Friday, July 24, 2009

Mass rebellion in South Africa

In South Africa the state is being confronted by an eruption of self organised popular protest on a scale not seen since the 1980s. This article, from the mainstream press there, gives a much better overview than the articles in the British press that miss the politics of the rebellion.

Burning message to the state in the fire of poor’s rebellion
Richard Pithouse

DU NOON, Diepsloot, Dinokana, Khayelitsha, KwaZakhele, Masiphumelele, Lindelani, Piet Retief and Samora Machel. We are back, after a brief lull during the election, to road blockades, burnt-out police cars and the whole sorry mess of tear gas, stun grenades and mass arrests. Already this month, a girl has been shot in the head in KwaZakhele, three men have been shot dead in Piet Retief, and a man from Khayelitsha is in a critical condition.

There are many countries where a single death at the hands of the police can tear apart the contract by which the people accept the authority of the state. But this is not Greece. Here the lives of the black poor count for something between very little and nothing. When the fate of protesters killed or wounded by the police makes it into the elite public sphere, they are generally not even named.

The African National Congress (ANC) has responded to the new surge in popular protest with the same patrician incomprehension under Jacob Zuma as it did under Thabo Mbeki. It has not understood that people do not take to the streets against a police force as habitually brutal as ours without good cause. Government statements about the virtues of law and order, empty rhetoric about its willingness to engage, and threats to ensure zero tolerance of “anarchy” only compound the distance between the state and the faction of its people engaged in open rebellion.

Any state confronted with popular defiance has two choices — repression or engagement. If it wishes to avoid shooting its people as an ordinary administrative matter, the first step towards engaging with popular defiance is to understand the dissonance between popular experience and popular morality that puts people at odds with the state.

A key barrier towards elite understanding of the five-year hydra-like urban rebellion is that protests are more or less uniformly labelled as “service delivery protests”. This label is well suited to those elites who are attracted to the technocratic fantasy of a smooth and post-political developmental space in which experts engineer rational development solutions from above. Once all protests are automatically understood to be about a demand for “service delivery” they can be safely understood as a demand for more efficiency from the current development model rather than any kind of challenge to that model. Of course, many protests have been organised around demands for services within the current development paradigm and so there certainly are instances in which the term has value. But the reason why the automatic use of the term “service delivery protest” obscures more than it illuminates is that protests are often a direct challenge to the post-apartheid development model.

Disputes around housing are the chief cause of popular friction with the state. The state tends to reduce the urban crisis, of which the housing shortage is one symptom, to a simple question of a housing backlog and to measure progress via the number of houses or “housing opportunities” it “delivers”. But one of the most common reasons for protests is outright rejection of forced removals from well-located shacks to peripheral housing developments or “transit camps”. Another is the denial or active removal of basic services from shack settlements to persuade people to accept relocation. Moreover, to make its targets for “housing delivery” more manageable, the state often, against its own law and policy, provides houses only for shack owners, resulting in shack renters being illegally left homeless when “development comes”.

It is therefore hardly helpful to assume that protests against forced removals and housing developments that leave people homeless are a demand for more efficient “delivery”. On the contrary, these protests are much more fruitfully understood as a demand for a more inclusive mode of development, in the double sense of including poor people in the cities and of including all poor people in development projects.

If the state actually engaged with any seriousness with the people to whom it has promised to “deliver services”, these kinds of problems could be resolved. But the reality is that the state very often imposes development projects on people without any kind of meaningful engagement. One reason for this is the pressure to meet “delivery targets” quickly — a pressure that was greatly worsened by the ludicrous and dangerously denialist fantasy of former housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu that shacks could be “eradicated by 2014”.

Another reason why the state systematically fails to engage with poor people is that when it does negotiate, it tends to substitute ward councillors and their committees, as well as local branch executive committees of the ANC, for the communities actually affected by development projects. But the fact is that in many wards the councillors and local party elites represent the interests of local elites, who often have very different interests to poor communities. Moreover, it’s entirely typical for these local elites to seize control of key aspects of development projects, such as the awarding of tenders and the allocation of houses, for their own political and pecuniary gain. It is not at all unusual for ward councillors and allied local elites to threaten their grassroots critics with violence. Ward councillors are often able to order the local police to arrest critics on spurious charges.

It is hardly surprising that ward councillors are a key target of popular protests.

Once a community has realised that their local councillor is hostile to their interests, there are often no viable alternatives for engaging with the state. Attempts at making use of official public participation channels generally fail to get any further than a solid wall of bureaucratic contempt in which everyone is permanently in a meeting. Polite demands for attention are frequently responded to as if they were outrageous. Outright contempt of the “know your place” variety is common. In the unlikely event that representatives from a poor community are able to access a politician higher up than their ward councillor, they are most likely to be sent back to their councillor. There is a very real sense in which we have already developed a sort of caste system in which the poor are simply unworthy of engaging with politicians on the basis of equality.

If development was negotiated directly, openly and honestly with the people who it affects rather than with consultants bent on technocratic solutions, and ward councillors bent on personal and political advantage, things would take a little longer but their outcomes would be far more inclusive and far more to people’s liking. If the ANC is serious about democracy, it should aim to subordinate the local state to the inevitably time-consuming, complex and contested mediation of the poor communities that need it most, rather than the often predatory aspirations of local political elites.

The heart of the moral economy behind the protest is a firm conviction that the poor are people who also count in our society. For some, this means that every citizen counts and one way of realising this is by turning on people seen as non-citizens. For others, everyone, documented or not, counts. But for as long as the state, in its actual practices, does not affirm the dignity of poor people by consulting them about their own future and including them in the material development of our collective future, the rebellion will continue.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Strike Anywhere - To the World

Strike Anywhere is a political band, with lyrics touching on such issues as police brutality, anti-capitalism, women's rights, animal rights, and globalization. They have also contributed tracks to political benefit albums, such as a live version of "Sunset on 32nd" for 1157 Wheeler Avenue: A Memorial for Amadou Diallo and "To the World" for the Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 album. According to the liner notes for their album Change is a Sound, they support "the vegetarian lifestyle, the living wage movement and the fight against corporate globalization". With its 2006 release Dead FM, the band moved away from political slogans to address "more sociological ideas about why these (events) happen".

I got put on to them, even though, i'm not a punk fan, i bang with this song "To the World".

Look how the ruts cling to my footsteps
the fatal invisible tool
by which we define (we fight!) for our approval
and fear our removal from the safety of fools

From the tidal forces of our positions
not won (not one!) to take for granted
are our rebel hymns in canted
to sing in the mines of the fortunate sons?

Brothers in spirit, sisters in rage,
will we live out our lives in this concrete cage?
another heartbeat lost, another police murder
buried in the public eyes on the back page.
heartbeat lost in a new world order
hobbled and bound but still walking away

I pledge allegiance to the world
nothing more, nothing less than my humanity
I pledge allegiance to the world
searching for vision not invisibility
I pledge allegiance to the world
searching for vision not invisibility
I pledge allegiance to the world
until the last lock breaks none of us are free
none of us are free...

We fight to balance our minds
petty powers pushing profits over our lifetimes
world leaders mortgaging our lives with words
I don't need to be reminded of whom you really serve.

Brothers in spirit, sisters in rage,
will we live out our lives in this concrete cage?
another heartbeat lost, another police murder
buried in the public eyes on the back page.
{Too many} heartbeats lost in the new world order
{while we're} standing alone with our backs to the maze

I pledge allegiance to the world
nothing more, nothing less than my humanity
I pledge allegiance to the world
until the last lock breaks none of us are free
I pledge allegiance to the world
until the last lock breaks none of us are free
I pledge allegiance to the world
for nothing more, nothing less

In justice, in hunger united
searching for vision united
in justice, in hunger united
law and order {but} for whose order?

I pledge allegiance to the world
nothing more, nothing less than my humanity
I pledge allegiance to the world
until the last lock breaks none of us are free
I pledge allegiance to the world
under no nation will we ever be
I pledge allegiance to the world
for nothing more, nothing less
than my humanity, than my humanity, than my humanity (pledge allegiance!)
to our humanity, to our humanity, to our humanity (to the world!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mohawks march on border in protest of arming guards

Mohawks march on border in protest of arming guards
Posted By Michael Peeling

Hundreds of Mohawks marched across the Seaway International Bridge into Canada from the U. S. on Saturday to protest a plan to arm border guards.

And things are taking a more ominous tone as the protesters claim they'll evict the federal government if necessary over the controversial issue.

The "unity rally," organized by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, started with residents of the First Nation - which straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State - being bused from a tent set up beside the Canada Customs and Immigration office on Cornwall Island (known in Mohawk as Kawehnoke) into the U. S.

The tent is the staging ground for a month-long protest, which began on May 1, of the arming of Canadian Border Services Agency officers across the country on June 1, but particularly at the Cornwall Island crossing.

The protesters returned on foot led by Grand Chief Tim Thompson. They walked over the southern span of the bridge to the island behind a large banner reading "No Guns!" and chanting, "End the occupation of Akwesasne."

Once the throng reached the yellow line indicating the border, they halted briefly before walking unchecked by CBSA officials into Canada. Many of the marchers made a circuit back around the customs and immigration building to stop by the checkpoint booths and office windows, where they chant, with signs reading: "The consequence of arming is eviction" against the windows and knock on the glass.


Photo Gallery

Saturday, May 16, 2009

ZACF Analysis of the 2009 South African National and Provincial Elections

The following analysis was presented by a member of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) at the Khanya College organised Seminar on the 2009 Election Results, held in Johannesburg on Sunday 10 May 2009. The topic of the seminar was “What do the 2009 Election results mean for the South African working class?”.

There were speakers from the following organisations present:

Bolshevik Study Circles & Che Guevara Film Club, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA), Soweto Concerned Residents (S.C.R–A.P.F), NKUZI – Fieldworker of Farmworkers' Programme and Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR)

It should be noted that - owing to the constraints of time allocated for this presentation - this is by no means a complete analysis of the 2009 elections, and what the ANC victory and Zuma administration means for the poor and working class of the region. It serves only to raise some of what we believe to be important issues for consideration going forward.

We've been hearing so much about Zuma. Zuma is great or Zuma is terrible. A hero or a criminal. A socialist or a 'moderate'. The election seems to have been all about Zuma, Zille and perhaps a few other dominant personalities.

What does it mean for the poor and working class that this election - supposed to be a key election - is discussed so much in terms of personalities? Not just in the media: this is how many many people have been thinking of it, since years before the election date.

Let's look at the role of Cosatu, the countries largest working class organisation. Cosatu’s support for Zuma clearly shows the ideological bankruptcy of its leadership. Since his victory at Polokwane Zuma has, time and again, assured the international capitalist class that economic policy will not change under his administration, and that the country - under the direction of a Zuma-led ANC government - will remain committed to the neoliberal capitalist policies of his predecessors. Despite suggestions from the capitalist media that Zuma is a socialist, and Cosatu’s and the SACP’s blind acceptance thereof, Zuma is a fully-fledged neoliberal capitalist. Since the ANC’s electoral victory the Rand has been getting stronger, and it strengthened when the charges against Zuma were dropped. This shows that Zuma’s efforts to ensure global capitalists that the economy would not change under his leadership were not in vein; the international ruling class does not see Zuma as a socialist, or as anything but a neoliberal. This only goes to show, once again, the ideological bankruptcy of the Cosatu and SACP leadership; that they do not even know what socialism, or a socialist, is.

It shows the idealistic and individualistic analysis of the ANC’s alliance partners that, with Thabo Mbeki having been replaced by the less autocratic Jacob Zuma, there will be more opportunity for the Cosatu and SACP leadership to influence decision-making and have a say on policy matters. As Zuma said during his inaugural speech, it was a “moment of renewal”. To the post-Polokwane victors, who are now lining up to loot state coffers, it is inconsequential that the bourgeois and capitalist aims of the ANC undoubtedly go back to the founding in 1912, and have never changed – except that it became neoliberal, because neoliberalism is the dominant form of capitalism today. Even this didn't just happen in 1996: the RDP was full of neoliberal elements. And the move to neoliberalism was supported by the entire ANC leadership, notably including Zuma.

So what does it mean that, firstly, these elections were fought on the grounds of personalities instead of policies and, secondly, that Jacob Zuma emerged the victor?

The fact that these elections were waged primarily between personalities shows us just how little the various parties contesting elections, and particularly the main parties, differ in their policies. All of the parties involved represent the same class interest of the ANC, and it is therefore futile to campaign on policy when the policies of one party are almost the same as those of the next. Each and every one of the major parties, and the majority of the smaller and insignificant parties - which are now starting to disappear - support GEAR and the neoliberal policies currently in place. Some, such as the DA, might like to fast-track privatisation and so on, but none are in and way whatsoever against capitalism.

And yet a large proportion of the working class have fallen for this idea that Zuma will change things. Because he is more approachable and down-to-earth than Mbeki, people want to think that he'll do things differently, in a way that matters. But we know he doesn't want to; and he probably couldn't do much even if he did want to.

The global economy is currently in its worst crisis since the 1930s. Millions of jobs have been lost worldwide, including hundreds of thousands in South Africa, and many many more retrenchments are expected, as well as short-timing and so on. The Zuma administration is unfortunate in that it is taking over the reigns of power at a time when, because of the crisis, it will be very hard to deliver. Banks and corporations are trying to recover money lost or maintain profits, which means more exploitation for workers. Likewise states are cutting back on social spending, which means even less service delivery. The economic crisis is therefore going to make it hard for Zuma to live up to his promises - if he really wanted to - but it also provides him with an excuse. At the end of his term, he can just turn around and say that it was the economic crisis, which is out of his administrations control, which prevented them from meeting their goals; and convince the electorate to give him another term in the presidency to try again. In the meantime it is the working class and poor who will be paying, some with their jobs or their lives, for the bosses’ crisis.

In this context, one of the first things we can expect from the Zuma administration is that they will start making a hype about 2010 like never before. They will make a fuss about all the jobs that are being created, and how good it will be for the economy. Workers will work around the clock in dangerous conditions to ensure that the stadiums are completed in time, and then what? Thousands of tourists will come from overseas to watch Bafana Bafana get knocked out in the first round; everyone will go home; and all the jobs that were created will be gone. The government will have, in the meantime, spent millions and millions of Rands on the short-lived World Cup instead of investing in sustainable job creation and service delivery. We need to work to expose this and, amongst other things, to campaign for the jobs created by 2010 to be permanent, which means we need to build working class militancy.

With Zuma as the figurehead of the anti-Mbeki campaign working class militancy has taken a backward step, the youth - amongst others - duped by the pseudo-militancy of the likes of Julius Malema, as many people who associated lack of service delivery with the Mbeki administration have taken up the campaign to oust him and get Zuma into power. Even the social movements have lost support to the Zuma cult, which has served to expropriate and tame working class militancy by drawing people into the battle between personalities instead of to the collective struggle, on a day-to-day basis, for a better life.

When it becomes clear for all to see that Zuma and his administration are not delivering, and that they are in fact both unable and unwilling to deliver, we hope that there will be a resurgence of working class militancy, and we hope that this will be a genuinely class conscious and revolutionary militancy.

But how many people’s lives will have been adversely effected by the neoliberal economic policies and chauvinistic attitude of the Zuma administration by the time it has shown itself incapable of and uninterested in providing a better life for all? How many more workers will have lost their jobs because of the economic crisis; how many more homosexuals and immigrants will have been killed; and how many more women raped?

We know that Zuma is a chauvinistic, neoliberal patriarch, and his ascendancy to power does not bode well for women, immigrants, homosexuals or the working class in general.

We need to make clear demands on the Zuma administration, especially in light of the current economic crisis. We must demand a halt to retrenchments, and support organisations such as Cosatu when they make such demands; although we can also advise that more militant strategies and tactics will be necessary to win such demands.
We need to continue to try to build the social movements by campaigning for service delivery, to hold the government accountable and to pressurise Zuma to make good on his promises. We must work to expose the homophobic, anti-women and anti-working class and poor character of the new administration.

The social movements, as with the class as a whole, have taken a knock because of the idea that any one individual in power, any leader, can change things for the better. Personality cults, such as that around Zuma, exist in the social movements too, and they must be resisted. It is the ideology of the ruling class, of opportunists and of authoritarians that any one individual leader - or a group of leaders - can improve the conditions of the working class and poor. Personality and leadership cults are built in order to keep people away from taking matters into their own hands, away from collective struggle and mass direct action. And this is exactly what this election, and all other elections, have been about: keeping people away from collective struggle by convincing them that, by marking an ‘x’ on a piece of paper every 5 years; by voting for a party or personality they are contributing to the political life of the country and the betterment of the class.

We anarchists have always rejected this ideology of the ruling class, because we know that working class emancipation does not come from voting for people to govern on our behalf, be it at national or local level. It comes from the self-management and democratic mass direct action of the class in struggle. Only the working class can free itself.

Nearly all the core social movements in South Africa took a boycott position in respect to the recent elections. We believe this to be the correct position, and we have consistently argued for it, and will continue to do so in the lead-up to the 2011 local elections.

Our job now is to consistently speak out against the anti-poor and anti-working class policies of the Zuma administration, push for direct action as opposed to electioneering and class collaboration, support all progressive demands and movements and consistently work towards building social movements and independent trade unionism.

Sooner or later people will see that Zuma deceived them. By exposing the contradictions between what Zuma says to the working class and poor, and what he says to and does for the ruling class, we can help this to happen sooner rather than later. We need to work now to strengthen the social movements and independent trade unions by means of direct action in order to provide a pole of attraction for working class militancy for when the Zuma honeymoon period eventually comes to an end, so that this militancy is not re-channeled into either the reformist direction of supporting another party-political or personality cult, nor into a more dangerous direction.

Neither Zuma, nor Zille, nor anyone else can deliver to the poor and working class. We must take.

Monday, May 4, 2009

“The Zimbabwean” hits home with worthless wallpaper

An outdoor campaign for The Zimbabwean, a free newspaper for the Zimbabwean diaspora, makes a devastating (and need we say remarkably cost-effective) critique on the economic destruction Mugabe has wrought on Zimbabwe.

This is a fantastic, fresh-thinking ad. In these cash-strapped times it’s easy to forget that sometimes the communications with the most impact are the cheapest to produce.

The ad was featured on Creativity Online, a journal for creative branding communications.

To see more pictures, visit The Zimbabwean’s Flickr photostream.

from Afrodissident

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trafficking In Nigerian Girls - The Business Exposed

Women trafficking from Nigeria is well organized. A Nigerian-based female called "Mama" or "Madam" plays a key role in recruiting and persuading young women to leave their Nigeria for Italy. Young women as young as 14 years are often enticed with the offer to work or study abroad, by physical threats or payments made to her family. Afterwards the deal is done. She is sold into slavery and forced to embark on a very long treacherous journey by land and sea to the ultimate destination, Italy. Before departing Nigeria they are made to swear oaths of secrecy to hold every information in confidentiality. However, on their way, the girls undergo many initiation rites including repeated gang-rapes, forced oral and anal sex, drug and sex orgies, etc to test their will to survive. Those who couldn't make it through the brutal rituals are sent back.

There are three levels of organization in the trafficking of Nigerian women and girls: A "Madam" living in Nigeria; the Nigerian "Madam" living in Italy; and the third, the "messengers," the persons transferring the money from Italy to Nigeria.

In another style of recruitment, prostitution is hidden by women claiming they are in well-paying jobs and need assistance to handle the volume of business. They make friends with unsuspecting young girls and shower them with lavish gifts. The girls are then gradually introduced into such business as hostesses, out-call prostitutes, club dancers, beauticians, masseuses, strippers, pornographic video actresses, entertainers, etc. Women in these positions are frequently trafficked. Since many of the girls are already in similar circumstances in Nigeria taking it abroad, for them, is not a problem. Some of them are aware of what they are going to do in Italy; some are intentionally deceived with prospects of an artistic career as dancers or actresses.

Nigerian girls are contracted in the suburbs of cities, such as Lagos or Benin City, and in the countryside in the south and east. Madams act as "go-betweens" for girls and women and the traffickers. Money is sent to the madam to pay the debt to the traffickers and to the girls’ families.

The trafficking of women to Europe is now a well-known phenomenon in Edo state. Many women therefore know they are likely to work as prostitutes if they agree to travel to Europe. However, they may have little understanding of the conditions under which they will work and of the size of the debt they will incur.

In anticipation of leaving Nigeria and helping one's family out of poverty, it is tempting for these women to believe in promises about good jobs. Whether this means being duped, or deceiving one's self, is not obvious. Importantly, the fact that the women may have known, or ought to have understood, that they would have to work as prostitutes does not excuse or legitimate subsequent abuse.

The women are particularly easily controlled because they and their families are forced to pay back huge debts to the trafficking organization for the cost of their trip and related expenses. It can take several years to pay off these debts.

Debts for travel are supposed to be paid off in 6 months, but in the majority of the cases after three or four years, the girls are still in prostitution to pay back the debt they owe.

A Nigerian madam, or "Mama," supervises and controls the women and girls. She organizes their activities and collects their profits in Italy. The women physically and psychologically fear the "Mama."

Very few of the women trafficked to Italy wish to return to their country of origin. Some say there are no opportunities there. Some fear reprisals from the traffickers, and others are ashamed to return without being able to show that they have been successful abroad. Unfortunately, some of them die in the process and never realize that goal.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Abdi Wali Muse: Free the real pirates!

Free Abdi Wali Muse!

Jail the real pirates!
The U.S. government is promoting lynch mob fervor against 15-year-old Abdi Wli Muse.

The stories about so-called “pirates” seizing ships off the coast of Somalia that have peppered the international imperialist media for at least the past year or two became center stage with the April 8 seizure of a ship filled with U.S. sailors called Maersk Alabama. Now with the determination of the U.S. government to try 15-year-old Abdi Wali Muse as an adult after having murdered his other three companions with sniper fire after they had apparently surrendered, a lynch mob fervor inside the U.S. is being mobilized.

However, the question that anyone who knows the history of the U.S. in the East Africa region — or anywhere else in the world, for that matter — has to ask is, “Who are the real pirates?”

The reality is that the Africans being characterized as pirates are mostly fisherman being starved by imperialism’s actions of real piracy. The waters in that region are being overfished by European and Asian companies who steal more than $300 million worth of fish from Somalia’s waters every year. On top of that, European companies have been using Somalia’s waters as a dumping ground for deadly toxic waste that they wouldn’t have anywhere near their own shores for the past two decades.

U.S. and European piracy in Somalia is longstanding

But the U.S. and Europe’s piracy in Somalia began long before the overfishing and toxic dumping became known. The reality is that the Somalia, which is also called the Horn of Africa, plays an important role for the U.S. and Europe’s looting of oil wealth in the region. They used to have a lot of problems stealing that oil so they cut a ditch called the Suez Canal to divide that area of Africa and facilitate ships carrying this stolen wealth getting to Europe.

However, large oil tankers can’t get through the Suez Canal, so they have to go around the Horn of Africa. This has made Somalia of serious geo-political significance for the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. was intervening in Somalia during its struggle with the Soviet Union for geo-political influence.

The Soviets then had a relationship with Said Barre who was in power in Somalia. However, when the Soviet Union developed a relationship with the government that went into power in Ethiopia in coup d’état in 1974, its relationship with Barre soured. This is because of conflicts between the Ethiopian and Somalian states as a result of the artificial borders carved into Africa by Europe for its own interests.

Said Barre then developed a relationship with the U.S. However, when Barre’s despotic regime was chased out of power in 1991, it created a problem for the U.S. The U.S. imperialists started manipulating the situation in Somalia. The forces who overthrew Barre were united by their opposition to Barre’s terrible regime, but with him out of power their basis of unity was gone. There began a struggle for power using U.S. arms and what was left of Soviet arms in the country.

During the time that the U.S.-supported Barre regime was in power the U.S. had him hand over two-thirds of Somalia to U.S. oil companies. So former U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush initiated a military intervention in Somalia in the 1992 as a lame duck president to protect the U.S. control over what has been described as a “valley of oil” underneath Somalia. In fact, the Conoco oil corporation’s compound in Mogadishu was used as the U.S. government’s headquarters when U.S. Marines landed there.

It was during this vicious military operation to secure the U.S. piracy efforts in Somalia that the events falsely characterized in the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down occurred. It was during this period that the U.S. was bombing hospitals and residential centers in Somalia in order to facilitate stealing the oil there.

Fisherman from Somalia demand end to imperialist piracy

So now Africans who have been victims of U.S. and European imposed poverty and starvation are now being characterized as pirates. The reality is that in the face of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, skin infections and abdominal hemorrhages resulting from Europe’s deadly toxic dumping — added to severely depleted food supply from the theft of about $300 million of fish per year from Somalia’s waters — African fisherman from Somalia began using speedboats to intercept the U.S., European and Asian pirates to convince them to stop dumping the toxic waste and stealing the food supply of the African people or charge them for compensation.

One fisherman, Sugule Ali, stated, “We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."

Obama uses Somalia situation as easy political target

The U.S. intervention in Somalia was clearly a political tactic used by neocolonial U.S. president Barack Obama to silence those who have called him too soft militarily. From the moment it was said in the media that U.S. sailors were on the Maersk Alabama ship, it became an opportunity to show his willingness to kill for U.S. imperialism to those who doubted him.

Unlike the quagmires the U.S. has been caught up in both in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Bush regime’s invasions, these four Africans on a lifeboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean served as easy targets wiping out with three quick sniper shots any question of Obama’s ability to kill colonized people for U.S. imperialist interests.

Hands off Abdi Wali Muse

U.S. courts have determined that it doesn’t matter that the young African who surrendered to the U.S. troops is only 15 years old. They will treat him as an adult.

The reality is that young Abdi Wali Muse is not unlike any other young African held in the U.S. prison system. He has no humanity in the eyes of his oppressor. If U.S. imperialism has its way, he will spend the rest of his young life joining the 1.5 million other African people held in U.S. prisons.

His imprisonment has nothing to do with any criminality. The fact is that the law is nothing but the opinion of the ruling class that has the ability to enforce its will by force. His only crime is that he dared to challenge U.S. imperialism’s ability to steal Africa’s resources.

We must demand that this process where the thieves put the victims on trial for piracy end. It is the U.S. and European governments that must be put on trial for theft of African resources and false imprisonment of not only Abdi Wali Muse, but the millions of Africans held in prisons or tied to prison systems in the U.S. and Europe.

Free Abdi Wali Muse! Jail the Real Pirates!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The first independent union in Egypt?

An Historical day for the Egyptian Workers' Movement More than 300 representatives of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union's (RETA) General Assembly, containing 270,068 (twenty seven thousands and sixty eight) members, have gathered today at the Ministry of Manpower in Cairo to submit their application for the first independent union in Egypt.

RETA employees decided after their successful strike in December 2007 to establish their independent union. In December 20th 2008, more than 3,000 employees had convened at the press syndicate in Cairo to announce their independent union.

All RETA members, over the last four months, were involved in direct and free elections to elect the members of the RETA general constituency and governorate constituencies, which turned out to be 27 constituencies representing 27 governorates.

The RETA Union has also laid the groundwork for the basic organizational statute, formulated in accordance with international standards.

CTUWS calls upon the international unions and labor organizations to support RETA employees for setting up their independent union, which is a basic granted right as stated in international treaties ratified by the Egyptian Government.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zambian mine lays off 1,300 staff

Zambia's biggest copper mining company, Konkola Copper Mines, has laid off 1,300 workers as it struggles with a fall in both demand and copper prices.

The redundancies represent about 10% of the company's entire workforce.

Konkola said it was embarking on a programme to streamline operations and increase labour productivity in response to falling copper prices.

Many of Zambia's mining companies have been forced to make dramatic job cuts during the global economic downturn.

Price slump

Last month, the Mineworkers' Union of Zambia said about 8,200 jobs had been lost in the sector since December last year.

Copper accounts for a large proportion of Zambia's exports.

The price of copper has fallen dramatically since the summer of last year, when it stood at almost $8,000 (£5,500) a tonne.

By the end of the year, it had dropped to just over $2,800 a tonne.

The price now stands at more than $4,500 a tonne after a major stimulus package in China, the world's biggest consumer of copper, raised hopes that demand for the metal would increase.

More recently, the price has jumped on reports that China is rebuilding its state reserves of the metal, according to Mark Elliot at Fairfax Investment Bank.

But Mr Elliot says the price if copper is notoriously volatile and could slip back if confidence in global demand takes another hit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zambia: Zulawu Urges Unions to Be Unanimous On Review of Act

THE Zambia United Local Authorities Workers Union (ZULAWU) has called on all labour unions to unite in ensuring that the law relating to the minimum wage is reviewed to match the current trends.

ZULAWU general secretary Noah Kalangu said in an interview in Ndola yesterday that there was need to intensify efforts aimed at ensuring that the law governing the minimum wage was reviewed.

He said council workers, who played a vital role in country's development process, were the most affected because their salaries were very low.

"Some council workers are still being paid less than K260,000, which is the statutory stipulated minimum wage," he said.

Mr Kalangu said it was sad that the people still expected councils to be efficient in the service delivery when many workers were still being paid what he called peanuts.

"I have just completed a tour of North-Western province and I came across some workers in some rural councils such as Chavuma and Mwinilunga where some permanent employees still get as little as K150,000 and K250,000," he said.

He observed that the immediate review of the minimum wage would help to narrow the gap between the most affected workers in the councils and some chief officers who were getting as much as K5 million.

"As long as the council workers remain exploited as far as getting living wages is concerned it will remain difficult for the country to attain the much-needed development," he stated.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zabalaza No. 10 Now Available Online

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) is pleased to announce that issue number 10 of our organ Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism is now available online.

In this issue:

Southern Africa

  • Editorial by Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF)
  • Unite Against the Minority, Then Unite Against the Majority? (Zambia) by Malele D. Phirii, Zambia
  • The Jacob Zuma Cargo Cult and the “Implosion” of Alliance Politics (South Africa) by Michael Schmidt (ZACF)
  • A Bitter Taste to the Sugarcane (Swaziland) by Michael Schmidt (ZACF)
  • Four Tools for Community Control – Part I: “Mutual Aid” (Southern Africa) by Stefanie Knoll (ZACF)
  • Zimbabwe’s Party-Political Stitch-Up - How the Zanu-PF/MDC Deal Ignored Civil Society by Jonathan P. (ZACF)


  • The Anarchist Movement in North Africa: 1877 - 1951 by Michael Schmidt (ZACF) & Lucien van der Walt
  • Socialists and Gaullists Haunted by the Ghosts of Genocide (Rwanda) by Guillaume Davranche (Alternative Libertaire), France


  • Jalan Journal: A New Asian Anarchist Voice is Born with introduction by Michael Schmidt (ZACF)
  • 30th Congress of the National Confederation of Labour (France) by CNT-F
  • Hamas, the Left and Liberation in Palestine by Sevinc (Workers’ Solidarity Movement), Ireland
  • Interview with Ilan Shalif from Anarchists Against the Wall - Israel/Palestine
  • A Hot Winter in Greece by Stefanie Knoll (ZACF)
  • Something Smells Different in Cuba by Movimiento Libertario Cubano, with introduction by Michael Schmidt (ZACF)
  • Imperialism, China and Russia by Pier Francesco Zarcone (Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici), Italy
  • Against Political Terror in Russia, We Mobilise! by the Internatioal Secretary, Alternative Libertaire, France/ Belgium
  • Change We Need: An Anarchist Perspective on the 2008 US Election by North-Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC), USA, with introduction by Michael Schmidt (ZACF)


  • Tangled Threads of Revolution: Reflections on Anarchist Communists: A Question of Class by James Pendlebury (ZACF)

The .pdf version of the journal can be downloaded here

The texts will appear online soon

Friday, April 10, 2009

The truth on the Somali 'pirates'

All the media is reporting on how 'Pirates' have Struck a U.S. cargo ship, But Is the Media Telling the Whole Story?

First, I'm not here to paint the Somalis responsible as heroes or as vigilantes, but i'm not going to condemn them as well. The issue is very complicated and this story sheds alot of light on the situation.

According to Hari:

As soon as the [Somali] government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia -- and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence."

Here is a youtube of the Somali hip hop artist K'naan speaking on this very issue.
+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.

Because the is no Somali government, there is no State. There is no institution that police the water and enforce international or national laws,rules, regulations. Consider what one pirate told The New York Times after he and his men seized a Ukrainian freighter "loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition" last year. "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits," said Sugule Ali:. "We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard." Now, that "coast guard" analogy is a stretch, but his point is an important and widely omitted part of this story.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Soldiers assassinate Guinea-Bissau president

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau – Soldiers assassinated the president of Guinea-Bissau in his palace Monday hours after a bomb blast killed the army chief who had been his political rival for decades.

A military statement broadcast on state radio attributed President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira's death to an "isolated" group of unidentified soldiers whom the armed forces said they were now hunting down. It said the military was not planning a coup in the West Africa nation, which has been a transit point for the cocaine trade to Europe.

The capital, Bissau, was calm despite the pre-dawn gunfight at the palace, which erupted hours after armed forces chief of staff Gen. Batiste Tagme na Waie — a longtime rival of the president — was killed by a bomb blast at his headquarters.

The former Portuguese colony has suffered multiple coups and attempted coups since 1980, when Vieira himself first took power in one.

Following an emergency Cabinet meeting on Monday, military spokesman Zamora Induta said top military brass told government officials "this was not a coup d'etat."

"We reaffirmed our intention to respect the democratically elected power and the constitution of the republic," Induta said. "The people who killed President Vieira have not been arrested, but we are pursuing them. They are an isolated group. The situation is under control."

The constitution calls for parliament chief Raimundo Pereira to succeed the president in the event of his death.

Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. said the fact that the military did not go through with a coup deserves praise. "The military showed their patriotism by not seizing power," he said, adding that both Vieira and Waie will receive state funerals in the coming days.

Vieira had ruled the impoverished nation on the Atlantic coast of Africa for 23 of the past 29 years. He came to power in the 1980 coup, but was forced out 19 years later at the onset of the country's civil war. He later returned from exile in Portugal to run in the country's 2005 election and won the vote.

The armed forces' statement dismissed claims that the military killed Vieira in retaliation for Waie's assassination late Sunday. The two men were considered staunch political and ethnic rivals and both had survived recent assassination attempts.

Vieira, from the minority Papel ethnic group, once blamed majority ethnic Balanta officers for attempting a coup against him, condemning several to death and others to long prison sentences.

Among them was Waie, who in the late 1980s was dropped off on a deserted island off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, according to Waie's chief of staff, Lt. Col. Bwam Namtcho. Waie was left there for years before he was allowed to return and officially pardoned by Vieira.

Namtcho said the bomb that killed Waie had been hidden underneath the staircase leading to his office.

Hours later, volleys of automatic gunfire rang out for at least two hours before dawn in Bissau and residents said soldiers had converged on Vieira's palace.

The Portuguese news agency LUSA reported that troops attacked the palace with rockets and rifles. The president's press chief, Barnabe Gomes, escaped but was struck by a bullet in his right shoulder, LUSA said.

It was the second attack on Vieira in recent months. In November, Vieira's residence was attacked by soldiers with automatic weapons who killed at least one of his guards. The president complained later that the army never intervened, leaving his presidential guard to fight off the attackers.

In January, Waie received a call from the presidency asking him to come at once, said Namtcho. But when Waie stepped outside to get into his car, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the car. Waie narrowly escaped and Namtcho says he assumed the attack had been ordered by the president.

Luis Sanca, security adviser to Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., confirmed that the president had died but gave no details.

The African Union condemned the killings, calling them "cowardly and heinous attacks which have come at a time of renewed efforts by the international community to support peace-building efforts in Guinea-Bissau."

In Lisbon, the Portuguese Foreign Ministry lamented Vieira's death and said it was "fundamental that all political and military authorities in the country respect the constitutional order."

Portugal said it would call an emergency meeting of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, an eight-member organization based in Lisbon.