The struggle for socialism in today's Africa

Most African nations between 1960 and 1990 called themselves socialist. Some based themselves on African socialism, others on Marxist socialism. Unfortunate no African nation was genuine democratic socialist. African leaders favoured socialism from above and total government control over the lives of workers and peasants. Brutal civil wars between revolutionary governments and counter-revolutionary rebels, led to poverty and destruction of the infrastructure. When the Cold War came to an end, most revolutionary liberation movements renounced Marxist socialism and adopted social democracy ( capitalism ) as their main ideology. Today many African nations are still govern by the same liberation parties of the 60/70's, but all have embraced the market economy and the laws of capitalism!

Genuine socialists stood between two sides during the revolutionary uprisings. They supported the anti-colonialist struggle of Africans against western colonialism. But revolutionary socialists could not give support to the totalitarian single party states that were created by Stalinist nationalists. Because of our opposition to a single party state, we were hunted down and called ''counter-revolutionary''. When the same Stalinist nationalists renounced socialism around 1990, they kept calling us ''traitors''.      

Africans fought a proxy war for the two major superpowers. One the one side the national liberation movements against colonialism and capitalism. On the other side those Africans who opposed Marxist socialism and were supportive of the USA and capitalism. Almost 30 years did those two sides collide with each other. Many innocent Africans were killed in the brutal civil wars that were fought. With the collapse of Apartheid in South Africa, came also an end to the last white ruled African nation. Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress won the first none-racist elections. But like most national liberation movements after 1990, the ANC had renounced Marxist socialism in order to appeal to the white ruling class of South Africa!

African-socialism was like Arab socialism an attempt by leftist nationalists to unite socialism with traditions. African-socialists wanted to keep African culture of tribalism intact but under a socialist system of planning. Julius Nyerere was the first president of an independent Tanzania and also a founding father of African-socialism. He nationalized the economy, but gave no power to the working class. His top-down African style ''socialism'' led to huge mismanagement and corruption. This was because the government acted very authoritarian and did not tolerate political dissident. People who protested against the bureaucracy were called ''enemies'' and jailed. Julius Nyerere destroyed Tanzania in the name of socialism!

On 5 November 1985, Julius Nyerere left office. He left Tanzania as one of the poorest, least developed and most foreign aid-dependent countries in the world, although much progress in services such as health and education had nevertheless been achieved. His successors soon started with privatisations and market reforms. This did not changed much as Tanzania remains very poor and underdeveloped under capitalism!

Nations like Angola and Mozambique did not followed African socialism, they followed Marxist socialism. But like African-socialism their socialism was based on top down management. No democratic elected workers councils and no freedom for workers and peasants to participate in the planning and running of the economy. Both the People's Republic of Angola and the People's Republic of Mozambique fought a brutal civil war against anti-leftist nationalists supported by the USA, racist South Africa and other anticommunist nations!

The collapse of stalinism had a major impact on national liberation movements. All former anti-capitalists African government shifted allegiance to the supposed winner of the ideological conflict, which was capitalism according to the media of the western world. When the African National Congress in South Africa won the elections, the ruling class was told that Nelson Mandela would not be a danger to their status and wealth. Indeed, the ANC kept capitalism alive and betrayed its socialist principals!

Many African nations became multi party state, allowing opposition to the ruling national liberation parties. Although more democratic then during the Cold War, many African states are still using authoritarian methods to silence trade unionists and revolutionary socialists who stand up to government corruption and capitalist exploitation. We see this in today's South Africa, were the ANC in alliance with the trade unions and the South African Communist Party rule since 1994. But the nation is not socialist, the white ruling class is still in power although it is now mixed with some wealthy blacks. Most poor workers however still belong to the black race and live a life in poverty thanks to the capitalist ANC, who is still supported by the trade unions and the South African Communist Party!

Between August and September 2012, a mine strike hit South Africa. Mineworkers in Marikana went on strike for better wages. On the 16th of August, 34 mineworkers were killed and an additional 78 other workers injured when police opened fire on thousands of striking miners who had occupied a hilltop near Nkaneng shack settlement in Marikana. In what has been dubbed the Marikana Massacre, academic and journalist investigations have found that strikers may have been killed 'execution style' with, according to independent police investigations, at least 16 mineworkers were shot by the police in the back!!

The killing of 34 mineworkers let to outrage. Mineworkers no longer trusted the official National Union of Mineworkers who did not opposed the police attacking the striking mineworkers. Its already well-paid secretary, Baleni, was awarded a salary increase of more than 40% last year and his total salary package is just more than 105.000 South African Rand ( 7.000 Euro ) a month. Trade union leaders have refused to get out of police armoured vehicles to address workers during the mine strike in Marikana. This led to an exodus of mineworkers from the National Union of Mineworkers to the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. The official National Union of Mineworkers used to have 300.000 members before the Marikana killings. It is said that only 150.000 mineworkers remained in the National Union of Mineworkers.

In response to the killings the Democratic Socialist Movement and representatives from the mineworkers created a new political party. The Workers and Socialist Party ( WASP ) was born out of the struggle between mineworkers and the pro-capitalist ANC government. Revolutionary socialists support the WASP and call all South African workers to join this new party for the working class!

Unfortunate not all African nations are tolerant of socialist groups. The black supremacist regime of Robert Mugabe is actively arresting revolutionary socialists. This became clear when members of the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe, were arrested and tortured. Police forces in the Republic of Zimbabwe, have a history of brutality and torture. Paid by the criminal racist; Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, police officers engage in torture of all opponents of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF!

ZANU used to be a liberation movement against white supremacy in the former Republic of Rhodesia. It came to power in 1980, but soon turned dictatorial. President Robert Mugabe ( age 89 as of 2013 ) has become paranoid and sees enemies everywhere. His dictatorial regime started after the birth of the Republic of Zimbabwe, when his military killed 20.000 supporters of the Zimbabwe African People's Union. ZAPU was a rival of ZANU and was forced to fuse with Mugabe's party in 1987 creating ZANU-PF. But this did not stop the dictatorial regime. When the economy of Zimbabwe started to collapse due to mismanagement and bureaucratism, Mugabe ordered the printing of more money. This led to huge inflation and destroyed the currency of the nation. Because of Mugabe's disastrous economic politics, Zimbabwe is one of the poorest nations of Africa!

The International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe has faced government repression and arrests. Although or enemies call Mugabe a ''Marxist dictator'' he is not. Mugabe is a black supremacist, a Zimbabwean nationalist and a state-capitalist dictator. Because after 1990 the government started with privatizations, economic property was giving to ZANU-PF capitalists who were now becoming owners of businesses. But because few had business expertise, they mismanaged many privatized enterprises. White farmers were also attacked by the black supremacists of ZANU-PF. White farmers were assaulted and forced to sell their farms to ZANU-PF members. But since these new owners had little farming experience, most farms are now unproductive and in bad condition!

Most African nations are still ruled by former revolutionary liberation parties. Like the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania, the Popular Liberation Movement of Angola or the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique. But most national liberation parties have abandon Marxist socialism. Today they work on nationalism and their history as liberators. Because they own the state and most of the media, they rule as a dominate party over their nation. Genuine workers parties are absent and this is why most workers rather vote for the old liberation parties then the capitalist opposition!

Revolutionary socialists say that African workers cannot trust the old national liberation parties. They have betrayed their socialist ideology when they capitulated before the IMF and world capitalism. The Workers and Socialist Party in South Africa is the first genuine attempt to build a workers party in opposition to the African National Congress. If this becomes a success it cam become a beacon for many African workers who struggle against poverty and corruption, which are all elements of the capitalist system!

Mametlwe Sebei and Liv Shange are founding members 
of the Workers and Socialist Party in South Africa! 

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism