By the Marxist Workers School of South Africa, 15 December 2013
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first democratic-elected president of the Republic of South Africa, revolutionary and freedom fighter, commander-in-chief of Umkhonto weSizwe, political prisoner, statesman and beloved father of the nation, died on the 5 December 2013.
South Africa is in mourning. Africa mourns, and, indeed, hundreds of millions of people around the world are mourning.
How did a political prisoner of 27 years, classified as a terrorist not only by the apartheid state but by all western powers, become so loved that a young woman in Brooklyn, New Jersey, when interviewed on TV remarked: “Mandela is the only state president who will be missed”?
The question is, what does Nelson Mandela personify, and what does he stand for which makes him tower above others?
To understand who Mandela was, we need to go back deep into the dark days of Apartheid, when the National Party came to power.
Within the ANC, a conservative leadership had taken control, which had no strategy to counter the offensive of white capital and its National Party state structure. Within the ANC Youth League, a new and more radical leadership formed itself around Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe.
These young revolutionaries were inspired by the anti-colonial struggle gripping Africa at the time; they were inspired by the ant-imperialist struggles throughout the oppressed world; they reached out to the progressive white community; and they recognised the Indian and Coloured communities in South Africa as part of the oppressed and formed an alliance with representative organisations from those communities in a common struggle for freedom and democracy.
Most importantly, instead of debating the plight of our oppressed people in small circles, they went to the masses, organising them around such concrete issues as education, living conditions and political repression.
Through effective mobilisation, they not only frustrated some of the repressive measures of the apartheid system but eventually took over the leadership of the ANC itself.
The movement grew to become such a formidable force that the Apartheid government was unable to control and subdue it. In desperation, the state resorted to mass killings like the Sharpeville massacre.
The response of the people was to redouble their efforts of resistance and to stage even more mass protests. The regime then responded by banning the ANC, PAC and other political parties. All political activities, public gatherings and demonstrations were banned.
Nelson Mandela, together with Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govern Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Dennis Goldberg, Rusty Bernstein and others took the historical decision to go underground so as to continue the political struggle of the ANC.
They also formed a military wing of the movement called Umkhonto weSizwe – the Spear of the Nation – in order to confront reactionary and fascist state violence with revolutionary people’s violence. The armed struggle was born.
It is this historic and principled decision, in a situation in which all doors had been closed to peaceful protest, to call for mass mobilisation and armed struggle in order to defeat the enemy that made Mandela a true leader.
He became the first commander-in-chief of Umkhonto weSizwe. After his arrest, which the CIA was instrumental in bringing about, Mandela and nine other ANC leaders were put on trial.
Like Comrade Georgi Dimitrov, who used his trial by the German fascist state to expose Nazi fascism to the whole world, Mandela used his own trial to expose the racist nature of the apartheid system and to defend democratic and anti-racist principles. He closed his defence with the now famous statement:
During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
This statement reflected the aspirations of millions of oppressed black working men and women throughout South Africa. His refusal to bow under pressure, torture and repression was a reflection of the steadfastness of our people. Mandela was one with our people.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. He went on to break stones together with other political prisoners under the hot African sun from dawn to dusk for many, many years.
The apartheid state, in accordance with its cruel nature, took those stones from Robben Island and used them to build monuments, court houses and many other symbols of its tyrannical rule and for the glory of the apartheid system.
Mandela did not once complain about his fate. Instead, he was at the forefront of organising the struggle for better conditions within the prison, demanding proper medical care for prisoners, the right to read newspapers and books, and the right of political prisoners to study.
Above all, and from his first day behind bars, he spearheaded the struggle of political prisoners to be treated with dignity.
As a result of these struggles, a number of political prisoners in the 1970s and 80s left Robben Island highly educated. By 1994, many were ready to take up positions in the newly-formed democratic South Africa.
In 1984/85 the struggle intensified. The underground structures of the ANC, the labour movement and the United Democratic Front developed into a mass movement, and South Africa became ungovernable.
The apartheid state approached Mandela and offered him and all other imprisoned leaders the chance to walk out of prison on the condition that they renounce the armed struggle.
This strategy, most certainly under the recommendation of US and British advisors, was aimed at dividing the ANC into exiled and internal wings, and then at setting one faction against the other.
Mandela refused to comply, however. Instead, he issued a statement confirming his unconditional support for the armed struggle and reaffirmed the unity of the ANC under the leadership of Oliver Tambo. He further stated that he would walk out of prison with no conditions attached or he would not walk out at all.
The apartheid strategy to divide the ANC collapsed. It was this principled stand that earned Mandela the respect of the entire movement. Four years later, when Oliver Tambo had just suffered a stroke, all political prisoners were released and Nelson Mandela emerged from prison as the unquestioned leader of the ANC and of the entire democratic mass movement against apartheid.
During the Kempton Park negotiations, he emerged, even before being inaugurated as the first democratically-elected president of South Africa, as a statesmen overshadowing the last apartheid president to such an extent that at the end of negotiations de Klerk was reduced to an ordinary member at the negotiating table.
Mandela exposed de Klerk as a man without integrity in full view of the entire nation when he caught him back-stabbing and double-dealing.
Just before the 1994 elections, ANC security found out that de Klerk and a number of army officers in the South African defence force were planning a military coup d’état.
Mandela understood that the South African Defence Force was still loyal to the arch-racist PW Botha, who had been the apartheid president before de Klerk. He travelled directly to Botha’s residence and, during an extremely heated encounter, insisted that Botha call off the coup, warning that if it went ahead he would call for an all-out war of armed resistance.
Botha backed down and called off the coup, and Mandela helped South Africa avoid what could have been one of the most brutal and barbaric civil wars of the 20th century. This moment was the end of de Klerk’s political life, and Mandela will be remembered for generations to come as the leader who rose up to the occasion, avoiding bloodshed and genocide and ushering in the first democratic government in the history of our country.
Mandela was able to talk with authority, to threaten PW Botha and stand his ground because the entire resistance movement stood as one man behind him, determined and disciplined.
No sooner had Nelson Mandela been inaugurated as the state president than the imperialist countries, especially the United States, escalated their pressure on him to distance himself from socialist Cuba and its leader Comrade Fidel Castro, to distance himself from Libya and its leader Muammar Gaddafi, and to distance himself from supporting the national-liberation struggle of the Palestinian people and the chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat.
Nelson Mandela stood firm and held his ground, however. He declared that Cuba and Libya, Fidel and Gaddafi, had supported the anti-Apartheid struggle throughout our darkest years. There was a bond of friendship between our people born out of a common struggle, he said; we will not betray our friends.
On the issue of Palestine, Mandela declared that the struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation against zionism was a just struggle. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people and their just struggle, he confirmed.
Ultimately, imperialism had to give up its pressure. Every confrontation with Mandela exposed the reactionary role and intentions of imperialism. Intellectually, the occupants of the White House and Downing Street were no match for Mandela and his integrity!
In the build-up to the Nato invasion of Iraq, Mandela openly confronted the United States, exposing its bloodthirsty and inhuman plans and condemning the invasion as a crime against humanity!
Obama, in his typically hypocritical speech at Johannesburg’s FNB stadium, where the world met to mourn the passing of Comrade Nelson, declared that Mandela had taught him to be a “better man”.
Perhaps this would have been more convincing if, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States of America, Obama had done something to stop the endless slaughter of men, women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Somalia.
Perhaps he could start by ending the torture and sodomising of political prisoners, dismantle the US’s secret torture prisons and close the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp.
Perhaps he could start by removing the US’s armed forces from close to 100 countries around the world and instead behave like the representative of a civilised country amongst civilised countries.
Perhaps he could start by ending the barbaric 60-year economic boycott against socialist Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – two countries that pose absolutely no threat to the United States.
Perhaps he could start by destroying the biggest arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the world – namely, the weapons of mass destruction of the United States.
US imperialism has inflicted mass murder and genocide, committed war crimes and launched barbaric military invasions against the peoples of Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. In the last 50 years alone, it has installed brutal military juntas all over Latin America, Africa and Asia.
George Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama have nothing in common with Mandela the revolutionary, with Mandela the statesman, or with Mandela the man, who more than once put his own life on the line to avoid bloodshed and civil war.
The heads of all western imperialist countries were present at Mandela’s funeral. Not because they share any of his noble values, but because all of them are in desperate need to be seen to be ‘close’ to Mandela – the only president in the world who is admired and respected by the masses in the imperialist countries.
This is especially true following the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, justified by imperialist leaders on the basis of ‘evidence’ of Iraq’s weapon of mass destruction that turned out to be complete fabricated.
It is especially true following the introduction of the ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya, which was justified by the imperialists as being necessary in order to ‘save peaceful demonstrators’. Twenty-four hours later, the world’s people watched in horror as Nato forces launched terror-bombing raids that paved the way for a counter-revolution to destroy all the social, political and economic achievements of the Libyan revolution since the overthrow of feudalism 40 years ago – inflicting terror and genocide against black Libyans in the process.
Moreover, the imperialists organised and coordinated the barbaric slaughter of the popular leader of the Libyan revolution, Muammar Gaddafi, and of thousands of other Libyan revolutionaries.
And since then, in the last two years, the world has witnessed how US, British and French imperialism has organised and financed the counter-revolution in Syria. The routine slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of people, and the destruction of entire states has once again become the order of the day.
Millions of ordinary people around the world, including in the imperialist countries, are aware of these crimes committed in the name of freedom and democracy. The leaders of the so-called ‘Free World’ have been exposed as war criminals, as brutal oppressors and shameless warmongers.
In order to save at least a bit of their damaged image, and driven by sheer desperation as their war crimes are catching up with them, they huddled around Mandela’s body, mumbling phrases about ‘forgiveness’ and becoming a ‘better person’. But Mandela will not exonerate them of their crimes and their victims will neither forget nor forgive them.
Progressive and revolutionary forces around the world should expose these imperialist leaders as opportunists, liars and charlatans. They have nothing in common with Mandela, and we should make sure that they do not succeed in driving a wedge between the real Mandela and the anti-colonial, anti-apartheid and anti-imperialist struggles of our people in South Africa, Africa and the world.
The desperate efforts of our exploiters and oppressors to define who Mandela was, what he stood for and what values he represented, using cinema, TV, radio and print, is nothing but cultural imperialism at its worst.
The aim of this propaganda is to colonise our minds, weaken our resolve, split the anti-imperialist struggles of Africa and open the gates for a full-scale economic and military recolonisation of our continent.
Needless to say, all their reactionary plans will ultimately fail. Africa will not be recolonised either by US or EU imperialism.
Long live the revolutionary spirit of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela!
Let Mandela’s revolutionary life, his discipline, commitment and his loyalty to the oppressed be an inspiration to future generations of liberation fighters!
Our long walk to freedom will continue until oppression and exploitation, war and hunger, ignorance and poverty are a thing of the past. To this end, let us celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, defend his revolutionary legacy in the face of distortions and lies and intensify the struggle against imperialism! There is no better way we can honour this outstanding son of the African soil!
By ZK Kubu, Marxist Workers School of South Africa
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when we prepare for battle to fight for a free and non-racial education system, we feel your presence and your guidance!
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when we line up our forces to fight for the nationalisation of the land without compensation, to remove land as an object of speculation in the capitalist game of exploitation and oppression, we feel your presence and encouragement!
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when our heroic mineworkers intensify their struggles to form a militant trade union, we feel your presence in their midst!
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when the US-sponsored Syrian terror forces are defeated by the great heroic Arab Syrian army, we feel your presence and your gentle smile!
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when the Palestinian resistance stands firm, defending their land against zionism and the right of every Palestinian to return home as a basic human right, we feel your presence and encouragement!
Tata Madiba, they say you left us, but when Africa from south to north, from east to west, resists recolonisation by US and EU imperialism we feel your presence and determination!
Tata Madiba, no matter how much they try to use your name, no matter how much they want to bathe in your glory, we know that none of your gentleness, none of your humanity, and none of your integrity will rub off onto them, for they don’t possess gentleness, humanity nor integrity.
We know that you are on the side of the downtrodden, the oppressed and exploited.
We know that you will never abandon a single political prisoner, nor will you ever abandon a single fighter for justice and freedom.
In our struggle against colonialism, racism, zionism and imperialism, we know that we are ONE with you for eternity!
Tata Madiba, NOW we understand that you have not left us, but you have left them!
Although official vote totals in the 31 July election are still coming in, the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Robert Mugabe to another five-year term. Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), also won the parliamentary election in a landslide, making gains and solidifying their majority.
Despite claims by Mugabe’s opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that the elections were rigged, monitors from the African Union called the elections “peaceful, orderly, free and fair”.
Mugabe’s victory is a mandate for the Zanu-PF manifesto, which calls for over $1.8tr in idle mining assets and $7.3bn in foreign-owned assets to be turned over to Zimbabweans. Voters similarly favour the Zanu-PF plan for “education for all”, “housing for all”, and gender equality “through laws, empowerment programmes and promotion of women in sectors and positions previously held by men only”, according to the Zanu-PF 2013 election manifesto.
This is the third and latest defeat of MDC candidate Tsvangirai, who ran against Mugabe for President in 2002 and 2008. Although Tsvangirai led the 2008 presidential election, he failed to garner a majority vote and lost decisively in the runoff to Mugabe.
WikiLeaks cables from 2010 revealed collaboration between Tsvangirai with his MDC party and the US. Tsvangirai called on the western countries to toughen the economic sanctions on his own country and people after he lost the election. Since that time, more and more Zimbabweans disapprove of the MDC in opinion polls.
In February 2013, Zimbabweans approved a new constitution, ending a power-sharing deal between Zanu-PF and the MDC. A decisive election victory for Zanu-PF provides a mandate and curbs outsider meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.
Indigenisation programme central to election
Zimbabwe’s election comes at a time of profound revolutionary changes in the nation. In May 2012, Zanu-PF announced the implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme, to transfer ownership of the major national industries to Zimbabweans and workers.
According to the Zanu-PF’s election manifesto, called Taking Back the Economy, the indigenisation “seeks to enforce the transfer to local entities of at least 51 percent controlling equity in all existing foreign owned businesses”. The aim is to “create dignified employment especially for the youth, distribute wealth amongst citizens more equitably, cause a general improvement in the quality of life of every Zimbabwean and bring about sustainable national development which is homegrown”.
Zanu-PF’s campaign focused on strengthening the nation’s land reform – which redistributed more than 7 million hectares of land, mostly to African peasants and farmworkers – and deepening the indigenisation policies. In a preface to the manifesto, Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, write: “The essence of Zanu-PF’s ideology is to economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe by enabling them to fully own their country’s God-given natural resources and the means of production to unlock or create value from those resources.”
Indigenisation policies already distributed more than 120 mining companies to black Zimbabweans, organised into employee ownership trusts. These trusts allow working people in Zimbabwe to share in their nation’s resources, rather than western companies taking profits out of Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF also aims to transition the current stock exchange into an indigenised market owned by Zimbabweans called the Harare Stock Exchange. They claim that shares will be distributed to at least 500,000 people in the first year, with the greatest beneficiaries being women, youth, and disabled people.
Zimbabwe’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism
Zanu-PF’s victory demonstrates the continued importance of Zimbabwe’s revolutionary history. British imperialists, led by infamous mass murderer Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company, invaded and colonised Zimbabwe around 1880. Rhodes named the country after himself as white colonists seized the best land.
With most of the land and the government in white hands, the whites ruled the country despite never being more than 4.3 percent of the population. In 1966, Zimbabweans waged a 13-year liberation war against white minority rule that ended the racist Ian Smith regime in 1980.
Mugabe’s continued popularity and re-election as President comes from his leadership during the liberation war, called the ‘Second Chimurenga’ by Zimbabweans. Influenced by the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, Mugabe founded Zanu along with other black revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. Ian Smith imprisoned Mugabe for more than a decade, and then he was elected President of Zanu in 1974 shortly before his release.
After winning majority rule, most black Zimbabweans remained dispossessed and poor while white colonisers kept the best farmland. After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000.
Almost 75 percent of the beneficiaries of the land reform were poor peasants, former farmworkers and urban workers – many of whom were women – making it one of the most progressive land reforms in the history of Africa.
By stripping wealthy whites of their land and political power, Zimbabwe angered the US and Britain, who responded with economic sanctions that sent Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. However, with new investment from socialist countries like the People’s Republic of China, Zimbabwe’s economy began to recover, with their gross domestic product growing by 11 percent in 2011 alone.
Unemployment remains a persistent struggle in Zimbabwe, caused by the continued sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the US and Britain. However, Zanu-PF designed the indigenisation programme to create dignified jobs for Zimbabwean workers and allow them greater ownership of the nation’s resources.
At 89, Mugabe is the oldest African head of state, and constitutionally this will be his final term as president. Zanu-PF spent the past five years, after the 2008 election, holding party cadre schools to train activists to continue the revolution. With a new victory on the horizon, the days ahead shine bright for Zimbabweans.
The documents showed that responsibility for torture went right to the top − sanctioned by Kenya’s governor, Evelyn Baring, and authorised at cabinet level in London by Alan Lennox-Boyd, then secretary of state for the colonies in Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government.
When told that torture and abuse were routine in colonial prisons, Mr Lennox-Boyd did not order that such practices be stopped, but instead took steps to place them beyond legal sanction. “Compelling force” was allowed, but defined so loosely as to permit virtually any kind of physical abuse.
Why did the British keep these documents, instead of destroying them? Plenty else was burned, or dumped at sea, as the British left Kenya.
The answer lay in the unease of some British colonial officers. Many did not like what they saw. When the orders to torture came down, some realised the jeopardy they were in. These men worried that it was they, not their commanders, who would carry the can.
They were right to worry. Official reports from the 1950s always blamed individual officers − the “bad apples in the barrel” − for acts of abuse. But the blame lay not with junior officers forced to implement a bad policy but with the senior echelons of a colonial government that was rotten to the core.
Let’s be clear. Torture was and is standard practice for imperialists trying to hold on to their colonies. Eventually, the truth always comes out. And, of course, when they are forced to admit to past atrocities, present-day rulers always look sad and try to pretend that this sort of thing is an aberration from the long-distant past.
“Of course, it was all a long time ago. Nothing like that could ever happen now,” we are told. No, our lovely boys in Afghanistan / Iraq / Libya / Syria are perfect gentlemen, bringing peace and democracy to grateful natives, while our ‘precision’ bombs ’surgically remove’ ‘high-end targets’ to great local jubilation. It’s not imperialism, it’s a noble mission to help those poor benighted souls, who, for some strange reason, are incapable of managing their affairs without our altruistic input.
Right now, though, it’s exceedingly good to see some Kenyans finally getting a small acknowledgement for the extreme brutality they suffered at British hands. Now if imperialist multinationals could stop looting the country the Kenyan people might have a fighting chance of building a decent life for themselves …
This article is part of the international report that was presented at the 12 January meeting of the CPGB-ML central committee.
The International Criminal Court has acquitted a notorious Congo ‘rebel’ leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo, of war crimes, although it is well known that as chief of staff of the marauding ‘Front for National Integration’, an armed militia made up mostly of members of his Lendu tribe.
He was responsible, among other things, for a 2003 attack on a village called Bogoro in the mineral-rich Ituri region of the country, in which about 200 people were hacked to death or burnt alive, while female survivors were raped and held in camps as sex slaves. Incredibly, the basis of the acquittal was “lack of evidence”. Although the prosecution asked for Ngudjolo to remain in custody while they appealed, this request was refused.
It should be noted that Ngudjolo’s vicious militia is one of many that operate in eastern Congo, financed, equipped and armed by various imperialist enterprises, whose function it is to safeguard the extraction of minerals from the area and their transportation out of the country. Recruitment to these militias is often facilitated by the puppet governments of Rwanda and/or Uganda, whose cooperation is in any event needed to ensure the militias receive supplies.
It would seem only natural that an imperialist court should be reluctant to condemn an imperialist henchman unless diplomatic considerations made it impossible not to do so.
This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress
This congress recognises that the imperialist beasts of the USA, Britain and France planned, financed and played the major role, assisted by their various middle-eastern puppets, in the overthrow of the popular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi.
This congress notes that they, through the trickery of a UN resolution to impose a ‘no-fly zone’, supposedly to ‘protect’ the Libyan people, used the combined air power of Nato member states to carpet-bomb and destroy Libyan airports, military bases, media stations, hospitals, schools, electricity and water supplies, general infrastructure and residential areas alike.
Congress further notes that, even with the great military advantage that this onslaught from outside gave the rats of the Transitional National Council (TNC), they were so numerically weak and lacking in any support within Libya that they could not make decisive use of this advantage. So it was that Libya was flooded with military ‘advisors’ from the imperialist regimes and elite troops from all the neighbouring states that were under the sway of imperialism.
This congress applauds the heroic struggle that the Libyan people and their army waged against Nato’s proxy forces on the ground, despite the horrendous effects of the imperialists’ all-out air war, noting that they held out for more than six months until the capture, torture and public murder of the leader of Libya’s green revolution, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Congress also sends a red salute to the brave green fighters in Libya, who are continuing to put up resistance to imperialism and its puppets today.
Closer to home, this congress condemns the disgusting role played during the war on Libya by the ‘left’ supporters of imperialism – the social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyists. In Britain, the worst of these enemies of the international proletariat once more proved themselves to be the Labour party, the SWP, Counterfire, the CPB, and the ‘anti-war’ umbrella group in which many of those parties’ spokespeople play a leading role: the Stop the War Coalition (StW). StW held a single nationally-organised demonstration over the issue of the overthrow of the sovereign state of Libya by imperialism – but they held it outside the Libyan embassy supporting the imperialist-backed TNC and opposing the anti-imperialist leadership of Colonel Gaddafi!
This congress affirms that imperialism is the main enemy of the international working class, and that US imperialism, as the biggest and most powerful imperialist state, is the biggest enemy to world peace.
Congress further affirms that in an imperialist war the duty of the working class in an imperialist country is to work for the defeat of its own government. And an essential part of that process must be exposing and leading workers away from the misleadership of social democracy and its revisionist and Trotskyist hand-maidens, who will try with all their guile to keep workers tied to the imperialist war machine through revolutionary-sounding phrases and lies.
This congress resolves to continue working to show our class that we do have the power to stop the imperialist war machine by starving it of all the necessary supplies for its wars of brigandage, whether those supplies be weapons, transport or soldiers!
Congress further resolves to use all means at the party’s disposal to disseminate information about the ongoing battle in Libya, in order that British workers should understand that there is a popular resistance movement fighting to rid the country of imperialist forces. Our party will continue to expose the vile and rapacious doings of the TNC rats who now hope to rule Libya (with imperialist troops stood at their shoulders). These villains have murdered, kidnapped, raped, looted and evicted from their homes those supporting or suspected of supporting the green resistance. From the earliest days, even before coming to power, it was well known that the TNC rats were lynching black Libyans, as well as other black Africans working in the country, and our party will continue to remind the world of this fact.
Finally, this congress resolves to continue pointing out that this bloody war was brought upon the Libyan people in order to grab the country’s oil, to remove its anti-imperialist leadership, and to kick open the door to the re-conquest of Africa. The freedom and protection of the Libyan people was never a real reason for waging the war – except, perhaps, in the minds of a few simple souls who simply cannot, or will not, see the jackboot an inch from their face, even when it is pointed out to them.
This congress remains confident that the Libyan masses will rise again to rid their land of the imperialist puppets and bring the imperialists’ dreams of world domination to nought.
Long live the memory of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, hero of the Libyan and African peoples!
Victory to the anti-imperialist peoples!
Death to imperialism!
Invisible Children's founders pose with members of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army in April 2008
‘Going viral’ refers to the phenomenon of a video or website becoming popular, or at least widely known, via the medium of public sharing.
In the age of social networking this is no longer as impressive as it once was, but nonetheless it was certainly surprising when Kony 2012 – a short documentary which purported to dish the dirt on a fundamentalist christian terrorist organisation in Uganda, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, and its not-so-charismatic leader Joseph Kony – ‘went viral’ a few weeks ago. And it was even more surprising when, just as his popularity was peaking, the director of Kony 2012 was arrested for public masturbation.
So, masturbation aside, what on earth is going on here?
Kony 2012 is the 11th documentary released by an allegedly not-for-profit organisation called Invisible Children. All eleven documentaries produced by Invisible Children have been about the same subject – Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The name ‘Invisible Children’ refers to the group’s principal gripe with the LRA, namely, its use of child soldiers in its war against the Ugandan state. Not content with merely documenting the situation in Uganda, however, Invisible Children seeks to prescribe a solution: it wants US military action both in Uganda and in central Africa more generally. This is not a covert objective, but a stated goal of the organisation.
Invisible Children is not just an advocacy group, but also an active supporter of imperialist causes in Africa. It channels a sizable percentage of the revenue it accrues through donations and merchandise sales directly into the Ugandan army and government, as well as the armies and governments of several other central African states.
The reality is that Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army are a bugbear whose relatively minor role in African regional politics has been grossly distorted by Invisible Children. This was the point made by three commentators writing in the US establishment’s Foreign Policy journal in November of last year: “[Invisible Children] manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasising the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.”
Moreover, though Invisible Children continues to focus on the LRA’s activities in Uganda, most experts are now questioning whether the group still operates in Uganda at all.
Arthur Larok, the director of Action Aid in Uganda, has criticised Invisible Children on precisely this point: “Six or 10 years ago, this would have been a really effective campaign strategy to get international campaigning. But today, years after Kony has moved away from Uganda … I’m not sure that’s effective for now. The circumstances in the north have changed.”
These changed circumstances are also highlighted by the freelance journalist Michael Wilkerson, who has pointed out that “in 2006, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda and has been operating in extremely remote areas of the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. … the small remaining LRA forces are still wreaking havoc and very hard to catch, but northern Uganda has had tremendous recovery in the six years of peace”.
So why do Invisible Children continue to act as though Uganda is the LRA’s main base of operations and, moreover, that the LRA are a serious threat? The answer is either shameful ignorance or deliberate deception. Whichever of these two is the correct answer, Invisible Children’s shortcomings as documentarians have certainly been helpful in furthering the foreign policy aims of the United States.
As senior research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, Adam Branch, has pointed out, the popularity of Invisible Children’s campaigns “[has been] an excuse that the US government has gladly adopted in order to help justify the expansion of their military presence in central Africa”.
More specifically, by appearing to be ‘responding’ to misguided public pressure on Uganda, the Obama administration has been given a useful cover for expanding its military presence in the country at precisely the time when its unpopular, pro-western government, and the lucrative oil contracts that it can dispense, are under threat from the population whom it has been exploiting.
Invisible Children and its supporters, whether they realise it or not, are playing a significant role in supporting western imperialism in central Africa. Through their ignorance of the complex reality of African regional politics and their naïve prejudices and faith in the altruistic motivations of imperialism, they have given ammunition (both figurative and literal) to the worst forces of reaction and obscured the fact that American troops in Uganda are not there to help the children of central Africa, but to help the US imperialist aims of monopolising Africa’s oil and mineral wealth and trying to undermine China’s ability to trade on the continent.
If people in the imperialist countries are serious about helping the people of central Africa, it is not Joseph Kony they need to focus on, but imperialist looting – and the military force it uses, both directly and indirectly, to back that up. As Adam Branch has said: “In terms of activism, the first step is to re-think the question: Instead of asking how the US can intervene in order to solve Africa’s conflicts, we need to ask what we are already doing to cause those conflicts in the first place. How are we … contributing to land grabbing and to the wars ravaging this region? How are we, as US citizens, allowing our government to militarise Africa in the name of the ‘War on Terror’ and its effort to secure oil resources?”
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 4 March.
As was widely expected, the two Sudans have been unable to reach agreement on sharing the profits arising from the sale of oil now that the south has seceded.
Seventy percent of Sudan’s oil is in the south, but none of it can reach the market without going through the north’s pipelines. The south has been refusing to pay the north’s charges for use of its pipelines, claiming that they are excessive. Currently some $1bn remain outstanding and unpaid.
The north retaliated by arresting tankers carrying south Sudanese oil. The south has now responded by closing down its oil wells altogether so that neither north nor south can benefit from them at all. As the south’s government derives 98 percent of its income from oil sales, this is an action that hurts the south even more than it hurts its intended target, ie, the Khartoum government.
What the south apparently wants to do is to keep its oil wells closed until a pipeline can be built enabling it to ship out its oil via Kenya, thus avoiding north Sudanese territory altogether. However, such pipelines would have to run uphill for much of the way, necessitating prohibitively expensive pumping – assuming that it would at present be possible to build them at all, since they would have to cross an area of southern Sudan, the Jonglei, which is still effectively a war zone.
There is a strong possibility of a renewed outbreak of war, since northern Sudan desperately needs the oil income of which the southern shut-down is now depriving it. Since the south can afford the closure even less than can the north, it is to be hoped that, notwithstanding its hatred of the north, the South Sudan government can be persuaded to resolve the issue by negotiation.
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 4 March.
The ruling military council in Egypt has come under renewed pressure from intensified mass demonstrations calling for all power immediately to be vested in parliament following incidents at a football match in Port Said at the beginning of February.
In Egypt, football supporters clubs, known as the ‘ultras’, have been an important factor in the anti-government protests that brought down the Mubarak regime. They are known for their anti-government chants and formation marching. It is thought that at the Port Said match the police and military deliberately failed to implement routine weapons searches and subsequently stood aside to allow thugs posing as Port Said supporters to attack ultras in the crowd who had travelled from Cairo for the match. Seventy-one people were killed.
Meanwhile, the military government has ordered the arrest of no fewer than 19 persons working for foreign NGOs said to be carrying out illegal activity in Egypt, namely, conducting research with a view to sending information to the US and supporting candidates in Egyptian elections whose function would be to represent foreign interests. Eleven of those to be arrested are US citizens.
Personnel from 44 NGOs have been targeted, including the National Democratic Institution, Freedom House, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and others who were raided by the authorities in late December. In fact, according to the New York Times, “American pro-democracy groups were founded in the 1980s in part to take the place of what had been decades of covert Central Intelligence Agency involvement in the political affairs of other countries.” (‘Charges against US-aided groups come with history of distrust in Egypt’ by Scott Shane and Ron Nixon, 6 February 2012)
None of the US citizens concerned were actually taken into custody but several were holed up in the US embassy in the expectation that they would be arrested if they stepped outside. Meanwhile, as a result of the threatened arrests, the US was having to contemplate whether to suspend its military aid to Egypt, which amounts to $1.3bn annually – but if it did that it would have no hold over the country to force it to maintain its de facto truce with Israel.
However, this embarrassing impasse has now been avoided by an Egyptian court releasing 11 US citizens on bail (totalling $4m), thus enabling them to skip the country, which they have done. It is not thought that the US government will be amenable to any request for extradition for the persons concerned to face trial.
The article below is the text of a speech given by Comrade Khwezi Kadalie, Chairperson of the Marxist Workers School of South Africa, to CPGB-ML meetings in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds during his speaking tour in February.
Or you can watch Comrade Khwezi’s inspiring speech on this video, which includes more detailed discussion on many of the points he raised following questions from the audience.
I would like to thank the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) for the opportunity to address this gathering. I would like to take the opportunity to extend to you, and to all the comrades, friends and fellow workers here, the most sincere, heartfelt and revolutionary greeting of the members of the Marxist Workers School of South Africa and, indeed, greetings from the proletariat of South Africa.
The policies of imperialism and our reactionary ruling capitalist classes have always been to divide people, to divide the working class, to set local workers against immigrant workers, to set full-time workers against part-time workers … and, of course, they set workers in the imperialist countries against workers in the so-called ‘third-world’ countries.
Our position is clear: the objective interest of the South African working class and the interest of the British working class are identical. We have a common enemy; we are united in a common struggle against capitalism and imperialism. And therefore we say: together, the working class in South Africa and Britain, and, indeed, all over the world, will struggle for a better world; a world in which there is no exploitation and oppression, a world in which hunger and ignorance are a thing of the past, a world in which those who produce the wealth in society, namely the working class, shall govern and benefit.
Together we shall struggle and together we shall be victorious in this struggle. It is for this reason that we are here to forge a bond of friendship and solidarity between the South African and British working classes; a lasting bond born out of the revolutionary struggle against capitalist exploitation and imperialist domination.
South Africa during and after Apartheid
Comrades, many working-class organisations, revolutionary parties and comrades and friends who joined us internationally in our struggle against Apartheid had very high expectations of the African National Congress. Millions of people knew the political programme of our national-liberation struggle – the Freedom Charter.
The Freedom Charter laid the basis for a free and democratic South Africa, in which black and white, coloureds and Indians would live as equals. The Freedom Charter demanded that the land should be given back to the people, and that the mines and the banks should be nationalised.
Clearly, neither the land issue has been solved nor have the mines and the banks been nationalised.
Instead, the international community are given conflicting information about the economic progress of South Africa, while at the same time being fed with rather sensational information about the president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, and the president of the ANC Youth organisation, Julius Malema. Reported issues around Aids and crime have also tarnished the image of South Africa internationally.
To understand the present situation, we need to step back and recall our historical struggle against Apartheid, and we need to look at how the economic and social situation has changed under the ANC government.
During the anti-Apartheid struggle, the main contradiction was between the racist apartheid system and the black people of South Africa, namely Africans, Indians and coloureds. Therefore, the anti-Apartheid struggle was led by the national-liberation movement the African National Congress in alliance with the South African Communist Party and Sactu, the South African Congress of Trade Unions.
This alliance, under the leadership of the ANC, fought the apartheid system politically, through armed struggle, and by organising an international movement to isolate and boycott the apartheid system.
This heroic struggle of our people, fought over many decades and with untold sacrifices, cumulated in the 1990 release of all political prisoners, some of whom, like our leaders Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, had been incarcerated for 27 years. The apartheid regime had to legalise all banned political organisations like the ANC, SACP, PAC, AZAPO and others. Within four years of this change, the apartheid system collapsed and a democratically-elected ANC government was ushered in.
This new government took over the old state machinery, with all its structures, complete with the old civil servants who had served the apartheid system. In addition, the new dispensation was based on a bourgeois constitution, which had been negotiated between the rising ANC and the then ruling National Party in 1992/3.
Since 1994, therefore, South Africa has been a bourgeois democracy, in which the property rights of the ruling capitalist class are enshrined in the constitution and upheld through the laws of the country, as enforced by the police and the judiciary. It is precisely for this reason that, since 1994, the main contradiction in South Africa has been between the ruling capitalist class and the working class.
Yet all political parties in South Africa deny this fundamental fact.
From revolutionaries to reformists
During the years of Apartheid, the capitalist class that owned the means of production in South Africa ruled through the racist and fascist apartheid state; it ruled through brute force. Open and direct oppression, torture and killings, arbitrary arrests and mass intimidation of the entire black population was the order of the day in order to exploit cheap black labour, not only for the enrichment of the white capitalist class but for the social and financial benefit of the entire white population.
After 1994, when Apartheid was defeated by the national-liberation struggle, the main contradiction in South Africa became the contradiction between the ruling capitalist class and the working class. The ruling capitalist class started to rule through bourgeois democracy, the same kind of rule that Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto described as the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
Hand in hand with this transition, the African National Congress, our former liberation movement, has step by step over the years been ideologically transformed into a social-democratic party.
Opportunism has become a material force within the leadership. Indeed, the entire leadership of the African National Congress and the revisionist South African Communist Party has been socially corrupted. It has been bought into the middle class to such an extent that these leaders cannot see their own future and their own interest as being separate from the future and interest of the white bourgeoisie and of the of the emerging black middle class.
To this extent, neither the leadership of the ANC nor that of the SACP are any longer able to represent the objective interest of the rank-and-file members of their organisations. Nor do they represent the basic aspirations of their memberships any more.
The social base of both organisations is made up of ordinary working-class people and their families, who increasingly revolt against the opportunistic leadership. This finds its expression in the increasingly violent infighting at congresses and meetings, and in the emergence of factionalism within these organisations.
All political parties in South Africa deny the fact that the main contradiction in our country today is between labour and capital. It is for this reason that social democracy is flourishing.
The working class is told by its leaders that we all sit in the same boat – together with capital – and that we must all behave ‘patriotically’ to ‘strengthen South Africa together’. Meanwhile, the capitalists are retrenching and shedding millions of jobs. Unemployment has reached 46 percent, and poverty and hunger are spreading like wildfire. Yet the working class is told that the only answer is to hold out for better times and be more patriotic.
As the class contradictions between labour and capital sharpen, millions of workers are expressing their anger and frustration through militant strikes and protest. With falling numbers of workers registering to vote, and falling numbers of those registered bothering to turn out, more than forty percent of the voting-age population are now expressing their disillusionment by staying away from the polls.
All political parties, including the ANC and the SACP, in various ways and with various levels of intensity, are engaged in what Karl Marx described as perfecting the existing capitalist state.
The working class is told that the present stage of the revolution is the national-democratic revolution. In reality, this line is nothing but a call for open class collaboration with the ruling capitalist class, and therefore all policies and programmes, all campaigns that have been developed in South Africa over the past 17 years, are nothing but attempts to perfect the machinery of the capitalist state and increase the efficiency of the capitalist system of exploitation.
Of course, this is sold to the working class and the population at large as: ‘making South Africa internationally competitive’!
Key goals of the Freedom Charter
During Apartheid, 87 percent of the land was allocated to whites. This systematic and barbaric land robbery was the hallmark of colonialism and Apartheid in South Africa. But instead of carrying out a land reform to give land to the landless masses as the Freedom Charter demands, the government passes legislation to regulate the relationship between the white landlords and commercial farms and the farm workers.
South Africa has a race- and class-based education system: government schools for the working class, Model C schools for the middle class, and private schools for the bourgeoisie. Instead of scrapping the race- and class-based education system, which was developed under De Klerk, the last Apartheid President, the new government introduces one education reform after another in order to ‘improve’ the three-tier education system and make it more ‘efficient’.
In the industrial and economical sphere, the Freedom Charter states that the mines and banks should be nationalised. But here too, the government has instead passed legislation to increase the shareholding of black capitalists within the mining industry. And instead of nationalising the banks, the government negotiates with the monopoly capitalists to increase credit to black middle-class people.
In other words: reformism is the order of the day. Despite all the revolutionary rhetoric, which is sometimes voiced at Sunday speeches, reformism has become a material force within the political circles of the ruling ANC-SACP alliance.
Problems for reformists
However, the bourgeois system in South Africa faces one fundamental problem: it does not have the financial or economic potential, nor a coherent political national will, to bribe significant sections of the black working class into collaboration.
During the Apartheid years, the ruling class successfully created an all-white labour aristocracy, which has survived to the present day and is still nourished by the system. The system has failed, however, and indeed it never had any intentions, to create a black labour aristocracy.
Reformism therefore is a material force within state structures; it is the ideology of the middle class, including the emerging black middle class.
But reformism has failed to use its bribed black middle-class placemen to dominate the hearts and minds of the militant working class in South Africa, whose consciousness is being determined by the prevailing conditions of poverty, exploitation and alienation. In other words: the revolutionary spirit of the South African working class has not been broken!
This revolutionary class is struggling daily against capitalist exploitation; this class wants freedom from wage slavery; this class sees socialism as the fulfilment of its aspirations!
Over the years, so-called ‘neo-liberal’ policies have been introduced, such as the privatisation of state assets throughout our country in adherence to IMF and World Bank demands.
As a result, a few people have become filthy rich, and the profits of corporations and international monopoly capitalists have increased significantly. Alongside these gains for the exploiters come the usual burdens on the working classes: unemployment has skyrocketed, and poverty and desperation amongst urban workers and the landless rural masses have reached unprecedented levels.
The social situation of the working class and the landless masses has deteriorated to such an extent that the government has been forced to introduce social benefits in an attempt to take the edge off the people’s anger and desperation. Twelve million people in South Africa have become recipients of these benefits, without which there would be outbreaks of hunger and starvation in South Africa, although it is one of the richest countries on earth. Such are the realities of the so-called ‘free-market economy’!
South African revolutionaries and Marxist Leninists founded the Marxist Workers School of South Africa in order to educate workers about the historical responsibility of the working class, as the most revolutionary class in our society, to organise itself and take up the struggle for a socialist future. We have realised that wage slavery, poverty, crime, ignorance and underdevelopment can only be overcome when the working class has established a socialist system under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The unfolding class struggle of the South African working class is a struggle against the ruling capitalist class in South Africa. And it is at the same time part and parcel of the struggle of the international proletariat, of which we are a part.
Our struggle is part of the struggle of the international working class and oppressed people against capitalist exploitation and imperialist domination.
- It is for this reason that we support the land redistribution in Zimbabwe and the struggle of the Zimbabwean people under the leadership of ZANU-PF to defend its national sovereignty against British imperialism.
- It is for this reason that we call for the victory of the national-liberation struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan
- It is for this reason that we support the anti-imperialist national-liberation struggle of the Green revolution against the internal counter-revolution and the barbaric bombardment and re-colonisation of Libya by Nato.
- It is for this reason that we support the anti-imperialist Syrian Baath party and the coalition government in Syria, which includes the Syrian Communist Party, in its struggle against internal counter-revolution, destabilisation by reactionary Arab regimes and imperialist aggression.
- It is for this reason that we support the Palestinian national-liberation struggle for a united and democratic Palestine, in which muslims, jews and christians can live side by side in peace, free and liberated from the reactionary and racist ideology of Zionism
- It is for this reason that we support all socialist countries like the Peoples Republic of China, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Each of these socialist countries is at a different stage of development, but nevertheless they are all upholding socialism and developing their countries under extremely difficult conditions of world imperialist domination. Each of these countries is living proof that the working class can be the master of its own destiny.
We fully support the socialist countries in the defence of their hard-won victories and in the defence of their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- It is for this reason that we build international relations with revolutionary working-class organisations and parties: parties that are based on Marxism Leninism; parties which understand that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement; parties which have consciously broken all ties with opportunism, revisionism, social democracy and Trotskyism.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) is one such party that tirelessly exposes these petty-bourgeois trends within the working-class leadership; that supports the anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed people, and that fights for the establishment of a truly revolutionary proletarian party of the British working class.
We would once more like to thank the leadership of the CPGB-ML for the invitation and the opportunity to address this meeting.
Long live the solidarity between the British and South African working classes!
Long live proletarian internationalism!
Workers and oppressed people of the world unite against imperialism!