollars telling us how good His Excellency is and how much good is in store for us come 2018.

  A week ago: people were tortured and chased by armed police from demonstrating against the bond notes, but the Herald newspaper came out with ‘people ignore the planned demo…’ Yes, locking reality out of the front door, but they forget we live in the situation, although we have no access to the internet and we cannot afford phones, which can access Facebook, Google etc. Yes, religious propagandists are safer because with their acumen to articulate and encourage the suspension of logic, hallucinate and infatuate congregants.

GODWIN HATITYE, Harare, Zimbabwe

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Digest January 2017

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars

 Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

 A report in the Intercept by Nick Turse highlights some proxy operations overseas by the US military as follows.

  In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

“In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution,” Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, told African Defense, a U.S. trade publication, early this fall. “We are not at war in Africa — but our African partners certainly are.”

That statement stands in stark contrast to this year’s missions in Somalia where, for example, U.S. Special Operations forces assisted local commandos in killing several members of the militant group, al-Shabab and Libya, where they supported local fighters battling members of the Islamic State. These missions also speak to the exponential growth of special operations on the continent.

As recently as 2014, there were reportedly only about 700 U.S. commandos deployed in Africa on any given day. Today, according to Bolduc, “there are approximately 1,700 [Special Operations forces] and enablers deployed… at any given time. This team is active in 20 nations in support of seven major named operations.”

Using data provided by Special Operations Command and open source information, The Intercept found that U.S. special operators were actually deployed in at least 33 African nations, more than 60% of the 54 countries on the continent, in 2016.

Special Operations Forces deployments in 33 African countries in 2016.

“We’re supporting African military professionalization and capability-building efforts,” said Bolduc. “The [Special Operations forces] network helps create specific tailored training for partner nations to empower military and law enforcement to conduct operations against our mutual threats.”

The majority of African governments that hosted deployments of U.S. commandos in 2016 have seen their own security forces cited for human rights abuses by the U.S. State Department, including Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Tanzania, among others.

According to data provided to The Intercept by Special Operations Command, elite U.S. troops are also deployed to Sudan, one of three nations, along with Iran and Syria, cited by the U.S. as “state sponsors of terrorism.”

“U.S. [Special Operations forces] have occasionally met with U.S. State Dept. and interagency partners in Sudan to discuss the overall security situation in the region,” Africa Command spokesperson Chuck Prichard wrote in an email.

Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw added, “Their visit had nothing to do with Sudan’s government or military.”