Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The election farce

The election farce

As we stand in Zimbabwe, the farce called election is a circus to make the majority endorse the military junta as a democratically elected government. The “international community” is fully aware that a military coup took place and that the current regime is illegal, and that Mnangagwa is as much a bigot (if not worse) as Mugabe anyway. But, tragically, the powerful elite of the international community is not worried about the violations of human rights by Zim bigots. They want trading partners endorsed by the (manipulated) Zim electorate.

In reality, Manangagwa has been Mugabe’s king-maker since 1978. He owes the majority of Zim an apology (for the socio-economic mess we are in.) Of course, he like Mugabe came in 1980. Smith’s cardinal sin was refusing to cede power to him; to Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s cardinal sine was refusing to cede power to him. Who can be fooled by Mnangagwa? He has been a member (since 1978) of the ZANU (PF) politiburo. He has been in cabinet since 18th April 1980! He was the chief architect of ZANU (PF)’s refusal to hand over power to the overwhelming winner in the 2008 election, the MDC (Mugabe confessed that even at gunpoint when he was forced to sign in November 2017.)

In reality, the greatest schemer and the greatest flatterer of Mugabe were the very ED (Mnangagwa )! To a larger extent RD (Mugabe) was well informed about the ED conspiracy, but (his worse blunder) was to let his nagging wife loose:- she was thinking and planning aloud! To be loved to madness, such was her great desire (she and hubby paid dearly for it.) Articulate made a pre-emptive move. The only difference (major) between ED and RG is that one is lighter and the other is darker in complexion. They are both arrogant, extremely selfish and very insensitive to the agony of the people of Zimbabwe. We suffer too much, but both RG and ED invest heavily in murder technology/technicians (the military). Zimbabwe is under no threat from anyone. If ED was slightly better than RG the first thing he would have done was (on day one of his 100 days) would have been to renounce the military academy on 2nd St. Ext./Mazoe Road and proclaim it ‘No.1 Civilian University’ in Zim. He confiscated/collected $U.S. billions from fellow looters since the November 2017 coup. But instead of doing some good he is just putting up billboards, etc campaigning. I, like many, live under threat of eviction from my residence, whose purchase price I paid for in 1996 (in full) and starvation. Yet, I, like many, am not pleading for government handouts, but for the benefit of what I worked for, and saved up to 2008 (for my old age), but was frozen by the bank with central government blessing.

Now, please, show me an ED who has the people (apart from his own relatives) at heart. Well, in Britain you may enjoy the theatrical Julius Caesar, Macbeth, King Lear etc., in Zimbabwe we experience/suffer the live ones in different names. The Duncans and the Pompeys have been disposed; we are the Marulus and Flavius asking the crowd and the cobbler who confesses: “…indeed sir, we rejoice ED’s triumph…”, and we ask “wherefore rejoice, are we not in the same mess which ED and RG dumped us? Is not ED in the same mood of “to be thus is nothing but to be safely thus?” Of course, witch hunting and purging will occupy his entire life.

 Harare, Zimbabwe

Playing with Apartheid (1982)

From the June 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

The present use of sport for political ends was foreshadowed before World War II by the attitudes of the dictators Hitler and Mussolini, who encouraged and financed the endeavours of native footballers and athletes. The disappointment shown by Hitler and other leading Nazis at the win of the negro Jesse Owens over their own German favourite at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, is still well remembered. Most governments nowadays assist the efforts of “their” athletes of international class. They value success at this level because it engenders patriotic feeling and distracts the working class from problems at home. By publicising the country it helps exporters to gain ground on competitors. So sport today often spills over from its allotted place on the back pages of newspapers into front page headlines.

Although coming into a somewhat different category, in one way or another the apartheid policy operated by the South African government is often involved in such instances. Scarcely a week passes without news of some projected sporting conflict being jeopardised by the “South African Connection”. The latest major incident burst on a sick and weary world last February in an announcement from South Africa that a team of “rebel” English cricketers had arrived to start a tour sponsored by South African Breweries. Many South African cricketers, boycotted internationally for years, welcomed this chance to test their skills against top class opposition.

There have of course been many examples of discrimination in sport not involving apartheid. In many cases—polo, racquets and equestrian events—the high cost of competing eliminates the average worker before the event begins. In this country, cricket was for a long time bedevilled by the distinction between amateurs and professionals. Among other things, the latter—working men playing for a living—had to stay at inferior hotels to their amateur teammates who, in the main, had enough unearned income not to need payment. In some cases however, including that of W. G. Grace, amateurs were secretly paid to ensure that they did not have to openly turn professional. Although officially abolished 20 years ago, vestiges of this traditional separation linger on today. Similar distinctions arose in the United States where, until 1947, the major league baseball teams consisted of white players only. There were separate leagues for negro players. Now many of the major league teams have more black than white players on their staff. In none of these cases was there any legal backing for discrimination, whereas in South Africa apartheid operates within a legal framework, as a result of legislation passed by successive National Party governments since 1948.

The aims of the apartheid policies pursued by the South African government since 1948 are analysed in depth in our pamphlet The Problem of Racism, published in 1966. This government has represented the interests of the Afrikaner farming section of the ruling class, and the policy has been an attempt to preserve the values and attitudes of the old agricultural order and hold back the development of industrial capitalism. The latter is largely controlled by the English speaking capitalists, who would much prefer a free market in labour to the present restrictive situation. Until a few years ago the Afrikaners had a big advantage because of their unity, while the opposition became fragmented. However the increasing Afrikaner involvement in industry and the development of modern capitalist farming have led to dissensions within the National Party, as a section want some relaxation of apartheid rigidity, and others see this as “the beginning of the end”. In the case of its policy on sport, pressure from outside has combined with a shift in Afrikaner attitudes to produce some quite significant changes.

When the National Party government took power in 1948 they applied a rigid apartheid policy in sport as in all other walks of life: sportsfields, seating and clubs were segregated. World reaction took some time to gather pace, but eventually, boycotts of South African players started to mushroom. Eventually, an attempt was made to apply the policy to visiting teams also, and the situation reached a critical point when it was announced that a New Zealand rugby team, including Maoris, would not be allowed in. On 4 September 1965 the then Prime Minister, Verwoerd, addressing a meeting at Loskop Dam, spelled it out thus:
Our standpoint is that just as we subject ourselves to another country’s customs and traditions without flinching, without any criticism, and cheerfully, so do we expect when another sends representatives to us they will behave in the same way, namely not involving themselves in our affairs, and that they will adapt themselves to our customs.
(Quoted in The Broederband, Ivor Wilkins and Hans Strydom, Paddington Press 1979)
This statement was like fuel on the fire but, for a time, the government stood firm. To them, the policy seemed quite fair and they may well have expected it to be accepted. When it became obvious that it was seen very differently abroad, the next Prime Minister, Vorster, changed the policy and allowed the Maoris to tour. However, he told Parliament a few weeks later: “Inside South Africa there will not be mixed sporting events, irrespective of the proficiency of the participants. On this there can be no compromise, negotiations or abandonment of principle” (Ibid).

Wilkins and Strydom also relate how the Prime Minister had to ride a tremendous backlash from hard line Afrikaners. These reactionaries did not consider sporting prestige important enough to justify any weakening in apartheid and were perfectly prepared to accept complete isolation if that was the only alternative. It was very probable that Vorster decided in 1968 to “sacrifice” cricket as a sop to these critics. Although both games have their origin in Britain, in South Africa rugby is primarily an Afrikaner game while cricket is mainly played by the English speaking population. This was the year of the “D’Oliveira crisis”. Basil D’Oliveira, a Cape Coloured and as such ineligible for selection by South Africa, had qualified for England and been chosen to tour. “To a cheering (Orange) Free State National Congress, Mr. Vorster announced that D’Oliveira’s selection was political and unacceptable” (Ibid).

Except for a visit the following season by an Australian team (which incidentally lost every Test Match by enormous margins). South Africa has played no cricket at international level since then. The position with rugby was only slightly different. The 1970 New Zealand tour was a great success, the Maori players being among the most popular. In 1974 a British Lions team arrived and shocked the Springboks by winning three of the four international matches and drawing the other. It was now obvious that South Africa faced an indefinite period of total sporting ostracism and a decline in standards through lack of the necessary level of competition.

The Afrikaner government was in a terrible dilemma. Wilkins and Strydom report that a 1974 survey of opinion within the Broederband, and exclusive Afrikaner body, showed 97 per cent in favour of national sporting policies for every “nation” to be affiliated with world bodies (a policy rejected by these bodies because the “nations” were not considered to be independent); 92 per cent were opposed to mixed teams being fielded in sports other than athletics; whereas 93 per cent accepted the inclusion of non-whites for the Olympic Games, but as an interim measure only. Yet despite this, writing only four years later, Wilkins and Strydom could predict that “in about two years all races will play together on club, provincial and national level, will sit together on stands, will use all the club facilities such as bars and toilets, and that no more applications for permits will be needed”.

Certainly, significant changes have been made. The pressure from abroad, combined with internal pressure from inside and outside Afrikanerdom, has overcome a white backlash which, observing events elsewhere on the continent, was and still is terrified of the consequences of “giving in to the blacks”. A British Lions rugby team visited South Africa in 1980 and played against non-whites in some matches. A South African touring party, containing some coloured players, visited New Zealand in 1981. Despite these isolated events however the sports boycott of South Africa is still virtually complete.

Internationally the capitalist class has reacted in fairly predictable fashion to the anti-capitalist policies pursued by the National Party governments. While perfectly prepared to trade with and invest in South Africa, openly or secretly as circumstances dictate, they have nevertheless made it clear that they expect conformity to normal capitalist practice; for example an open labour market, without the reservation of certain classes of jobs for whites. The expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth in I960 was a result of this stand.

However, whereas countries like Great Britain—where capitalists are mostly white—would be satisfied with a South African capitalism dominated by a white ruling class, this does not appear to be the case generally. Countries like India and the emergent ‘Third World” nations, where the capitalists are mostly non-white and perhaps under pressure from extremists in their own ranks, want rather more. South Africa has now become an anomaly in another sense: it is the only part of the continent still under white rule. It could well be that India, for instance, feels that better trading terms could be obtained from a non-white ruling class (a class of wealthy Indians has long been in existence) rather than from white capitalists still harbouring old prejudices from the apartheid era.

This difference is reflected in the field of sport. Sporting bodies in states such as Britain and New Zealand, expressing satisfaction with efforts in South Africa to provide multi-racial sport, show some willingness to resume relations. The position of New Zealand is particularly delicate. The large farming element there may to some extent sympathise with Afrikaner attitudes, and their main sport is also rugby football. South Africa and New Zealand have traditionally had the best teams, so New Zealand players and turnstiles have keenly felt the loss of fixtures with the Springboks.

Walter Hadlee, past New Zealand cricket captain and test selector, gives expression to his frustration in an article in the 1982 Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack entitled "The Escalating Effect of Politics in Cricket”. He criticises the Gleneagles Agreement drawn up by Commonwealth governments in June 1977 to effect a common policy on sporting links with South Africa, aptly noting: “Different interpretations have given rise to endless controversy, much of it still continuing . . . Governments and anti-apartheid groups never seem to clarify their demands by setting out the precise requirements to be met either by the South African government or the sporting bodies concerned”. Hadlee interprets Gleneagles as meaning that when apartheid is no longer practised in any particular sport, normal relations can be resumed. From this viewpoint, he comments on South African cricket that “they attained this in 1977”. Similar impatience was displayed in an editorial in the April 1982 issue of The Cricketer International". “India, Pakistan and Guyana, for instance, exercise some repression on ethnic or religious grounds. Moreover, cricketers from these countries have cheerfully played with and against South Africans in England. Where should principles stop being applied?”

In non-white dominated countries a different view is taken. Here the Gleneagles agreement is interpreted as demanding an end to apartheid—not just on the sports field. They question whether the multiracial South African teams now being fielded are in fact selected on merit. Here there is a practical problem. Because of years of discrimination, only a few non-whites have achieved the necessary standards. What may be a genuine selection on ability can appear to an outside observer as an attempt to appease critics by fiddling one or two non-white “passengers”.

In this case, the counter discrimination does not stop at a refusal to play against South African representatives. Teams and individuals who have previously played in, or against, South Africa is also boycotted. The England cricket tour of India last winter was jeopardised because Geoffrey Boycott and some other members of the party had played and coached in the Republic (coaching mainly non-whites, incidentally). On that occasion a declaration by Boycott of his personal opposition to apartheid was accepted by the Indian government. However, when Boycott and other current England players travelled with the rebel band earlier this year, the only way in which India and Pakistan would agree to go ahead with their projected tours of England this summer demanded that these individuals be prevented from taking the field against them.

To prevent a crippling loss of much-needed gate receipts, the Test and County Cricket Board had no alternative but to impose a ban lasting for three years on the selection for England of these rebel players. More extreme action has been taken in the West Indies. The Guyana government cancelled a Test Match because the England team included Robin Jackman, a player with a South African wife, who had played in South Africa. The West Indies Cricket Board cancelled a projected cricket tour by a New Zealand team because of the 1981 tour of New Zealand by the South African rugby team. In neither case, it appears, were the opinions on apartheid of the individuals objected to considered to be of any importance.

Criticism is often directed at individuals for allegedly introducing politics into spheres of activity which, it is said, should be outside the political arena. Sport is often considered to be such a sphere, but the criticism is manifestly absurd. Because the class division of present-day society is to some extent reflected in all aspects of life, informed comment on any of these activities, particularly by those who seek to abolish this class division, must of necessity be political in content. We have seen, how pressure applied in the field of sport, but with the broader aim of modifying the wider South African society, does appear to be meeting with some success. It does increasingly look as if this story of sport and apartheid will not end until South Africa has a non-white capitalist government. The present white ruling class can scarcely be expected to acquiesce in this, as it will inevitably mean the reduction of many of them to the status of wage workers. The present unstable condition of many black African states increases still further the paranoia of the rich South African whites. Yet even the establishment of a black capitalism in the Republic will not prevent sundry prejudices from bedevilling sport, as in all aspects of life.

E. C. Edge

Making people homeless in Kenya

The homes of about 30,000 people have been demolished in a Kenyan slum to make way for a new $20m (£15m) dual carriage way in the capital Nairobi. The residents, living in part of the city's largest slum, Kibera, were given just two weeks notice to leave.
 Amnesty International has condemned the evictions. Amnesty International has described the evictions as tragic and illegal, saying the sight of young children carrying away their families' belongings was heart-breaking. Executive director for Kenya Irũngũ Houghton added the demolitions "betray" a deal made to agree a resettlement plan before evicting the residents.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Africa Sinking

In the early 2000s, wily state and corporate PR agents masquerading as journalists began talking about an “Africa Rising”. Whereas the continent had been seen in the modern era as hopeless, corrupt and politically dependent hell-holes that had failed the independence experiment, the new narrative told of double-digit growth, rising incomes, a middle class and even solid, stable democratic values. The ruse didn’t last long. “Africa Rising” exposed itself for the farce that it was. 

It became clear that economic growth – where ever it may have been booming – was not solving the conundrum of income inequality. As economies in Europe slowed around 2008-2009, investors were playing up the “Africa Rising” card: they talked of expanding mobile phone networks, building shopping malls, and technological innovation in Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana as IT hubs were sold as the continent’s short-cut to development. Then the global economy shrunk again in 2015. South Africa and Nigeria – the continent’s biggest economies contracted, too. But the myth of “Africa Rising”, didn’t die completely. Now, analysts spoke of “Africa Rising in certain countries”, like Ethiopia and Rwanda.

A report, published by the US-based Brookings Institute, and based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock, shows that some 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 (R14) per day). This is an acute, dangerous level of poverty, in which families are on the verge of starving, or living in destitution. Africans account for around two-thirds of the total number. If current trends persist, Africans will account for nine-tenths by 2030. 14 out of the 18 countries where extreme poverty was increasing were in Africa itself.

Nigeria is said to have the highest number of people – about 87 million people – living in extreme poverty while the Democratic Republic of Congo has 60 million people. But also on this list are Ethiopia and Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. These are large, important economies on the continent, and this did not happen overnight. Six Nigerians fall into extreme poverty each minute. Likewise, for all the talk of Ethiopia’s economic boom over the past decade, 23.9 million people still live in extreme poverty.

Africa is not a country, and the insistence on treating it as such is not merely an irritant; the one-size fits all plans by global institutions continue to fail. When investments have come in, they have almost always benefited the political and ­social elite. When loans have come in from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it has come with woeful conditions: privatisation, reducing government spending, and deregulating the market. The high levels of inequality meant that those excluded fall even further down the chain. The population is growing, and bigger incomes aren’t able to pull larger families out of poverty as a result. Lastly, the amount of money being stolen out of the continent is still astronomical. A 2010 study by the Global Financial Integrity group showed that $854 billion was illicitly transferred out of the continent between 1972-2010. Out of that, $89.5bn came from Nigeria. It is the illicit transfer of money that is among the biggest culprits for poverty on the continent. Neither can we ignore the many nefarious trade deals that keep many on the continent at bay. Consider the recent decision by Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to ban second-hand clothing to their countries, so that the country can develop its own clothing industry. The US promptly suspended the duty-free status of Rwanda’s textile products as punishment.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Capitalism in Zimbabwe (1982)

From the April 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard
  The following article was first published on 4 October 1981 under the title “Capitalism Stands in the Way of Social Advance” in the “Talking Point” column of the Sunday Mail of Salisbury, Zimbabwe, where the Prime Minister Mugabe has just announced that his Party will rule for ever. Ian Smith was more modest; he merely spoke of ruling for a thousand years. It is up to the working class, armed with the ideas expressed in this article, to bring Mugabe’s ambitions to nought.
* * *
Important changes are taking place now in this part of Africa we live in, changes in human attitudes and the material conditions by which production continues, briefly, in how human beings spend their time. We must try to understand the society we live in.

The dominant society, worldwide, is capitalism. It is international and it is existing now in Zimbabwe, in a less developed form than in, say, Europe or America or Russia. Capitalism is only a name for a type of society characterised by the way people living together under it have certain dealings or relations with each other in the everyday affairs of life.

It is called by this name, capitalism, because the means of production and distribution of commodities under it, the land, factories, railways, etc., are owned by capitalists, that is, by people possessing large amounts of money that they have invested so as to acquire ownership of these means of production and distribution.

They may be landlords with their money invested in land and buildings, and draw their income in the form of rent. They may be owners of factories or trading concerns, or they may have shares in a large number of companies and receive their income in the form of profits.

Lastly, they may have invested their money by making loans to manufacturing or trading capitalists, or by lending it to the Government or councils. They then received “interest” on the loan. All these groups are alike in that they live by receiving income from their investments, a private property income.

The working class, by applying their energies to nature-given material, produce all of the necessities and luxuries which the whole of the population consume; but as employees they receive a wage or salary which provides them only with the means of subsistence for their maintenance and their families.

The workers in, say, three days’ work a week, produce an amount equal to what they receive as wages: the rest of the week their work produces a “surplus value" out of which are derived the rent, interest and profit of the propertied class, their private property.

Here is the root cause of working class poverty. The workers are carrying the propertied class on their backs, the workers are an exploited class under capitalism.

It has been necessary to describe briefly capitalism to begin understanding in what direction Zimbabwe is going.

The old regime was restraining capitalism under the banner of privilege. So for capitalism to develop, it had to be removed. The capitalist knows that black workers can be trained to be as skilled as any white worker, so racial privilege had to go; and further sees in the black workers a vast, expanding market for commodities.

Also, it is essential for the development of capitalism that the small-scale production and natural economy of the self-sufficient peasant be ended, and so steps are being taken to draw the producers in communal lands into the “money economy”.

Town or city workers who lay claim to rural land will be denied this land in the interest of developing capitalism, since workers to be trained for capitalism must be “stable” and compelled to work for wages only.

The growth of the market, the accumulation of capital, the modification of the social position of the classes, a large number of persons being deprived of alternative sources of income other than wages—all these are historical pre-conditions for the expansion of capitalism.

It is against this reality that capitalists and their sycophants issue their appeal to the workers to “forget class”, “forget exploitation”, “work harder” and enter into harmonious co-operation with their employer in the interest of the company, or with the Government in the interest of “the nation”.

However, there can be no sound basis for reconciliation between exploited and exploiting classes.

Exploitation will cease only when the means of production and distribution cease to be owned by a small class of capitalists and become the common property of society as a whole.

Production will be democratically controlled solely and directly for the use of the whole population with no buying and selling, no price system. Rent, interest and profit, and the wages system will be abolished. Production and distribution will be on the socialist principle: “From each according to ability: to each according to need”. All will have free access to society’s products.

There will be no class division, no working class or owning class and no trade unions; there can be no trade unions because there will be no wages to bargain over and no employers to bargain with. Socialist society can only be worldwide, humanity will not be segregated behind national frontiers or coerced by the armed forces of governments.

The question that needs to be put to all political parties is, therefore, whether or not they stand for the immediate abolition of capitalism, substituting socialism. If they do not, then they are standing in the way of social advance, even though, without any justification, they choose to call their policies socialism.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

South Africa' Inequality

South Africa remains the most unequal country in the world, according to a new report by the South African Human Rights Commission.

10% of South Africa’s population owns 90% of the country’s wealth, while the wealthiest 10% earns seven times more than the bottom 40%.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has released its 2017/2018 report in which it indicates that South Africa remains the most unequal country with 64% of black South Africans, 41% of coloured people, 6% of Indian people and only 1% of white people living in poverty.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A world cup jaunt

Kenyans have reacted furiously to news that 20 MPs have travelled to watch the World Cup at the taxpayers' expense. They are watching four games, including the final, in a two-week trip to Russia estimated to be costing hundreds of thousands of US dollars.
 Members of parliament usually travel first class. When travelling on official business, Kenyan MPs are entitled to daily allowances for expenses of around $1,000. Kenyan MPs are believed to be among the best paid in the world but last year they got a 15% pay cut to $6,100 a month.
Many Kenyans thought the trip was a waste of money in a country where the average person lives on $150 (£113) a month.

sugar before food

Hunger has hit parts of Masindi District in Uganda as farmers use land previously used to cultivate food crops for sugarcane growing.

The Masindi chief administrative officer, Mr Cristopher Okumu, says people have heavily invested in growing sugarcanes due to the desire to quick get money which is the cause of hunger.
“The problem is that even the poor who would ensure food crop farming hire out their land to sugarcane farmers,” he says.

Joseph Mugisa, a resident of Kinyara says they hire out their land to sugarcane farmers in search of money to take their children to school.
“We would plant food crops but those who hire our land give us a lot of money,” Mr Mugisa says.


Pictures of Racism (1982)

Book Review from the May 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard
Women under Apartheid, IDAF, 1981.

This book is published by the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa—an organisation opposed to racial oppression—in co-operation with the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid. It consists of some 100 photographs from an exhibition commissioned by the UN. accompanied by a sketchy analysis of apartheid and its manifold consequences chiefly from the perspective of black women, and an account of their bitter and protracted struggle against the system from 1913 onwards.

At the heart of apartheid is the migrant labour system, a consequence of the government’s policy of “separate development”; the territorial division of South Africa into a developed “white” area comprising 87 per cent of the land, and the various tribal homelands or bantustans to which the African 70 per cent of the population belong. Roughly two-thirds of the 9½ million Africans in white South Africa are migrant labourers on annual contracts; the remaining one-third qualify for the right to reside in black townships or “locations” under the stringent conditions laid down in section 10 of the Urban Areas Act.

Influx control is the means whereby the system is maintained, ensuring an adequate supply of cheap labour. Those “economically superfluous” to the requirements of the white area are denied entry or are “re-located” to a homeland called their “country” to which they may never have been before. Indeed, since 1948 over 3 million Africans have been forcibly removed in this fashion and dumped in the homelands, compounding the desperate poverty there.

This basic pattern of black existence applies with particular force to women. More women (6.1m) than men (5.2m) live in the homelands since male migrants cannot take their families with them. As a result, broken marriages and desertion are common and it is chiefly the women who bear the cost.

Sexually discriminatory laws deny women any right to land, though government appointed chiefs may allocate them areas for use. With overcrowding and poverty intensifying, increasing numbers of women are being forced off the land and into the migrant labour system. Like the men they are accommodated either in single quarters belonging to their employers or single-sex, barrack-like hostels into which they cannot bring husbands, boy-friends or children.

As a group, black women earn considerably less than even the low wages paid to black men. For the most part they work as domestic servants for white women. According to the author Hilda Bernstein, after childbirth “the primary role of a white woman becomes that of consumer and living display, through leisure and adornment, of her husband’s wealth”, and the possession of a domestic or two enables them to fulfil this role.

Black women are discriminated against by residential laws in many ways. For example, the stipulation in the Urban Areas Act that the right to reside in an urban area is dependent on whether one has worked for a single employer in the area continuously for at least ten years, or lived in the area continuously for at least 15 years, works against women who stay with their parents in rural areas for the birth of their babies. Neither can women be registered as tenants in townships or stay in urban areas if widowed or divorced.

Some of the photographs are particularly poignant. An old woman in socks sitting against a wall mending her skirt with gnarled hands; another prostrate on the ground beside her scanty belongings, waiting for a train to some settlement camp. On the other hand, the picture of a crowd of black demonstrators bearing posters “WE STAND BY OUR LEADERS” certainly won't arouse sympathy in any socialist; indeed, one of the failings of movements such as the ANC is its elitist outlook. Apart from anything else, the existence of a hierarchical structure enables the authorities swiftly to immobilise protest by arresting its leaders. A rigorously democratic organisation would be much the stronger for not having to rely on “leaders”.

Finally, the book fails to discuss the sort of society which the struggle against apartheid seeks to bring about. It also tends towards generalisation and exaggeration and serves to obscure understanding of the structure of present society. An example is the statement that “through the apartheid system the wealth and resources are controlled by the ruling white minority”. This is not true. There are black capitalists and impoverished white workers, as well as white capitalists and black workers. Anyone who imagines that changing the colour of the ruling class will make a significant difference to the lot of black workers need look no further than the various despotic regimes of the homelands, such as Matanzima’s Transkei or Sebe’s Ciskei, which flaunt their corrupt opulence in the face of black starvation.

Robin Cox

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

War for resources

Uganda and Congo forces clash in Lake Edward dispute. Tensions over an energy-rich border lake have ratcheted up with the death of 12 fishermen. The DRC has said Ugandan troops are firing on "anything that moves." Over the past week, Ugandan and Congolese forces have exchanged fire in a dispute that has left 30 people dead or missing at the disputed border lake. Lake Edward is the smallest of the Great Lakes of eastern Africa and runs along the border between southwestern Uganda and northeastern DRC.  Since the start of 2018, Lake Edward has seen a rise in tensions between the two neighboring countries, as they have quarreled for the lake's energy resources. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018

History in the Making. (1915)

From the January 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

Some of our opponents delight in telling us that "You can’t do without capital! ” To them, the relationship between capitalist and wage-earner is an "eternal verity”—part of an imaginary, fixed order of things! Others, while admitting that the relationship has a historical origin, claim that it is the inevitable result of intelligence, thrift, and law-abiding 'virtue on the part of the capitalist class, and corresponding stupidity, extravagance, and vice on the part of their slaves. Perhaps they may both be interested in the state of affairs here in East Africa, a region the population of which has only recently been brought within the sphere of capitalist influences.

The writer seeks to show that here, at any rate, the employing class are by no means regarded by the workers as indispensable to their happiness; nor are the means by which the would-be ruling class endeavours to establish and extend its dominion so idyllic as they are imagined to have been in the past.

Previous to the invasion of their territory by a handful, relatively, of Asiatics and Europeans, the millions of dusky natives appear to have reached a stage of development similar to that of the Britons of Caesar’s day. They still support themselves as separate tribes by independent pastoral and agricultural pursuits, and this fact is as gall to the ambitious settlers. The suppression of inter-tribal warfare by the Imperial Government has robbed the male native of one of his chief occupations, with the result that he lives in comparative luxury and ease, while his wives follow their former calling as tillers of the soil. What? Well! yes, to be sure he does have to look after flocks and herds but then that-or-that is—the Christian heart of the settler revolts at the monstrous injustice! Here is he badly in need of labour for his plantation and yonder are—"communities of useless parasites," as a prominent pioneer of Empire in the country calls them.

These chivalrous planters of cotton, sisal, and coffee know full well that if female labour were employed in the spinning, rope-making and other factories in the home-country—well, there would be an awful row! So they puzzle their heads to find some way of compelling the male native to work! And here they fall foul of the Missions and the Government; there are other people interested in these new colonies besides the settlers on the spot, and the interests of these others do not necessarily coincide with theirs.

For the present, it suits the manufacturers of "exports” in England to be the "friends” of the natives. The raw savage who sports a greased skin and knobkerries his fellow is of no interest to the Lancashire cotton magnate. Let a missionary come along and teach him the advantages of a nightgown over the aforesaid skin and let him impress upon him the strong objections of God and the Government to such artificial restrictions on population as I have just mentioned; let him further teach him how to grow cotton on his plantation as well as mealies and hey presto! the cotton magnate has, simultaneously, a new market and a source of cheap raw material!

It is hardly a coincidence that Uganda with its vast number of Christianised, white-clad natives, should be one of Lancashire's most hopeful customers; and East Africa is the highway to Uganda! These protectorates have recently been voted three million pounds by the Imperial Government, and a cartoonist in a local rag wittily hit off the situation by depicting the Government of East Africa as a Highland piper with instructions (from Lancashire via the Premier) to play the Uganda cotton reel!

But this raising of the standard of living of the native and his development into a producer for export by no means suits the settler. Hence the missions stink in his nostrils, and he is "against the Government" which supports them. As often as not he comes from "South" where the blacks are already "down and under,” and he chafes at the independence of the native up here. Secure in possession of their cattle, goats, and plantations, these impudent sons of Ham do not appreciate the blessings of employment under the white men’s auspices. If they do leave with the chief's instructions to earn some money they command a wage which in a short time enables them to buy wives and retire, much to the chagrin of the settler, who wants a "regular" labour supply. These natives seem to do very easily "without capital." The odour of a Kikuyu village is not exactly savoury, but its inhabitants are the possessors of a shameless plumpness of face and body which contrasts strongly with the characteristic features of civilised workers. Mr. F. G. Aflalo, who recently travelled through the country, sums up the matter in an article in the "Morning Post" as follows: ‘"The Labour Question, acute just now all the world over, is nowhere perhaps more seriously felt than in British East Africa and Uganda. . . .  It is not, as with us in Europe, any question of Jack thinking himself better than his master, or of strikes for better wages or shorter hours. It is the far more baffling problem of Jack not wanting wages or work at all!"

So serious is the matter considered that a Native Labour Commission was appointed some time ago, and the reply of the Colonial Office to its recommendations formed the basis of a discussion at the Convention of Associations, the "Settlers’ Parliament," held June 29th—July 1st, 1914. Lord Delamere, probably the largest and most influential landholder in the country, and one time member of the Legislative Council, gave evidence before the Commission, and expressed the opinion that if every native was to own sufficient land on which to keep himself, then the question of obtaining a satisfactory labour supply would never be settled. Another witness. Mr. Hilton, advocated an increase in the poll tax on natives, which, he averred, would provide a sufficient supply of labour; presumably by making it necessary for a native to obtain the money required. In its report, the Commission suggested that no increase be made of existing native reserves and that taxation should be considered as a means of increasing the labour supply!

The Colonial Secretary in his reply, “hesitated to accept" these views, but the following extracted comment on par. 112 of the report is significant:
  "The Secretary of State deems it of the utmost importance that the Government Officers should take no action which may suggest to the native that it is desired to effect recruitment by compulsory measures, but definite instructions have already been issued by Hie Excellency to Provincial and District Officers to the effect that they are to lose no opportunity of explaining to the natives the advantages of going out to work, and are to refrain from making any observations which may lead the people under the impression that the Government is not desirous that they should do so. The Governor has himself taken every opportunity of expressing to the Chiefs of the various tribes . . . his desire that they should give their personal support to labour emigration . . .!"
This, however, is hardly good enough for the stalwarts of the Landholders’ Pastoralists’ and Agricultural Associations!

The Chairman of the Convention, after making the oracular announcement that every industry in the country relies directly or indirectly on labour, went on to say: "The labour is there, but we cannot get it, and we shall not get it until we show clearly that we mean to get it," Coupled with their proposals re-labour the Convention also carries on an agitation for a Constitution, and has adopted as a propagandist object, a compulsory military service scheme in view of possible native "trouble.” Thus the settlers show a decided appreciation of the fact that their hope lies in politics and armed force! As one of their number candidly put it: "Apart from fear the natives have no special reason for remaining loyal to us"!

And one does not have to be a Solomon to realise that when the poll-tax is increased and the restriction of the reserves begins, the natives would have every reason for being decidedly disloyal.

It is not for the writer to predict how long it will be before the settlers gain their ends; but neither the productive capacity of the natives nor the market they afford for articles of European manufacture is inexhaustible, and it would seem that the exploitation of the resources of the country on a larger scale will soon be necessary in the interest of capitalists at home. The acceptance of this view by the Imperial Government will spell the doom of the native’s liberty and property and the chance of the settlers to realise the object that has brought them here, i.e., more profit. Probably they will even forgive the missionaries for inculcating in the native mind the notion of “brotherhood” (!) and submission. Need it be added that the natives will hardly be spared any of the horrors of wage-slavery?

What shall we say then? Are the settlers of British East Africa an exceptionally ferocious and callous set of “investors”? By no means! Go into your public libraries and hunt up Thorold Rogers’ “Six Centuries of Work and Wages” or De Gibbins’ ‘‘Industrial History of England,” and study the record of the 15th and 16th centuries in your own land! There you will find that the progenitors of the wage-earning class were as sturdy and independent, if not more so than the inhabitants of Africa, and that before the capitalist class rose to the position they occupy to-day, they had to use against our forefathers, men of their own colour, almost exactly the same measures as are proposed here!

Without a labour market from which to draw exploitable material, capital cannot accumulate to the extent of providing its owner with a life of idleness and ease such as the respectable owners of the land and the means of converting its products into things of use, enjoy to-day! And turn to any country you will, the actual historic fact is that the labour market is created by the forcible divorce of the workers from their means of life! East Africa, then, is no exception; but it provides a modern and vivid object lesson! Here the Convention admits in the shape of a resolution to His Excellency the Governor, that the Government’s delay in adopting their proposals resulted in “great inconvenience and financial loss’' to them. Let the workers the world over take to heart the lesson, and further realise that, just as the possession of their means of life by the capitalist class is the cause of their subjection, so the ownership and control of such means for and by the workers themselves is the necessary and possible foundation of a free society! Let them further note the method, i.e., the political method, by which the ruling class has achieved and propose to extend their dominion! Not by passive strikes or individual acts of violence can the workers hope to achieve their emancipation. Only by meeting political action by counter political action will victory be won!

In conclusion, may I offer a suggestion or two to your correspondent, “Engineer,” re the question he raises in the April issue of the "S.S.” To the extent that the coloured races are dragged into the capitalist maelstrom, they also show a tendency to adopt the standard of life and thought evolved by capitalism in Europe and America to a very large extent. There appears to be no reason why the "nigger’s” consciousness should prove an exception to the general rule that the development of ideas reflects environmental changes! Further, the very rapidity of the change from barbarism and feudalism in Africa and the East should prevent any illusory notions concerning the duration of capitalism or the methods of its establishment, gaining ground there amongst the workers. To the present writer the age long superstitions which encrust the minds of European wage-slaves who cannot remember the origin of capitalism are far greater obstacles to universal working-class emancipation than the present undeveloped condition of the intellect of “coolie labour.” Here in East Africa, white wage-earners are only too ready to manifest those notions of race superiority which aid the capitalist class at the expense of working-class unity! Let the Socialist Party convince the "superior” white worker of his class position and they will not find his coloured competitor either unwilling or unable to learn.

Eric Boden

Saturday, July 07, 2018

China in Africa

For the past two weeks, high-ranking military officials from 50 African states have been in Beijing attending the first China-Africa Defense and Security ForumThe forum (organized by China’s Ministry of National Defense) is a sign of China’s growing military ties with Africa, as is the inauguration of the country’s first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017 and its contribution to U.N. peacekeeping missions.

China’s bilateral relations with many African states already include sending military attaches and holding joint drills and live-fire military exercises

In 2015, President Xi Jinping pledged to provide “$100 million of free military assistance to the African Union in the next five years to support the establishment of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis.” Part of the Chinese government’s second Africa policy paper is a strong focus on the professionalization of training programs in which tens of thousands of African military officials are invited to China for workshops. 

China’s involvement in U.N. peacekeeping operations (PKOs) is another sign of this commitment. China ranks second (after the United States) in financial support of PKOs and first among the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members in contributing peacekeepers. Since Xi’s pledge before the United Nations to further support U.N. PKOs with funds and an 8,000 troop standby force, China has been working on training peacekeepers — both national and foreign units.

China has taken a comprehensive approach, blending trade and investment deals and cultural exchanges with arms sales, medical assistance, troops training, anti-piracy drills and other programs. Here’s another example: The Chinese military base in Djibouti included huge investment deals and developmental projects that were signed into the base package deal. For nearly two decades, the Forum on China Africa Cooperation(FOCAC) has pursued steady economic and cultural diplomacy. FOCAC meetings have taken place every three years since the year 2000, with the location alternating between China and an African country. The continuity and consistency of the forum helped institutionalize China’s multilateral cooperation with African states.

FOCAC also provided Chinese foreign policymakers the experience to apply this forum diplomacy to regions outside Africa (such as the China Arab States Cooperation Forum, initiated in 2004). The security and defense forum will probably be a recurrent element of China-Africa relations — and also a potential launchpad for China’s defense relations to regions beyond Africa.


Blackfacing, now poorfacing

"You’ve heard of tone-deaf crackers dressing up in blackface. Now get ready for tone-deaf millionaires dressing up in poorface. It’s time to brace yourself for South Africa’s annual masturbatory orgy of poverty porn: the wholly hideous CEO SleepOut…The organisers of this year’s event, however, don’t call it poorfacing. They call it a “movement”, like, I suppose, a bowel movement.…it takes a very special kind of shit to imagine that it is a good idea to bid millions of rand to spend a night in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island...Indeed, the Onanistic Rapture of Poorfacing, sorry, I mean CEO SleepOut Movement, has given a total of R38.5-million to what it calls “primary beneficiaries” over the past three years…R38.5-million over three years works out to R12.8-million a year. It sounds like a lot. But here’s the thing. Right now, corporate South Africa is sitting on a pile of around R1.4-trillion. This is the unofficial investment boycott we hear about from time to time: the suits refusing to spend a cent until the state shows signs of being able to make South Africa a viable concern…If you give R12.8-million a year in the name of Corporate South Africa, an entity that has R1.4-trillion in the bank, you’re effectively giving away 0.0009% of your savings every year. For someone with R1-million in the bank, that works out to giving away R9.14 a year. Or, for someone with R50,000 in the bank, 45 cents per year.

Friday, July 06, 2018

West Africa's Fish Famine

The fish market in Mbour, on Senegal's Atlantic coast, is one of West Africa's busiest. The catch of the day can be bought straight off the colorful wooden canoes all year round. Jen, the Wolof word for fish, is a dietary staple and a prized resource in Senegal. It is the main ingredient in thieboudienne, a very popular dish made of fish, rice and vegetables. An estimated 20 percent of the country's workforce — some 600,000 people — are employed in the fisheries sector.  
"When the ships go out to sea together, there are not enough fish and they return without any catch. People are thinking there are no more fish left," said Gaoussou Gueye, a veteran fishmonger. "If we still had enough fish in Senegal, we would not to have to look for licenses in other countries to fish."
The region's fish stocks have been depleted over many years by the industrial trawlers combing its oceans for species such as tuna, destined for European and Asian markets. Lately, industrial-scale aquaculture in Asia especially is also fueling demand for West Africa's fish stocks and making a bad situation worse. Fish farming requires powdered fish meal. In recent years, a dozen fish meal factories have been built along the Senegalese coast. In neighboring Mauritania, 30 such factories opened their doors in the past 15 years. Many are Chinese-owned. Sardinella, a traditional staple caught off West Africa, are turned into fish meal and animal feed at these factories. 
"The problem with fishmeal is that for one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fishmeal you are using at least five to 10 kilograms of fish. So you are also destroying the value of fresh fish for the population," Francisco Mari, an expert on fishing at the relief and development agency Bread for the World, told DW. "The production of fishmeal is irresponsible from a nutrition standpoint," Mari said.
The foreign production of the fish feed is driving up the price of sardinella on the local market. About 20 percent of Senegalese fishers catch only sardinella. For them, the fishmeal plants are more attractive as customers than locals: they buy in bulk and pay in cash. Workers in the fisheries sector say they fear losing their jobs as they face increasing competition over the region's staple diet.
Linnea Engstrom, the deputy chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Fisheries, visited the region recently. She explains that the women who prepare, smoke and then sell the fish are especially affected by the rising prices.
"These women are in a very vulnerable situation; they have to compete with large international companies to buy fish from the fishermen," Engstrom told DW.  "The prices of the fish have gone up immensely and they can no longer afford the resource they need to sustain their business and to feed the population."
In Mauritania, the strain on the environment from fishmeal production has been immense. Toxic waste from the factories is dumped into the sea and thick smoke pollutes the air.
Moctar Ame is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Nouadhibou, a coastal city where more than 20 of Mauritania's fishmeal factories are located. Ame said he has seen public health in the region deteriorate since the factories were opened. He estimates that 20 percent of his patients suffer from diseases directly related to the pollution.
"There are many diseases that are directly related to the pollution of these factories. They release toxic air particles. When these particles enter the body, they cause allergies, chronic bronchitis and skin rashes. We cough a lot and have infected throats because of these particles," Ame explained.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Secret Wars

U.S. special operations teams are directing and engaging in combat raids with African troops in countries including Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, and Tunisia. These small-scale, secret wars are largely concealed by Pentagon obfuscation. Joint U.S.-African commando teams go on raids together at American direction.

Functioning under a legal authority called Section 127e, such operations in Africa are "less, 'We're helping you,' and more, 'You're doing our bidding'" targeting suspected terrorists, an unnamed active-duty Green Beret officer told Politico. Section 127e "funds classified programs under which African governments essentially loan out units of their militaries for American commando teams to use as surrogates to hunt militants identified as potential threats to American citizens or embassies," Politico explains. 

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie claimed that U.S. troops in Africa are "not directly involved in combat operations" or "direct-action missions with partner forces." Per Politico's sources, that's simply not correct — at best, a case of "lying by omission."

Monday, July 02, 2018

Poverty Facts

Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day.
The findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute, show that more than 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty, with Africans accounting for about two-thirds of the total number.
In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. “By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today,” the researchers write.